House Hunting #20 – Various Artists Ltd #2
So it’s that time again where I give you a breather from me waxing lyrical about diggin’ in the depths of London in my quest to unearth some obscure B-side house bombs that you couldn’t give two s**ts about… Instead, I present to you another House Hunting compilation featuring ten kats with their fave house finds – forget Juno charts and Discogs wantlists, it’s all about diggin’ deep for some bargain basement Holy Grails. Read on and get House Hunting…
Back in 2008 when I was living in the suburban nightmare of Solihull I regularly sought solace in Prosumer’s debut mix for Tim Sweeney’s ‘Beats In Space’ show – when I first heard it I was thinking “Who’s this grizzled selector droppin’ all my fave Larry Heard and Prescription records?” I’ve been hooked ever since by his mix of obscure allure in the form of bargain basement belters and Discogs wantlist weapons keepin’ everyone happy whether they're hardcore house enthusiasts, the trainspotters or, most importantly, the dancers. Club behemoth fabric have just announced he will be contributing to their mix series with the next instalment (watch out for the Linkwood exclusive DAZE & AMAZE!) – here’s a lil’ taster what to expect.
Anyway, for his House Hunting find, Prosumer finally unearths an early 90s rave classic that he refused to buy online…
PLEZ – ‘CAN’T STOP’ – PLEZURE RECORDS
This record was on my list for quite a bit but I refused to buy one off the internet because I kept thinking "Nah, you will find it somewhere". One night Steffi and I DJed together and she played it and I got really frustrated with myself for not having found a copy yet. But it was clear: this could not be an online purchase. One day in Italy, I was facing a huge, completely unsorted wall of records, records and more records, thousands of them… There was a bit of everything in there and I walked to the shelves thinking "Yes, this will have the Plez record." A couple of minutes later, after going through everything from Abba to ZZ Top and an almost obscene amount of Barbara Streisand records, I had a copy of "Can't Stop" in my hands, great condition, and it cost me 50 cent. I was over the moon. So now, whenever I play it, this great record has an extra layer of happiness on top with fond memories of that shop, Steffi and Italy.
TERRY FARLEY (BOY’S OWN)
Whether it’s influencing a generation with his Boy’s Own fanzine, being at the forefront of the outdoor rave scene and acid house era with the legendary Boy’s Own parties or catapulting the careers of X-Press 2, Underworld and The Chemical Brothers via his Junior Boy’s Own stable, UK house hierarchy Terry Farley has been a significant influence in putting London on the house map. More recently he has curated the essential introductions to early Chicago and NY house with his mammoth 5 x CD box sets ‘Acid Rain’ and ‘Acid Thunder’ (word on the street is a third one is on the cards to cap a definitive acid trilogy, here’s hoping…) and last month he released the ‘Tears’ compilation on Berlin’s Get Physical Music with partner in crime Pete Heller – here’s a lil’ preview for your aural pleasure. Watch out next week for the Boy’s Own x Drop Acid Not Bombs party at East Bloc with Heller & Farley supporting NYC legend Tedd Patterson – I’m proud to announce that House Hunting will be representing with Thunder’s Miles Simpson and myself at the controls in the House Hunting room! Event details here.
