Liner Notes: Various Artists – Hamburg Soul Weekender

Posted: October 1st, 2019 | Author: | Filed under: Features | Tags: , | No Comments »

The weekender is a very British thing, particularly combined with that other very British subculture: northern soul. When the first National Soul Weekender took place in Caister in 1979, some ways of celebrating the rare soul music scoring the scene had already been well established: sweaty all-nighters happened all over the country, where dedicated dancers and collectors met and kept the fire burning. And all-dayers came into being, allowing the people to indulge in their passion in different places, with less strict licensing obligations. The clues were all there. British people liked the idea to escape their urban working lives to the seaside on weekends. And the mod culture, always strongly related to soul music, followed suit, partying (and sometimes fighting) on coastal promenades, beaches and clubs, as immortalized by tabloid headlines, and a certain rock concept album plus movie. The brilliant idea in Caister, however, was to combine all-nighters and all-dayers, and given the unreliability of the British weather, the concept was due for success. If it rained, you just danced in a club, and other places. If not, you had fun at sea, and then danced, day and night, the whole weekend.

Across the North Sea in Germany, it seemed like only matter of time that all this would catch on. And indeed, when the British mod revival of the late 1970s hit continental shores, it ran through open doors, and the soul part established itself as a subculture as stubborn and ardent. The German weekenders followed a different path though. Starting in 1990 in Berlin and then led by annual events in Nürnberg and later Bamberg, Dresden, Leipzig, Bremen, München, Aachen and more, the locations were in cities. Hamburg is located very near to the UK and accordingly anglophile, and came fully equipped with a sizeable harbour and airport, and so what happened in the UK arguably left a quicker and bigger mark there than elsewhere in Germany. The city also had a long tradition of dancing to soul music to rely on, and a vital club culture, with a long string of cherished soul nights like the Soul Allnighter at Kir, Shelter Club, For Dancers Only and more recently The Soul Seven, Motte Allnighter, Cole Slaw Club, Cool Cat Club and 45 Degrees, just to name a few. But, strangely enough, it had no soul weekender.

In 2007 this changed, when Ralf Mehnert and Jan Drews Tarazi established the Hamburg Soul Weekender, with Tolbert taking care of the all-dayer part. As the three of them were longtime respected DJs and collectors, the weekender had notable line-ups right from the start, and every year a thousand international, national and local soul enthusiasts gather in the storied venue Gruenspan in the seminal Reeperbahn area, to dance and party to the finest 60s and 70s northern soul, modern soul, funk, r&b and other related trends within the scene that were always spotted early on, and with a keen eye. The music has been played by over 120 top of the league DJs from all over the globe so far, and it was always spread across a long weekend of two all-nighters, one all-dayer, a boat cruise through the harbour and an after party.

This schedule surely gives leeway to play a whole lot of music, and this compilation can only offer a mere glimpse of all the tunes that got the loyal crowds moving, but it is a heartfelt thank-you to all the dancers who have attended so far, however often they return. And for those who have not witnessed the magic of the Hamburg Soul Weekender yet, please consider this an invitation.

Bandcamp

Hamburg Soul Weekender


Rewind: Losoul – Belong

Posted: September 30th, 2019 | Author: | Filed under: Features | Tags: , | No Comments »

There were several reasons for the popularity of minimal techno and house in the late 90s and early 00s. For one, a lot of electronic club music of the preceding years was quite boisterous. Its ingredients and purpose was often not exactly subtle, satisfying clubbers and listeners that emerged from the acid house and rave days with direct signals and relentless dancefloor dynamics. And as soon as a sound becomes too dominant in the club scene, there is a reaction, and alternatives develop, and as it happened with the minimal approach they might even take over what was happening before and become dominant as well. And a freshly initiated influx of dancers and listeners had also come with different musical requirements. While the big room and big festival acts like Prodigy and the Chemical Brothers converted a rock clientele to the dance floor, a lot of people who earlier preferred less heavier independent rock music fell in love with the early Detroit minimal techno prototypes by Robert Hood , Jeff Mills, Richie Hawtin and Daniel Bell, and its more dubbed out counterparts around the Berlin conglomerate of Basic Channel and its affiliated labels, or Wolfgang Voigt with his Profan and Studio 1 imprints in Cologne, or Force Inc. and later Perlon in Frankfurt or Säkhö in Finland, or Peter Ford‘s Ifach and Trelik labels. Furthermore the club scene itself went through changes. Budget airlines stormed the market and made travelling to parties affordable, new open air venues and festivals entered the circuit but they had to make concessions to surrounding areas and embraced a sound that was efficient without significantly loud and low end sound systems. Also drugs like ketamine or GHB became popular and their users liked a sound that was more reduced, hypnotic and subtle. And soon enough minimal techno crossed over to house as well, and was out to conquer.

