Detroit techno pioneers Derrick May and Darryl Wynn teamed up to form R-Tyme for a small handful of releases in the late 80s/early 90s. MK's mix of Use Me delivers a dubbed vocal over a devastating bassline. The track is complimented with strings, a nice organ groove, and space effects.
Even if you're not familiar with the original, you've probably heard the hook before. Kelly Charles was another product of Northern New Jersey's garage scene and this piano-driven track is a fine example of the sound from that era.
I Am Free is a gorgeous piece of ambient music from Morgan King, a long accomplished UK musician/producer/DJ. Patience is rewarded with this track as the beat doesn't actually drop until 4+ minutes. I'm not a skilled enough wordsmith to describe this track well, so you'll have to just listen for yourself. If you want a mix that's equally beautiful, but more palatable for a club crowd, go with the Soma Mix.
One of my favorite old school rap artists was The D.O.C., whose vocal chords were irrecoverably damaged in a car accident shortly after the release of his debut album, the Dr. Dre-produced No One Can Do It Better. It's a helluva record and each time I listen to it I'm blown away by his lyrical style. If not for his tragic accident, D.O.C. would likely have gone down in history as one of the best rappers of all time - the West Coast's answer to Rakim. Though never receiving much airplay, the album contained a gem of a hip house track titled Portrait Of A Masterpiece. The song clocks in at just two and half minutes and features D.O.C. rapping at a feverish pace, taking the listener to dizzying heights with rapid-fire rhyme delivery over a fast breakbeat. Moreover, there's no hook - just nonstop lyrics from start to finish. If you're curious, the musical elements sampled are listed here.
Here's the 12" mix with some crazy bumping bass, it's awesome:
And since the crossover appeal to house was undeniable UK DJ's CJ Macintosh and Eddie Gordon produced a slick remix that got the attention of Sasha in the early 90s. I'm not having much luck tracking down the Funky FM Mix, but Eddie Gordon has made the CJ's Ed-Did-It Mix available on his website here.
Since we're on our way to 1,000 classic house tracks, there's plenty of room for more obscure titles that have largely been forgotten as time moves on. One such track is What U Want, from the UK duo of Sean Casey and Miles Morgan. It's not going to get people out of their seats, but it has a killer bassline and some ambient jungle sounds to keep things interesting.
R U Sleeping was a 90s floor-filler that spawned monster remixes by Mike Dunn, StoneBridge, and Grant Nelson. The original version was produced in 1993 out of Chicago and is notable for its catchy vocal hook. While there's a lot of solid remixes, the Todd Edwards Mix is the best of the bunch. Edwards' distintictive cut-and-paste style is instantly recognizable, with lot of samples and dubs permeating his tracks. The New Jersey native rose to DJ prominence in the UK, where there was a fan base for 2-step garage music in the 90s. Unfortunately, Edwards is not well known in the US, but I look forward to showcasing more of his unique works in the months ahead.
Best known for their massively popular hit, Work It To the Bone (not yet profiled on this site) in 1987, the Chicago production duo of Larry Thompson and Rick Lenoir (Larry 'N Rick = LNR) were more than a one trick pony. Reachin' is a soulful cut from '93 with uplifting vocals and a laid back vibe that might induce some involuntary head nodding!
If someone hasn't already released a Best of Miami Classic House album by now, I hereby nominate Some Lovin' for inclusion. Producing under the Liberty City alias, the Miami duo of Oscar G and Ralph Falcon (aka Murk and last profiled in this post) delighted clubgoers when they dropped this gorgeous deep house classic in '92. With a stompin' beat, guttural bass line and an all star diva performance from Bebe Dozier, this track manages to please fans of both vocals and bumpin' beats. In 2003, an updated version with Kristine W. became a commercial success, but I thought it was pretty unremarkable. For this tune, stick with the original.
The soulful house duo of Doug Smith and Richard Payton called themselves Groove Patrol before they started producing as 95 North. Smith and Payton were independently exposed to the 80s garage music of NY/NJ which greatly influenced their musical style. Need Your Love was one of their earliest releases - it has great vox, an enjoyable beat, and a deep bass groove. Payton himself commented on YouTube, giving us a little back-story to this track:
"Wow! I haven't heard this one in a long time. One of our first
releases. We created it entirely on the Ensoniq EPS-16 plus and
recorder it straight onto a DAT and sent it to Strictly to press it.