Right, back to the House Hunting and a visit to a legendary Italian emporium gave Terry the upper-hand in the summer of ’89…
RICHIE HAVENS – ‘GOING BACK TO MY ROOTS’ – WEEK-OFF RECORDS
My fave bit of House Hunting was when Mrs Farley and myself took a holiday in 1989 to Rimini. This was on my part a sly pretence to find the famous ‘Disco Piu’ shop where the legend was they had every record the whole of London was looking for. You have to remember that there was actually a fight (proper blows) over a promo copy of Starlight’s ‘Numero Uno’ in Soho's Trax. So I gave it till the Monday then slipped off in a taxi and walked into the empty shop and handed over my long list. The shop guy shouted something that included 'London DJ' and told me to wait. Within 10 minutes all the records were there including Starlight and THE number 1 track in London at that time – the Ritchie Havens version of 'Going Back To My Roots'… Back at the hotel I was buzzing – in fact all I wanted was the holiday to end so I could play all my new hard to find records. A month later a very well-known DJ who had first played the Ritchie Havens record told me a story… Basically a London house DJ who the Italians had spent a month sourcing rare stuff walked into the shop as planned only to find out they had just sold ‘em all to someone else who they thought was him… lol! The Ritchie Havens was a bootleg 12” costing me about £15 and gave me an edge all summer…
CHRISTIAN BERNARD-CEDERVALL (SKUDGE)
Christian is one half of Techno duo and hardcore hardware enthusiasts Skudge who, with their uncompromising yet infectious hybrid of house and techno, have been in demand across the globe with their live analogue odysseys. When not jettin’ around the world with their busy live schedule, Christian and his production partner Elias Landberg continue to run and release EPs on their ‘Skudge Records’ imprint as well as contributing to revered stables such as Echocord Colour, Nonplus Records and Dekmantel. Away from Skudge, Christian is a longtime DJ under his ‘Swalk’ alias with releases coming soon under his solo guise – to get a lil’ flavour check this mix he did for Marco Bernadi – definitely not what you’ll expect… Anyway, Christian is a kindred spirit who loves his Chicago House and is a hardcore collector so it was only natural I got him to contribute – for his House Hunting, he digs out an obscure remix 12” of a Chicago House icon…
JAMIE PRINCIPLE – ‘DRIVE ME’ (EMIL HELLMAN MIX) – REMIXED RECORDS
If I constantly roam everywhere I can for free jazz, modern classical or any kind of avant garde, Chicago house is always also on my radar, even if it's seldom I stumble upon anything that isn't already being hunted, if not even at home on the shelves. Of course, there's always happy "accidents" such as getting an uncharted white label featuring two exclusive extra tracks when ordering a cheap copy of an old Rockin' House on Discogs. But for me, the real joy lays in research: years ago, digging in Stockholm (sooooo many records in that city!) while I still was living in Paris, I started to notice a series of local records under the Remixed Records banner. That was my introduction to the concept of remix service labels that appears to be all the rage these days. Not unlike Razormaid Records, Remixed was the birth ground for a local techno/house scene, presenting juiced-up versions of new wave and pop hits in the manner of what Mantronix, Chep Nunez or the Latin Rascals were then doing. Most of the time, this just amounted to cheesy scratching and boring pads, but every now and then, you'd be presented with original ideas that may not be up to our current standards of quality, but still very inspiring. At the forefront of dance music, they were of course the firsts to embrace house music and delivered a steady amount of floor fillers before striking gold with their own protégé, Dr Alban, but the magic remained in various official swemix popping up almost randomly. I could go on about the hidden corners of that very specific corner, but let's get back on track and address Aiden's mission, a digging story!
On a long afternoon going through an endless stream of "cheese" 80s records at Snickars records, I stumbled upon a Jamie Principle track I wasn't yet familar of, "Drive Me". This was presented in the form of an Emil Hellman remix for volume 52 (1992) of the Remixed Records packs. This was exactly what I was looking for, a perfect balanced down take on the eerie melancholy of "Bad Boy" with added cheekiness of "I'm gonna make you scream", a real uplifting yet romantic jacking house tune, beefed up with some weird but cool edits from the Remixed camp, quite subtle. As I grew more curious about that track, I found out it had originally been released only once, on a Steve Silk Hurley compilation from 1989 on Atlantic, a cheapo I found a month later in a thrift store. The original is great, but that Remixed version is a little freakier and will always have priority in my DJ bag. I couldn't find a link to that version, but here's the original, in the hope it will motivate you to find the Remixed version.