Right in the centre of these developments was the Frankfurt imprint Playhouse founded by Ata and Heiko M/S/O, which began as the housier end of parent label Ongaku Musik, along with its fellow sub label Klang Elektronik. It put artists like Ricardo Villalobos on the map, as well as Isolée or Roman Flügel with his Roman IV or Soylent Green aliases, and they reinterpreted house music with a lot of attention to details, abstraction, reduction and repetition. Peter Kremaier aka Losoul was arguably the most defining artist in the label‘s early stages, and his productions had a signature sound that is still unique. He probably was inspired by the layering experiments of DJ Pierre‘s wild pitch sound or the immersive deep house of Ron Trent and Chez Damier, but his own tracks soon took off into their own creative zone. Beginning with 1996‘s „Open Door“ the following 12“ releases „Mandu“, „Don Disco De Super Bleep“, and „Synchro“ were masterclasses in dancefloor mesmerism. Over beats more pumping than those of his label peers, subliminal percussion and chopped chords, he worked with deconstructed disco and funk loops and occasional vocal samples that were so perfectly captivating that he could ride them over extended tracks that gradually introduced element after element with logical patience, resulting in trips you felt should never stop. But by the end of the 90s the structure of his tracks became less strict, and he also explored different sounds on dark, bass heavy tracks like „Ex.or.zis.mus“ or „Brother In Love“, to fine effect. It seemed what was still needed was an album to round up this artistic phase of his, before he would potentially venture into something new, or different.

When said album „Belong“ was then released in 2000, it came as surprise to many of his followers. The opener „Taste Not Waste“ is deceiving, as it is a brooding punchy excursion that would not have been out of place on the preceding 12“s, but already the following track „Late Play“ is a weird off-centre sounding sketch in comparison, hinting at the fact that the artist would not give away the chance to represent more of his repertoire than his trademark club stylings. „Resisting Curare“ takes up on the quirkiness, albeit speedier, while „Overland“ is an eccentric and playful take on the ever reliable Billie Jean groove, coming across like a cross between the original groove and „Kaw-Liga“ by The Residents, with extra weirdness. Then things take another unexpected turn with „Sunbeams And The Rain“, which in my humble opinion is one of the most astonishingly beautiful and sublime tracks ever to merge deep house and techno. Only slightly erratic, this majectic masterpiece is followed by the chunky slow groover „Position“, which dubs down the proceedings before the sparsely tripping yet funky „Depth Control“, another demonstration how much you can achieve with just a few thought-out, gripping elements. Next is „You Can Do“, which contains the sunniest loop Kremeier produced up to that point, a spiralling, almost balearic melody which does not let go for most of the track, thus resulting in another track you can completely lose yourself in, although it achieves that typically intense Losoul sensation with an untypical joyful mood. The last track „Trust“ is a warped and chopped hip hop version of Bill Withers‘ „Use Me“ that would grace any tape of later L.A. beatmakers, and it makes you wonder what whole other sounds the artist might have left in the vaults.

Although Losoul has continued to drop releases of consistent quality, I think „Belong“ marks the end of a certain era, in which he acted as a true solitaire, even among likeminded and similarly talented cohorts. To me it seems that only shortly after the imaginative ideas of the minimal techno and house of those years time soon were often forsaken for a sound that was already looming, more eager to please, and less interesting to listen and dance to, however exceptions might prove the rule. But it is undeniable that here lies the foundation for many backlashes and resurgences to come.

