House Hunting #58 - Touch

So if you go back a few editions you may remember my Essex escapade where I scored a serious house haul from an arsenal of vinyl that was 15,000 strong.

House Hunting #58 - Touch

So if you go back a few editions you may remember my Essex escapade where I scored a serious house haul from an arsenal of vinyl that was 15,000 strong.

So if you go back a few editions you may remember my Essex escapade where I scored a serious house haul from an arsenal of vinyl that was 15,000 strong. Since that vinyl venture I’ve been longing for some more of that Leigh-On-Sea lethal lacquer so you know it was only a matter of time before I jetted back to the Essex east side for another crate crusade… A month had past since the last house call and a date was set for another vinyl venture so time for another deep dose of dusty fingers...

So after the 3-train connection (forget the wax welterweights who are strictly Soho and Shoreditch all about the devoted diggers…)  my main man Daryl picked me up from the station and got the kettle on – priming me for some prime platter perusal. After exchanging the usual pleasantries, it was time to get down to business and seek some of that second-hand solace… It was a freezing February morning which didn’t help when routing in the racks as all those sub-zero slices were ice-cold – my numb fingers couldn’t keep up with my flickin’ fervour! I started goin’ through the unsorted lot which was more of a mid-nineties house flow housing some Henry Street hotplates and records of similar ilk. However, I scoped some proto-house pressure in the form of the Next Plateau Records Inc. necessity ‘It’s Your Love’ by Special-T aka Suzie Hall complete with House Hunting heroes Boyd Jarvis and Timmy Regisford on the mix so was my first acquisition.

When I got around to the other side naturally I gravitated towards all the choice Chicago cuts. There was a Trax stax that housed the black label pressings of Frankie Knuckles’ ‘Baby Wants To Ride/Your Love’  which I hadn’t got (in which Jamie Principle was only credited under his surname ‘Walton’) and Adonis’ ‘No Way Back’ plus Phuture’s ‘We Are Phuture’ and a couple of the Rap Trax EP’s complete in their original luminescent lime-green Rap Trax sleeves nice one! So I copped all them and then clocked about 20 Nu Groove records including sought after EP’s by Lost Entity and The Vision plus the second volume of the ‘Secret Codes’ comp licensed by Network housing a load of the Nu Groove necessities. As I’ve got about 90-odd Nu Grooves I can’t always recall what I have and haven’t got in my House Hunting archives so I come across a collection I’ll cop regardless to replace my less mint copies and move on the rest – this one did have Kenny Dope’s ‘Powerhouse 2’ EP though so there was at least one to add to the collection. I breezed through the boogie and disco racks but a lot of these Daryl had sold considering I’ve just rinsed serious £££’s on a Condesa Lucia rotary mixer (drool…) the last thing I need to see is more records that’ll rinse my credit card! So let’s check out what I’ve need to plug the gaps…

As Daryl was pricing them up he suggested checking out his local haunt Leigh Records Exchange as they get the odd house collection so went down town for a swift perusal pit-stop. The shop-front was proper old-school and upon entering was surprised at the depth and variety of vinyl on offer – complete with crates of dance vinyl housed under the racks. I instantly clocked Raze’s ‘Break 4 Love’ so sensing house hunting potential I pulled out the crate and with my OCD tendencies checked every single one standard. I scoped in these crates the superior Steve “Silk” Hurley remix of Roberta Flack’s ‘Uh-Uh Ooh-Ooh Look Out (Here It Comes)’ and some New Jersey garage flavour straight outta Newark with Gary L’s ‘Time (Time To Party)’ with again those WBLS wizards Boyd and Timmy. Other than that it was a load of bargain bin Champion cuts and if there’s one thing I can’t hack its UK licensed house especially those Champion sleeves – I know how f**kin’ shallow kill me now but strictly US imports for me… Anyway, aside from the dance racks the shop was a dealer den specialising in the more collectable realm of rock, punk, motown, soul, jazz and funk complete with an encyclopaedic vinyl vendor at the controls. Shame I didn’t score anything as always feel bad when leaving empty handed but was a nice lil’ diggin’ detour…

