House Hunting #9 - Gallifre

Aiden goes against his house hunting morals and succumbs to online buying...

House Hunting #9 - Gallifre

Aiden goes against his house hunting morals and succumbs to online buying...

I’ve gone against my house hunting morals this week and succumbed to the digital realm of online buying – sacrilege! I ain’t surrendered to record database behemoth Discogs though… I subscribe to a few choice mail-order record proponents that specialise in the holy house grails I hanker for with the credit card gettin’ rinsed if there’s wax on the wantlist! So when I was doin’ my joyless weekly ritual of deleting my excess of emails I was surprised but super-excited to dig out an email with all my favourite words all in one header – ‘Chicago & Detroit House & Techno list at DJ Friendly’.

Though it's mail-order only I highly recommended checking out DJ Friendly Records as it’s a vast vault of vintage vinyl. I only came across this website recently and made the connection it was run by ‘Nick The Record’. Nick has always been a mythical figure (well to me anyway) – when I was in my teens it was all about Wednesdays at midnight as I used to religiously stay up and tune in to Gilles Peterson’s ‘Worldwide’ Radio 1 show to broaden my soundscape (still got the recorded TDK tapes/minidiscs at my Mum’s!) with Gilles waxin’ lyrical about sourcing from records from this ‘Nick The Record’ guy. Not content in being the go-to-guy for those elusive 12 inches of pleasure and dealing records 24/7, the older heads may remember he ran legendary parties as part of the ‘Lifeforce’ crew in Japan and released record himself under an array of aliases including DJ Friendly, Lifeforce, Soul Ascendants and East West Acid Test. He also released a few choice compilations featuring rarities and personal playing favourites – watch out for his forthcoming compilation where he will be contributing to Joey Negro’s ‘Under The Influence’ series on Z Records with his instalment titled ‘A Collection of Rare Soul & Disco’ – touchin’ down next month some gems to be found on there I’m sure! Bringin’ it back on a house tip and check out Nick’s recent live mix outta Japan showing how serious a selector he is – House Hunting gold star for droppin’ Ace & The Sandman’s ‘Let Your Body Talk’!

Back to the website and there are countless genres to flick through including soul, jazz, funk, boogie, disco, italo, electro, hip-hop, reggae, afro, latin, gospel – the list goes on get some caffeine on the go! If like me you’re a hardcore house enthusiast then the ‘Chicago House’, ‘Detroit House & Techno’ and ‘NY House & Garage’ sections are the ones to have a proper peruse in though the ‘UK & Non-US House’ is worth checking for some obscure allure. 

On checking my fave facet of house (Chicago of course…) I carefully browsed the listings and gave a fist pump when I saw staring at me the ‘Chicago Boogie Rhythm Tracks’ EP by Gallifre on Danica Records listed in excellent condition and in original sleeve – I’m a bit particular when it comes to having an original issue in an original sleeve and even get excited if a sleeve retained in shrink sorry I’m a proper sad-act… Anyway for £20-odd quid it had to be done so I made the order and also picked up the My Mine 12” also on Danica (yes original disco sleeve and shrink intact!) with the killer Frankie Knuckles ’87 Powerhouse Mix – rest in paradise Frankie…


Now you’re probably thinking NOT ANOTHER CHICAGO RECORD (next instalment a different city or environ honest!) but this 12” by Gallifre is an under the radar 12” and deserves wider attention. Gallifre was an alias of Chicago enigma Brett ‘Kevin Dixon’ Wilcots who is one of my favourite producers – I’m always trying to track his records down... Having worked for record pools and being a buyer for Sounds Good Records, Brett found a kindred spirit in Paul Weisberg who regularly visited him for the exclusive Disco records and latest imports. Sharing a love for the more interesting house records coming outta Europe, Paul approached Brett in going alone with their own venture as he had a site and Brett had experience in retail distribution so this was the catalyst to form the legendary Chicago record store ‘Importes Etc’ – whose alumni included Tony Mundaca, Frank Sells and Chip E. With Brett’s influence in the burgeoning dance scene, he was commissioned to do remixes along with engineer Erasmo Riviera for artists like September and The Salsoul Orchestra on Dutch Disco imprint Rams Horn Records, though I love his italo-infused Dub of Danny Alias’ new wave novelty ‘Civil Defense’ on Persona Records which sounds like an early house prototype – I’m still hunting down a copy…


In the late 80’s Brett along with Jim Stivers founded probably my favourite house label and distributor – Gherkin Records. With a small yet distinguished discography, the label released some of the most influential and collectable Chicago House records including Larry Heard’s acid-tinged ‘Stomp The Beat’ and Detroit-inspired ‘1990’ EP’s under his ‘Gherkin Jerks’ guise. They also had a plethora of subsidiaries including Conquest, Mixdown, OC, On The Five, Resound, Rio, Smoove Jam, Sound Development Music, Sub-Sonic, Total Spectrum and Viola De Gamba so loads of obscure Chi-Town obscurities to unearth, not to mention distributing key Chicago labels such as Lary Heard’s Alleviated, Muzique and Warehouse – a stamp with the iconic Gherkin will signify this! Brett himself released records under his Gallifre moniker on Gherkin too including ‘Set Your Mind To It’ complete with a lush Larry Heard mix and ‘Don’t Walk Out On Love’ with killer Frankie Knuckles remixes – shame the ‘Dream’ remix ain’t on YouTube but the ‘Club’ version will suffice. Check ‘em out here…

Back to this week’s find and the ‘House Rhythm’ track off this EP proved to be very influential and a precursor to a more celebrated house classic. On listening to its infectious percussion and arpeggiated synths, you’ll be thinking that this sounds familiar and you heard it somewhere before, suddenly realising the instrumentation is that of Mondee Oliver’s mournful melter ‘Make Me Want You’ on Gherkin Records! However this earlier prototype released five years prior differs in that it has a reverberating vox stating ‘house rhythm’ with a soulful male larynx coming in to play serenading us to ‘move your body to the beat’. Though the Mondee Oliver version is more polished and will get any discernible dancefloor swooning I do love this version too – would be a great curveball to drop! If you haven’t got either or both seek ‘em out – house classics with a timeless beauty… The other tracks on the EP are mainly DJ tools but ‘House Beats’ worth a mention as it sounds like a raw Trax joint.


Hopefully Thunder maestro (and fellow Gherkin geek) Miles will get that interview sorted with the cryptic Chi-Town myth and get it on R$N as Brett’s influence and full story needs to be heard – here’s hoping…

Aiden d’Araujo

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