House Hunting #61 – Dynamix

With Tommy’s Dad being an electronics repairman, in his youth one of the tech’s at his Dad’s shop introduced him to the primitive art form of the one slide control on a Radio Shack mixer...

House Hunting #61 – Dynamix

With Tommy’s Dad being an electronics repairman, in his youth one of the tech’s at his Dad’s shop introduced him to the primitive art form of the one slide control on a Radio Shack mixer...

Yo so been super slack of late as sale season taking over at work however have scored some serious second-hand slices these last few weeks so let’s have a lil’ house call recall…

First off House Hunting hosted it’s first ‘House Call’ last weekend where I had a gathering round the gaff and sold a carefully curated collection of haute house including some Choice Chi cuts (Trax, DJ International et al) and Nu Groove necessities plus a load of boogie bombs and disco diamonds at bargain bin prices. Will give you a holla when taking house calls for the next one so hold tight but in the meantime here’s a House Call haul from one of the attendees to give you a lil’ flavour of what’s in store…

As well as the wax wheelin’n’dealin’ as ever been jettin’ all over London Town on prime platter pursuits to the usual house haunts… A few weeks back I ventured east to Vinyl Pimp as they got a collection in but every platter I pulled out the boxes they had to check Discogs (FFS…) so was quoted serious speculator prices plus all the records in the racks were priced to gather dust – an example being the Code Blue cut ‘Track Show (Volume One)’ by Bluemoon Productions (aka house hero Bluejean RIP) was £140 you what?! I did a double-take when I scoped a scarce slice of Gherkin in the form of the Frankie Knuckles remixes of Gallifré and Mondeé Oliver’s ‘Don’t Walk Out On Love’ for a decent £26 but of course it was scratched to f**k and unplayable.

Though this rack raid proved futile as I was just one stop from Stratford, it was time to hop on the train for a crate crusade to choice Essex emporium Crazy Beat. Upon entering I was back in my crate comfort zone – always helps when the records are priced and ain’t dizzy-high! It was a few months since I last jetted to the outta limits of Zone 6 but the house racks hadn’t had been replenished since I last raided ‘em so I deviated to the disco section for a proto-house peruse… This disco dig didn’t disappoint as I picked up a pair of Philly World platters with proto-house prophet Nick Martinelli in the mix, Colors’ Prelude production ‘Pay Me Back My Love’, Jimmy “Bo” Horne’s Sunnyview slice ‘Let’s Do It’ (all about the dub) and Barbara Mason’s West End weapon ‘Another Man’ with boogie bossman Butch Ingram laying down the synth score – check ‘em all out here…

I also checked out the Hackney Record Fair in Dalston last month as I’ve had some successful scores with recent rack raids there. With every event the fair is housin’ more and more vinyl vendors which can only be a good thing and even though I got there early doors there was already a hustle’n’bustle so ever-increasing popularity. It was proper perusal paradise and on doing an initial lap I scoped some London joints representing such as local Dalston digs Eldica and Camberwell’s Rat Records plus clocked my main man Chris Energy in the house. Before gettin’ my house haggle on the go with his speculator specials I had another scout around to see if my rack raiding radar could detect some house. I came across one stall that had boxes of bangin’ booty s**t on Dance Mania from ghetto house heroes such as DJ Deeon, DJ Funk, DJ Milton et al plus loads of Relief pressure but no surprise when all this was at the eye-watering wax mark with the majority over fifty quid – there was time you couldn’t give this s**t away…

Undeterred by this diggin’ disillusion, I ventured over to Chris’ stall as I knew I’d find some haute house that though he’d be asking for serious £££’s I would drive a hard bargain. As ever he had crates of choice Chi & NY house but after havin’ a quick flick there wasn’t really anything grabbin’ me so deviated to the disco racks for some post-disco platters. Within a few flicks I unearthed the original US pressing of legendary Latino Willie Colon’s ‘Set Fire To Me’ on A&M complete in original cover in mint condition super score! If you ain’t heard this before then flip for the ‘Inferno Dub’ which is the definitive deep house precursor – deeper than a Ron Trent trajectory definitely one to lose yourself in…

Lifted by this lethal Latin lacquer my flickin’ fervour hit fever-pitch when I came across a pink-sleeved stash of West End wax. Knowing Chris’ crazy prices I just cherry-picked choice cuts from Mel Cheren’s NYC disco institution including a pair of platters featuring disco dons Nick Martinelli and David Todd at the controls with their signature synths from outta space (on Brenda Taylor’s ‘You Can’t Have Your Cake And Eat It Too’ and Raw Silk’s ‘Do It To The Music’) plus the seldom seen ‘Keep On Dancin’ by Forrrce complete with Francois K overdubs FIERCE! So with my score being the Willie Colon 12” and the West End trio considering they were all mint my opening offer was £50… Chris countered “I was gonna ask £80 for those” (Jesus…) so played hardball with a £60 take-it-or-leave-it boogie barter. He really didn’t wanna let ‘em go at that price but after giving him an insider tip when the summer sale launched at work he finally surrendered and we sealed the deal. Let’s get into all these NYC necessities here…