LINDSAY TODD (FIRECRACKER RECORDINGS / THE LIVING MOUNTAIN)
Lindsay has been running Firecracker Recordings for over a decade now with a small but distinguished discography from the likes of Vakula, Panoram, Fudge Fingas and himself under his ‘House Of Traps’ guise – not to mention label mainstay and production wunderkind Linkwood whose new ‘Expressions’ LP will be unveiled on the label soon (you can hear one of the new joints on the aforementioned Fabric comp by Prosumer). Not content in running just the one imprint, Lindsay also has to his label roster ‘Unthank’ which is a series of limited ten inches delving more into the obscure realms of house plus ‘Shevchenko’ which is predominantly an outlet for the deeper excursions of Ukrainian enigma Vakula – both these subsidiaries also having that distinctive handmade and screen-printed design aesthetic that has made all the releases along with those on Firecracker collectable works of art. Also just launched is the Firecracker x Mastersounds limited edition turntable weight – you know these won’t hang around so pre-order here. As well as juggling three labels Lindsay opened his bijou vinyl boutique ‘The Living Mountain’ earlier this year which is an art space housing choice records whether sought-after new releases or hand-picked second-hand platters – for more details check the Facebook page here. It’s some proper obscure allure with Lindsay’s House Hunting pick as he crosses one off the wantlist unearthed in a rave collection…
ONGAKU – ‘MIHON #2’ – RISING HIGH RECORDS
A few years back I stumbled on this gem in a now defunct second hand record store in St. Andrews which was not too far from Edinburgh. Occasionally you’d find old rave collections dumped in these shops and because it’s more of a backwater they’d sit around for a while. In amongst all the Clubscene and Tidy Trax there were usually a few gems. The Rising High label was one of my first forays into dance music when I was at school as my friend’s sister would tape us mixes like DIY at Castlemorton and loads of Colin Dale’s Kiss FM shows. Always on the hunt for the bits I never got back in the day I was totally chuffed to find this Holy Grail of my Rising High wants… mint and for 99p! Mihon #2 is THE cut from the EP, dark, full of Star Trek samples (needs to be pitched up a bit sometimes) – this crosses all genres and works with the lights down low and the smoke machine on overdrive…
THOMAS COX (PITTSBURGH TRACK AUTHORITY)
I used to be an avid reader of Thomas Cox’s ‘Infinite State Machine’ under his ‘Pipecock’ alias. All the contributors presented a sardonic commentary on house with a ‘Don’t give a f**k’ attitude complete with a sartorial edge – always a refreshing read and the antithesis of the generic house press found on Resident Advisor et al. Though they’ve wound down the website this year it’s still worth checking as it’s an archive of boss mixes and no holds barred reviews. As well as stirring s**t and winding up way too serious producers on Twitter, Thomas is one third of the Golden Triangle trinity Pittsburgh Track Authority who have appeared on choice labels such as Uzuri, Argot and their Pittsburgh Tracks/PTA imprints with their killer hardware jams complete with Steel City grit’n’groove – be sure to check their ‘Enter The Machine Age’ LP with dope artwork. For his House Hunting steal he picks up a NY classic amongst a heavy disco collection…
THE UTOPIA PROJECT – ‘FILE #1’ – NU GROOVE RECORDS
A few years back I was on vacation with my wife’s family about an hour and a half outside of Pittsburgh, when we encountered what appeared to be a small record shop that was closed but had a banner with a phone number on it. I called the number and talked to the cat who owned it. He sold funk and jazz LPs and 45s on eBay now and closed the store front, but upon my asking he said he did in fact have a stack of 12” singles that he had no idea about. I scheduled a time to drop by the next day, and went buck wild. On a disco tip, I pulled all kinds of stuff like four mint copies of Skatt Bros. “Walk The Night” 12”. Only found a couple house records, but one is amongst my very favourite of all time, the great Rheji Burrell’s Utopia Project EP, and it was unplayed. I spent about $50 total, but I got so many good records that they averaged out to about $0.35 each! A very unusual spot, with great results. I made a few more trips back there and got other great scores for similar prices!
