House Hunting #7 – Virgo Four

Aiden gets his hands on a record he's been after for a long time...

House Hunting #7 – Virgo Four

Aiden gets his hands on a record he's been after for a long time...

As it’s been a jive-fuelled July with me jettin’ to Electric Elephant and Farr Festival I finally got back in a wax den this week after a brief diggin’ sabbatical – which was extended further as my local haunt Alan’s was shut when I made a trek up there argh vinyl withdrawal! I was going to jet to the launch of Peckham’s new record emporium Rye Wax but it was damn hot and I didn’t fancy the jaunt south of the river so more on that another week… So I’ve been meaning to check out Hoxton’s Love Vinyl again as they have a lot of the vintage vinyl I yearn for in mint condition and this visit was prompted by an impromptu basement boogie at The Edition Hotel (very plush) where the ‘Love Vinyl Allstars’ were spinnin’ records. Shouts to Dave ‘Jarvo’ Jarvis who dropped Larry Heard’s house holy grail ‘Beat It’ off the super rare ‘Dance Tracs’ EP under his Disco-D alias – never heard it dropped in a club sounded killer boundless slut drops and faux b-boyin’ goin’ down… Anyway I bumped into Love Vinyl co-owner Zaf who confirmed he had an original record in mint condition I had been after for time and is one of my favourite albums – Virgo’s eponymous LP on Street Sounds offshoot Radical Records. Dave had promised me he was bringing me one of his Faith x Stussy tees to the shop the next day so an excuse to do some hardcore house hunting…

So I hooked up the next day with my House Hunting partner in crime Tomi and we took An evening summer stroll down Hoxton to dig together at Love Vinyl – the romance of it all… On flickin’ through the house racks there was the usual boss house selection – Tomi copped the JohNick 12” with the Carrie Lucas sampled ‘The Captain’ on Henry Street for just £12 – and I was super-happy to find the cosmic constellation cover of the Virgo LP. There was a brief panic as the records couldn’t be found but to my relief it turned out Zaf had the saved the records for me after our chat the previous evening what a top fella nice one! On examining the record it was mint and for under £40 to get this LP in excellent condition I had to take it as I’ve seen it go for far more serious notes…

Not to be confused with the Marshall Jefferson’s records as ‘Virgo’ on Trax (although an easy mistake), the ‘Virgo’ I’m on about comprises of Chicago’s Merwyn Sanders and Eric Lewis. As ever wanting to make a quick buck, the story goes that notorious (some may call shady) Trax Records boss Larry Sherman adopted the ‘Virgo’ name for Merwyn and Eric to capitalise on the success of Marshall Jefferson’s earlier ‘Free Yourself’ 12” as Virgo. Though their debut ‘Do You Know Who You Are’ EP on Trax has some distinction as they released it as ‘Virgo Four’ and their next ‘Ride’ EP was released with their initials ‘M.E.’, the tracks off these two EP’s formed their ‘Virgo’ LP under the name ‘Virgo’ when licensed to Radical Records – you still with me?! Anyway, regardless of the horoscope hoo-ha and despite the LP comprising of their two Trax EP’s, all the tracks have an amazing synergy and are a constellation of ethereal yet haunting rhythms that have an otherworldly feel – conveyed perfectly by the Zodiac cover. I really can’t pick a favourite – it’s just one of those albums I can listen to whatever mood am I’m in and doesn’t sound like anything of the era or even now, definitely a defining record… I do have a soft spot for ‘Do You Know Who You Are’ and ‘In A Vision’ though as I have the Radical Records EP with the rare vocal versions that aren’t on the LP – check ‘em here:

Slept on by many, the LP finally got the recognition it deserved when Dutch record behemoth Rush Hour (I think these cats have reissued every one of my records!!!) lovingly restored it and exposed it to a newer, wider audience. Not content in reissuing the LP they also trawled through the Virgo Four DAT’s and released the mammoth five-vinyl retrospective ‘Resurrection’ (expensive at 40 quid but worth it though there’s the cheaper and less exhaustive 2xLP option) – my fave tracks the ones with the sex references typical…


Rush Hour also commissioned remixes from in-vogue producers such as Caribou and Hunee – not to mention featuring on Gene Hunt’s ‘Chicago Dance Tracks Part 2’ compilation with their track ‘The Dryer’. Though all the Rush Hour releases have made a lot of the Virgo Four tracks more accessible you can still hunt down for more of their obscurities that are synonymous with the earlier Virgo four material which includes their 303 opus ‘Let Your Body Talk’ under their ‘Ace & The Sandman’ alias on Trax subsidiary Saber Records. Actually scrap that just remembered it’s been reissued but get it anyway as the original super-rare and proper Discogs speculator shizzle!

This renaissance has seen Merwyn and Eric get back in the production saddle though they now produce separately – Eric now produces with Terry Ivy under the Virgo Four pseudonym and has released two ‘E-Series’ EP’s on Chiwax that are definitely worth checking out. Merwyn has gone solo, releasing the ‘Where Are You’ EP on Simoncino’s ‘HotMix Records’ and more recently collaborating with boogie beatsmith and synth supremo Inskwel on the ‘Cloud Eaters’ EP on Hot Shot Sounds – seek this one out before they’re gone a killer EP! After repeated requests to rerelease his achingly rare 12” on Christabel Records, Merwyn is running a kickstarter campaign to reissue the record – check it out here on how you can make a pledge and contribute to the project!

Right I’m off to lose myself in space again by having another listen – why not join me in going beyond the stars in the cosmic constellation of Virgo (Four)…

Aiden d'Araujo








 

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