House Hunting #62 – Bubba & The Jack Attack

So since my last lethal lacquer love letter it’s been a jam-hot hectic few weeks for House Hunting…

House Hunting #62 – Bubba & The Jack Attack

So since my last lethal lacquer love letter it’s been a jam-hot hectic few weeks for House Hunting…

So since my last lethal lacquer love letter it’s been a jam-hot hectic few weeks for House Hunting… Shout to my main man Gordon Everett at ultraDisko for being the perfect House Hunting hostess last month when I guested on Hoxton FM. Had a proper house history hark back with the records that laid down the house foundations – if you fancy reminiscing about the roots that covers NYC ’83 to the birth of Chicago House here’s a recording of the show on Soundcloud. As well as that after my summer sojourn to Suncebeat, Ransom Note stepped outta the digital realm and opened the doors to their working men’s club at Farmfest last week where I joined R$N rebel Tonka’s massive pub quiz and hosted a house history lesson complete with film, Q&A and records standard – stay tuned for more of these live house history hark backs…

Not content with all these summer sessions also been scoring a ridiculous amount of records… These include a 200-strong haute Hi-NRG haul complete with some Italo flow and Synth-Pop slices with loads of Bobby O bombs, lethal Lime lacquer and WBMX weapons serious! Also copped some Chi-flavour in the form of a Dance Mania drop and Trax stax plus loads more of those Nu Groove necessities reppin’ NYC for the house purists. Add to this a few more boogie bombs and disco diamonds plus the bargain bin belter boxes and I got a 600+ strong (and still counting) stockpile of serious second-hand slices that you can check out on the next House Call later this month – note Sunday 21st August down for the diggin’ diary! If your finger flickin’ fervour can’t make the date then private perusal appointments welcome after just hit me up! Here’s a pic to whet your wax appetites…

As well as stockin’ up for the next House Call of course been rack raiding for my own collection. Not had a chance to have many crate crusades around town these last few weeks as been crazy-busy so been droppin’ in my local digs The Little Record Shop on my days off to see what my main man David has housed in the racks. I’m still surprised that many vinyl junkies I know ain’t checked out his supply of black crack so will share his lil’ wax tale again… He’s been dealing records for nearly a decade whether it’s with the vinyl vendors of Portobello Road, the dealers of his local environ of North London (he supplies vinyl to another one of my fave haunts Alan’s Records) and of course not forgetting the hardcore collectors and acetate anoraks. Though he collected records in his youth, it was a chance visit to the Notting Hill Music & Video Exchange a couple of decades ago that rekindled his love affair with the romance of records… As is usually the case with the lethal lacquer it became an obsession even side-lining his 25-year career as an actor despite being a thespian having been in many national theatre plays and even films as renowned as Notting Hill – he’s done lots of commercial work too so you never know you may have seen him in an advert! Anyway as his collection was gettin’ outta hand the natural progression was to scope for a site in which he could house/sell all his records and a former solicitors presented the perfect opportunity for a bricks’n’mortar store… He specialises in rock but also has vast quantities of reggae, dub, jazz, blues and folk plus with my House Hunting consultancy role he’s been gettin’ in more house, disco and boogie these last few months. It’s a bijou Aladdin’s cave with a treasure trove of wax jewels waiting to be unearthed – trust me a digger’s paradise that’s been housed in Hornsey for nearly two years now so no excuse add it to your rack raiding radar… If you’re jettin’ over for the House Call at House Hunting HQ on Sunday 21st August then you can pop next door for a perusal pit-stop!