Resident Advisor September 2019


A guide to big room house anthems

Posted: September 24th, 2019 | Author: | Filed under: Features | Tags: , | No Comments »

There was this moment in the 90s when the sound of house music changed, with lasting consequences. I would say it began in 1993. Of course technical progress in terms of production techniques and equipment played a role, but it was also very important that the music itself became more popular, and attracted bigger crowds, which led to bigger clubs, and a house sound that pumped crowds and clubs of that size sufficiently. In the following years the superclubs emerged with corresponding budgets, and they needed DJs that played accessible enough to please and unite as many people as possible. This created a divide between denonimators, as simultaneously a lot of DJs and producers defined quality in a different way, and played different styles, to smaller crowds, in smaller clubs. There were DJs and artists that lived in both worlds, or crossed over, and both worlds had different levels of credibility, and success. But increasingly the circuits frowned upon each other, and disrespect was mutual. The big room house music examined here was produced at a time when it had a really bad reputation, being accused of being commercial, devoid of original ideas, or milking once original ideas for far too long. Indeed the sound templates for the music in this playlist had been established years before, and it seemed as if they were only developed further if really necessary. Some of the big room artists were once renowned for different music, and many were quick to maintain that at some point they were selling out and adapting to lesser creative requirements to do so. And some smaller room artists were maybe just envious and could not produce a tune that sold as well, and just claimed they did no want to. And of course for a lot of people it does not matter what size the room has, they just go for music based on their individual preferences, and find that in different contexts. But meanwhile in the early 00s, big room house had its apex of booming beats, dramatic breakdowns and disco samples, and here are some prime examples of the sound.

Victor Simonelli – Ease Into The Dance (Stellar, 2000)

Victor Simonelli has many great moments in his back catalogue, and in my opinion this on par with his most cherished productions. For me the combination of the bodiless vocal sample and the pumping yet and elegant deep groove is as immersive as Love Inc.’s “Life’s A Gas”. I’m serious.

Lenny Fontana & DJ Shorty – Chocolate Sensation (Original Force Mix) (FFRR, 2000)

Johnny Hammond’s early disco staple “Los Conquistadores Chocolates” was sampled countless times, but not as sweeping as on this belter. Extra props for the extended filter break which then erupts into Loleatta Holloway on the top of her lungs. This track pushes all the right buttons, and works although you can predict any move, only that every move sounds even more striking than the one before. If you have never been on a dancefloor exploding to this, you really missed out.

Groove Assassins – Everything I Knew (Black Vinyl, 2000)

If some of the orchestral disco maestros would have still been active in the 90s their music could have sounded like this. Even if this is just a reconstructed original from their heyday, with a heavily beefed up groove. Nick Moss and Will Hague understood the craft of their forebearers on this track, and they made it their own.

Rhythm Section Feat. Donald O – Do You Know (Main Mix) (MAW Records, 2000)

Every disco DJ should bring at least one Chic Organization production to their party, and every disco loving house producer should sample at least one as well. Henry Maldonado went for “My Forbidden Lover” and then he turned it into a glorious garage opus, co-written and performed by the great Donald O. This should have been much bigger than it actually was, but it is never too late.

David Bendeth – Feel The Real (Jazz-N-Groove Ultra Classic Mix) (Audio Deluxe, 2000)

“Feel The Real”was indeed an ultra classic, albeit on the jazz funk/disco circuit of the 80s. By the time this was released Jazz-N-Groove had perfected their slick but heavy groove template so impressively that they basically could have applied it to any tune they were given and come up trumps. Judging by their vast output, some say they did just that.

LoveRush – Luv 2 See Ya (Joey Negro’s Vocal Mix) (Azuli, 2000)

Joey Negro always knew how euphoria works, and here he aimed straight to the highest level of it. There is some sweet innocence about the tune, but the pumping groove underneath and several breakdown dramas tell you to work it. Hard.

Copyright Presents One Track Mind – Where Would You Be? (Main Mix) (Soulfuric Trax, 2000)

The way D-Train’s “Music” is filtered up and down here is very reminiscent of the finer moments of the French House phenomenon, but the groove somehow is not. It is just too pushy and impatient, and the vocal samples get a more generous treatment, verging on harmony. All good decisions.

Johnny D & Nicky P – Wild Kingdom (4th Floor Records, 2001)

Of course big room productions could work well with deeper sounds, and Johnny D and Nicky P aka Johnick knew how to achieve severe dancefloor hypnotism anyway. As always when they are in charge, the music has this strangely psychedelic notion, and „Wild Kingdom“ is another of their real gems to get lost in.