Back at Daryl’s he priced up the Nu Groove and Trax stax and offered them at £110 which wasn’t bad. I countered £100 which he agreed to so 16 Nu Grooves, 8 Trax and the Special T record for a ton equating to £4 a pop ain’t bad goin’. Happy with my house haul, I was still in the groove so as I was in Essex on the way back I deviated to my choice joint Crazy Beat for some more rack raid relief. Despite it being Friday afternoon the shop was pretty quiet – I ain’t gonna moan havin’ the shop to myself… As ever I started by taking on the disco and boogie racks in my methodical approach by flickin’ through in alphabetical order… There were the usual suspects on Jump Street, Prelude and Salsoul however I pulled out the Street Sounds slice ‘I Got The Hots For You’ by TZ which hat £15 had to be swiped– a proper boogie bomb by 25 West mainstay Matt Noble that would later be sampled by S’Express for their hit single ‘S’Express Theme’. Movin’ on to the house selections and on rack rustlin’ through these I pulled out 5-odd Nu Grooves including the ’88 release ‘Were Back’ which is a nod to Batman with the ‘Gotham City Mix’ and ‘Cape Crusader Dub’ by The Dynamic Duo aka NYC house hierarchy Tommy Musto and Tommy Sozzi. Not hard to find just one of them ain’t come across – love those early Nu Grooves with the original old-school logo! On taking ‘em all to the till they were priced up at £44 so I countered £40 straight up in cash which sealed the deal nice one not bad for a day’s wax work… Before jettin’ outta there I couldn’t resist raiding the LP racks and outta nowhere pulled the ‘Without You’ LP by Touch. The LP was mint and in shrink complete with a sleevs so house it hurts so had to score this Supertronics slice – was £6 so offered a fiver and the deal was done a fitting end to this Essex escapade…

So let’s touch base with this garage group… Comprising of Eric McCaine, Free Smith, Gordon Williams and Sean Varo, Touch were mainstays of legendary label Supertronics outta Brooklyn releasing a few EPs as well as the LP back in ’87. Without a doubt, their debut record on the label ‘Without You’ was their major hit and what they’re most-known for. Featuring Timmy Regisford on the mix, with the yearning vox, infectious hooks (“Without you, I don’t know what I’ll do”) and THAT bassline, it was a staple spin with DJ deities Larry Levan and The Hump droppin’ it at their club sanctuaries the Paradise Garage and Zanzibar. If you want to forsake the falsetto there’s always the dub and though I’ll usually make a beeline for a B-side dub for me it’s all about the guilty pleasure of the vox versions that get in your head… Though it was also licensed in the UK to Garage Trax you can still score the original for a few quid and I’m sure there’ll be some stashed in those bargain bins waiting to be unearthed. Though most will know them for ‘Without You’ the same year they released a couple more EPs including the Paul Simpson-styling of ‘Love Fixation’ (pass up the vocal for Timmy’s dub on this one)  which was also licensed to Dutch disco behemoth Rams Horn and the early-hours ether of ‘Fallen’ which The Hump adds some deep sleaze and jackin’ flavour to the ‘Lust Mix’ where heads would have lost their minds deep in the Zanz – think some of that Chi juice a la Jamie Principle’s ‘Baby Wants To Ride’. As well as laying down the vocals, Eric, Free and Gordon were at the controls of the Touch productions and also showcased their house credentials with ‘Take It To The House’ under their Jine guise. Again all about the Dubs on this one whether the paranoid house of ‘Dub 1’ with it’s eerie ether, sinister synths and trippin’ vox all contributing to a haunting yet mesmeric mix that’s reminiscent of a Master C & J record and takes you deep into the bowels of house… ‘Dub 2’ also worth a shout with it’s proto-house flow that sounds like a long lost Boyd Jarvis joint – all about those schizo-synths that come to the fore halfway through proper mind trip! Anyway, can’t decide between ‘em so will post both along with all the Touch records check ‘em out here…