Talk about a thrill hearing it played on mix shows and seeing it on DJs
charts. This being our third release, it was a huge thrill. Thanks for
When I started this website, my goal was to profile 1,000 classic house tracks in a year. Four months in and I've gotten to about 75. The bad news is that getting to 1,000 in a year isn't possible, I just can't keep up that pace since this is very much a side project. However, good news is that I'm more confident than ever that there's at least another 1,000 quality classic house tracks for me to showcase. That's a testament to the immense output of the genre, pretty impressive considering I'm selectively picking tracks from the first 10-15 years of house music, and mostly from the pre-internet era. Moreover, there's all sorts of subgenres I'm not really into, so I'm only presenting a narrow slice of the overall house movement. A couple other things 1) Twitter has been great. Very impressed with the international scope of it. Because of the nature of Twitter and the informality of the communication, it really makes the world seem small. 2) For those listening to these tracks for the first time, I hope you have an opportunity to listen on good speakers. If you play the tracks through tinny laptop speakers, you're not getting the full experience. Please don't hesitate to send over recommendations, I'll bump them up the queue as much as I can.
Now onto I Surrender (London's Moody Mix)! Funk Deluxe was a New York-based Randy Muller project, primarily
released on Salsoul Records. Basically, Funk Deluxe was what the band R&B/funk/disco band Skyy called themselves when they played as a backing band. London's Moody Mix was produced by UK DJ Ben Chapman. For such a great track, it's a shame how little attention it received. The song features a catchy synth groove, a gorgeous bassline, some soaring synth chords and first rate vocals from an unknown female. An underappreciated house classic if there ever was one.
Roger Sanchez released I Need You in 1992 under the alias Nu-Solution and featuring the soulful vocals of Tonya Wynne. Additional remixes dropped a year later, none better than StoneBridge's Stoned To The Bone Mix. The bass-heavy organ groove is an excellent backdrop for Wynne's vocals.
The B-52's? Yes, for reals. To best appreciate this MK gem, let's watch a live performance of the original song from an appearance on The Tonight Show in 1992:
So it's a decent pop/rock song and I like The B-52's, but not their most memorable track. However, I'm grateful the band or their label commissioned remixes, because it gave us a chance for Marc "MK" Kinchen to do his thing. It was on this track that MK first experimented with stuttering the last syllable of lines. This would become a common technique, but it was also the precursor to what would become his trademark M.O. - pulling single syllables from various places in the vocals and reordering them to create catchy melodies. Of course, the track that showcases this best is his über-classic remix of the Nightcrawlers' Push The Feeling On.
But back to this dub mix of Tell It Like It T-I-Is...Aside from the aforementioned vocals dubs, the track has an excellent deep house bassline and showcases the unique vocals of Kate Pierson. Check it out!
Fellow Chicagoans Jamie Principle and Steve Silk Hurley crossed paths and applied the house touch to this 1977 Eddie Kendricks' song. The silky falsetto vocals of Kendricks' remain, but are accompanied by a solid bassline, a kick drum, and one of the grooviest (synth) saxophone riffs you'll ever hear. The intro alone is worth the price of admission!
Check out the House Dub mix if you're digging the track but prefer something less garagey.
Miro is the Danish duo of Steen Thøttrup and Mads Arp. One of their earlier works, the aptly titled Pure Silk, is a pulsating musical extravaganza full of synth stabs and catchy piano licks. While I'd call this progressive house, the high energy and constant buildups/breakdowns will keep any trance enthusiast quite happy.
Last Rhythm was an Italian collective headed by DJ Giulio Benedetti. His debut self-titled track was a blissful instrumental with strong ambient qualities and a memorable synth breakdown at the midpoint. The song was especially popular in the UK and a favorite of Sasha and Asterix & Space's pirate radio show. Here's the original:
Remixes were issued the following year featuring the vocals of Silvie Carter. The Vocal Extended mix is the best of the bunch. Aside from the rich vocals, this track has a more uptempo vibe than the original and includes some nice piano licks. Old school purists may have a preference, but in my book you can't go wrong with either version. Here's the Vocal Extended mix:
Dreams of Santa Anna, released under the Orange Lemon alias, is one of my favorite Todd Terry productions and another track whose popularity was shared across multiple genres - in this case freestyle, house, and rave circles. Even if you've never heard Terry's track, its distinctive whistle tune may still sound familiar to your ears. The genesis of the whistle tune dates to 1965, when famed composer Ennio Morricone wrote the theme music to Sergio Leone's spaghetti western For a Few Dollars More (starring Clint Eastwood), using professional whistler(!) John O'Neill to supply the actual whistling. Listen for yourself:
In 1972, British rock group Babe Ruth used the tune as one of the guitar riffs on a song called The Mexican on their debut album. Credit Alan Shacklock with the masterful guitar playing and Janita Haan for her powerful vocals, loosely recounting the story of Mexican General Santa Anna's siege of the Alamo:
Six years later, Canadian disco/rock outfit The Bombers produced their own version of The Mexican, adding a drum break and some funky bass playing. This is a really well done piece of music and a shame this song is so forgotten today.
