House music is love. It was born, more than thirty years ago, as a celebration of a community with a strong connection, within itself and with music. As entertainment, glorification of the present. The founding philosophy was slightly different from the twin sister who was born in parallel, techno music, which aimed more on a fierce, accelerating futurism, and also places were slightly different, with House growing fast in Chicago while techno inventions followed up in Detroit. But these are details. They were the new ideas of American visionary DJs, coming from the ghettos of the big American cities, finding the way to offer a new stimulus to the clubbers generation.
Thirty years ago was the time when house music made the leap in quality. The style was already defined, the first hymns were already making history and the news began to spread in Europe, where soon will change the pace and size of the whole phenomenon. It was the most exciting moment of evolution, from the status of first intuition to solid trend, becoming one of the most popular dance-oriented music ever, still today. Thirty years ago there were already tracks that remained in the book of classics and still have an tremendous power. Songs that today we want to celebrate properly. With love.
Larry Heard a.k.a. Mr. Fingers – Can You Feel It?
1986, the year of the scream, “Can You Feel It?”, which will represent the era of joy for house music, immediately followed by the synthesizers loops and that elegant mood. In a single shot Larry Heard created one of the seminal tracks for acid house and deep house, in the same time. Soft mood in the background and physical energy on the synthetic riff: for many it will be one of the most important dance songs of all time. The version that will become more popular is the one with the famous words by Chuck Roberts. “In The beginning there was Jack, and Jack had a groove…“. A manifesto.
Marshall Jefferson – Move Your Body
And that’s the manifesto of House music movement for the international audience. Produced by Marshall Jefferson in 1986, it was the first house song to hold a piano-like riff on the whole structure. In the following decades, the same piano riff will be re-used in many other club productions. Marshall Jefferson is considered, even today, the pioneer of house music in Chicago.
Frankie Knuckles – Your Love
The original track is by Jamie principle and it’s from 1984, but it is the touch of Frankie Knuckles added in 1987 that will remain in the history. Making the track, Knuckles will exclude many of the aspects that turned the original track in an elegant listening, transforming it basically into a pure club hit.
Steve ‘Silk’ Hurley – Jack Your Body
Jack your Body was the first house hit to top UK Single Chart, staying there for two weeks in January 1987. We can say that it has pioneered acid sounds during the late ’80.
A curiosity about the song: Steve has never properly promoted this single, for he was under pressure to make his first album and did not know that the track eventually reached the first position in the UK Chart. Known in the mid ’80s for his radio show on WBMX Radio, Steve Silk Hurley is considered one of the first and most influential DJ producers in the history of house music.
Phuture – Acid Tracks
The long, urticant 12-minute ride signed Spanky & DJ Pierre, again from Chicago. The year is 1987 and the arrogance is to define itself the first real acid house trace of the history. Surely the step forward, compared to what existed at that time, was obvious: the logic of the track is completely different, oriented to make you feel uncomfortable, like you are surrounded by a random orchestra of robots gone crazy.
George Kranz – Din Daa Daa
Song written and sung by Berlin musician and drummer George Kranz in 1983. The original title is Trommeltanz, which in German means “Drum Dance”. Featured on his debut album My Rhythm, the song became an international hit, topping US Dance Chart and keeping the first position for two weeks.
Perhaps not everyone knows that the producer of this historical track is Tangerine Dream’s Christopher Franke. In addition, in 2004 The Roots created a cover of the song, adding it as a hidden track on their sixth album The Tipping Point.
Rhythm Is Rhythm – Strings Of Life
The most famous piece ever made by Derrick May, that became at the same time a hymn of both house and techno. Just to remember that the distinction between the two genres, at that time, was a detail that no one minded about: they were the sounds of the USA, the four-on-the-floor, the moment clubbing that turned on. And one of the most famous dance floor rides ever.
Ralphi Rosario – You Used To Hold Me
Made in 1987 by American Ralphi Rosario and sung by African-American Xaviera Gold, who in those years was working on the radio WBMX in Chicago, the same in which Steve Hurley was proposing his dj sets. You Used to Told Me probably remains one of the most famous songs of Ralphi Rosario. In 1994, a series of remixes were made on Strictly Hype Recordings. One stands out among the others: Masters At Work’s main pass remix.
M|A|R|R|S – Pump Up the Volume
One of the tracks with the most difficult birth in the history of house music, with the electronic group Colourbox and that rock one A R Kane together in the studio, more to quarrel than to compose a common track. In the end, two different tracks came out, one for each, and the acronym M|A|R|R|S had no follow up. Nevertheless, Pump Up The Volume was one of the main steps for the development of House Music in UK, even with that scratch that will wink at the hip house that will come soon. Not bad for a track that ultimately was a studio abortion.
Adonis – No Way Back
Another acid classic that you will find in every DJ bag worthy of that name. Directly from the West Side of Chicago, it’s one of the few iconic songs of the early 1980s (it’s from 1986). Adonis was just 19 years old when he made this pearl, he did not know that he would have contributed so impressively to the birth of the Chicago House manifesto, writing eventually an important page of electronic music.
PS: according to the latest data, this track has sold over 100,000 copies so far. Something that could make Beatport’s CEO pale.
Carlo Affatigato, Enzo Rutigliano