Caught In The Middle was an early 90s pop/uptempo R&B hit that was readily remixable and transformed into a dance track. David Morales has done a number of Roberts tracks, but his work on Caught In The Middle shines especially bright. The extended intro features some excellent vocal dubbing before the piano licks and smooth vox carry the song the rest of the way.
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.
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.
English dance group Sunscreem released a variety of tracks in the 90s that are collectively referred to as "The Anna Series" (using aliases like Anna Crusis, Anna Din, Anna Logic, and Anna Nas). The strongest effort of the bunch was the dub version of Angel - an epic stomper that exemplifies the progressive-industrial sound. Featured on Sasha & Digweed's acclaimed Renaisssance mix, this classic is held together by a powerful piano hook and rolling organ bass.
The slower (and less bassier) non-dub version is worth a listen too:
Few pieces of world music reached the status of Sweet Lullaby, an "ethno-electronic" international hit produced by French duo, Erc Mouquet and Michael Sanchez. The song is based around a Baeggu lullaby from the Solomon Islands called "Rorogwela" and uses a vocal sample originally recorded by ethnomusicologist Hugo Zemp in 1969 and later released by UNESCO as part of their Musical Sources collection. Baeggu is the language of the indigenous people of North Malaita Island and is today spoken by less than 6,000 people so quite prescient of Zemp to capture recordings of this fading culture. The concept of electronic music artists incorporating local folk songs by way of a scholarly preservationist is not exclusive to Deep Forest; I wrote about Moby doing something similar with Honey.
In any case, Sweet Lullaby is the voice and melody of a woman named Afunakwa. Afunakwa's vocals were sampled, edited, combined with other ethnic samples and layered with Sanchez's and Mouqet's own compositions of synthesizer sounds, drum loops, and basslines for ambiance. The intricate editing process took six months, proof that patience is a virtue. Afunakwa's lyrics refer to a young orphan being comforted by his older brother despite the loss of their parents:
Lyrics In Baeggu (transliterated):
Sasi ziza zecob dela dalou'a Boralea'e borale mi komi oula Etawuae'o ela'o coralia wu'aila Ilei pandera zel e' tomu pere no mo mai
Alatuwuan? icas imani'u Barletas e'e barkia'a Pro'e lai e'le a pantou la'u
Ilei pander zel e' tomu pere no mo mai
Sa ziza zecob del dalou'a Boralea'e borale mi komi oula Alatawuan? icas iwua'oula Ilei pandera zel e' tomu pere no mo mai
Lyrics In English (approximate translation):
Young brother, young brother you be quiet Although you are crying to me Your father has left us He has gone to the place of the dead Protect the head of the living, Protect the orphan child
Young brother, young brother hey? although you are crying to me Your father has left us He has gone to the place of the dead Protect the head of the living, protect the orphan child
Here's the original version:
It's timeless, but the deep house Round The World mix is the go-to track if you're looking for something more uptempo. This mix patiently layers the assorted musical elements, keeping the listener on their toes as the song's energy crests and retreats. Round The World was fairly popular on the club circuit and remains a beautiful piece of music. The only knock is that some of the vocal lines aren't carried over from the original.
Barbara Tucker, last profiled here, was definitely making a name for herself in the mid-90s with a handful of huge releases that packed dance floors the world over. I Get Lifted was the quintessential club song, complete with euphoric hook and tightly knit rhythm. The song was written by then little known Chicago producer Ron Carroll after a chance encounter with Louie Vega at the '94 WMC in Miami.
The most beloved version by most DJs was the Duck Beats mix. No annoying vocals to get in the way, just a devastating bass-heavy groove that hypnotized everyone in earshot. The duck-like "wah wahs" are almost skull-penetrating. You know how you still feel like you're on a boat after you get off? That's Duck Beats. You're still feeling it after it's over. And of course the ridiculous simple nature of this version gave DJs the freedom to layer their acapellas of choice over the beat.
