House Hunting #3 – The Revelation
After a hectic week at work with our sale launch (the joys of retail…) I’ve not had a chance for a deep diggin’ session this week. However, I managed to jet over to Soho and sneak in a cheeky early doors visit to Reckless Records before a shift for a house hunting hustle. I always try check Reckless out at least once a week as they specialise in the facets of house I love (Acid/Chicago/Detroit/NY etc…) and regularly buy in new collections to adorn the racks. As their staff are proper purveyors you’ll be hard pressed to find a super bargain however there’s always a fresh batch of wax to check out and I guarantee you’ll always dig something out – yes you may find more of a bargain at the Music & Video Exchange down the road but you got some serious sifting to do through the 99p nonentities and you may get a case of diggin’ de ja vu as its sometimes weeks before a new collection is in the racks.
Anyway, back to Reckless. On checking the Chicago House section what immediately came to my attention was a 12” by The Revelation on Stride Records Inc. For those not familiar with Stride it was one of the more obscure Chicago labels that was founded in ’87 and typically, as with many Chi-Town house labels of the era, only released a handful of records. Though not as celebrated as some the Windy City’s more prominent labels such as Trax or DJ International it did however release some seminal yet overlooked records courtesy of K-Alexi Shelby under his Risqué III alias alongside Robert McKay. Tracks like the raw, Ron Hardy inspired jack of ‘Risqué Madness’ (sampling ‘Life Is A Jungle’ by Gallic disco group Kikrokos), and the eerie TR-727 induced and cowbell laced rhythm of ‘Essence Of A Dream’ are perfect examples – not to mention their scarce ‘Video Mind’ 12” which reincarnates ‘Essence Of A Dream’ under a new title with a different interpretation and can fetch over a hundred quid!
Thankfully this particular Stride 12” I’ve dug is definitely a thrift find for under a tenner – though not to be confused with James ‘Jack Rabbit’ Martin’s house holy grail on Yoton as the label has the same blue and purple haze – oh my days my deceiving eyes! Still I’m a sucker for any old obscure late 80’s Chicago House 12” (I recommend Richard Sen’s recent Ransom Note mix if Chicago House your flavour circa 86’-‘88’) and this one by The Revelation I’ve been hunting for a while…
So who is The Revelation? Well, it’s a pseudonym of Chicago’s James Perri who you may be more familiar under his Jimi Polo guise. Initially releasing influential records on Nemiah ‘Mitchbal’ Mitchell Jr’s label Chicago Connection Records as ‘Libra Libra’ with Tony Bowie (releasing early house tracks such ‘I Like It’ and ‘Out Of My Hands’), Jimi also co-produced Jeannette Thomas’ Chicago club smash ‘Shake Your Body’ showcasing his production nous in the emerging Chicago House scene. After his initial releases Jimi made the transatlantic move to the UK and hooked up with Adamski (yes that Adamski), introducing him to forefathers of the Chicago scene such as Marshall Jefferson and teaching him in using sequencers and the in-vogue TR drum machines. This creative partnership formed the basis for Jimi’s pivotal piano anthem ‘Better Days’ in which allegedly (though not credited) Adamski provided the ubiquitous piano riff that was sampled/remixed to death – triggering rapture and euphoria in choice clubs of the era such as The Hacienda and Shelley’s. Though he later collaborated with Adamski on ‘Never Goin’ Down!’ and featured on many Funtopia records (including the killer ‘Do You Wanna Know?’ complete with Derrick May remixes) it’s his ‘Better Days/ Free Yourself’ 12” in which he still remains best known for.
Back to my find and this Stride 12” co-produced with Aaron Metzler at the ARS studio (where many of fellow cult Chicago label Sound Pak’s releases were recorded; Quest’s ‘Look Into My Eyes’, Rickster’s ‘Night Moves’…) and it is more reminiscent of Jimi’s earlier Libra Libra records. The title track ‘Your Love Is A Special Thing’ sounds like it could have been a precursor to ‘Better Days’ as it’s a piano laden rhythm laced with instrumentation synonymous with the era such as the Roland TR’s cowbell and strings – complete with Jimi’s yearning larynx. If you’re not feelin’ Jimi’s falsetto on the original (personally I love the raw charm of it) then you can opt for the ‘Club Mix’ as this loses the vocal and has more emphasis on the drums with that catchy piano coming to the fore. See what you think anyway – the B-side’s proto-house joint ‘Control My Body’ nowhere to be seen on Youtube but that adds to the mystic thrill of gettin’ your fingers dusty and discovering tracks you ain’t heard before…
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