House Hunting #40 – Various Artists Ltd #4
After a brief hiatus (sorry work gets in the way sometimes…) House Hunting is back with a huge HH guest edition! So yeah it’s that time again where I get the prime purveyors and serious selectors to wax lyrical about their fave House Hunting find whether a house Holy Grail, bargain basement belter or slice of proper obscure allure… As ever forget the Juno charts and Discogs wantlists – it’s time to reminisce about raiding those racks and delving deeper…
Since catching heads unaware a couple of years ago with the dripping keys and synth-soaked styling of his ‘Embassy Café’ LP on Dopeness Galore, András Fox (now simply ‘András’) continues to gain a cult following with his paradisiacal productions. Whether it’s the ethereal exotica of his Vibrate on Silent LP with joints like ‘Pontoon’
The neon haze of ‘Delaide Reaction’ with fellow Australian aural aesthetician and drum-machine deviant Inkswel, takin’ you deep into dreamscape with his remix of Deep 88 & Melchior Sultana’s ‘Yo House’
Or bringin’ some Balearic bliss under his A.R.T. Wilson alias with the ‘Overworld’ LP, his tracks will jet you on a plane straight to paradise…
Speaking of A.R.T. Wilson watch out as there’s more material on the horizon plus he’ll be jettin’ out to Europe this summer so check your diaries if he’s in town. For his House Hunting find András stays local and unearths a 7” slice of obscure outback house…
THIRD EYE – ‘BEHOLD THE ANGEL OF FREQUENCY’ (REGULAR RECORDS)
I present a radio show in Melbourne every Sunday afternoon. As fellow DJs and collectors, I’m sure you realise the potential problem here. Frequently I’m heading back from a gig interstate, dragging myself out of a hangover or busting ass to get to the studio in time to pack records. Two weeks ago I wanted to avoid driving out to the studio, so just went to a local shop and bought enough music to fill two hours. Included in my little haul was a 7 inch version of the Ollie Olsen & Gus Till produced Behold the Angel of Frequency. The artwork is glorious (horrendous). They even dedicate the single to Timothy O’Leary on the back cover. Must have been some good acid going around Docklands and Doncaster back in the day. This little Third Eye record hasn’t left my bag since. It’s deep, dark and the lyrics are great. Last time I played it was at a Bali-sunset-Balearic type event. It captured that dark, slightly-off-kilter feeling that Australian house evokes to me. The sound of the Big Apple packed and sent down-under, arriving rotten with a few worm holes for good measure.
ANTAL (RUSH HOUR)
If you’re a savvy selector then Rush Hour should need no introduction with founder Antal Heitlager’s crate crusading in the UK and Europe being the catalyst in opening the store with kindred spirit Christiaan Macdonald. From its humble beginnings housed in the basement of a hairdressers called Housewives (check below) way back in ’97, Rush Hour has now evolved into a major distribution behemoth that has also established a record label with countless subsidiaries encompassing many genres.
Now an influential institution, when the Dutch tastemakers release a new record or recommend a slice of wax you know you gotta check it out – check out their Facebook page for regular updates… They have also proved to be the reissue kings of late whether it’s rereleasing some proper obscure allure like the oozing warmth and dripping keys of Dream 2 Science, comprehensive retrospectives from the likes of Nu Groove mainstays the Burrell Brothers and L.B Bad or delving into the dusty DATs of forgotten Chicago enigmas such as Virgo Four and Vincent Floyd – check their diggin’ page for some of that old-school flavour… Back to Antal and you can catch this supreme selector goin’ B2B with Hunee this month at killer events such as Berlin’s Panorama Bar and the Secret Sundaze party at Sonar so make sure you check him out… On to his House Hunting contribution and in true Rush Hour fashion Antal presents a compilation of his choice cuts he’s picked up over the years…
PAUL JOHNSON – ‘SOFT SPOT’ (RELIEF RECORDS), BOO WILLIAMS – ‘A NEW BEGINNING’ (RELIEF RECORDS), FINGERS INC. – ‘DISTANT PLANET’ (JACK TRAX), CHE – ‘THE INCIDENT’ (TRACK MODE) & KENNY DIXON JR. / THEO PARRISH – ‘LT1 / MUSTANG 1’ (WHITE LABEL)
Where to start when I want to bring up a nice story about diggin’ house favourites….There are many stories if I think about it and I don’t have a handful of favourites, but I have hundreds I would say. Chicago, Detroit & New York have been the most influential to me. I remember so well the first stream of Chicago Relief records for instance. And there is not a DJ gig where I will not bring a Larry Heard record with me. My brother passed me Larry Heard’s ‘Can You Feel It’ when I was just getting into this music. I also got my first Derrick May record off him. Here is few things out of my collection that I like and that have a story attached to it…
