I consider David Morales' mix of Boy I Need You Now one of the best releases from the Red Zone era despite the fact that this track is completely forgotten. The track alternates between a symphonic buildup and a dark, outer-space sound, ultimately rewarding us with the vocal hook in the last minute. I wish I knew more info about the song to pass on, but I don't - just enjoy this ultra rare monster mix!
Chicago native Sterling Void is best known for his 1986 classic, It's Alright, but I've always thought the piano driven Don't Wanna Go is just as good, if not better. The oft-sampled piano chords lay a solid foundation for Paris Brightledge's effervescent vocals. After Trax Records, D.J International was arguably the most important of the Chicago house labels, specializing in soulful vocal and hip-house tracks.
Track: Just A Touch Of Love (Everyday) (The Standard House Mix)
Artist: C & C Music Factory
Sorry for the hiatus - things have gotten busy! Anyway, I'm picking up with a not-so underground track - Just A Touch of Love - the fourth single from the 5x platinum Gonna Make You Sweat album. Though it didn't get the airplay of C & C's other singles Just A Touch of Love is a solid, uplifting song. Moreover, unlike Everybody Dance Now, Zelma Davis really does provide the vocals here, not Martha Wash, proving she's a worthy singer in her own right. Compared to the original version, the Standard House Mix adds a beefier bassline, breakbeats, vocal arrangements, and additional hooks. For my DJ readers, the elegant and versatile refrain is great to play around with.
Been A Long Time is an early Ralph Falcon classic, recognizable by its huge funk-filled Miami bassline and distinct reverb. This is a strictly business track with Dorothy Mann's powerful vocals taking center stage over an otherwise minimal production arrangement of claps and hats. There are dozens of remixes floating out there, but I included a couple of the better mixes below. Finally, none of the YouTube clips seem to capture the full bass, so this is one that you'll want to hear offline (with a good system) to fully appreciate. Hat tip to Twitter follower DJSerQet for the reco! First, the original:
Been A Long Time (Kitchen Remix):
Been A Long Time (Mr. Marvin House Of Dreams Mix):
French Kiss, profiled here, was only one of many classic tracks brought to us by Lil Louis. I Called U (The Conversation) is an impressive sax-driven groove, definitely one of the greatest sax tracks all time. The live crowd elements really define the context, convincing the listener that you're actually experiencing a performance. After the 4 minute mark, everything drops out except bass + sax creating three minutes of pure magic. Listen for yourself:)
Planet Soul was a Miami house duo consisting of producer George Acosta and the late vocalist Nadine Renée (later replaced by Brenda Dee). They're known for their massive crossover hit, Set U Free, which peaked at #26 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1995. I love this song. It combines a Miami style bone-shaking bassline with an infectious rhythm-shifting tempo, and a perfect execution of the Planet Rock-esque electro bass sound. The vocals of Renée (heard on the original release) are flawless. Don't hate on crossover jams - this one deserved all the attention it got in the 90s.
Don't know who Taiko is, but Echo Drop is a gorgeous piece of piano-driven house with a single female vocal stab, "Give the love". The dub version is perfectly produced with plenty of punchy bass hits, claps, percussion buildups, and synth chords to keep things moving.
Track: Beat That Bitch (Johnny's Original Problem #13)
Artist: Johnny Dangerous
Label: Hourglass Recordings
Johnny Dangerous raised a lot of eyebrows when Problem #13 started making the rounds. Why? Because nobody ever called it Problem #13, instead it's just known by its endlessly repeated refrain, "Beat That Bitch With A Bat."
Although at first glance the song's crass, misogynistic title (remember, nobody called it Problem #13), suggested the track was invoking violence against women, but here's the story according to this article:
"The song was originally called Problem 13," says JD. "We were in the 1st Gulf War. A lot of people were mad with America. I thought I would tell a tale that was more of a self-reflecting, I think I can or I know I can type of song." Turns out "Problem 13 - Beat That Bitch with A Bat" is actually a positive song. In the case of this song, "bitch" signifies tribulation, obstacles, America herself. Who knew?
There you have it. And if you listen to the song, you'll hear the line "Ode to America" several times, so I have no doubt the story above is accurate. As for the song itself - it's a banger with it's fat four-to-the-floor beats and the deep recognizable spoken voice of Johnny Dangerous.
Detroit native Terrence Parker, known by fans as TP, released his first full length LP in 1996, titled Tragedies Of A Plastic Soul Junkie. There's a diverse mix of songs on the album, but I'm most impressed with his ability to turn out killer vocal-free piano/organ tracks. With House Ghost, TP manages to make positive music from negative organ keys. It might not turn heads at a club, but it's a beautiful key-driven track with no saccharine aftertaste.
As One was a collaboration track between noted NY reggae DJ Bobby Konders and Robert Owens (uncredited), the inimitable house vocalist whose work has already been profiled on this site. Despite excellent production, a catchy horn riff, and the sultry vocals of Owens, this track has been forgotten to history. Here's to hoping at least one DJ finds it and gives it new life in 2011!
A milestone at classichousetracks.com - the 100th classic house track profiled! I know some other similar sites can throw up a dozen tracks a day, but I'm more of the slow and steady type. Anyway, the Nalin and Kane mix of Lustral's Everytime is a killer, it never gets played out and it never sounds dated in my opinion. This progressive trance mix bears little resemblance to the original version - Nalin & Kane depart from the conventional four-to-the-floor format, dropping a sublime, pulsating bassline (around the 3:40 mark). Together with slow chord progressions, emotional keyboard pieces, and airy vocals, their mix of Everytime is an intense and emotional tour de force. The Mike Koglin mix is also worth a listen.
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.