So what serious slices have I scored of late in David’s gaff? Well, he got hold of a boss boogie and disco collection which he filtered out on to the shop floor so dropped by for a dose of daily next door diggin’. The pile’s prime platter included an original pressing of the spine-tingling ‘Touch Me (All Night Long)’ by Wish aka production powerhouses Greg Carmichael and Patrick Adams complete with Better Days boss man Bruce Forest on the mix and Fonda Rae’s face-meltin’ vox. Add to that in mint condition and original green and yello sleeve in shrink and I was havin’ a mini-meltdown…

However, my choice cop has to be a proper slice of obscure allure in the form of ‘Pedal To The Floor’ by Bubba & The Jack Attack – which as the artist name hints is a proper jackin’ joint. Couldn’t believe I pulled this out and as in near mint condition complete in shrink for a few quid had to done. Though the artist name would suggest it’s a Chicago cut this ain’t actually outta the Windy City but NYC with Hi-NRG hero Bobby O of Pet Shop Boys and The Flirts fame at the controls. Though Hi-NRG hierarchy he did deviate into house territory releasing a series of records in ‘87 on his Obscure Records offshoot with this release the second on the label. Like his Hi-NRG hotplates this one a pure popper patter with the driving rhythm drenched in jack juice complete with a dash of disco and injection of Italo. Add to this the proper 80s vox with lyrics like “You got my motor running in my dick, gonna tell can you baby right from the rear” complete with the “PUSH, PUSH” hook and you got a slice drippin’ in sex’n’sweat… 

As well as this Bobby released a few more haute house productions with German disco don Jurgen Korduletsch (who married Salsoul soulstreess and Hi-NRG heroine Claudja Barry) which included ‘Love Allowance’ as Condo – definitely a ‘Pedal To The Floor’ prototype which has more Italo styling and Sylvester style serenading. Subsequent slices include ‘Let’s Play House’ under their Gangsters Of House guise which sounds like an old Farley “Jackmaster” Funk joint (which incidentally received a remix on a later pressing from Farley and fellow WBMX wizard Mickey “Mixin” Oliver) plus Bobby goin’ solo as Obscure Mastermix = 1 with ‘Let’s Build A House’ which is a more primitive production that is proper DJ tool territory. As well as his Obscure Records releases Bobby released ‘Gotta Jack’ as Dynasty which with it’s killer keys and sinister synths complete with Dexter D’s fierce delivery is proper proto-Chicago with an Italo flow – my kinda record… Also worth checking out is Dexter D’s ‘The Key’ on Basic Records in which Bobby hooks up with partner in crime Jurgen again with the boss bassline juxtaposing effortlessly with Dexter D’s yearning larynyx. Get into the Bobby O house flow here…

As per the aforementioned Hi-NRG haul there was a load of Bobby O bombs so only right we delve deeper into this unsung Hi-NRG hero’s legacy of cuts full of camp, chintz and glitz… Bobby was born Robert Phillip Orlando in 1958 and despite his middle-class upbringing in the New York suburb of Westchester would you believe in his youth he was a decent amateur boxer! However, another passion was music and he was self-taught with the guitar and keyboards which lead him to play in a band in his teens. As was the glitter rock era long hair and platform shoes were in vogue, and the boxer turned glitter boy’s local teenage rock band gained a loyal following. His dexterity on keys and instruments weren’t going unnoticed as when he was 18 Bobby was offered a scholarship at a classical music school. However, he turned this down as he had discovered disco and realised he had a bigger calling… In ’77 he secured a job as a recording engineer and produced his first record which was Tod Foster’s ‘Dancin’ on Midsong International Records –  no doubt influenced by his hero Giorgio Moroder as it had that hurtling bass that would later be synonymous with his Hi-NRG productions. After his debut release he joined Vanguard Records where he collaborated with in-house producer Danny Weiss and was at the controls of Lyn Todd’s productions plus Free Expression’s ‘Chill Out!’ though a chance meeting with a girl he met in a restaurant would be the catalyst for his first hit. Her name was Roni Griffith and struck by her Bobby seeing her potential sensed an opportunity so right there and then charmed his way with her where they signed a 50/50 contract on a napkin. She would become his muse, have an affair together and after their first record together ‘Mondo Man’ the following year in ’81 they release their Hi-NRG anthem ‘Desire’ which would also be their big break. A year later they covered the Ronnette’s ‘(The Best Part Of) Breakin’ Up’ which rose to #2 in the US Dance Charts plus releases Roni Griffith’s eponymously-titled LP which features cuts such as the Patrick Cowley pressure of ‘Spys’, the Italo flow of ‘Love Is The Drug’ and my personal fave the post-disco diva strut of ‘Voodoo Man’ – check ‘em all out here…