PAUL JOHNSON – ‘SOFT SPOT’ (RELIEF RECORDS)
I walked into Rhythm Import in Amsterdam and wanted to check out the latest import releases. They handed me this Paul Johnson on Chicago Relief. After I put the needle on the groove I thought something must have been wrong with the needle or headphone. I checked the equipment, asked around, but it was not the case. This is how this stuff sounded – raw – and I started to really get into it soon after…
BOO WILLIAMS – ‘A NEW BEGINNING’ (RELIEF RECORDS)
After a couple of years of buying records I was starting to dream of having my own store. I used to take the bus to London to buy stuff in shops like Fat Cat. It was in London where I realised I could buy stuff for a certain price and still be able to resell in the Netherlands. The Music & Video Exchange at Notting Hill was one of the favourite spots. When I got back in Holland I met Christiaan who I could really get along with and so we started digging together. Six months later we opened the Rush Hour store. This was in October 1997. The stock we started with came from one of the stores in my neighbourhood town who had a basement full of house music. Lots of KDJ, Relief Records, Strictly Rhyhtm, Nervous etc. etc. I decided to spend my college money (that I received from my aunt and grandparents) on all these records and we made the store owner an offer. He thought it was cool and we ended up buying 2500 records for 5000 guilders. Scared about the college money I just spend we decided to resell 2100 records straight after to a collector for the same amount we paid for the whole batch. It was probably one of the better deals we have made, because within one week we had 400 records. At no cost! At 19 years old that was something… Especially if you realise this was all killer stuff. So yes, a large part of my Relief collection comes from this store named Coco Records In Zaandam…
FINGERS INC. – ‘DISTANT PLANET’ (JACK TRAX)
One of my favourite Fingers records amongst many. I remember Rick Wilhite dropping this in Paradiso in 1998. One of the first parties we did in Amsterdam. I myself found a copy in a store in Antwerp named The Record Warehouse. This store for a long time was a goldmine. It was full of USA imports with lots of now classic house and disco. When diggin' in Antwerp I always passed by but left disappointed as he would always charge outrages amounts which I refused to pay. Until one day we walked in and he was good humoured and decided to let go easy, and it was at that day, when he was playing popcorn music so loud that I had to dig with earplugs, that I decided to go for a full dig and buy two crates in one go… Getting all the way to the back of the store where there where two rooms with lots of sealed classic stuff. One of the things I found this day was Larry Heard's Distant Planet but there was so much more. The store is still there, but it’s never open. I also believe there is not much left apart from loads of popcorn singles…
CHE – ‘THE INCIDENT’ (TRACK MODE)
Right around the time of the store opening in 1997 we decided to go to check out Container records in Hamburg. We couldn't get along with the local USA import distributor in Holland and thought of finding one in Germany. It was the Container dist. dept. run by Kai & Mark Schneider where we found loads of stock on Elevate, Sound Signature, KDJ and other odd ball things. Amongst all these records was a stack of this obscure Larry Heard record. Easy to look up now but up till Discogs it was under the radar….
KENNY DIXON JR. / THEO PARRISH – ‘LT1 / MUSTANG 1’ (WHITE LABEL)
With the Rush Hour crew we went for the first DEMF festival in Detroit early 2000. With a group of 10 we drove around Detroit and Chicago to check out the parties and get in to the music. One memorable moment was our drive from Detroit to Chicago and seeing Gil Scott-Heron perform live the day after in a jazz cafe in Chicago. A truly beautiful experience. But before that we visited a Sound Signature – Track Mode party with Brett Dancer, Theo Parrish, Kai Alce & Larry Heard. It was a magical party and it was in an upstairs room where Theo Parrish and his family of friends where selling some merchandise including this white label edit thing. It was a big thing back then and now quite a rare record. The original copies of these tunes are easy to find though….