FINN JOHANNSEN (HARDWAX)
You can find Finn at the controls of legendary Berlin record haunt Hardwax which was originally founded by Basic Channel’s Mark Ernestus. Housed in a discreet former factory on the third floor of a graffiti-strewn stairwell, the Kreuzberg institution is a vinyl mecca for the discernible digger and has gained mythical status specialising in the deeper facets of House, Techno, Bass, Dub and Reggae – definitely a destination for the techno tourist… Anyway Finn is amongst an accomplished Hardwax alumni including DJ Hell, Marcel Dettmann, Soundstream and Cassy. When not behind the counter Finn is a revered selector (check his ‘Hot Wax’ mix series on his website, essential listening…) and operates the ‘Macro’ imprint along with Stefan Goldmann as an outlet for Stephan’s productions (be sure to check out KiNK’s ‘Under Destruction’ LP on the label if you ain’t already) – also regularly contributing with his boundless music knowledge to influential German publications such De:Bug and Groove plus Resident Advisor. On to his House Hunting pick and Finn unearths a gem in the goldmine of his hometown record shop…
NATURE BOY – ‘RUFF DISCO VOLUME ONE’ – BLACK LABEL
Over the 80s and 90s I spent a lot of time per week digging through a tiny store called Plattenkiste in my hometown of Kiel, up North in Germany. The store was rammed with stacks of records, filthy paperbacks, VHS tapes and video games. It was all completely unsorted, and whenever they did their regular flea market stints, they just rearranged it all back randomly and you had to start all over again. The store was operated by a family business, a couple and their daughter, and neither of whom had even a vague interest in what they were selling, nor any knowledge. The only music playing was an oldie radio station, constantly. They bought record collections from local DJs, Danish libraries and any private person in need of money. Every record in the store then cost 2 Deutschmarks, regardless of format, and later 2 Euros. It was a total goldmine, where I found a good deal of my record collection, and even if it now has dried up compared to its former glory days, I still find bargains there whenever I go back to visit family and old friends.
One of the finds with the most impact on me has to be "Ruff Disco Volume One" by Nature Boy, which was released on NYC based Black Label in 1992, and which I discovered in the store a year later, probably left there by some local DJ in search of some funky House tunes for the rather commercial clubs of the town. Given that purpose, this particular record was really bound to fail. Apart from myself I never hear it played in clubs for years to come. Disco actually was the theme throughout, and its samples mainly shared the same heritage used in the freestyle based releases of early 90's New York House labels. But that was it completely in terms of similarities. These tracks deconstructed Disco thoroughly, down to a primitive core that was just incredibly rugged and dark. It kicked determinedly, but all the glitz of its sample references were twisted to a muffled mess, and you were rather thrown out into the back alley through the back door than swayed through the velvet rope on the other side of the building. The record was and is totally visionary, and it preceded what the mid 90's Chicago trackstyle or Detroit House producers would make of Disco, albeit arguably not this radical and daring.
This was pre-internet, so it took me some more years to find out the producer behind it was DJ Milo from Bristol's legendary Wild Bunch sound system, and then I loved it even more. You could snatch up copies of it for little money for a really long time, but last I checked that changed dramatically, and these few words probably won't help. Then again, it might help to get it reissued. Else, dig and you shall find.
JACOB ARNOLD (GRIDFACE)
I’ve been checking out Jacob’s Gridface website for years now as it’s always an essential history lesson in the roots of house with his eloquent prose always making the features a joy to read. Though the site has quite a broad remit (whether it’s documenting disco, interviewing Motor City maestros such as Robert Hood, Kelli Hand and Patrice Scott or reviewing choice slices of house wax), with me being a hardcore Chi-town House enthusiast it’s his Chicago House features that I love with his expertise on the era – whether it be pieces on the Italo roots of Chicago, features on uncelebrated figures of the city such as Frank Youngwerth and Rodney Bakerr or interviews with the likes of Merwyn Sanders (Virgo Four) and Hieroglyphic Being. Jacob also contributes to other house avenues including Red Bull Music Academy (check his recent piece on Mastering maverick Mark Richardson), Wax Poetics (with a killer piece on Danny Alias and the birth of Persona Records) and Resident Advisor – check his series of RA articles here featuring the sanctuaries of The Warehouse and Medusa’s plus Chicago legends such as Frankie Knuckles, Steve Poindexter and the late Romanthony. He also composes the sleevenotes for many of Jerome Derradji’s ‘Still Music’ releases including the new Kstarke Records compilation plus as featured on the Ransom Note contributing to Terry Farley’s ‘Acid Thunder’ anthology. Anyway, for his House Hunting find Jacob finds a house holy grail in the unlikely depths of a thrift store…
PROJECT DEMOCRACY FEATURING CHINA – ‘¿ ES UN SUENO TU AMOR? / IS THIS DREAM FOR REAL?’ – UNDER DOG
When Aiden asked me to describe my favourite house hunting find, the choice was easy. I wouldn't be a good record hunter if I didn't look in every nook and cranny. About three years ago, my wife and I stopped by our local Salvation Army thrift store in search of furniture for our mid-century split level. We live in a suburb north of Chicago that's a somewhat unlikely place to look for record rarities. Nonetheless, tucked under a rack of clothes were two or three milk crates. I began thumbing through. Of course most of them were junk – record club classical box sets or common pop musical soundtracks reeking of mould spores, yet I flipped through every last one. Tucked in the back were original copies of Project Democracy featuring China's "¿ Es Un Sueño Tu Amor? / Is This Dream For Real?" on Under Dog and Chip E's "Jack Trax." The former had some water damage to one label, but is perfectly playable and all the more haunting with its wear. It's a L.I.A.M. joint (Gitano Camero) with Marcus Mixx dubs from 1987, and it was worth every penny – 25 cents to be exact.
