Back at the tail end of the last millennium BBE released a comprehensive over view of house music in the latter stages of the 20th century. ‘Henry Street Music: The Story So Far - 1993 To 1999’ was a slice of superior contemporary club classics featuring all of the key players, architects and music makers of the day. Todd Terry, Armand Van Helden, Kenny Dope, DJ Sneak, 95 North, Robbie Rivera, Davidson Ospina, Ralphi Rosario, Mike Delgado, King Britt, and a handful of others under various alter egos and nom de plumes. It was a given that they were all great records, what was all the more impressive was that they all originated from the same recording home, Henry Street Music. A label conceived and devised by Johnny DeMairo, an Italian-American from Brooklyn who talked the talk, could easily have been an extra in The Soprano’s, and was known affectionately as “The Shark”. To others he was just plain Johnny “D”, and one half of the production duo JohNick with studio partner Nicky “P” Palermo Jr.
By day DeMairo was Senior Director A&R for Atlantic Records. He was the man that paired Todd Terry with Everything But The Girl and transformed ‘Missing’ into a chart topping hit; he helped convert an underground house producer named Armand Van Helden into the hottest property via a remix for Tori Amos; and signed a a sample track from Kenny Dope who took a non-hit from one the biggest groups in pop history to create a record that was literally ‘The Bomb!’
Johnny D started Henry Street back in 1993, with fellow New York producer Tommy Musto. “He and I left Sound Factory Bar on a Wednesday night when Louie Vega used to play and we discussed it,” he reflects. “The reason behind it was very simple: I felt the competing labels at the time were hitting a wall as far as creativity, and there were no classics being made. The music to me was becoming very disposable. My thoughts were, if I take a record that is 20years old and make it hot, I’d get 20 more years out of it. I knew disco better than most and thought I could use that knowledge to make old records and grooves new again.”
Henry Street Music, taking its name from the street that intersected President & Hicks in DeMairo’s Brooklyn neighbourhood, debuted in the spring of 1994 with ‘Whew’ by Kenny Dope Presents The Bucketheads… there’s that word again! “Kenny who is, and was one of my closest friends at the time, agreed to give me my first record to help launch the label and put it on the map. In essence it made us an immediate player.”
It worked. By release number four, ‘The Bomb! (These Sounds Fall Into My Mind)’ also by the Bucketheads, the label had become an international player with a single built around one of the longest introductions since ‘Relight Light My Fire’, and elements from Chicago’s ‘Street Player’.
Even though a lot of people buying and listening to this compilation are going to be very familiar with nearly all the artists, and many of the releases put out on the label, but most of these tracks are going to be very new to people who will be hearing these for the first time.
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