BEN DEVEREUX (AFTER THE GARAGE)
As well as chronicling the love I have for long lost house records via this column there’s nothing I love doin’ more than checkin’ out other hardcore house enthusiasts’ blogs/columns/fanzines/websites etc – as the Mrs would say more ‘useless house trivia’ for me to soak up… One I’ve always come back to is Ben Devereux’s ‘After The Garage’ website which is dedicated to ‘The Deep House sound of Post-Paradise Garage NYC’. The site features loads of killer pieces on the New York and New Jersey house scenes plus insightful interviews with house heroes such as Cynthia Cherry (Jump Street Records), Abigail Adams (Movin’ Records) and Gregg Fore of Dream 2 Science fame so recommended reading if you consider yourself a house historian… At the height of the blog Ben laid down an After The Garage mix and had 50 cassettes made up complete with riso print cover art by Jake Denaji (Firecracker/Unthank designer) who also designed the After The Garage logo. Have a sneak peak below – watch out as Ben will be releasing one day in the near future. Anyway, Ben gives us a poignant tale and love letter to the power of vinyl…
MR. FINGERS – ‘CLASSIC FINGERS’ (LA CASA RECORDS)
I have a weird relationship with records – well, compared to people I know anyway, maybe there's other people like me out there too… Anyway – I've never sold or given away any record I've bought, despite having bought a whole load of stinkers in the past quarter of a century. To me, my collection is a bit like a big, unwieldy photo album – full of memories of a past that I was never very good at taking photos of. There's something magic in there that can instantly take me back to a moment in my past, more vividly than anything else I know. So, for example, taking something off the shelf like my copy of Disco Cubism instantly transports me back to Zoomba Records in Southport in 1996 – I can literally see the record in my hands as I pick it out of the house section and take it to the counter for that first ever listen. Equally, if I pick out my 12" copy of M People's 1997 chart flop Fantasy Island, I'm transported back to the DJ booth at the Queenshall pub/club in Bradford, where the boss has recently (ominously) suggested that I might want to start playing a few records that the Wednesday night regulars actually know… Ah, the heady heights of my DJ career.
At the moment, I actually have two collections living at mine, not just my one. A few years ago now, a dear friend of mine from my days in Liverpool passed away – one of the leading enthusiasts in the wonderful T-Funkshun collective, Nick Hardie. It was an awful time for his friends trying to cope with such an inexplicable loss, but for his family… I can't even comprehend what they have been through. I did what I could to help them manage the heart-breaking task of organising Nick's affairs and one of the things his Mum asked me to do was help work out what we would do with Nick's records. At the time, emotions were too raw to do anything but put them in storage so we could decide at a later date, but more recently I've been able to bring them to mine so I can start to catalogue each record. It's probably going to take me years, but it's a task that fills me with much more joy than pain because to me, Nick is still here in these grooves. Each one is a piece of the jigsaw of what was a huge part of Nick's life, something we spent endless hours sharing together.
So as of right now, my favourite house hunting moment is one that happened just a few weeks ago, when I came across Mr Fingers' Classic Fingers album in the boxes in the attic. I took it out to clean, brought it downstairs, placed it on my turntable, dropped the needle on side A track 1 and sat on the floor listening to Amnesia for what seemed like the first time, despite having heard it so often before. I thought of Nick doing exactly the same, playing it to me and to his other friends in his flat or out in a club. I thought of him listening to it in the weeks before Larry Heard came to play for us at the Cavern Club in 2005, as Nick had always dreamed he would one day. I listened to each pop and crackle and thought of Nick hearing the same pops and crackles himself. I looked at the creases on the opening edge of the sleeve and thought of all the times he would have picked it out of his record bag. See, that's the really important thing about records to me. People can debate about sound quality and all the rest of it, but there's a power in plastic that FLACs and WAVs will just never have. They ain't got no history.
