Reach is a thoroughly original Sound Factory gem that found worldwide success due to its hypnotic production - a collaboration between Lil' Louie Vega and Erick Morillo (hence the Lil' Mo' alias). The track features infectious vocal dubbing mastery that, in tandem with a siren effect, build the song up to dizzying heights. Reach has a dark underground vibe, but remains danceable and can be enjoyed by the masses. You can put this cut in the Sound Factory Hall of Fame.
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!
This is one of those stop-drop-and listen tracks that freezes conversations in mid-sentence and bring the focus back to the music when it you hear it in a club. It should come with a label - WARNING: May cause hands in the air and involuntary head bobbing. Barbara Tucker has an amazing set of pipes and she's not afraid to use them against the backdrop of this garage house MAW masterpiece. Play loud to fully appreciate!
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.