Sunshine Anderson – Heard It All Before (E-Smoove House Filter Mix) (Atlantic, 2001)

E-Smoove was mostly not as smoove in the 00s as he had been before (but who in this field actually was), but if you remix a sleek R&B hit, you cannot fire on all cylinders. Still this has the right amount of infectious funk and it does not divert any attention from the song. If you think of the proximity to garage vocal harmonies there were, rather surprisingly, not that many great remixes that managed to aptly transfer R&B to a house context, but this one gave a lot of the right clues.

Kraze – The Party 2001 (Love City Club Remix 2) (Groovilicious, 2001)

It reads so unimaginative, taking Todd Terry’s “Can You Party” and the acapella from Kraze’s “The Party”, two early house productions that were completely overused at that point, and turn them into a fierce banger that pretends New York City’s big room haven Sound Factory never closed. And actually the way the track works all that is really not that inventive. But as it steamrolls you on that floor, you will not care one bit.

UBP Feat. Bobby Pruitt – We Are One (Jazz-N-Groove Hands Up Vocal) (Soulfuric Recordings, 2001)

I love how this mean little melody never lets up, totally regardless of the fact that there is a funky booming bassline, a quite shouty soul singer, a female choir, and several breakdowns, the whole big room house gospel spectrum. This is a big show, but one detail steals it. Genius.

DJ Oji – We Lift Our Hands In The Sanctuary (Anniversary Vocal) (Sancsoul Records, 2001)

The original was one of the churchiest of the churchy house anthems, a whole nocturnal service for those who need the club as a shelter and a place for relief and rejoicing. 95 North remix it into a way more urgent groove, but do not sacrifice any of the worship and righteous spirit. Hands were lifted and love was alive, again.

Jon Cutler Feat. E-Man – It‘s Yours (Kaze Retro Mix) (Chez Music, 2002)

The original was a jazzy funked up groover that was hugely popular, but Frankie Feliciano boldly opted for a complete rework, keeping the keen message intact but underlying it with unsettling and swirling sounds and beats that reference Pépé Bradock‘s „Deep Burnt“ and a lot of earlyTodd Terry productions.

Los Jugaderos – What You Doing To This Girl? (Norman Jay’s Good Times Re-Edit) (Junior Boy’s Own, 2003)

In 1996 Ashley Beedle and Phil Asher turned a marvellous 1979 disco gem by Dazzle into a blinding and tripping house excursion. Seven years later the original rare groove don Norman Jay gave it a remix, and when I read about that then I was expecting it to sound truer to the Dazzle original and Jay’s own legacy. But to my surprise his version was way punchier, and to my joy he highlighted all the best bits even more. Pure disco house bliss.

Hardsoul Feat. Ron Carroll – Back Together (Classic Main Mix) (Soulfuric Recordings, 2003)

Nothing better than to conclude a fine time at the big room house club with a big room soulful vocal house hymn. Even better when that tune is ever so slightly less big roomy than what happened before, but still easily keeps up the intensity and punch, just because it is a wonderful piece of music that knows and serves its context. From here you may start all over again or leave it behind, but both happily.

Electronic Beats 08/19


Rewind: Baby Ford – ‘Ooo’ The World Of Baby Ford

Posted: July 20th, 2019 | Author: | Filed under: Features | Tags: , | No Comments »

Although acid house exports provided the sound blueprints for Second Summer of Love in the late 80s, the rawness of the US originals often did not really match the ecstasy fuelled day-glo hedonism that was sweeping UK clubland. Of course the pioneering tracks from Chicago, Detroit and New York had the same huge impact in English clubs as they had in Continental Europe, and the American originators brought music that was informed by no less aspiring ambitions, but it was also often produced on the equipment that you could afford in problematic social environments, and its initial target group was more local, and on another street level than the almost proverbial MDMA hugs between football hooligans or other thugs and the dancers they were previously beating up. But UK pop and club culture had interpreted outside influences into something more pop before and sent it back, as it had happened with the British Invasion in the 60s and lovers rock in the 70s, and house, and particularly acid house, was no exception. In the UK, some clever people not only heard a difference, they also understood that it had potential far beyond that. Just a new, small and dedicated scene at first, but maybe more. Or even much more.