Turn up your bass to best experience Duck Beats!
If you're looking for a nice mix that retains vocals, go with the Bar Dub version - It's got the Duck Beats sound but keeps the original vocals while removing the lengthy intro. All the enjoyable elements in one package; all flavor, no filler.
So Get Up was a hard-hitting anthem by Portuguese house producers DJ Vibe (António "Tó" Pereira) & Doctor J (Rui da Silva) recording as the Underground Sound of Lisbon. The track is widely known for its spoken-word vocals by poet-musician Darin Pappas, alternatively known as Korvorwong or Ithaka, who loudly demands the audience to GET UP! (as the end of the Earth is upon us). Junior Vasquez's Factory Mix samples Shake It from Jark Prongo (1993) and Cajmere's Percolator (1992).
I'll give the nod to Junior Vasquez's version, but Danny Tenaglia came strong with his dark and electro-heavy mix, officially titled Danny's In The Light We Sleep Mix:
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.
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.
The Air Tattoo Reconstruction mix of San Trancisco was a popular floor filler anthem overseas and a superb piece of progressive house. This well-balanced track features a stomping beat, soaring snyths, and a masterful piano breakdown at the midway point. Nathan Joseph, who produced this remix under the Air Tattoo alias, commented on YouTube:
"...back at the start of my music career I made this remix at
Crib Studios for Global Grooves in 1992.... I think they paid me the
princely sum of £150 to do it, then calmly flogged about 30,000 copies
over the next year countrywide and coined it in. I never got another
penny. That's life."
It's too bad he wasn't compensated fairly, but having a classic house track under your belt has to be some consolation, right?
Give Me Life is a favorite of one of this site's Twitter followers and no doubt an underappreciated house classic. Mr. V is the artist alias of one Rob Villiers, of whom I know nothing about. What I do know is that Give Me Life was released on Rollo's short-lived Cheeky Records and the remixes are credited to Rollo along with Goetz Botzenhardt. The track itself is very cool and features a layered symphony of musical elements including some haunting vocals, sweeping synth effects and plenty of bells.
Update: I've been informed that Dido (the sister of Rollo) contributed to this track. Who knew! She would have been 23 at the time. Here's her name on the vinyl where she's credited with vocals along with Penny Shaw and Natalie & The Preacher. Until corrected otherwise, I'm pretty sure Dido is the one saying "Give me life!"
If you're a fan of vocals house, it doesn't get much better than Turn Me Out, a monster track from Praxis, the musical project consisting of lead singer Kathy Brown and producers Cevin Fisher and David Shaw. Brown's powerful vocals shine over a perfectly balanced musical composition. The Delorme's remix is the best of the bunch.
Track: Heaven Knows (I Can't Understand) (Angel's Factory Dub)
Artist: Angel Moraes (ft. Basil Rodericks)
Label: TRIBAL America
Angel Moraes is a longtime NY producer and remixer, regarded for his deep beats and industrial sounds. If you like the kind of music that bumps so hard you swear there's a subwoofer in your chest, than Moraes is your man. Heaven Knows (I Can't Understand) is a real monster of a track and this dub version is my mix of choice.
Sometimes when so few people are aware of a great track, it makes you like it even more. That's the case with Ay Niños which features some Italian guy chanting, drums, a little piano, and best of all - a really bumpin' bassline. Franco Moiraghi may be a very accomplished DJ/Producer, but this track was totally slept on. I like the Moi Tribe mix best:
Label: Sun-Up Records (original release on DiKi Records)
A song built around a ribbiting frog may sound like a bad idea, but this is definitely one of the cooler tracks in house music history. Tree Frog has the same pulsating energy of French Kiss but mixes in a tribal chant breakbeat and yes, nonstop ribbets. Maybe it's just the frog talking, but this track makes you feel like you're wandering in the rainforest. The Dub Trance mix is also recommended.
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.