Hailing from Chicago, Honey Dijon’s baptism to house came from attending Ron Hardy’s sanctuary The Music Box and hangin’ in iconic record joints such as Gramaphone plus Paul Weisberg and Brett Wilcots’ Importes Etc. It was here she met kindred spirit Derrick Carter and sought refuge in his loft where he schooled her on the real sound of Chicago. However, though her roots lay in Chicago it wasn’t long before NYC came calling where she could further express herself and her career as a DJ. Citing Danny Tenaglia as another influential figure, under his tutelage she gained the confidence to take risks and add drama to her sets with her superior selections fusing the classic sounds of the transatlantic triptych of Chicago, NY and Detroit with the more modern influences comin’ outta Europe. Check out her recent mix on Beats In Space to sample some of that flavour which features Chicago House hierarchy in the form of Ron Trent and Vincent Floyd plus my main man Colin aka Mr. G – not to mention her own ace ‘Burn’ track she produced for Classic which evokes the spirit of early 90s house proper face-melter… Honey will be jettin’ to the UK later this month to play at Acid House auteur Terry Farley’s Boy’s Own event ‘Drop Acid Not Bombs’ so make sure you get down to her laying down a serious set and showin’ us how to drop some serious club couture – event details here. Anyway for her choice slab of second-hand wax it was only natural she’d unearth a 12” featuring ‘The Godfather Of House Music’ in where else but Chicago…
KASSO – ‘ONE MORE ROUND (86 HOUSE MIX)’ (HARISTOL RECORDS & TAPES)
My favourite moment was finding the Frankie Knuckles 1986 remix of ‘One More Round’ by Kasso at Gramaphone Records in Chicago. This record is special to me because when I first started going to the loft parties in Chicago to hear Derrick Carter play he would always drop it because it drove me mental. Lots of friendships were made on the dancefloor to this tune. I couldn’t find a copy for years and when I did in the second hand bin it brought the biggest smile to my face because this joint just makes me so happy!
PAUL RAFFAELE (MOST EXCELLENT UNLIMITED/LOVE INJECTION)
Paul runs the Most Excellent Unlimited imprint that caught my attention last year with Danny Krivit under his Mr K. guise releasing some killer edits including his rendition of Creative Source’s ‘Corazon’ that you could imagine David Mancuso droppin’ in the hallowed turf of The Loft. The label’s latest release comes courtesy of Oyama Edit aka Mori Ra & DJ ground outta Osaka, Japan who with their ‘Ghost Guide’ EP have produced four psyched-out cosmic cuts – trip out here… Not content with running a label Paul also publishes ‘Love Injection’ which you may have seen me waxin’ lyrical about as I do love a fanzine and this Brooklyn Bible is all things H.O.U.S.E – to quote: “What if Boy’s Own, RBMA Daily Note, and Touch & Go had a three-way?”. If you ain’t NYC-based you can cop ‘em on the Most Excellent Unlimited website and if ordering and waiting for a copy too much hard work then for just $2 you can download a copy though for me you can’t beat the romanticism of havin’ a copy to hand… Anyway, for his choice house joint Paul is reviving a NY necessity that has always stayed closed to his heart…
ARMAND VAN HELDEN FEATURING ROLAND CLARK – ‘FLOWERZ’ (ARMED RECORDS)
My formative clubbing years were spent listening to a DJ named Jonathan Peters. I’m 28 now, so this phase was approx 2003 – 2006. He had left his residency at The Sound Factory by this time, and was bouncing around to other big Manhattan clubs like Avalon (formerly Limelight), Spirit (formerly Twilo), and Black (formerly Exit & Carbon). My friends and I were pretty obsessed with his parties, and music. It was a mixture of (mostly) flailing New York diva vocals, deep house, techno, and trance, and the parties went super late. I would tell my parents I was going to Manhattan to go to record shop at 6am on a Sunday, when really we were heading to wherever he was playing, and spend the morning and afternoon in a dark club. It was a cheesy time for me musically, but I learned a lot about ‘New York’ house. It was the closest thing you could get if you were too young to experience Junior & Danny’s residencies.
Most of the songs I loved so much then didn’t last very long with me, but a few kept coming back throughout different periods of my clubbing life. Things like:
Beth Orton – Central Reservation (Spiritual Life/Ibadan Mix)
Armand van Helden ft. Tekitha – Mother Earth
Basement Jaxx – Fly Life
Sounds of Blackness – The Pressure (Classic 12” Mix)
Tyree – Acid Crash
Kings of Tomorrow – Finally (DTs return to paradise Mix)
A few of these are still very important to me (I’ve been known to cite ‘Finally’ as one of my favourite songs of all time) and I don’t mean to downplay their influence, but one in particular has recently clicked back into view:
Armand van Helden – Flowerz (feat. Roland Clark)
I found a one-sided copy of the 12” version recently for real cheap, and I can’t stop playing it. It sounds just as good as the first time I heard it, and if I think back, I haven’t heard many DJs play it since Jonathan. Maybe one or two? That’s weird to me because it fits in a number of types of sets, and always gets a killer reaction on the floor. It was the second single, and closing cut on Armand’s 3rd album “2Future4U” from 1998. An album that also had “Mother Earth,” “Etra Mi Casa” and “U Don’t Know Me” on it (which was the first single, and a #1 UK hit). This was Armand’s most prolific, and important period. Damn, he killed it for a while there.
