Rheji Burrell

Hope everyone’s enjoying the holidays. As my girlfriend’s gone out bargain-hunting and I feel too stuffed to move, I thought I’d spend Boxing Day afternoon mp3ing my NuGroove records!

When I was younger I used to travel up to London every once in a while to buy records and you could be sure that about a third of them would be from NuGroove. In 1990 NuGroove was the hottest label going. With releases ranging from the deep house of Bobby Konders to the proto-rave of Joey Beltram, they put no limits on their sound, and followers of the label (which was pretty much everyone around that time) were always keen to hear what the next record was going to be like.

NuGroove had a relatively short life, launching in New York in 1988 and closing in 1992, but in that time they released well over 100 records. I remember hearing at the time that they had a really quick turnaround – from the day they received a demo they could have the record pressed and in the shops in about two to three weeks.

NuGroove was launched by husband and wife team, Frank and Karen Mendez, primarily as an outlet for the twin brothers, Rheji and Rhano Burrell (aka Reginald and Ronald). For me, Rheji Burrell was undoubtedly the king of the label, sometimes working with his brother but often alone. His ‘Metro’ EP was released in 1990 as a 6-tracker in the UK on Republic, but this comprised of a NuGroove 4-tracker called ‘$1.15 Please’ plus an earlier 12-inch called ‘Angel Of Mercy’. Back then, tracks like ‘Rush Hour’ would always get us onto the dancefloor, but Burrell’s sound still seems relevant today. Only ‘Turnstyle Turbulence’, with its attempt at a more commercial sound, feels dated now.

The Burrell Brothers

The Burrells may have lived in NYC, but they weren’t really part of the “Brooklyn house” sound – the EP track ‘Straphanger’ that I’ve put at the top of this post has more similarities with the Chicago and Detroit styles. Although this track features vocals, other tracks on the ‘Metro’ EP and on Burrell’s ‘The Utopia Project’ record may have been the first tracks that I heard that showed me how soulful house music could be, without needing to use vocals. The lush track below, called ‘File #3’, is from ‘The Utopia Project’.

This video is a mini feature on NuGroove Records… if only all those classic labels had made shorts like this.

The tracklisting for the video is:
Lost Entity, ‘Bring That Beat Back’
House Syndicate, ‘Jam The Mace’ (released on Dopewax, a NuGroove sub-label)
Bobby Konders, ‘The Poem (Version)’
Aphrodisiac, ‘Song Of The Siren’
The Utopia Project, ‘File #1’

Posted by Manny Z

Related Entry:
‘Nervous Acid’


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