House Hunting #1
With house back in vogue and the emergence of database behemoth Discogs it’s increasingly harder to unearth long lost house records at bargain basement prices (though check Ransom Note’s ‘Discogs Bargain Bin’ column for remedial recommendations) – what happened to the days when you couldn’t give away an old Nu-Groove or Dance Mania record?!
So instead of taking the easy option and paying some joker on Discogs an inflation-bustin’ price for a record I ensure I always make time to check out at least one record shop a week in my quest to find the old house records I know and love – whether a cheeky lunch-time call to Soho’s mecca of vinyl emporiums, a thrift dig in a charity shop or just a jaunt to my local wax haunt. Over the last year I’ve been spammin’ my recent bargain bonanza finds via Instagram which has gained some notoriety with the house hierarchy and after some encouragement from Thunder’s head honcho Miles I have decided to take the plunge and finally utilise that journo degree that has laid dormant for nearly a decade so I present to you… HOUSE HUNTING – my new weekly column chronicling and waxing lyrical about killer old house records*
*I'll only feature older records (pre 2000) as I haven’t got a clue about new house records coz I don’t DJ and a hand-stamped limited 12” doesn’t excite me (save that for Thunder Picks) – this column strictly for the collectors…
HOUSE HUNTING #1 – KENNY DIXON JR – ‘MOODYMANN EP’ (GRASSROOTS RECORDS)
I wouldn't trust any purveyor of house that doesn't own at least one Kenny Dixon Jr. record in their collection. Under his Moodymann alias the Detroit native has gained a cult following with his laissez- faire approach to house and techno incorporating ingenuitive dusty soul, jazz and funk samples complete with blaxploitation themes. Simultaneously capturing the essence of Detroit yet instilling an inimitable groove, he has released arguably some of the most influential house albums with Silentintroduction, Mahogani Brown and Forevernevermore – not to mention classic tracks such as 'Shades Of Jae' and 'I Can’t Kick This Feelin When It Hits' that still sends many a discernable dancefloor into rapture. Add to this the recent release of his already cult classic ‘Moodymann’ LP (sold out in days – whatupdoe Discogs speculator biznizz yo!) plus his latest EP (featuring a typical KDJ joint with the trippy nocturnal haze of ‘Hangover’ and reincarnating Funkadelic’s ‘Cosmic Slop’ into a funk-fuelled, dusty Detroit jam dripping in sweat’n’soul) and Moodymann is still showing the young kats how it’s done…
So, this week's choice cut is one of his older, more obscure records that I was surprised to find when diggin’ in the deeper depths of East Finchley at Alan’s Records. According to shop owner Alan I was the first person to check the house section all week (Led Zeppelin LPs were all the rage) and though I’d been after this particular Moodymann 12” for years I initially passed up on it due to the price – which I came to regret as soon as I got home… Like any record obsessive I realise I made a grave error and was still yearning over it so jetted back the next day and was relieved it was still there – without me even attempting to negotiate Alan knocked off a fiver! The joys of buying vinyl in a record shop…
Anyway back to the record and this one is the eponymously titled 'Moodymann EP' released back in ’94 on Grassroots Records outta New Jersey (yeah that’s right – Englewood New Jersey not 8-mile Detroit!) featuring his long-time beau and frequent collaborator Norma Jean Bell. The EP perfectly captures the spirit of his production style – whether it be the sax-laden grooves and husky tones of 'Do You Know' and ‘N.J.B. Sax Solo’ (forming the template for his later collaboration with Norma Jean – the classic 'Long Hot Sexy Nights' on his KDJ imprint), the low-slung bass and dusty soul of The Whispers sampling 'Goes On…' or the eerie, ethereal yet entrancing beat of 'Dreeemz'.
If you're an avid Moodymann fan and you haven't got this EP then track it down and get those fingers dusty (real diggers don’t do Discogs!) as it’s a piece of KDJ history that was a precursor for many of his defining records. To quote the enigma himself: "I don’t make music for the masses to dance to, I make music for the small majority that listens."
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