We hear a lot of tracks today, but not many songs. This is a song that has stayed with me for almost 10 years, and is having a bigger impact on me now than it did then. It’s one of the perfect ones, in my opinion. One that is simple and so incredibly effective. A lot of the best ones are. A one-bar loop from Donald Byrd’s 1974 hit ‘Think Twice’, some drums, and Roland Clark’s ode to a girl he could have easily won over by giving her some flowers.
“That was all you ever needed from me I could have save myself so much money if I gave you flowerz”
PAYFONE (GOLF CHANNEL RECORDINGS)
If you’re a house head Payfone ain’t probably a name you’re familiar with but I wanted to get Payfone aka Phil Passera to add a contribution with his crate diggin’ exploits. He first came to my attention via our very own Ransom Note in which he recorded an exclusive ‘Junk Shop Mix’ solely comprising of $2 records he unearthed down in the vast vaults of House Hunting fave ‘The Thing’ – when I was in NYC a couple of month’s back this mix was on constant rotation and definitely captures the feel of Brooklyn with its dusty-fingered mix of funk, soul, disco and boogie. As well as his diggin’ and curating credentials Payfone also released the ace ‘Paradise EP’ on Phil South’s Golf Channel Recordings – check out the proto-house boogie styling of ‘Paradise’ here. Next up on his release roster will be the ‘Quarantine EP’ which will also be out on Golf Channel and scheduled to be released early August (have a sneak peek of the artwork below) – in the meantime you can listen to his discography and mixes on his Soundcloud page. Payfone give us a House Hunting holiday edition adding some Hi-NRG to the mix…
PAUL PARKER – ‘TOO MUCH TO DREAM’ (MEGATONE RECORDS)
Asking me what would be my favourite find when hunting for records is a very difficult question to for me to answer. For the past 20 years plus, I have always been digging around second hand shops, charity shops and street markets everywhere I go. I buy records in almost any places but record shops, looking for interesting, unique, rare and fantastic records of various genres, sometimes buying records just for the cover artwork. Records of jazz, blues, soul, funk, rock, disco, reggae African, Cajun… Almost anything and everything of quality. This usually excludes most music of a pop culture nature be it Ray Connif, The Magic of Mantovani or Cliff Richard. I have this theory that Cliff Richard (aka Kitty) must have released more individual albums than any living or dead person in history. I need to clarify this.
I've had over a week to think about this question but today the answer hit me. In December 2013 I paid a short visit to the Spanish island of Palma, Majorca. I went to visit my mother's sister Dorothy and her family who I hadn't seen since my mother Joan Isabel passed away the year previously. I'm quite lucky that my adventures in music of the past 15 years have included much travel to interesting cities across Europe and the rest of the world. On every visit I have hunted and found good records. From Brazil to Bognor Regis I have found great vinyl at a fraction of the price I would pay in London. For some reason I never really enjoy the experience of shopping for records in record shops. I’m very glad they exist and I’m very happy to see a recent upsurge in demand for vinyl. But for me, walking in and paying £15 for a 12” is too easy and sometimes too expensive. So arriving in the posh affable holiday destination of Palma was no different from any other. It had Disco potential written all over it. Looking out across the lavish harbour with its hundreds of luxury yachts, the island was renowned for being a place of relaxation and celebration for the rich and restless. No doubt it was probably even home to some Cosmic/Balearic shenanigans I figured that in the late 70s and 80s this must've been a destination for party lovers, with clubs playing the much popular disco music of the time.
On my final third day I had two hours to spare before I needed to head to the airport. Without any real clue as to where to begin I just started wandering the streets asking locals checking down alleys and looking for any places that would sell second-hand anything, because usually where there is junk there is gold. I've never had an interest in hunting defenceless wild animals, but I do get the feeling that we share the same buzz when I am on the hunt for bits of plastic over 30 years old. After an hour and a half or so I was having no luck. The closest I came to was discovering a few boxes of completely naff 1980’s Spanish popular singers with names like Toni, or El Tino. But with only 15 minutes or so remaining on the clock, I caught a glimpse down a side street of a shop that sold second-hand motorbikes. Wading past all the old helmets and leather biker jackets, I then found a glass counter containing hundreds of porno films on VHS. I knew this was a good sign. A little more digging and I came to three dusty crates of records that had been hidden away under a table for what could've been a decade. Amongst the usual mix of unwanted classical albums I found 2 high-energy early 80’s disco gems produced by Patrick Cowley. Snapping them both up for 1 EURO each I felt like I had achieved my mission with distinction, proving my theory correct that this island must have seen some proper disco action in the recent past. Images of white suited international playboys racked on 100% cocaine losing their shit to the sound of New York from the safety of their floating mansion, whilst buxom beauty queens decorate the harbour in long satin dresses and high high heels.