PAUL WISE (PLACID)
This Bristol-based acid auteur has gained a cult following whether it’s through his acid-drenched mixes https://soundcloud.com/placid_88, his ‘Placid’ page keeping the spirit of Chicago alive with links to relevant club nights, mixes and articles or co-running the renowned ‘I Love Acid’ parties which celebrate the TB303 – not to mention recently being featured in Fact’s ‘100 Underrated DJs Who Deserve More Shine’ piece showcasing his credentials as a respected vinyl selector. Paul has also resurrected his Acid House website http://www.acid-house.net so make sure you check it out if you’re into all things acid… For his House Hunting selection Paul gives us not one but two tales from the spiritual house of Chicago via The Midlands nonentity of Coventry…
VIDEO MIND – ‘DO IT FOR ME & I’LL DO IT FOR YOU’ – STRIDE RECORDS INC
Back in 1996 my friend decided to marry his beau from Philadelphia so me and a friend decided it was time to do a pilgrimage to Chicago… We'd been chatting to a guy on very primitive internet chat rooms and he said he'd show us around. One afternoon, he picked us up, and said we were going to Hot Jams. So in we jumped and turned up Farley on the sound system on one of the endless tapes of WBMX he had and off we went… This place was a mecca as there were piles of records everywhere and I got stuck in… I was hoping to find something super rare and then just as I was giving up I came across Missing Dog Volume 1 for the princely sum of $1! I asked if they had any other stuff and the guy said no… If only I’d have waited for boss man Andres to get back as they had every rare Chicago 12” in the basement of that shop….
However, the next one was probably the most bizarre… I can’t even remember the name of the shop but it was fairly close to the Eclipse in Coventry. My friend lived in Milton Keynes so we occasionally went there to get up to no good… Anyway we'd just come out from some hellish estate when we noticed a record shop was still open. It was about 10 o’clock so in we went. There were a few punters, listening to bad hardcore – it may have been good I could never tell the difference… So we asked the 'old' lady behind the counter (I was only 22) if she had any old stuff… She pulled out a few Dance Mania bits (I got my Vincent Floyd there) and then out of the blue she pulled out not one but four copies of ‘Do It For Me & I’ll Do It For You’ by Video Mind on Stride for £3 each! We put on our straight faces and paid as quickly as we could hoping she wouldn’t change her mind…
MEDHI EL-AQUIL (CONDESA ELECTRONICS)
If you’re not familiar with Medhi then he’s an Adelaide-based DJ and audiophile who founded Condesa Electronics last year. His handcrafted mixers take inspiration from rotary mainstays such as Bozak and Urei, combining the soft touches and sound warmth of them with the technical advancements of the modern era – complete with renowned DJs consulting on the project. As well as having superior sound, the bespoke ‘Carmen’ mixer is a work of art and a worthy competitor for the ubiquitous DJR 400 – take a look for yourself on the website and drool… Keep an eye on the Facebook page too for regular updates on new modifications, accessories (a road case now available) and new mixers in the pipeline – recently launched was the ‘Allegra’ EQ mixer and watch out for the compact ‘Lucia’ coming soon. Definitely one for the Xmas wantlist… So for his House Hunting score Medhi picked up one of my fave LP’s of all time in the unlikely source of a well-known West End emporium…
FINGERS INC. – ‘ANOTHER SIDE’ – JACK TRAX
I hope this record doesn't seem too clichéd because it has recently gained some attention. I started buying records in 1987 at the age of 16, varied in genres including hip-hop, soul, funk, early electro and early house music. One Saturday in 1989, me and a few friends went to London and checked into HMV on Oxford Street as my friend wanted to buy a Jimi Hendrix LP. I went over to the soul section, I was checking the LPs when I found a copy of the Fingers Inc. 'Another Side' LP in amongst the Soul Music. I was instantly drawn to the cover photos, it almost looked like a swing beat LP but more flamboyant. I knew of Larry Heard's work as Mr Fingers and I'd also been a big fan of Robert Owens singing on 'Tears’ so knew this was a safe purchase. When I got the LP home and listened to it was outstanding! At the time the LP cost 7.49 (pounds sterling). Later a good friend bought a copy of the same LP on double cassette!
