After decades around records, I still can’t find anyone that can explain the voodoo of the vinyl re-issue market to me. It reminds me of the hi-fi stereo business – it’s the kind of thing that inexplicably but invariably attracts mystics and crooks, con-men and true believers.
But what makes a hit? An obscure disco record from Trinidad & Tobogo was recently re-issued and massively overexposed, and here on the tail end the prices are soaring exponentially like a disco version of Tulip Mania.
Meanwhile, several rare tracks from a genuine legend of Chicago House are pumped back into circulation and I don’t think half of the people who swear they live and breathe classic Chicago House know what the fuck is going on. It says something brutal about the trendiness of modern day tastemakers (namely: they’re full of shit), because it took me about twenty five seconds to recognize Rodney Bakerr’s RH019 as the best re-issue of the year.
Bakerr and Rockin’ House have been largely overlooked in the retrospectives and videos glorifying the early pioneers of Chicago. I’m not going to repeat here things you can easily Google over there, but Rockin’ House was one of Chicago’s classic if eclectic labels, featuring well known tracks like Tyree’s take on “Video Crash” as well as bona fide obscurities like Fred Brown’s “House Whop”.
RH019 isn’t so much a “re-issue” as a “rediscovery”. The story goes that Bakerr was experimenting with 303 sounds to make the tracks on this record and intended to release them (“RH019” was to be the original Rockin’ House catalog number), but growing disillusioned with bootlegs and distribution rackets, abandoned plans to press it up. Only a relatively small number of test pressings (and boots based upon them) were ever released.
If the “lost tracks” were intended to see how far Acid House could go, it’s safe to say that few have ever revisited this warped & desiccated landscape. The demonic bassline on “Helicopter” is just unreal, as is the sort of proto-EBM of Bakerr’s “Cyber Track”. It’s a bit retro-futurism today, but considering where techno has gone in the interim, I don’t think anyone has room to complain. “Traffic Jam” is the track that Armando never got a chance to make: it’s so mental, so heavy and so melodic, and somehow it’s all three of those at the same time. If you’re in any way an aficionado of classic Chicago acid tracks, this is an absolutely necessary record in your collection. Twenty years later, there’s still nothing like it.