Released in 1982 (licensed to the Madrid based label MEGATONE) Patrick Anthony's production of Paul Parker’s dramatic and disposable songs is a blue print for so much popular music that followed. Big dark warm synth and drum machines with super falsetto lead harmonies direct in your face. You can hear across the whole album that the entire sound pallet has been drawn from the same drum machine and approx. 2 or 3 synths. Although these records don’t travel in my DJ bag (very, very high energy: The kind of music you expect to hear in the Blue Oyster club scene in Police Academy) I have much respect for music of this nature from this time period. But when I come across these records in my collection I remember the hunt… the chase… The kill. Which coincidentally is a theme that runs through almost 50% of Paul Parkers songs. The hunt continues…
SANJIV AHLUWALIA (THE SECRET LIST)
Sanjiv Ahluwalia has been a music journalist for over twenty years and has chronicled his expertise in an eclectic array of genres ranging from jazz to techno for a plethora of publications including Trace, Blues & Soul, Shook and BBC Music Online. He has also extensively travelled so with his backpacking expeditions and encyclopaedic knowledge of music it was only natural he would want to exploit this knowhow and as a result, founded ‘The Secret List’ – a guide to the record shop capitals of the world. So far two editions have been published (Los Angeles and Paris) in which Sanjiv compiles choice record shops along with other local travel tips off the beaten track – if you’re jettin’ to LA or Paris anytime soon for some crate crusading then definitely recommended reading which you can cop here (I copped a copy of the Paris edition in Phonica so may still have some in stock too). Keep an eye on The Secret List website http://thesecretlist.co.uk/ for updates – here’s a recent NYC crate diggin’ guide that’ll hopefully be published in physical form in the near future… On to his House Hunting pick and Sanjiv finally tracks down the original version of a cover he heard in the unlikely surroundings of a shop in way out West London…
STRAFE – ‘SET IT OFF’ (EASTWEST RECORDS)
The “House music all night long” (‘I’ll House You’ – Jungle Brothers) refrain punctuated the Summers of Love in 1987 and 1988. Millions of people, myself included, danced with our hands in the air and without a worry in the world. And like many others, I got hip to house a few years earlier during the music’s first golden period in 1986, when this new exciting emerging music from Chicago turned on the UK’s musically aware folk.
A defining moment in house’s emergence for me was not in the sweaty euphoria of a rave or at a party in someone’s house in Ealing, where I lived, but in a clothes shop. Gladstones was on the Uxbridge Road in Ealing Broadway, and like the house parties I frequented, it offered entry into another world: beautifully made and slightly avant-garde clothes. During one visit my head turned at this outlandish purple silk blazer. Wonderfully cut and suitably eye catching, I can still remember the jacket to this day. Even more memorable was a track played on the shop’s system, a record by mysterious New York band the Harlequin Four’s called ‘Set It Off’. It was weird, wonderful, slightly out there and years ahead of its time. I would later find out it was a cover version of a track by the equally mysterious Strafe which was everything the Harlequin Four’s version was but released a year earlier.
‘Set It Off’ defined my musical taste, I was drawn to innovative and leftfield music. But the Strafe version fell off my radar until 1996 while browsing the racks at Honest Jon’s, West London, I came across the title track to a new Hollywood film…. ‘Set It Off’. Again this was a very good cover version, by Organized Noize and on the b-side was the Strafe version – finally! The circle was complete and by chance I found an era-defining record and, even better, at one of my favourite record shops. Strafe I salute you.