What I love about the Touch records is that they capture the essence of what Supertronics is all about with the stable’s record roster encompassing post-disco, boogie, electro and hip-hop plus the emergent sounds of house and garage a la Easy Street, Jump Street and Pow Wow. Founded by Frederick Pereira in ’83, the label’s initial releases were boogie bombs whether Thunderstone’s ‘Stop That Knocking’ or Keith Pole’s ‘Fulfill Your Fantasy’ though it was Janice Christie’s ‘My Love Is Money’ that got the label further exposure as was spun by Paradise Garage prophet Larry Levan. However, a couple of years later Supertronics scored their biggest hit with Sleeping Bag starlet Chocolette on ‘It’s That East Street Beat’ produced by Jhon Fair (also of Sleeping Bag fame) complete with that dream team of Boyd’n’Timmy on the mix. Though it was getting regular spins at hallowed house dens such as Better Days, Zanzibar and even in Chicago with Ronnie droppin’ it at the Music Box, no doubt the major catalyst was Larry Levan rinsing it with Vinyl Mania selling hundreds of it – the record sold in the tens of thousands resulting in it being licensed to label major Atlantic Records. The label’s next release sought Boyd’s production prowess for ‘One Love’. This record was inspired by the Peech Boys’ West End hit ‘Don’t Make Me Wait’ and was originally recorded in ’83 for Timmy Regisford when auditioning for WBLS who wanted to include some of Boyd’s live overdubs. So Boyd’s blueprint was updated to include Janis Christie on vox and was another killer club hit. He also produced Diamond Touch’s Love Line but for me the other record he produced with Timmy on the label is Tammy Lucas’ ‘Hey Boy’ – all about the ‘Rough Mix’ with another beast of a Boyd bassline. Get into all those serious Supertronics slices here…

In ’86 Supertronics released Rainy Davis’ ‘Sweetheart’ which had a more commercial edge in contrast to the more club-orientated cuts the label had released previously. Feeling the record had the credentials to be more radio-friendly, Head honcho Frederick Pereira and Marketing Director Joseph Hecht pushed for it to get airplay with their pursuit paying off as the track was hit on the Hot Black Singles chart plus featured in the playlists on NYC stations WHTZ and WPLJ. However, though the record gained more commercial success through the release and subsequent releases such as Janice Christie’s ‘I’m Hungry For Your Love’ and ‘Candy Love’ following the same formula, both Frederick and Joseph didn’t want to compromise on the label’s roots in releasing progressive club joints. Case in point was gettin’ Larry Levan on-board for the mix on The Cut’s ‘Kindness For Weakness’ which features his post-disco, dubby garage flavour plus Janice Christie’s ‘Taking Me For Granted’ which features both Timmy and The Hump on the mix – though a myriad of mixes on this one my choice cut is Timmy’s ‘Vocal Ad-Lib’ version with the dub styling perfectly complimenting Janice’s vox. Other club cuts released in the twilight years before ceasing in at the turn of the decade include ‘Irresistible’ by Red Follies aka Bottom Line boss man Ed Goltsman and Nancy Kay plus Touch alumni Gordon Williams signing off Supertronics with Velma Wright’s ‘You’re Not Right’ – all about the percussive pressure on that dub heavy on a serious soundsystem. Check ‘em all out here…

Bringin’ it back to Touch and after all their releases on Supertronics in ’87 they disbanded with Eric McCaine and Free Smith reinventing themselves as Entouch and entering New Jack Swing territory for a brief episode. Eric went on to be a mainstay on Elektra producing for the likes of Keith Sweat plus hip-hop and R&B artists such as Jadakiss and Eve. Gordon Williams also forged a successful career in production releasing records including on a house tip the choice Jump Street joint ‘Why?’ by Bipo and under his ‘Commissioner Gordon’ alias has won 3 Grammys including adding his Midas mix touch on Lauryn Hill’s ‘The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill’ in which he received 2 Grammys. Anyway, I’ll leave with you with a house flashback with the video for their breakthrough hit ‘Without You’ – can’t beat an 80’s video the perfect Supertronics sign-off that showcases their short but lasting legacy…


 

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