Baby Ford seemed to have a very clear vision of what was missing for the music to really cross over and reach such potential, and with his first promising releases from 1988 up to his first album „Fordtrax“ he brilliantly merged inspirations from Larry Heard, Derrick May or Todd Terry with a knowledgeable pop sensibility. But in contrast to other successful London cohorts of the Rhythm King label like Bomb The Bass, S‘Express, The Beatmasters, and Coldcut on their label Ahead Of Our Time, he did not succumb almost entirely to the charms of the wild days of sampling, instead aiming more for his own musicianship than a wild collage of references with a beat. And in contrast to Manchester artists like 808 State and A Guy Called Gerald, who achieved a similarly distinctive sound, he was ready, willing and able to sing as well, and he implied his sense of humour. Be it „Ooochy Koochy“ or „Chikki Chikki Aah Aah“, his music was catchy and smart, but instrumental gems like „Fordtrax“ already proved that he knew how to arrange and set a mood. He seemed to make fine use of his influences as much as he made them his own, and he established a mini-canon of his own work in which his ideas naturally referred to each other.

Already a year later his second album „’Ooo’ The World Of Baby Ford“ aimed considerably higher. There are variations of „Fordtrax“ material but in a different, more mellow mood („Milky Tres / Chikki Chikki Aah Aah“). Which is perfectly ok if your source material is good enough to be reinterpreted in such a short time. Other tracks like „Let‘s Talk It Over“ or „The World Is In Love“ have a similar mood, somehow as urban as pastoral, sublime and full of hope. „Beach Bump“ or „A Place Of Dreams & Magic“ are more over the top, reviving the camp fun of „Oochy Koochy“ and other livelier tracks he made before. And then there are tracks that hint at the idea of this album as a continuation of gone but yet still lasting UK youth cultures. In terms of music „Poem For Wigan“ and „Wigan“ have not much in common with the 70s northern soul haven Wigan Casino (or the Jazz Funk and later Electro played at Wigan Pier club by its resident DJ Greg Wilson), but Baby Ford grew up near Wigan and experienced what happened there, and both tracks have a sentiment true to the inspiration. You may now flock to other clubs and dance to other sounds, but the spirit is the same. Else the cover version of T.Rex‘s „Children Of The Revolution“ is more obvious, putting the 70s glam rock anthem into the context of the acid house movement, whose children won‘t be fooled either. It is time again for the UK youth to rise up against it, and this is how it sounds. And then the according modern grooves also meet the modernized version of the hippie era aesthetics that the tabloids and authorities directly diverted to blame and prosecution. Where there are loved up messages and melodies, psychedelic colours and a quest for an alternative way of living, there must be something for society to fight back, regardless of what you are afraid of in the 60s, 70s, 80s, or the decades to come. Us against them, forever irreconcilable.

This album captured the revolutionary spirit and joy of that time perfectly, and it indirectly predicted why it could not last. It was not widely perceived as a defining statement and Baby Ford did not become the defining pop star, and he seemed to abandon his bright ideas soon after. First with the subsequent 1992 album „BFORD9“, which still had some traces of his prior optimism left, but which also confrontationally displayed disillusionment, darker topics and harder sounds, until he reduced his persona and sound more and more, albeit still with consistently great creative results. Either way, Baby Ford‘s world may have not been big enough, but you still think ‚Ooo‘ when you think of it.


A 10 Track Guide To The Funky World Of Old-School Disco Re-Edit Services

Posted: June 28th, 2019 | Author: | Filed under: Features | Tags: , , , , , , | No Comments »

The DJs of the disco era not only struggled with belt-driven turntables, they also had to cope with live drumming and music arrangements that distracted their crowds. So some of them took scissors and tape and did their own edits. And some were so good at it that they earned a reputation and a studio career with it, and their edits or remixes became as popular as the music they were using, or even more. The first remix service label to gather and publish these efforts was Disconet, as early as 1977. Early remix service releases often contained medleys or little sets mixed by club DJs (foreshadowing the megamixes of the years to come), but more and more the remixes and edits became the centre of attention. In just a few years very many different remix service labels came into being, with different in-house remixers and musical agendas. The appeal of the idea began to fade when labels included their own assigned official remixes on their releases, and an increase in copyright issues in the 90s meant that most remix services went out of business. But even if the legal situation in the preceding years was quite unclear, the creative potential was not. From local to widely acclaimed DJs and from established to emerging studio talents a lot of people had their go at popular or obscure music and came up with lasting results, and they paved the way for the more modern and still thriving edit scene.