SCOTT FRASER (CRIMES OF THE FUTURE)
A favourite at R$N HQ, Scott Fraser’s production pedigree stretches back as far back as the mid-90s producing punishing techno under his Bios pseudonym – releasing on a host of revered labels such as Black Nation and Andrew Weatherall’s Emissions subsidiary Special Emissions with cuts like ‘124’ and ‘Basic Black ‘ favourites of superior selectors such as Heller & Farley and Francois K. Since moving to London a few years ago and setting up base at Andrew Weatherall’s studio, Scott has undergone a renaissance releasing on a choice imprints such as Horn Wax, [Emotional] Especial, World Unknown and Wetherall’s own Bird Scarer stable – not to mention a slew of remixes including collaborating with Capracara on their killer remix of ‘Lites Go Out’ by House Hunting faves Virgo Four. He has also founded with Timothy J. Fairplay ‘Crimes Of The Future which not content in just being a label releasing EP’s by the likes of Black Merlin and Perseus Traxx (plus Scott himself under his ‘Nothing But Blood’ guise) also have a residency at the London Fields Brewery if you fancy a monthly Sunday session. For his House Hunting pick Scott was given a surprise exclusive by a Detroit disciple with some of that Chicago flavour…
JORDAN FIELDS – ‘ESSENTIAL LIVING EP’ (TRACK MODE)
Firstly, I’m going to be honest here… I’m not really a massive digger per se so this is more about a gift than a record dug out of a dusty crate in a damp basement. I’ve always felt, and my friends will no doubt testify to me droning on about is that the lovely thing about all the records I have bought over the years is I could tell you a story about every one of them. Well maybe not strictly so on the digging part as over the last 30 or so years buying electronic music in some form or other I always had a rule that wherever I went be that playing somewhere or on holiday in another town country or even continent I would try and get to a local record shop and buy some music, which over time has amassed me a fairly decent house and techno collection.
I thought about this in terms of writing this piece but in the process as you wanted a picture I started looking through some old photographs at home while I was listening to some old records that I had picked up at The Thing in New York where Willie works. When I was there last year I had picked up loads of old NY house that I did not have in my collection and I could have picked from a few there. However, I was finally drawn to a completely different record that I had left down at the studio upon coming across the photograph you see above taken outside BNR HQ in Kalamazoo (L-R: Brett Dancer, Jay Denham (Sporting 909) and myself – looking a tad fresher faced than today I suspect).
Through my production work in BIOS in 1998 I was able to travel to the US and perform at a particularly special 4th July party at a disused quarry on the outskirts of Kalamazoo that Jay Denham and the Black Nation Records crew had organised called Sector 616. Playing live before passing the 909 (in picture) baton over for a blistering headline set by Jeff with three turntables, I should say here the line-up spoke for itself as you can see on the flyer. Indeed I would go as far as to say, you would struggle to put together a party as special as that anywhere any time and I have gone on to remain friends with many of the people on that bill despite the years passing and the distances involved for us all.
However, this is about records and the one I have chosen was handed to me by the person on the left of the picture, Brett Dancer.
The guys took me to Gramophone Records in Chicago which we all know is one of those legendary record shops and I could have written about that place too for the reason alone that the music that came via that shop and town was what got me into house music in the first place, but as I said before on looking through those old photographs I came across this one and that got me thinking about something and someone else all be it closely linked to that city…
Brett was a great friend of Jay’s and had been running the very fine Trackmode Recordings for around four or five years by this point I think. I was a fan of the label as some of them had got over to the UK in the mid 90’s via RUBADUB Records in Glasgow and Barrie there had put me onto them. After the gig we headed back to an after party at Black Nation HQ (which is where this picture was taken outside) and Brett handed me a copy of this record by Jordan Fields which had not yet hit the distro’s. The cover was a fantastic light blue outer with a laser toting lady on the front (still looks amazing now) and I was obviously gagging to get it home and play it.
When I got off the plane, got back home and slept off the jet lag it was the first record from the trip I stuck on and it definitely lived up to what the cover promised me in the US.
What you have got to hear in this record is just how heavy the drums are, this is what makes it so special. It’s got a swing to it too, which everything I really love the most in house and techno does. The only track on Youtube from this EP is the lead cut which is a near 13 minute masterclass in how to make a proper deep house record out of a cut up disco groove. It ends up coming over like something that I think only Moodymann can also pull off in that style, but as I said the drums are much more banging Chicago jack style. It just kind of sucks you in right from the first few bars, and when you play it you can feel the mood in the room move up a notch. I don’t think I’ve ever played this and not witnessed a smile appear right across the whole dancefloor.
I’m still playing this record today, in fact I played "Screamin Diva” the other killer cut at Body Hammer recently to rapturous response.
So here you have it, the mighty Jordan Fields “Get On Up & Dance” from 1998, like all great records… The gift that keeps on giving.
