House Hunting #6 – Sha-Lor


So after a brief holiday hiatus where I had too much fun being a Thunder groupie at Electric Elephant in my gold disco pants – not to mention representing Ransom Note with a post Croatia jive in the R$N x Society tent at Farr Festival – reality resumes and house hunting returns…
I’ve not pursued the primitive art form of diggin’ vinyl these last two weeks as I’ve been nowhere near a record shop (not outta choice…) so when unseasonal Thunder was strikin’ down in Croatia I utilised the modern advances of technology by rinsin’ the wi-fi and getting my weekly record fix via my eBay app. Yeah I know online perusin’ just ain’t the same as physically routin’ through the racks however I can browse endlessly on eBay as you’ll never know what obscure allure you’ll come across at a potential bargain basement price – yes Discogs is great emergency relief but it’s the easy option drained by those damn speculators yo!

Anyway, I was praising the Gods as this tropical thunder contributed in me winning two killer auctions including the super-rare ‘Reflections’ LP by Walt J which I’ve been after for time in mint condition for just £11 (who coincidentally I interviewed in this very column a few weeks back check ‘House Hunting #4) and this week’s house hunting pick – the classic ’88 NY garage anthem ‘I’m In Love’ by Sha-Lor for a ridiculous 99p!!! The record was listed as ‘12” Dance Record’ so this seller wasn’t well versed in the art of eBay selling but I ain’t complaining… 

Comprising of singers Sharmelle John and Lori Maynard, ‘Sha-Lor’ was their alias when collaborating with house producers after earlier forays in R&B. Though they later featured on Fourth Floor Records with ‘My Love (Has Gone Away)’ with remixes from NY cats Tommy Musto and Frankie Bones, it was this record on Jump Street offshoot Gertie Records that became an instant transatlantic hit (especially in the UK) with the vivacious vox and bass heavy garage styling contributing in the record being a Summer of Love anthem in ’88 – a refreshing antidote to the acid-soaked era. Though there are four mixes on the EP the one universally played out (and my favourite) is the ‘Caught Up’ version:

This particular collaboration was with one of my all-time favourite producers Ben Cenac, featuring his production partner Bob ‘Chilly B’ Crafton. Initially starting out as a DJ under his nom de guerre ‘Cozmo D’, he formed the ‘Jam-On Productions’ crew who hosted block parties all over Brooklyn and New York. With the emergence and capabilities of more advanced, accessible equipment, Ben turned to producing and along with his future wife Yvette ‘Lady E’ Cook, his cousin Monique ‘Nique D’ Angevin and her future husband/Ben’s production partner Chilly B, they formed the production unit ‘Newcleus’ – aptly named for their family affair. Coming to prominence after releasing their block party favourite ‘Jam-On’s Revenge’ in ’83 on Mayhew Records, it became a b-boy beat-tape mainstay and gained further attention when re-released on Sunnyview Records – even breaching the R&B Top 40! The following year they released influential electro jams such as ‘Computer Age (Push The Button)’ and ‘Jam On It’ cementing their status as forerunners of the electro scene.

However, though best known for his earlier electro endeavours its Cenac’s deviation into producing house records in his inimitable style that I love him for – particularly his LP under his ‘Dream 2 Science’ alias on Power Move Records. Reminiscent of deeper Larry Heard productions, his eponymously-titled ‘Dream 2 Science’ LP oozes in machine warmth and is drenched in dripping keys, whether it’s the mournful melter ‘My Love Turns To Liquid’ (which featured on a later EP on Power Move with some dreamy dubs), the lush pads and yearning larynx of Buster Fhott (aka long-time collaborator Gregg Fore) on ‘Mystery Of Love’ or – my personal favourite – the ethereal early morning acid of ‘Dream 2 Science’. 

For years only adorning the record collections of the hard-core house fraternity, this rare and obscure LP deservedly gained a newer and wider audience when reissue kings Rush Hour re-released it a couple of years ago. If you love this LP I recommend you hunt for his other obscure house records he released under his array of aliases including Bodywork, Dance Advisory Commission, Push/Pull and Pump. If that sounds like too much hard work then check out the ‘Cozmic House’ EP he released last year on boss Australian house imprint Thug Records – four long lost tracks outta the vaults that have gathered dust on DAT tapes and have been lovingly restored. Hard to pick a choice cut off my fave record of last year as a proper EP in the truest sense but ‘Seems To Me’ featuring Ben’s wife Lady E is worthy of your attention as synonymous with his majestic Dream 2 Science material.

Be sure to check his recent Cellar Boyz 12” on Thug with remixes from Italian virtuosos Simoncino and Nicholas plus revisiting his Dream 2 Science pseudonym with his recent remix of Deep88 & Melchoir Sultana’s ‘Nightwave’ on 12 Records. Anyway, back to Sha-Lor and though the original press on Gertie Records is hard to track down it is still accessible via later presses on Germany’s ZYX imprint or Deconstruction – Rush Hour even lovingly reissued it with the added bonus of an exclusive instrumental version on the b-side! However, as I already have an original copy and I won the record for a ridiculous 99p I’m going to run a House Hunting competition and let you have the opportunity of owning this record FOR FREE!!! All you gotta do is like and share this article – a winner will be chosen at random (no R$N or Thunder bias!) and announced by the end of the week. You ain’t gotta worry ‘bout postage either I will ship free of charge and will of course pack in a mailer with stiffeners – none of those pizza box scenes! So go on why not enter as this timeless garage anthem could be the soundtrack to your summer of love…