Track: Cascades Of Colour (Danny Tenaglia's Edit of the Saffron Mix)
Artist: The Ananda Project
Label: Nite Grooves
The Ananda Project is one of the aliases of producer Chris Brann, probably best known for this track. Cascades of Colour is another favorite - ambient heavy with bittersweet lyrics and layered vocals that conjure images of a tropical atmosphere. I'm partial to Danny Tenaglia's mix which maintains the laid back vibe but provides beats that pack a bigger punch than the original.
Back-to-back Heller & Farley, but why not? Sampling a funkadelic guitar loop from Instant Funk's 1979 Bodyshine, Heller & Farley (under the Roach Motel incarnation), Wild Luv simply rocks. The track builds to a prolonged break in the middle and then builds itself up again. For those wondering, the "wild pitch" vocals are a reference to DJ Pierre's series of Wild Pitch remixes.
Ultra Flava was first produced as a dub version for Ultra Naté's How Long - a track from her 1993 album One Woman's Insanity. Take a listen to Heller & Farley's (mixed under the Fire Island alias) remix of How Long and you'll instantly recognize the genesis of this track:
Slowly but surely the underground scene was buzzing about this mix, requesting a proper release. Two years later, Heller & Farley delivered the goods with the release of Ultra Flava (title paying homage to Ultra Naté') - laying down one of the all time most infectious organ grooves to the delight of DJs and clubgoers worldwide. Moreover, the track is perfectly balanced with first rate percussion elements. There's been many remixes over the years, but nothing has topped the original IMO.
In 1983, Larry Levan served up a special bass-heavy and funk-filled mix of Gwen Guthrie's Peanut Butter. Listen at the 30 second mark for the sampled vocals, but keep listening around 1:15-1:45 for the sickest bassline you'll hear all day.
Years later, UK outfit N-Joi would use future Republica frontwoman Saffron to belt out Guthrie's sultry vocals over a piano-driven floor-filler, creating one of the biggest crossover hits of the era.
Straying into synth-pop territory, but no shame. The out-of-this-world thumping bassline of Certain Things Are Likely make it classic house worthy and the unmistakably 80s chorus is good, clean fun. The mix posted in the YouTube is on point.
M People scored their biggest hit in 1993 with Moving On Up, successfully bridging the worlds of house, pop, and R&B with their colossal song. Marc Kinchen won the prize for best remix - another perfect execution of his vocal dub mastery, splicing syllables into catchy melodies. Laid down over a deep house bassline and you've got a killer track.
Giv Me Luv is one of the all time deepest and darkest, chill-inducing deep house bangers. There's solid remixes out there, but why mess with the original? It's gold on wax. The track starts off with an unassuming 4/4 beat before a funkier bassline and percussion effects are laid down. Once that feel is established, the song's signature synth hook is released. But this isn't any ol' synth hook, this is a devastating, super-fat hook pulled from the fiery infernos of hell. It's dark, heavy, and unrelenting. Played loudly enough and you won't hear yourself think, it just straight-up shakes your brain. After a masterful drop at around the 3:30 mark, vocals kick in and carry the track through the end. All in all, it's a 8 and a half minute odyssey crafted by Jean-Phillippe Aviance and Victor Imbres and you'll be sorry it has to end.
Track: U Got Me Up (Cajmere's New Underground Goodies Mix)
Label: Cajual Records
No sample is off limits (even if lawyers try sometimes). Case in point is the most popular mix of Dajae's U Got Me Up courtesy of Cajmere (before he became Green Velvet) which samples a 1930 Hoagy Carmichael jazzy clarinet riff. The Cajmere mix was so popular it completely overshadowed the original song (which is great in its own right) and single-handedly introduced swing-house to throngs of clubgoers. Dropping massive ragtime vibes is the ultimate curveball, but there's a time and place for everything!
The original sample - cue to 1:44 and listen for about 15 seconds:
And U Got Me Up (Cajmere's New Underground Goodies Mix):
One Kiss was a one-off collaboration between Joey Negro, Blaze and vocalist Debbie French using the Pacha alias. F.O.S. is Fathers of Sound, an Italian duo that frequently collaborated with the UK's biggest names. Simply put, the F.O.S. One Remix goes HAM. If you have cheap speakers or if earth-moving low freq basslines make you nauseous, don't even waste your time with the first six minutes - just skip to that mark when the song transitions to the smooth vocals of Debbie French over a more subtle beat. However, if you live for sub bass floor bangers and have a proper woofer, start it from the beginning and put your tray tables in the upright position.
A perfectly executed sax sample is hard to top - Here's some sax tracks I've profiled earlier that pulled it off. Hard to pick a favorite, but Razzmatazz is up there. Shout out to @VinylTeknition for the memory because you have better odds of getting change back with a $2 bill than finding this. The track comes courtesy of Chicago native Drew Sky, an old school house heavy hitter who frequently worked with Steve Pointdexter.
The sax is lifted from Sexy, a 1975 MFSB jam - Cue to 1:34 for the sample:
Drew Sky laid down a sweet sub bassline at the starting gate and let that sax sample carry the track. You can't do it any better.
Track: Te Quiero (Darren Emerson Underworld Remix)
Artist: 108 Grand
Label: Brute Records
Patience is rewarded for Darren Emerson's remix of Te Quiero. Clocking in at nearly 10 minutes, Emerson takes listeners on a progressive house journey with multiple layers of beautiful swirling melodies and a bouncing beat. The highlight is the great little melody dropped around the halfway mark. More than anything, this track confirms Darren Emerson was chiefly responsible for defining that signature Underworld sound (think Dirty/Lemon Interupt) during their peak years.
Stevie Wonder wrote and recorded As in 1976 - the fifth single to chart from the critically acclaimed Songs in the Key of Life album. Like virtually all his work, As is just a beautiful piece of music - an expression of everlasting love that builds from a slumberous, lounge-music like opening to an evocative and soulful collision. The original:
Fast-forward 23 years - George Michael and Mary J Blige cover the song for a George Michael best-of collection, becoming a top-10 hit in the UK. The track was left off the North American release and consequently the song received little attention in the US despite having a music video:
A small handful of remixes were officially released, but the Jonathan Peters mix is the hands-down winner transforming a classic R&B song into a fully danceable track with one of the best builds you'll ever hear.
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.