Not content with just producing for Vanguard, at the turn of the decade Bobby launched his “O” Records stable which would be the first of his proliferation of platforms he would release his records on. His initial release – ‘Just A Gigolo’ by Barbie & The Kens’ and ‘Change Of Life’ by I-Spies – were Billboard Dance hits however it was hookin’ up with cult-movie star and drag queen Divine (who starred in Hairspray!) on records such as ‘Native Love’, ‘Shoot Your Shot’ and ‘Love Reaction’ (which samples New Order’s ‘Blue Monday’ bassline) which were all huge Hi-NRG hits especially in Europe in countries like Belgium and Holland that embraced the sound – 17 gold and five platinum hits ain’t bad going! Considering Bobby was a homophobe this collaboration was all the more surprising but he found a kindred spirit who was the perfect camp conduit for his haute Hi-NRG movement. As well as Divine, Bobby founded his concept project The Flirts where he’d have a changeable line-up of three models (usually a blond, brunette and red-head) to sing about what sells –sex. The voices were actually pre-recorded by studio vocalists with the models a front for The Flirts. Their hits included the Gino Soccio-styling of ‘Passion’ (as sampled by Felix Da Housecat for ‘Silver Screen Shower Scene’), their #1 Billboard Dance Hit ‘You & Me’ (all about the mixer du jour Shep Pettibone’s dub) and ‘Miss You’ complete with mixmasters M&M aka John Morales and Sergio Munzabi in the mix. Bobby was also instrumental in the Pet Shop Boys rise to prominence. When working for Smash Hits (remember that?) Neil Tennant flew out to NYC on journo duties but used the opportunity to seek out Bobby O to produce the songs he had written with Chris Lowe. Bobby was up for it and the results of recording in the studio was ‘West End Girls’ and released on Bobby’s BobCat label. The majors came calling with the Pet Shop Boys signing up with EMI who re-released their debut track in ’85 but Bobby’s original better with the Hi-NRG bass and Italo feel. Bobby didn’t relinquish the rights and was savvy in signing a deal in which he got a percentage off their first three LPs so was laughing all the way to the bank… Let’s get into all those Hi-NRG hits here…

Throughout the 80s Bobby remained a prolific production powerhouse releasing records under an armada of aliases and faceless fronts (Hotline, Malibu and The New York Models just to name a few) on loads of his labels including Bobcat, Eurobeat and Meno Vision. We’re talking hundreds of records (easily over a thousand he’s behind) so no doubt releasing a few records a week there’s gonna be a lot of s**t but at the same time some his cuts are proper scarce slices that are appreciated by the hardcore Hi-NRG enthusiasts and have become speculator specials – case in point is ‘Trouble’ under his Girly guise on Riovista which was in the Hi-NRG haul I scored and is a £50+ record! Anyway in the late 80s Bobby became disillusioned with the music business and started winding down his music empire which he eventually sold to T.K. Disco’s Henry Stone who later released a series of Bobby O comps on his Hot Productions stable. His post-music career included completing his law studies and even publishing a book titled ‘Darwin Destroyed’ which questions Darwin’s theories of evolution (as you do) so a career trajectory you couldn’t make up… Though a self absorbed figure with narcissistic tendencies and God-fearing rhetoric, whatever your opinion of Bobby you can’t deny this enigma has left a lasting legacy and is one of the forefathers of Hi-NRG. I’ll leave you with a few of his haute Hi-NRG hotplates that you can cop at the next House Call in a coupe of weeks – salute to Hi-NRG HERO BOBBY O!


 

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