Acid Thunder Sleevenotes #2


After the success of Terry Farley's massive 'Acid Rain' box set, the veteran Boys Own member is teaming up with the Harmless label once more to bring out 'Acid Thunder' – a 5 CD retrospective of the best in deep house, jack tracks and classic acid spanning 1986 – 1991. In addition, one disc will be dedicated to the memory of Frankie Knuckles, with songs by Knuckles, as well as tracks associated with him.

In case you missed the first part, you can read it here. For this second outing, the sleeve-notes from Jacob Arnold takes a look at the East coast hub of New York;

New York’s Nu Groove

Since New York disco dominated clubs worldwide in the late seventies and early eighties, it’s hard to believe Chicago’s homemade tracks could make an impact there, but make an impact they did. New York club-goers instantly noted their oddly primitive style.

Twins Rheji and Ronald Burrell, who grew up in a musical family in Queens, NY, joined a cover band as teens. Rheji sang and played drums while Ronald played keyboards. The brothers signed to Virgin UK’s 10 Records as an R&B act in late 1987, but were dropped after their first album. They were soon introduced to Chicago house music by DJ B-Free (Vernon Freeland), a student at Rutgers University where Rheji taught Kung Fu.

“He’d play these tracks, and that was what got me,” recalls Rheji for Angus Finlayson at FACT Magazine. “They were so raw and dirty and wrong, the EQs was fucked up, the singing was off, you had chanting and moaning and all types of crazy shit. And it seemed like the sexiest girls liked that—they just started sweating and grinding to that stuff—and I said ‘I like that kinda stuff!’”

The Burrell brothers already had a number of song ideas on tape. They founded Nu Groove Records with Judy Russell and their managers, Frank and Karen Mendez, as an outlet to finish and release them. 

Rheji set up a studio in the basement of his mother’s house in New Jersey. He purposely recorded at low levels and introduced noise and distortion to make them sound rawer. After four prolific years during which the Burrell brothers released singles under over a dozen aliases (including Ronald’s “Song of the Siren” as Aphrodisiac), Frank suddenly shut Nu Groove down. The Burrell brothers continued to work in the music industry, producing hip-hop, pop, and R&B.

Philadelphia-born DJ and producer Bobby Konders was also drawn to music as a youth. “I was a record collector in the ’70s as a kid,” Konders tells RBMA Radio. “I loved soul music.”

When Konders first started to spin, he played funk and early hip-hop. In 1985, he interned and then was hired at WBLS in New York where he created mixes, leading to club gigs. The next year Chicago house music began spreading through New York’s club scene.

Despite the Paradise Garage closing in 1987, house continued to thrive at a series of small, underground parties, including one called Wild Pitch at The Space on 20th Street, where Konders played house music mixed with reggae. “The party would go to 7, 8, 9 in the morning,” he recalls.

From DJing in clubs, it was a “natural progression” into the studio to make his own material. “House Rhythms,” which Konders produced with engineer and keyboardist Peter Daou, was his biggest hit. When he felt the reggae house scene was “fading” (and police were cracking down on after-hours parties), Konders re-focused on dancehall reggae and started his own label, Massive B, with vocalist Jabba. Konders and Jabba still host a radio show on Hot 97 in New York City as well as a local club night, and Konders tours internationally as a reggae selector.


Jacob Arnold 

Full details on Acid Thunder here.