Abba – Lay All Your Love On Me (Peter Slaghuis Remix) (Buy This Record, 1981)

This is actually a remix of a Raul Rodriguez remix originally released on Disconet. Peter Slaghuis extended the weird start-stop-breaks to highly irritating three minutes before the song kicks in at last, like a hymn from the heavens descending onto a crash derby. The breaks continue to disrupt the song throughout the whole record, the loops are edited quite heavy-handedly, and the sound quality is really atrocious. Still this is a remarkable example of how radical an edit can be, and it was even more radical when it came out. And it still works a treat on the floor.

Edwin Hawkins Singers – Tomorrow (Steve Algozino Remix) (Hot Tracks, 1982)

Steve Algozino added synth and edited a four minute album track into a seven minute disco plea for a better tomorrow. For those who like to compare a good night out to a religious experience, including telling it from all mountain tops.

Viola Wills – Stormy Weather (John Sollas & Scotty Blackwell Remix) (Disconet, 1982)

Eleven minutes of drama and a whole lot of thunderous sound effects, of which the original version inexplicably had none. It is totally overdone, but it is also quite impressive too. And you might actually be soaking wet if you dance the whole thing through.

B.B. & Band – All Night Long (Will Crocker & Jack Cardinal Remix) (Disconet, 1982)

An excellent version of this heavily funked up italo disco sequencer boogie classic. The changes are mainly in length and structure, but they sure sound as if they were needed.

Stephanie Mills – Pilot Error (Hot Tracks, 1983)

The original version on the Casablanca label has a really superior pressing quality, but the wild flanger action on this more than makes up for that. It shoots a slightly eerie, but still earthbound boogie gem into outer space. Flight time also extended.

Lipps Inc. – Funkytown (Bob Viteritti Edit) (Hot Tracks, 1984)

An anthem at San Francisco‘s Trocadero Transfer club, edited by its very own resident DJ Bob Viteritti. The spacetastic additional synths are played by none other than the legendary Patrick Cowley, a regular at the club, and they open up a whole other universe.

Jimmy Ruffin – Hold On To My Love (Robbie Leslie Remix) (Disconet, 1984)

A sweet little Robin Gibb co-written soul mover, until New York City‘s Saint resident DJ Robbie Leslie decided to turn it into an anthem of epic proportions, particularly by riding the enormous refrain for five extra minutes. This was actually the last record the crowd ever danced to at the Saint‘s closing weekend, which really says a lot.

Mari Wilson – Let‘s Make This Last (Razormaid, 1984)

This track was an unusual release for the Compact Organization label‘s 60‘s beehive pop revivalist diva. But that the Razormaid remix team completely restructured and improved the original version was very usual for their standards, resulting in an even smarter take on Hi-NRG.

Roxy Music – Angel Eyes (Joseph Watt Remix) (Razormaid, 1984)

Needs more suspense in the first bit and inbetween, thought Razormaid, but they also added sophistication to the whole song. And bringing one of the best dressed style icons to the club surely was no mistake either.

Machine – There But For The Grace Of God (Glenn Cattanach Edit) (Hot Tracks, 1987)

This just neglects the piano intro, you may think, and instead uses a looped groove to ease into the song. It also extends the break, and adds an outro loop at the end. Well, this is not the only blueprint for the more recent editing of disco tracks for DJ convenience purposes, but it shows how you achieve better mixability while leaving all the greatness of the source material untouched. Even consider it a reminder.

Hard Corps – Lucky Charm (Razormaid, 1987)

A lot of Razormaid releases are easier to mix than the original versions, wrecking a lot of intros in the process. Then again Razormaid were always quite ambitious in terms of restructuring, and also quite subtle in adding their own trademark sound design without taking away anything that should not be taken away. And Razormaid have a cult following for a reason.

Big Ben Tribe – Heroes (Steve Bourasa Edit) (Rhythm Stick, 1990)

I always felt the dreamy italo disco take on the David Bowie classic was near perfect, but it should last longer, without risking this perfection. Thankfully I found this edit by Steve Bourasa, who apparently thought exactly the same, and he had the skills.

