House Hunting #13 – Vil-N-X
So I’ve been fruitlessly flirting with some nearly house finds over the last week… Reckless in Soho got in touch as they had a big collection come in and though I picked up the ‘Never No More Lonely’ 12” by Fingers Inc. (the one with arguably the strongest cuts off the ‘Another Side’ LP with Music Takes Me Up and Distant Planet) in near mint condition at a decent £25 for Thunder kat Miles, I couldn’t bring myself to rinse £60 on an original copy of the Paradise’s Deep Groove EP on E-Legal – no I won’t buy the bootleg! So next on my house hunting radar was taking a trek south of the river to hipster paradise Peckham (no me neither…) where I wanted to check out new vinyl ventures Rye Wax and YAM Records.
Rye Wax is housed in the basement of the Bussey Building and is a hive of activity selling not just new and second-hand records but also books, tees and even capitalising on the comic craze with graphic novels – not to mention a café cum bar so you can enjoy a drink when diggin’ deep! In contrast to this cultural hub YAM Records (short for You And Music) is in an arcade and though a tight space it’s small but perfectly formed supporting smaller, independent labels and housing a choice selection of second hand records. Still, here’s me waxing lyrical about both shops and I didn’t even cop a record at either of ‘em! Rye Wax came close as they had ‘Drink On Me’ by Teule aka Kerri Chandler for £3 but the Profile sleeve was a proper ripped mess and you know me I’m well OCD with record covers and labels – I’ve got the original anyway on the ‘Super Lover’ EP on Express Records so wasn’t an essential need. Anyway both shops worth checkin’ out if you’re in the area but no holy house grails on this occasion…
So I got the Overground back north and thought I’d stop off at Hoxton for a cheeky visit to Love Vinyl. Zaf and Dave were at the controls and as ever enjoyed a social but it’s always dangerous in there as they have a lot of the long lost house records I yearn for in mint condition – a rarity these days… I really need a new copy of the original William S 12” on Trax as my one ain’t in great condition and hasn’t got the instrumental version I want (you know I don’t do represses) but even with Zaf kindly offering a tenner off £70 still too much… I was even deliberating over the rare Andrews “Rags” Richardson 12” under his After Hours alias on Strictly Rhythm but again even though in mint condition I couldn’t part with £50 on one record, maybe another time though again no record copped…
As an unfulfilled house hunting session that evening I turned to my eBay app as a last resort for some online perusing – though you can’t beat diggin’ in the crates there are house records to be won at bargain basement prices so always worth a browse. With all the records I’m after I can be on there for hours as I methodically go through all my wax wants alphabetically (yeah I know – get a life!) and it wasn’t looking good as I got to ‘V’ with still nothing found… However on scrolling through this letter I came across a Vil-N-X record (‘I Lust For You’) that was brand new and still sealed in shrink (you know I get excited with s**t like that!) for £20! Though it was a ‘Buy It Now’ option the seller was accepting offers so I started with a cheeky £11.50 offer (so £15 all in with postage), he counter-offered £17.50 so I gave him a take it or leave it offer of £15 which he agreed to nice one! It was that pristine I didn’t want to unseal it but the music gotta be heard here’s one of the joints here…
Only previously on the radar of the hardcore house enthusiasts, the last few years has seen Vil-N-X undergo a renaissance with their inimitable New Jersey flavour flourishing again with the New Jersey garage revival of recent years. Comprising of kindred spirits Hans Vil (aka ‘Mr Vil’) and James N. Tinsley (aka ‘Nathaniel X’), Vil-N-X released a small but distinguished discography on their Island Noyze imprint that found favour with the early garage heads. One of my favourite records on the label is the original mix of ‘What Cha Gonna Do’ which though was a slice of obscure allure it has proved influential with DJ Sprinkles samplin’ it on his ‘Hush Now’ track on Skylax – shout to the train spotters! Check ‘em both out here – what’s your preference?
You may have also noticed last year their ‘Give Ya Luv Show Ya Luv’ joint was rereleased by choice house label Echovolt Records outta Athens to launch their reissue series – nice to see a respectful reissue with fresh artwork how it should be done! Can’t hack all these bootlegs and reissues with the same artwork proper counterfeit couture… Anyway on this 12” they hand-picked two of the mixes off the original release – that’s another thing I love about Vil-N-X records they have loads of different mixes all with a unique flavour you don’t see that anymore… Echovolt have picked well here as I feel the ‘Clubstramental Mix’ perfectly captures the essence of their warm yet hip-shakin’ production ingenuity though the chord-laden lush groove of the ‘Deep Luv Mix’ also a worthy addition – tough to pick a favourite I’ll let you decide…
Instrumental in their resurgence was Parisian house auteur Jeremy Fichon aka Jeremy ‘Underground Paris’ who went on a transatlantic trek to track down Nate X in Long Island and dig up some long lost DATs… The result of this journey was the aptly-named ‘The Resurrxion EP’ (playing inside-out on transparent vinyl – nice touch) which is a tribute to his rare EP on New Jersey institution Music Station and launched Jeremy’s ‘My Love Is Underground’ stable – quickly elevating from a word-of-mouth weapon to a multiple reissue missile (gotta have sold in the thousands?!). Though the record and MLIU’s subsequent releases reinvigorated the genre – in terms of finding a newer audience in primarily the younger generation – I feel it was a motivator in loads of Kerri Chandler rip-offs being released wanting to capitalise on the trend thus saturating the market and me not being able to listen to a garage record for months… My advice? Just go old-school and dig for proper New Jersey records a la Kerri, Blaze, Jerzzey Boy and of course Vil-N-X… Kolour Recordings offshoot Undertones later released EPs with fresh material from Nate under his ‘The Nathaniel X Project’ guise and he got back in the ring with his ol’ sparring partner Hans Vil for the ‘Lazarus Theory EP’ – though great to see ‘em back again after a 20 year hiatus you can’t beat the raw charm of their old Island Noyze releases…
With the resurrection complete let’s raid the Vil-N-X vaults and revive these long lost house holy grails…
House Hunting is bought to you as ever by the great AIDEN D’ARAUJO
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