WILLIAM BURNETT (WT RECORDS/THE THING)
You may know William Burnett better under his Willie Burns alias (or DJ Speculator) who has released EP’s on haute house labels such as Crème Organization, The Trilogy Tapes, L.I.E.S and Unknown To The Unknown. As well as producing and DJing he also runs W.T. Records which came to my attention with the ‘Tour De Force’ EP by Hunee – his ‘Rare Silk’ production sounding like a long lost Nu Groove joint… More recently the label has released records by Florian Kupfer and Entro Senestre which you can check out here along with the label’s full discography and his WTBS radio shows. Not content with all that William also works at Manhattan Avenue’s mythical diggers paradise The Thing in Greenpoint, Brooklyn – check out this video giving you an insight into raiding the cascading crates in this labyrinthine vinyl vault… Also worth a watch is his interview with the Boiler Room in which he plays some records unearthed from The Thing. After fruitlessly diggin’ deep in the depths for years William finally finds a particular pressing of a cult record he’d been yearning for…
A NUMBER OF NAMES – ‘SHAREVARI’ (QUALITY)
The record I couldn't find was ‘Sharevari’ from A Number Of Names. It was around the early 2000s somewhere in Brooklyn and of course everyone knew about the magical "first Detroit techno record". I wanted it. There were bootlegs and remixes around and I had them, but that wasn’t good enough. I wanted the OG. It was around the same time that I first discovered ‘The Thing’ – that famous record digging spot. I started hearing stories of people finding copies there. Supposedly Adam X had found four copies. I didn’t believe it. Then one day I was in there digging and he pulled one out right to me and I saw it. I didn’t really know him that well and it wasn’t what I thought. There was a copy on Quality – all the copies he found were on Quality. There were Quality records all over the place in The Thing so I started walking through and sorting through taking out all the grey or brown Quality sleeves and nope… Nope… Nope… I couldn’t find it despite looking for years. I kept looking but I pretty much gave up…
A few years later I had a job there. I was sorting through the new arrivals to throw out the garbage and there it was a sealed copy on Quality. YOINK! Sorry boss… Maybe a few years later one of my closest DJ friends found a copy of the Capriccio Records OG in Detroit for 100 bucks… He bought it and a well-known bootleg was made from it. There is also the legend of another Detroit DJ I know who supposedly had his stolen by another well-known touring DJ when he was staying at his house. I don’t believe it…
ZAF (LOVE VINYL)
For those of you not acquainted to ‘The Mighty Zaf’, he was at the controls at Soho’s Reckless Records for nearly twenty years and has been dealing in the more discernible facets of disco, soul, rap and funk for decades – not to mention house Holy Grails from the transatlantic triptych of Chicago, New York and New Jersey. He is a dependable source of super-rare and collectable records which can be found in Love Vinyl – the Hoxton wax haunt he co-founded and launched last year (along with some of London’s finest collectors and purveyors including Stuart Patterson, James Manero and Jake Holloway) which is already a permanent fixture in the house hunting circuit… Check out this Boiler Room interview live from his renowned ‘Disco Shack’ for his full story… He is also a serious selector having curated killer comps on acclaimed labels such as BBE and Kindred Spirits – on a house tip check out this decade old mix featuring loads of Gherkin, Dance Mania, Larry Heard and Burrell joints proper House Hunting heaven… For his choice cut Zaf reminisces about coppin’ a house Holy Grail when on record buying recreation in Chicago…
KERRI CHANDLER – ‘SUPER LOVER EP’ (EXPRESS RECORDS)
I was dispatched by my employers Reckless Records in the summer of 1990 to go and work in Chicago for 3 months to find as many rare deleted records to send back to the London shops to sell for a handsome profit. By then I was a massive house head, fully immersed in club culture but also super nerdy about labels, releases etc. I spent 3-4 days in Barney's warehouse buying tons of sealed house & disco records. I bought so many records on that trip the mind boggles what they would be worth now. I was driven all around Chicago by a dude called Rick who went on to start his own shop, Dusty Groove. On my arrival there he knew I was into my house shit, so he casually gave me a record he had been given by Kerri Chandler the week before at some record convention in NYC. It was a six-track Ep called Super Lover on Express Records. On first listen I knew it was something special. Every track was a killer and I didn't realise how rare it was till a few years later. Of course most tracks on it were picked up by other labels but the 12" I have was obviously only a small limited release. I put my copy on Discogs a few years ago for £350 and it's still there. It's overpriced as I don't really want to sell it unless I am compensated for a golden memory.