Hang on, hold up, deviated into disco territory again, let’s bring it back to the house hunting as this ain’t disco digging! I was in Dalston one day and made a lil’ perusal pit-stop at the Aladdin’s cave that is Eldica. I raided their £1 bargain bins outside the shop and picked up a few Pow Wow platters by my fave garage gurus Paul Simpson and Winston Jones under their Subject guise but slim pickings in terms of house, so took a jaunt up Kingsland High Street to house haunt Kristina Records. Hadn’t been here for a while and though not always the first joint I’d check out as it specialises in the latest deeper facets of house and techno, their carefully curated collection of second-hand slices always worth a gander. In the house racks I dug out DaRand Land’s ‘Blessings’ on Chris Gray’s Deep4life label – this one on the deeper end of the house spectrum and one you don’t see everyday but at 50 notes on the higher end of haute house scale so left that one for some deep house connoisseur to cop.

Was looking like this would be another fruitless finger flick though diggin’ in the disco racks there was some of the usual suspects on Sam, Prelude et al – if it’s still on the wall someone please pick up the prime Prelude platter ‘On A Journey (I Sing The Funk Electric) by Electrik Funk aka Eric Matthew and Darryl Payne proper proto-house holy grail…

Anyway, outta nowhere I struck gold as I pulled out ‘I Just Wanna Dance’ by Dynamix aka Northcott Productions powerhouse Tommy Musto featuring 25 West mainstay Matt Noble and Tommy Sozzi. At £12 a bit steep but you know me I like to support the local digs plus it was in near mint condition so had to be copped. Released in ’84, this joint was typical of the post-disco era in NYC blurring the boundaries between boogie, electro and freestyle – ultimately building the foundations of house. I love both the club and ‘I Just Wanna Dub’ versions but think the fierce dub edges it with his signature punchy production prowess comin’ to the fore which was a precursor to his later records. Check ‘em out here…

So let’s delve a bit deeper in this unsung house hero’s history… With Tommy’s Dad being an electronics repairman, in his youth one of the tech’s at his Dad’s shop introduced him to the primitive art form of the one slide control on a Radio Shack mixer, which was the catalyst in him collecting and playing records on the mobile disco circuit around his home turf Brooklyn and beyond in the 5 boroughs. After a few years DJing in ’81 he entered the Tommy Boy Mix contest which he won and secured a radio show on WKTU.

At the time edits were all the rage and with his mix show Tommy began to master the art of editing and mastering with remixing being a natural progression. In ’83 he hooked up with the late Silvio Tancredi who owned the production and distribution stable Northcott Productions with it’s key division at that time being 25 West Records which housed legendary boogie, post-disco, electro and Italo records such as Sass’ ‘Much Too Much’, Klein & M.B.O.’s ‘Dirty Talk’ and B Beat Girls’ ‘For The Same Man’ – many of which were produced by Matt Noble who collaborated with Tommy on the Dynamix 12”.

For me Matt is still one of the unheralded producers of the era and is definitely a proto house pioneer. Case in point is the instrumental version of Maniacs’ majestic synth-laden ‘Sweet Ladies’ that just builds and builds… Definitely one of the choice cuts from my collection and is a proper warm-up weapon – the odd time I’ve played out and spun this slice without fail got heads comin’ up to the booth checkin’ out what it is. Whenever clocked in a record joint it’s always been a few pound a pop so definitely worth a cop…

Anyway, bringing it back to Tommy and that year he delivered his first remix with partner in crime Tommy Sozzi for Vanguard on Junior Byron’s ‘Woman’ which was shortly followed by this week’s House Hunting find on Exuma – also released and distributed by Northcott Productions. However, it was in ’85 where Tommy became prolific with his productions releasing records on 25 West and Mega Records with Matt Noble and Tommy Sozzi – both Tommy’s also debuted their Dynamic Duo guise which would later find more fame with their Nu Groove releases. Here’s a few of those early mixes and productions…

The following year in ’86 as his creative input now more influential he became Silvio’s partner at Northcott Productions and proceeded to be a mainstay on the Apexton arm of one of my fave NYC house institutions Underworld. Releasing under an armada of aliases including M.T.R., The Movement, Wired and Xperiment, plus at the controls on records by C.T. Satin and Joe Church, there’s so many choice cuts I don’t know where the f**k to begin…

Breakin’ it down to personal faves I gotta give a shout to joints such as his debut The Movement record ‘Movement’, his Wired wax ‘To The Beat Of The Drum’ and the garage styling of Joe Church’s ‘Don’t You Wanna Be Mine’ but check out all the full catalogue as bar The Outerlimit’s ‘Dance In A Daze’ (another serious slice that sounds like Tommy’s behind) and the Pal Joey joints you can usually score these for a few quid a pop – bonus if you cop in a shrink-wrapped Apexton sleeve! The label also served as a platform for other NYC house heroes such as Frankie Bones (who Tommy would later collaborate with) and the aforementioned Pal Joey proving to be a springboard for their careers. Tommy also released on Underworld’s big brother Apexton under his 38th Street alias with house heroine Yvonne Turner on the ‘Party’ record – all about the house version which sounds like an early prototype to some of his legendary Fourth Floor productions (more on them in a min…).