The next detour on this tune's evolution comes courtesy of old school rap and electro funk pioneer Afrika Bambaataa on his 1982 track, Planet Rock. I'm a big fan of electro and plan to profile the genre in more detail later, so I'll skip details for now. Suffice to say, this was an epic track and you can hear the familiar tune in synth form at the 3:44 mark.
Fast forward two years...NYC master producer John "Jellybean" Benitez covers the Babe Ruth version of The Mexican, recruiting original singer Janita Haan for vocals. The song blows up the underground scene and crosses over to mainstream air play, garnering the #1 spot on Billboard's dance charts. There's no decisive "first" freestyle track, but depending on who you ask, this is sometimes considered a worthy candidate.
Finally, this brings us Todd Terry's version. While Terry didn't create the track's signature tune, his recognizable fingerprints are all over this one - drums running under the bassline, samples dropping in and out, and a moody energy that you can't quite describe. Be sure to check out the other side of the vinyl, The Texican, which is a similar track and a musical cousin of The Mexican. Enjoy!
Track: Let Me Love You Rebuilt (Evil Eddie Richards Unofficial Mix)
Let Me Love You For Tonight was a popular anthem in both freestyle and club circles in 1989. With an unforgettable organ intro, a downtempo but danceable groove and some screaming vocals about a one-night stand, the song had enough elements to satisfy both crowds, even charting in the UK. You could describe the original as a freestyle classic, a house classic, or a pop classic and you wouldn't be wrong. Although Junior Vasquez and The Sol Brothers produced well-received remixes in the last 90s, the best mix was an unofficial one courtesy of London DJ "Evil" Eddie Richards. As one of UK's pioneers of house music, Richards is considered Britian's godfather of house and techno and perhaps the most influential contributor to the tech house subgenre.
Richards' mix of Let Me Love You For Tonight draws out the gorgeous organ intro, drops a massive breakbeat, and throws in a devastating speaker-shattering tech house bassline while preserving Kariya's original vocals. Simply stated, this is an amazing mix. Major props to whoever uploaded it to YouTube and Discogs.
Track: Uh-Uh Ooh-Ooh Look Out (Here It Comes) (House Of Trix Mix)
Artist: Roberta Flack
If you're keeping count, this is the fifth Steve Hurley track I've profiled since launching the site in October. What can I say, I'm a fan. Anyway, Hurley killed it with his House Of Trix Mix to this Roberta Flack song. You might be asking yourself - how do you turn a Roberta Flack song into a club banger? Well the musical link is a little tenuous, but the one dubbed vocal heard throughout Hurley's mix is indeed the unmistakable sultry sound of Roberta Flack: "I know a goodbye when I hear one." You can listen to the original line at the 1:13 mark in this video. Hurley's signature mixing skills do the rest.
Hailing from Northern NJ, identical twin brothers Rhano and Rheji Burrell were responsible for a diverse output of innovative and experimental deep house music from the late 80s to early 90s. The Burrell Brothers founded Nu Groove Records and released their tracks on the label under various names, notably New York House'n Authority and Tech Trax Inc. Using the alias The Utopia Project, Rheji Burrell released File #1 - an amazing piece of ear candy if you're the type who can appreciate a proto deep house instrumental. Signature elements include lush synth stabs, crisp handclaps, strong kicks, and a hearty bassline. While the Burrell Brothers dabble in other music genres today, they're best remembered for being one of the earliest creators of the New York deep house sound.
This track is a little bit nuts...Samples coming from all directions underscored by a catchy rolling bassline. I can't provide much historical information about the artist or song, but it's one of a kind and worth a listen. The girl vocals are great - she sings, raps, and throws in a few piercing "Aciiieeed" chants as a nod to D-Mob's tune. Of course, the "If there's a cure" lines are lifted from Diana Ross' oft-sampled Love Hangover (1976).
This site profiles my favorite classic house tracks. Most selections are from the 80s and 90s with a strong - but not exclusive - deep house, progressive and old school Chicago influence. I could never fully warm up to acid house, overly ambient tracks, or anything that bumps >135bpm. Since many have asked, there's no single definition of classic house music, but Ishkur has an excellent guide to electronica music that can serve as a primer for anyone interested. I know some of the videos get pulled due to copyright issues - just search on YouTube since most stuff gets re-upped anyway.