Artist: Steve "Silk" Hurley & The Voices of Life (ft. Sharon Pass)
Label: Silk Entertainment
The Word Is Love (Say The Word) is, to date, Steve Hurley's last charting single. The track features the soulful vocals of Sharon Pass over a massive, relentless bassline. Silk takes it to the next level after the 6:45 mark so do yourselves a favor and play the whole thing!
Label: Alleviated Records/D.J. International Records
Mystery of Love is the third Mr. Fingers track I've profiled so far (click here for Can You Feel It and here for Closer), and there's bound to be a few more before all is said and done. However, this is the track that put the incomparable Larry Heard on the map. Originally shared amongst fellow Chicago house pioneers Frankie Knuckles and Ron Hardy, the song eventually reached the masses and rose to #10 on the Billboard Dance charts in 1986.
Jon Savage, wrote an entire article about this track for The Guardian in 2010:
It begins with a syncopated bass figure, before a four-on-the-floor kick drum comes in, fast and clean. The lyrics arrive in a rush, delivered by a high, gospel-inflected vocalist. Robert Owens, for it is he, softly speaks of a fervent wish: "There's a moment in our lives when we all must try the mystery of love." This segues into a lovely, melodic passage – carried by analogue synthesiser tones.
The rest of the track is an ebb and flow of Heard's melodies, beautiful laminar keys, hi-hat cymbal patterns, and echoed hand-claps over a deep groove. Much like his other work under the Fingers alias, Mystery of Love has a strong ambient vibe and evokes a sense of dreaminess and hypnotism. Way ahead of its time.
The Club Mix on D.J. International with the Robert Owens vox:
Track: Make My Body Rock (Feel It) (Devastatingly Dubbed)
Label: Big Beat
I last profiled Jomanda back in January 2011, but let's take a look at another track from the legendary Jersey trio. Make My Body Rock was actually Jomanda's first hit single, reaching #6 on the US Dance charts and having modest success abroad.
A reviewer on Discogs aptly described this track as "a masterful blend of horns, keys, and vocal drops, and hooks beyond perfection." Credit Backroom Music Productions for the stellar production and Blaze (using The Black Rascals alias) with the top notch mixing and editing.
While I've never heard a mix I didn't like, I'm partial to the nearly 10-minute long Devastatingly Dubbed mix. This version dissects all the elements of the original, allowing the listener to fully appreciate both the complex musical layering and skilled vocals of the late Joanne Thompson. And, yes, it has a great bassline that drops with impeccable timing!
Below is the vocal-free Stomp Version. Hard to pass on Jomanda vox, but you can appreciate just how killer the groove is with this one:
Here we have a Jungle Brothers hip-house track dating from hip-hop's golden age, when rappers were more concerned about bragging and chest-thumping (think Rakim, Kool Moe Dee, etc...) than killing people or pushing drugs. Swag was huge in 1988. The song is built around a drum breakbeat and crazy circus organ sample from Sly & The Family Stone's You Can Make It If You Try, released on their Stand! album in 1969. The opening sing-song and the closing shout-outs to other cities solidifies its timeless appeal.
Cue Sly & The Family Stone around the 50 second mark:
And here's the Jungle Brothers:
Tempo shifting the breakbeat and the organ loop is a lot of fun on this one - the Freestylers Indett Mix (1996) execute this quite nicely for the first minute - then speed it up too fast IMO - unfortunately it's not on YouTube.
On this journey to profiling 1,000 house classics, you can bet there'll be a number of Blaze tracks in the mix. For the unfamiliar, Blaze is one of the earliest groups in house music, originally starting as a trio, before founder Chris Hebert left in 1991, leaving Josh Milan and Kevin Hedge to hold fort. The New Jersey based group found success in the garage house scene of the 80s, becoming staples in clubs on both sides of the Hudson. To this day, the duo remains a prolific production team.
Whatcha Gonna Do was the first release on the NY-based Quark Records and nicely represents the quintessential Blaze sound. Colonel Abrams provides the smooth vocals, while Blaze lays down a backdrop of layered drum patterns, infectious soaring synth chords, and a grooving deep bassline.
Remember Boyz II Men's new jack classic Motownphilly in 1992? Remember liking the part at 3:05?
If so, you'll probably appreciate Night Moves, a little known early house track from Chicago native Rick Seipak, recording as Rickster. Aside from the doom-doom-da-das, Rickster serves up some smooth vocals over an acid bassline and soaring synths. The piano chords (that follow the same doom-doom-da-da melody) are a real treat. Credit fellow Chi-Town Steve "Silk" Hurley with the original production.
I'm proud to say that one of my Twitter followers, longtime DJ and house producer, Cesar De Melero (from Spain), dropped a stellar remix of Night Moves back in 1991. Cue the funky horns for his Club Mix:
And De Melero's superb En El Calor De La Noche Mix featuring the rich vocals of Monica Green:
Under the Club 69 moniker, Peter Rauhofer remixed Danny Tenaglia's already excellent tribal classic, ohno, into a soul-shaking extravaganza. Your patience is rewarded, as this track progressively builds for several minutes before reaching its stride. Once it gets going, expect heavy doses of tribal drums, organ licks, and more!
Before Fatboy Slim became a household name, Norman Cook was tearing up house charts with his other aliases like Pizzaman and The Mighty Dub Katz. With its catchy Latin trumpet sample (taken from Yo Soy Cubano (1972) by the Chakachas), Magic Carpet Ride achieved crossover success and plenty of club play in the mid-90s. If you're really sharp-eared, you'll catch the sample of Tree Frog!
Track: I Like It (I Like How You're Lov'in Me) (Octapella Dub)
Artist: Angel Moraes
Label: Hot & Spycy Records
Angel Moraes always delivers dirty basslines and I Like It is no exception. While this dub version contains some of his signature drum patterns and industrial sound, it's more about the vocals over the hypnotic beat. If you're feeling the track, but want something more complex, you'll be pleased to know this one was heavily mixed so just search around.
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.