The same year he also contributed to a pair of productions on another of Nothcott’s subsidiaries Infuture Music which include Carlton’s ‘Excite Me’ and Stimulation’s ‘Shattered’ which featuring House Hunting heroes Bob Blank on the engineering and Boyd Jarvis on keys. Get into all these here…

In ’87 Tommy founded Fourth Floor Records and after launching the legendary label with ‘It’s All In Your Mind’ as Bam Boo with Lenny Dee for their next collaboration they wanted to compose a string-based production with a deeper undercurrent. With an 808 Lenny formulated the beats and fill patterns, Tommy added some lush strings with his Roland D 50 to create a more atmospheric feel and they utilised the Casio CZ 101 to create the mother of all basslines – you know what record I’m waxin’ about right? Yeah it’s the timeless ‘The Morning After’ under their Fallout guise. The inspiration title came from them playing at a debauched after party at the weekends called Rooftop on the 23rd floor of a nondescript building. They would go on from Midnight till mid-afternoon the next day so hence ‘The Morning After’ title with their Fallout alias influenced by the state of their mind, body and soul at these heavy sessions. The ‘Sunrise Mix’ proved to be a huge house hit that transcended the usual NYC house sound and fast became a UK rave anthem championed by rave legends such as LTJ Bukem and Grooverider – soundtracking many a long lost M25 orbital mixtape pure ecstacy…

A couple of years later Tommy followed this formula with Arnold Jarvis’ ‘Take Some Time Out’ which with that signature Musto bass, soaring strings and Arnold’s yearning vox elevates it above the usual house fare and still manages to melt grown men nearly three decades later proper face melter…

As well as his own productions Tommy was also instrumental in helping others laying down tracks including the Burrell Brothers. Now no longer signed to Virgin, Frank Mendez who served as an executive producer on their ‘Burrell’ LP approached them on setting up a label as a vehicle to release the rawer records they wanted to produce. Frank’s wife Karen introduced the brothers to Tommy whose Fourth Floor studio was housed upstairs. He invited them in and on the spot they laid down two joints with Burrell Brother Ron’s being ‘The Booty Dance’ (released as K.A.T.O.) and Rheji’s ‘Angel Of Mercy’ as Metro – not bad goin’ for an hours recording these two Nu Groove necessities the more seldom seen slices from the catalogue.

As well as engineering these tracks, Tommy released some of his own productions on Nu Groove too including reprising his Dynamic Duo guise with old partner in crime Tommy Sozzi for ‘Were Back’ and ‘In The Pocket’ plus engineered on more Burrell records and mixed a host of other records for label mates Bobby Konders, Frankie Bones, Lenny Dee and Ralphie Dee. Here’s some of that Fourth Floor flavour and early Burrell Brother bombs here…. 

At the turn of the decade he hooked up with Frankie Bones on a series of releases as ‘Musto & Bones’ including their ‘The Future Is Ours’ LP plus under a load of guises including 2 Guys On Acid, Eden’s Paradise, Flowmasters, O.N.I.T., Pink Noise and Voodoo Dolls on labels such as XL Recordings, Lower Level, Fourth Floor and Frankie’s Breaking Bones imprint.

Like Tommy’s legendary Fallout record, their collaborations struck a chord with the rave generation with the heavy drum breaks, hypnotising rhythms, otherworldly synths and sampling ingenuity thrusting them onto the UK rave scene. They also executive-produced on a series of releases on another of Northcott’s arms Atmosphere Records ran by Frankie – all about the Revelation 12” with ‘Synth It’ and ‘First Power’ fierce  record…

After the rave era subsided Tommy went back to his NY roots hookin’ up with Yvonne Turner again as Love Tempo for their majestic Pow Wow platter ‘Change For The Better’, launching the Sub-Urban stable (which houses Victor Simonelli’s Cloud 9 anthem ‘Do You Want Me’ which samples the Salsoul slice ‘Falling In Love’ by Surface) plus set up Henry Street with Johnny “D” De Mairo which released Kenny Dope’s huge house hit ‘The Bomb’ under his The Bucketheads alias and hosts a load of house heroes such as DJ Duke, Johnick, Paul Simpson and Todd Terry. Honestly, I could write a bible on Tommy’s legacy but think that’s covered all my choice cuts from his killer catalogue. I’ll leave you with the best mullets in house…


 

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