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.
Though Don't Stop isn't likely to be anyone's single most memorable house track, it definitely has an understated coolness about it thanks to a head-bobbing groove and 303 bassline which builds up to a sublime ethereal breakdown. Afterwards, the original groove is worked back in, joined by catchy piano riffs and angelic choir sound effects. Solid, good stuff.
Though local NYC DJ Troy Parrish produced this deep house masterpiece, the track only became an underground instant-classic when it fell in the hands of Junior Vasquez, then presiding over the decks at the "original" Sound Factory on West 27th St.
The track features a rolling ultra-deep bassline, dark pad stabs, organ licks, and the sultry staccato vocals of the eponymous Luna. This is rare, long-forgotten gem so much thanks to godsend RJJNY who has upload this and 1,300 other classic house music cuts to YouTube.
Funky Felix's The Higher Mix is my mix of choice:
But you can't go wrong with the Original Factory Mix (can't embed the video, so just click the text).
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):
Love Changes is a very solid MK production and worthy of inclusion on any collection of classic house tracks. The Deep Mix has a standout bassline, but still allows Alana's beautiful vocals to shine front and center. As always, MK's signature vocal dub mastery is still in effect.
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.
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.
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!
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
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.
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.
Let's Groove has brought smiles to clubgoers' faces for the better part of two decades and with good reason. As the standout track in the 11-part Morel's Grooves series, Let's Groove is a playful instrumental packed with floating drum loops, crashing high hats and a pumping organ bass. The constant teases keep the listener engaged and rocking out to the end. If the bass melody sounds familiar, it's because you've heard it on Earth Wind & Fire's Let's Groovewhich predates this one by 12 years. A version with vocals by Heather Wildman was later released, but I'll stick with the instrumental. Enjoy!
Vallée De Larmes, which translates to Valley of Tears, is a masterfully composed classic from the Dutch production team of René Ter Horst and Gaston Steenkist (who now produce under the Chocolate Puma alias). With a glass harmonica, strings, and subtle horns, you'll be forgiven if you confuse the beautiful intro for a symphony. The beat drops back in eventually but the song maintains its elegance throughout.
I'll admit the original might not have enough bass to satisfy some listeners. Luckily, there's been a slew of remixes if you're looking for a more modern house sound. One I like is the Pleasurekraft 'Sideshow' Remix off Jean Claude Ades' 2010 release of Vallée De Larmes. Pleasurekraft definitely brought the goods with this one - hard to describe, but unique in a good way:
Let Me Show You is a classic dance anthem and a worthy candidate for the 90's most infectious piano riff. The track starts with a decent siren-laden build-up before dropping that absolutely devastating piano track that could bring even the most tired afterhours clubgoers back to life. The song also includes the timeless vocal "You've got to live right now" which basically sums up the ethos of the house scene in six words. According to Paul Roberts, all of the elements apart from the vocal top line were influenced by a Tony Humphries set at Cream nightclub in the UK.
Track: Packet Of Peace (Prankster Sound System Mix)
Label: Deconstruction Records
With a pulsating beat that hits hard from the gate and a deep message delivered in spoken form, Packet of Peace qualifies as one of the cooler progressive/tracks from its era. Definitely ahead of its time, the Chemical Brothers scored one of their earlier successes with a remix of this club banger.
I'm going a little outside my comfort zone with this very progressive house track from the UK duo of Nick Warren and Jody Wisternoff. There's no vocals - just a lot of different riffs, some deep drums, and a catchy piano track. I think it's a cool song and worth a listen. The vinyl says it's "The Unofficial 1994 World Cup Anthem" and includes a graphic of a soccer player. Moreover, the tracks are amusingly labeled first and second halves, with the second half being an extended version and labeled Extra Time.
Mellow Mellow was the Belgium duo of Jeff Vanbockryck (aka Jeff Hypp) and Marnik Braeckevelt. I Can't Stop was too lacking in vocals to attract mainstream attention, but it's an easy-on-the-ears track with a nice organ break. I'm not that familiar with Mellow Mellow, but this track was good enough they included it on their full CD released on the Astralwerks label a year later.
Where to start with this one? So far, I've been selecting just my favorite mix for each post, but that won't work for this jam - there's too many good mixes that it would feel wrong showcasing just one. First, for those new to house music, Masters at Work (MAW) consists of the NY duo of Kenny "Dope" Gonzalez and "Little" Louie Vega. They've been mega producers and remixers forever and have compiled a discography longer than the Mississippi River. Sometimes their mixes are issued under the alias KenLou, a syllabic abbreviation of their first names. India, also known as La India, is a Nuyorican vocalist who became a teen star in the 80s with freestyle music and has since had a very accomplished career in salsa and house. She's put on some weight over the years, but in her day, she was slammin' hot. India has an amazing voice with impressive range - after Barbara Tucker, she's probably considered the best voice in house music. Anyway, this song features an infectious beat and an all-time great horn sample and layered drums that shift the intensity from a lounge to club vibe. Most noteworthy are India's soulful vocals - she really pours her heart into this song and compliments the varied flow with the versatility of her singing.
Here's the Ken/Lou 12" Mix which is like the radio version except longer:
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. 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.