You could write a wealth of words to celebrate Rheji Burrell’s contribution to music as part of The Burrell Brothers. Equally you could press play and listen. In ways this is exactly what I expected to hear. Maybe exactly what I wanted to hear from him. Four pieces of House Music plain and simple, just as god intended. Each highlights the rhythmic purpose of drums and bass, each excites notation with deft, soulful intent as vocals dance alongside a selection of uncomplicated yet purely focused elements. Perpetuity 1, works best for me because those organ chords ignite a series of memories not easily forgotten and a feeling that this music is important beyond a simple succession of notes.
DJ wise my heroes were firstly a local DJ in Slough called Alan Sullivan who pioneered Funk and Soul music in the mid 70s – he managed to pull together black and white kids and more importantly lads off the different estates who had before been fighting at Discos into a large community – sometimes we would take 4 coach loads or more to gigs such as Fatback Band or Ohio Players. Once I was old enough to get into the more underground west end funk scene it was def Mark Roman the DJ at Crackers who had THE best dressed and more importantly best dancers in London at his Tuesday nights and Friday lunchtime sessions.. 500 kids bunking off school / college / work to dance in the west end on a Friday lunchtime – imagine that nowadays.
Can you describe the scene in London around 1985/86 as the first House tracks were appearing, where and how you got into the music in light of Rare Groove at that time?
There was many many scenes in London around that time – black warehouse party scene, the black 2 step scene, mixed ‘flare groove’ thing then the trendy west end rare groove scene and the huge suburban London ‘soul” scene that took in jazz , modern soul and rare groove . The first House records such as JM Silk and Raze ‘Jack the groove ‘ were just played alongside Go GO and Funk – no one saw them as anything different just black American music – which was the one factor most DJ’s went by .. Frankie Knuckles had a summer residency at Heaven in 87 and House music was played by most DJ’s but only as part of the soundtrack – not as a separate event. A lot of London DJ’s were playing in NY during that time (Fat Tony was a resident at Nells and Norman Jay had run trips to NY for his crew and had family living in Brooklyn) and had gone to the Garage so lots of that music was also played.
What were the factors in creating Boys Own and how important was the influence of Balearic music to what was happening by the late 80’s on the U.K. club scene?
We were suburban kids who did not have a voice – simple as that. The west end scene was run by a clique as was the suburban ‘soul mafia ‘ and the warehouse scene was either black or posh types.. we had lots to say and nowhere to shout it. Balearic was just Alfredo’s record box .. we were his disciples.
Together with Pete Heller you created some of the biggest records of the 90’s. Which are your favourites?
Stinkin Thinkin the dub of the Mondays record that Junior Vasquez made into his anthem at the Sound Factory. Wild Luv is still played at places like DC10 and I especially love our version of Blaze ‘If you should need a friend ‘ .. it’s better than the original ..
Do you feel House has come full circle since those days as so many new producers are heavily influenced by that sound now?
100% I can play music by Kink at a old school party and most people think it’s some long lost Trax release and go mad – equally I can play a MAW dub to 20 year olds in Dalston and they think its new .. it’s a good place for House to be in – time does not matter only the quality. Saying that the M1 organ sound is as played out now as it was in 1994.
What do you think of the whole re-edit culture? Do you think replaying the past informs the future?
When done very well it can add BUT most of the time its pointless .
I have a track out alongside Stretch Silvester on DJ Pierre’s label called ‘Cold Rockin’ – DJP has done a great 90s Wild Pitch mix that we are excited about.
I have been working with Leo Elstob (Leo Zero ) on 4 vocal tracks that are just about finished – all from scratch. Robert Owens, Sean from Hercules and Love Affair, Victoria who has worked with Murk and London club legend Waterson .. I believe Leo wants to release them all on vinyl only â€¦ keeping the faith.
Where can people hear you play this summer?
Garden fest in Croatia, Ibiza on June 16, Far festival in July .. loads. I also do a non House monthly free Friday at the Half Moon pub in Herne Hill – we had Jerry Dammers guesting last week .. its amazing and free.
Three records you couldn’t live without?
That would change by the hour .. this moment in time ..
MURK – BE MINE
GAPPY RANKS – SCHOOL DAYS
JACKIE MOORE – THIS TIME BABY (Tom Moulton mix)
Out soon. Acid Rain: Definitive Chicago Acid House (Complied By Terry Farley)