RICK HOPKINS (THUNDER)
Rick co-runs my favourite London night ‘Thunder’ in the intimate enclave of Dalston den Dance Tunnel with fellow hardcore house enthusiast and Ransom Note contributor Miles Simpson. Thunder restored my faith in London nightlife as they champion the deeper facets of house hosting revered selectors such as Gene Hunt, DJ Nature, Rahaan, Rick Wilhite, Chez Damier, DJ Sprinkles and Marcellus Pittman, not to mention Firecracker Recordings’ Linkwood who’ll be guesting in a couple of weeks for the next flash of Thunder – event details here. Anyway, though the guests naturally the star draw I’ve always jetted to Thunder early doors to support the residents – Rick is a fine selector and easily holds how own against the big boyz check his killer house mixes. For his House Hunting contribution Rick adds a techno flourish to proceedings with a Motor City Holy Grail he’s been trackin’ down for years…
VARIOUS – ‘EQUINOX CHAPTER ONE’ – RETROACTIVE
Firstly, many thanks to my man Aiden for asking me to contribute to his fine weekly ode to all things old on the house (and techno) front. It wasn't really hard for me to pick something old that I scored quite recently as my musical phases go through buying many an old joint to the very new as there's a plethora of great new music being released too (see Brother Miles' Thunder Picks which Joseph Apted and myself have contributed to also) but my most recent big BIG score was very recent, October 11th to be precise.
I was on my way to see Underworld perform DubNoBassWithMyHeadMan at the Royal Festival Hall for the 20th Anniversary of said musical milestone of a long player but being in town fairly early meant the inaugural visit to a record emporium so having never ventured into the hallowed doors of London towns newest spot Love Vinyl there was really only one place to go. Upon walking in and being greeted by its most friendliest staff Dave, Sean & Zaf a friend I was with pointed at a sleeve at the front of the 2nd hand rack. Said record was the 'Various Artists – Equinox Chapter One' on a fledgling new label from a young second wave producer from Detroit by the name of Carl Craig on his Retroactive Label. Man oh man I've been on the hunt for a decent priced copy for quite some time, over twenty years to be precise and as per usual Discogs prices were getting higher & higher so that was never going to happen but held in my hand on October 11th was the actual copy for what I thought was a decent price (I'd had a couple of pints too lol). So I took the sleeve up to Zaf and made an offer of which he duly accepted telling me it was the legend Phil Asher's old copy so was relieved this fine twelve was winging its way to another good home. I was happier than a pig in you know where. The reason I love this record is quite simply it features some of the greatest music to emanate from the motor city Detroit with cuts from a very young Underground Resistance of Mike Banks, Jeff Mills & Rob Hood with a track that samples Star Trek and some of that fine early UR production with a 909 bouncing out the speakers amongst a cacophony of Roland synths.
Second track is the stupendously great ‘Covert Action’ from Urban Tribe (Sherard Ingram). One of the most unique productions from Detroit ever. Check the long player on MoWax if you don't already own it. A MUST HAVE.
The third track is the track I was after the most being an avid lover of early Carl Craig productions and this ditty having alluded me for over twenty years the majestic ‘Please Stand By’.
Over on the B-Side is the best version of Carl Craig's ‘The Climax’ to complete the reason why this twelve means so much to me.
The only record I bought on that fateful day but what a record. Underworld were amazing too.