House Hunting #2 – The Castle Beat
After finishing work on Saturday I jetted to Hoxton to check out the anticipated launch of new record haunt Love Vinyl. Co-founded by some of London’s finest selectors and purveyors in Stuart Patterson, James Manero, Zafar Chowdhry and Jake Holloway, the concept of their new venture is to cater to all, whether the latest house/techno releases for the budding DJ’s, the cherry-picked records consisting of soul, jazz, funk, disco and hip-hop for the vinyl purist, or the super-rare original presses for the serious record collectors.
Though I got there quite late the shop was still buzzin’ with beers flowing and records playing – as I initiated my hunt in the vintage house section Earth People’s ‘Reach Up To Mars’ thundered from the speakers so I was definitely in my element… As ever I left the new releases to the kool kats (though there were some choice cuts in there including Theo Parrish’s ‘Footwork’ 12”, Omar S’ ‘Romancing The Stone’ record and the ‘Lost Nu Grooves’ EP by Rheji Burrell), and I focused on diggin’ in the vintage racks. There were some killer house records at ridiculous prices that I couldn’t believe hadn’t been picked up including Heaven & Earth’s 12” on Prescription for a fiver, and an original copy of Larry Heards' Gherkin Jerks ‘1990’ EP on Gherkin Records for twenty quid – shame I got ‘em already, someone seek ‘em out!
However, on gettin’ towards the end of the rack I unearthed a super-rare old house gem in the form of The Castle Beat’s ‘Today, Tomorrow And Forever’ for little over £20 – I’d been after another copy as I sold my old battered one years ago, so was super-happy to come across this in near mint condition. Behind the counter was London house disciple Dave ‘Jarvo’ Jarvis who introduced me to Zafar aka ‘Zaf’ – was great to meet a head who had the same passion for old house records as myself and exclaimed there was far more to be put out in the racks in the coming weeks. Thankfully they only accepted cash on the day for the vintage records otherwise my credit card will have been maxed out with the great prices Zaf was offering to me! If you love house, vinyl and exceptional service I suggest you join me in making a weekly pilgrimage to Love Vinyl for some house holy grails…
Anyway back to the record and for those asking who/what the hell is ‘The Castle Beat’ well yeah it’s more of an obscure 12” and it’s an alias of the enigmatic and unheralded Larry Joseph. Prior to releasing house records Larry produced some killer disco cuts in the post disco era under his Sparque pseudonym for the legendary New York label West End Records – including ‘Music Turns Me On’, ‘Take Some Time’ and the more celebrated ‘Let’s Go Dancin’ with disco luminaries Larry Levan and Francois K on the mix. However with the emergence of exciting new genres such as electro and hip-hop, plus the capabilities of cheaper, more accessible technology, Larry deviated from disco by releasing a variety of obscure records under a myriad of monikers – including the proto-boogie of ‘Get On Up’ as Krome, the electro-rap styling of ‘The Party Scene’ with The Russell Brothers, the Italo-infused ‘Pump Me Tonight’ as the Pump Boys and a collaboration with Wendell Richardson on the funk-fuelled ‘Soul On Fire’.
Fast-forward to the late 80’s and it was a natural progression for Larry to release house records – again releasing under an array of aliases such as Code Serious and Prioritee on one-release labels which was typical of the era further adding to his anonymity and mystique. Though his NY imprint ‘Electric Ice Records’ was a platform for more of his house releases, and as Larry Joseph & The Science he collaborated with greats such as Leroy Burgess, Fonda Rae and Sharon Redd, it’s his rare ‘The Castle Beat’ 12” on Rama Records that is my favourite production of his. Upon listening you’ll be thinking ‘I’ve heard this before where have I heard that beat from?’ before realising it’s the same drum break as ‘Break 4 Love’ by Vaughn Mason’s house collective Raze – which went on to be rinsed by everyone including Quartz, Sydney Youngblood, The KLF and even Lil’ Kim- mental!
Sounding like a long lost house 12” outta Chicago that could have been released on Target or Trax, it’s definitely worth hunting down – don’t forget to check out on the flip ‘You Turn Me On’ which is a killer boogie joint more reminiscent of his older Sparque productions. If unlike me you’re a lazy digger and not bothered ‘bout owning an original you can acquire the later issue on NY’s Select records far easier and much cheaper (the ‘D’ word is banned) – I’m sure it’s bound to be found in a bargain bin section somewhere. Anyway have a listen and lose yourself to some Larry Joseph as this creative chameleon’s influence deserves more of your time – I could literally listen to that drum loop for today, tomorrow and forever… Shout to my partner Tonya for putting me on to this years ago a house hunting gold star for you!
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