90s Miami house gets a lot of love here. If you're new, you can catch up with reviews for other old school Miami tracks like On My Mind, Been A Long Time, Some Lovin', Reach For Me, and Set U Free. Anyway, today's selection is U Got Me - another Oscar G and Ralph Falcon production, this one released on Murk under the Intruder alias. As if there was any doubt, U Got Me features that distinctive super deep hypnotic bass groove, the defining element of all 90s Miami house bangers. This cut is also balanced with some industrial percussion elements to underscore its dark vibe.
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.
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.
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.
Artist: Oscar G. of Murk Productions Presents "Tilt"
Label: One Records
Regular readers know I'm down with the old school Miami sound, having profiled various Oscar G & Ralph Falcon tracks like this, this, and this. One of his lesser known gems is On My Mind, released under the Tilt alias. It might be underground, but this track is thoroughly enjoyable with a relentless bass kick intertwined with organ licks and layered with a gated reverb vocal. When the vocal momentarily drops out, the listener is taken to the next dimension. Throw in some chants for a tribal edge and you have a true classic.
The Deep Thought mix is also on YouTube and worthy of a listen:
True to its name, Reality (4:00 A.M. Mix) was one of those after-hours Sound Factory tracks that never got played during normal waking hours. Outdance was an Italian outfit so naturally there's horns and syncopated percussion, but the lack of vocals meant this one was never destined for mainstream consumption. That said, the dreamlike organ chords make this one a classic.
I said I'd get around to the "B" side after profiling Keep Movin' in 2010. From start to finish, Beginning Of Life delivers an ambient tour de force. With a hypnotic melody, bassy underscore, and brilliant incorporation of hand drums, Mike Perras brought the goods on this ageless classic.
Merwyn Sanders and Eric Lewis might be the least known of the Chicago house legends, but ask any old school purist and they'll tell you that the duo known as Virgo created some of the best tracks from the era. Some of the confusion about the pair stems from the fact that a better known group was also called Virgo (consisting of Adonis, Marshall Jefferson, and Vince Lawrence) and also recorded on Trax Records. Sanders and Lewis preferred the name M.E. (Merwyn & Eric), but were overruled by executives at Trax Records who wanted to piggyback off the original Virgo's success. For this reason, only a few releases acknowledge the duo as M.E.
In any case, School Hall, is one of many classics from their self-titled LP and happens to be my favorite. The track features a deeply reflective, low-slung groove overlayed with masterful drum machine effects. You feel like you're walking through a smoke machine and once it's over, you'll want to walk through again.
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.
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).
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.
Track: Love Desire (Maurice's Luv Me Underground Mix)
Label: Smash Records
D'Bora was an early 90s soulstress. While never famous, she had a few songs that received airplay and worked with an assortment of A-list house producers like Tony Humphries and Steve Hurley. One D'Bora mix worthy of classic status is Maurice Joshua's Maurice's Luv Me Underground Mix. Maurice masterfully layers D'Bora's lustful vocals over a catchy groove and nonstop drum patterns. It's definitely got an underground edge, but this track is also accessible for the house masses.
For reasons unknown, British alternative dance band Saint Etienne never saw much success in the US, so millions on this side of the pond aren't familiar with their phenomenal portfolio of hits from the past 20+ years. One of my favorite St. Etienne tracks is Only Love Can Break Your Heart, a cover of Neil Young's 1970 tune.
Writing for The Independent in 1993, music journalist Ben Thompson described the metamorphosis from Neil Young's slow-paced classic to the 4/4 beat Saint Etienne track:
the whole thing out of waltz time, changed the chords slightly to make
them more melancholic, and added a big shuffling mystery drum sample, a
clanking keyboard off-beat, a resonantly thin female vocal and something
that certainly sounds like Augustus Pablo's melodica, even if it isn't.
'What I liked about the original,' Stanley says, 'was that it's very
cyclical, repetitive - almost mantra-like.' These were the qualities
Saint Etienne emphasised, but the spirit of the original was still in
place, and if anything almost intensified - even if the words did seem
to have been changed from 'down that he's found' to 'gown that he's
I love the infectious Italo-house piano riff in the Saint Etienne version and the fact that Moira Lambert's delicate vocals tease the chords to timeless effect. Killer lyrics too, but I guess credit Neil Young for those...
In terms of mixes, there's a couple great ones. I'm especially fond of the Masters at Work Dub, released on Warner Brothers in '91. MAW's dub mix samples Nikita Warren's I Need You (1991) and probably qualifies as a Top 10 or 15 MAW track (out of the hundreds of mixes they've done):
And then you have Andrew Weatherall's superb A Mix Of Two Halves - considered to be one of the best remixes in house music history. It's very much a mix of two halves, but I won't spoil it - do yourself a favor and listen to the whole thing all the way through. The DJ eases a spliff, from his lyrical lips, and smilingly orders....CEASE!
Neither garage house vocalist Annette Taylor or DJ Eddie Arroyo (both hail from the NY area) are especially wide known, but a young Eddie Arroyo laid down some nice mixes of Taylor's No One Knows in '91. Taylor's got an amazing set of pipes and Eddie constructed a bass heavy track with some industrial overtones to give it a dark after-hours vibe.
Eddie's Hot Vocal Mix features a more upbeat piano groove:
My sincere apologies for the lack of updates - I've been busy with work the last 1.5 months, but am expecting to get back to more regular postings shortly. Without further ado, Burning was MK's breakthrough track, the song that put him on the map (his later Nightcrawlers work just took him to the next level). Musically, Burning contains an unforgettable "off-key" bell patch which shapes a hypnotizing melody and provides the framework for Alana's haunting vocals. The track's impeccably timed bass bottoms underscore the excellent production and enhance the timeless essence of the tune. Always a floor-filler and frequently a favorite of big MK fans.
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:
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.
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. 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.