Tommy Musto and Northcott Productions
As I mentioned in my post about The Burrell Brothers and Nu Groove Records, Rheji Burrell had originally been contacted by Frank and Karen Mendez about starting a record label while Karen was working at Fourth Floor records. Fourth Floor was one of a collection of record labels operating under Northcott Productions Ltd – home of one of New York’s most influential house producers Tommy Musto. As Rheji says in this Fact Magazine interview:
So Frank [Mendez] approached me one day and said ‘how would you like to have your own label to put out the rest of this stuff?’ And I said ‘great!’ We ended up meeting Tommy Musto from the Dynamic Duo, he had a studio upstairs from where Karen [Mendez] used to to work, called Fourth Floor. Karen introduced me to him and he canned whatever he was doing and said ’let’s just make some records’. And the first two records we made were made in the same day, probably in like an hour – ‘The Booty Dance’ [under the K.A.T.O. alias] and Metro – ‘Angel Of Mercy’.
In an hour! Two of my absolute favourite records – the first is on my After The Garage Vol.1 mixtape (available on soundcloud for the next day or two, then you’ll have to wait for the tapes!) and the 2nd was on my Nu Groove post if you missed it first time round.
Tommy Musto had been DJing in and around Brooklyn since 1978, winning the Tommy Boy Mix contest in 1981 before moving into production and radio. In 1983 he met Disco producer and Northcott Productions owner Silvio Tancredi and quickly took a key role in the creative direction of the company, becoming instrumental in the creation of 3 more of New York’s most important record labels:
Secondly in 1986: Underworld Records – the point that Tommy took centre stage, writing and producing the bulk of the early Underworld releases which covered every style from big vocals to proper acid on the uncredited Karn Evil #10 right from the start. From 1988 onwards, it would provide a platform for artists like Frankie Bones and Pal Joey to stamp their own marks on New York’s house (and techno/rave) scenes
Then, thirdly in 1987: Fourth Floor Records, which opened with some of my all time favourite Tommy Musto productions (with some help from another Brooklyn pioneer, Lenny Dee), then over the next 5 years released some of house music’s biggest records, introducing the world to Todd Terry (more, clearly, on him in a bit!)