Dead Or Alive – Your Sweetness Is Your Weakness („Silver Bullet“ Mix by Peter Fenton) (Art Of Mix, 1991)

Dead Or Alive were actually really big in Japan. So big even that they released some of their music only in Japan, and some of their finest music too. Buying the original 12“ of this wonderful piano house romp will not come cheap, but do not worry, as there is this (still) affordable and fantastic version hidden on a 12“ on the Art Of Mix remix service, because they are not called remix services for nothing. The mix merges Dead Or Alive‘s „Son Of A Gun“ from 1986 with their Japanese market stormer, as if they were twins separated at birth.

P.M. Dawn – Set Adrift On Memory Bliss (Bradley Hinkle & Tim Robertson) (Ultimix, 1991)

P.M. Dawn did not win many hearts in the hip hop scene when they sampled a very popular blue-eyed soul ballad, and used the same seriously dope beat Eric B & Rakim on their seminal „Paid In Full“. Rakim and Prince Be are really hard to compare, I admit. This remix even only slightly alters the original. Well until there is a break and then the second half is Spandau Ballet‘s song in its entirety riding the very same seriously dope beat. Which is one of the greatest things ever.

Culture Club – Time (Clock Of The Heart) (Chris Cox Remix) (Hot Tracks, 1994)

I realized I am now old enough to accept that I will probably never find the vinyl with this remix for a price I can live with. So I might as well show it to anybody else. Culture Club‘s arguably finest moment, and in my humble opion one of the 80s finest pop moments as well, in a superlative remix that manages to double both length and listening pleasure. I would not change a second of it.

Electronic Beats 06/19


A guide to queer house music

Posted: January 11th, 2019 | Author: | Filed under: Features | Tags: | No Comments »

You better acknowledge the fact that house music emerged from gay sub- and club culture. And it is a continuation of disco music, for which the same applies. These are the undeniable roots of what still keeps so many people busy on the floor, and the roots of a whole industry. Yet there are less explicitly homosexual producers and performers that have the same attention and careers as the heterosexual stars of the scene, and there are less records that display explicitly gay content in the canon of club music than heterosexual ones. This guide is a chronological celebration of releases that wear their sexual orientation with pride, from the early days of house music to ballroom culture, drag queens and vogue dancers, from encoded niches to the mainstream. RuPaul‘s first record was released in 1985, a long way before the Drag Race. And a whole lot of names have vanished from sight over the years. And even if the struggle continues, they all paved the way for more acceptance.

The Children – Freedom (Factory Mix) (D.J. International Records, 1987)

A jacking anthem for the Warehouse and Music Box crowds in Chicago, produced by Adonis and The Children. But also very decidedly produced for the children, the dancers on the floor that did not fit in with the majority around them. „I have nothing to prove. I‘m this way because I wanna be. Can‘t you accept me for what I am?“

Steve „Silk“ Hurley – Cold World (Mommy Can Your Hear Me Mix) (Atlantic, 1989)

Jamie Principle riding a bumpy groove, taking a stand against ignorance within family and society. The lyrics have echoes of the Pet Shop Boys‘ „It‘s A Sin“ and Bronski Beat‘s „Smalltown Boy“, but they have no time for pomp and detailed narrative. The kid is not leaving, as the Beatles once sang, it is thrown right out. „The children say: I will not change!“

Danny Xtravaganza – Love The Life You Love (Le Palage Mix) (Nu Groove Records, 1990)

In 1990 the success of Jennie Livingston‘s documentary „Paris Is Burning“ brought the secluded ballroom culture into the limelight, and gave Madonna a hit single (and some spectacular tour dancers). The codes, terminology and vogueing dance moves were expected to fade away again once the usual mainstream attention faded, but they came to stay. Among the houses portrayed in the film was the House of Xtravaganza, whose forming member, the late Danny Xtravaganza managed to introduce both a life-affirming message and a glimpse of success against a merciless ballroom jurisdiction, all over a breezy house groove. „Judges, your scores. Ten, ten, ten, ten, ten, ten across the board!“

Jackie 60 Presents Jackie MC‘s – The Jackie Hustle (Johnny D’s Duelling MC Mix) (Minimal Records, 1992)

The theme tune of the seminal New York City club Jackie 60, featuring co-founder Johnny Dynell and Arthur Baker as producers, and Danny Tenaglia mixing it up. The track is a sweet mellow house groove with a cheeky reference to Van McCoy‘s „The Hustle“, and Paul Alexander and Richard Move most charmingly act as MCs in the most conférencier sense, greeting the Jackie legends and Jackie hustlers as if they would pass them by in the room, and giving them a bit of attitude, too. „We got a lot of superstars in the house tonight. Hello. I wanna welcome all the Jackie virgins, all the Jackie wannabees.“

Ralphi Rosario – Bardot Fever (D.J. World, 1992)

Ralphi Rosario provides a swinging piano house track for a showcase of Chicago‘s club legend Byrd Bardot. Actually the way she constantly pronounces her name throughout the track was perfect to throw a pose to. „Do you feel it? Fever? Lots of fever? I bet you do. “

Moi Renee – Miss Honey (Project X Records, 1992)

A kicking house track that gives more than a slight nod towards Masters At Work‘s „Ha Dance“ from 1991, the probably most interpreted sound template of ballroom house music. But here we also have the late, legendary Moi Renee, telling that unfaithful bitch some news in her very own style. Her almost mantra-like rant inspired a lot of subsequent vocalists to follow her steps, although they mostly went way more into detail. „Where‘s the bitch, she‘s got some nerve. Here I am, and feeling fierce!“

Frank Ski – Tony’s Bitch Track (Original Dirty Version) (Deco Records, 1992)

Baltimore Club was not exactly known for queer artists, and so the repect and praise the late Miss Tony commanded in that scene was already saying a whole lot. A frequent featuring MC and vocalist on according local records and club nights, Anthony Boston also proved to be aware of the real struggle with brilliant releases like „Release Yourself (Tired Of Being Under Pressure) and „Living In The Alley“, but „Tony‘s Bitch Track“ really shows what this legend is all about. The music merges Todd Terry and Eddy De Clercq‘s act House Of Venus as a perfect canvas for Miss Tony‘s inimitable reading. „I‘m a man, I‘m a man, I‘m a man, I‘m a man. But you know what y‘all? Sometimes I feel just like a woman. And if you don‘t believe me, ask your father.“

I.M.T. – I.M.T. Theme (Free Yourself) (Miss Girl Hopes 2 Become Mix) (Miss Girl Records, 1993)

I.M.T. only released two singles, but both were very remarkable. Their music was an eerie and idiosyncratic take on house and techno, their message was an encouragement of transgender determinedness, referencing quotes from „Paris Is Burning“. „It‘s your turn. And it‘s your time. To free yourself to become yourself.“

The Ride Committee Feat. Roxy – Get Huh! (E-Legal, 1993)

Roxy punished the competition in a lot of seminal ballroom house records, but this wild Louie Balo production is still among her fiercest. Don‘t mess! „She‘s got really dreadful skin. She‘s got Ethel Merman‘s chins. I hate huh! Get huh!“

Candy J – Shoulda Known Better (M.D. Rubba Dub Mix) (Vinyl Solution, 1994)

Candy Jackson aka Sweet Pussy Pauline aka Hateful Head Helen was a true icon of the Chicago house scene, releasing very self-confident and often very explicit tracks since 1986. But this striking Mike Dunn production shows another side of her, telling a very moving and very bitter story of abuse and wrong love to the girlfriend (and us). „Now I‘m in the hospital. I got a black eye, a sprained arm and one broken leg. I can‘t see him the way I used to, I can‘t hold him the way I want to, and I got thoughts that I want to hop back to him when I get out. Am I crazy? Am I still delirious?“

Junior Vasquez – X (Sound Factory Mix) (Tribal America, 1994)The Sound Factory was the big room playground of the 90s ballroom scene, and its resident DJ Junior Vasquez was its undisputed and imperious ruler. This pounding track is an example of how he merged DJ Pierre‘s wild pitch sound template with the club‘s floor theatrics and drama, and it is also a tribute and a theme tune to the House of Xtravaganza, and its late house mother Angie.

Rageous Projecting Franklin Fuentes – Tyler Moore Mary (Banji Bite Mix) (Strictly Rhythm, 1995)

Jerel Black working a butch, Todd Terry referencing house track, featuring the notorious Franklin Fuentes relentlessly reading a queen who is probably having a go in the realness category. „I‘m the New York Times, baby. And you‘re Street News. You get the picture?“

Tronco Traxx – Runway (Grease Monkey Drag Queen Mix) (Henry Street Music, 1996)

„Can You Party“ by Todd Terry in his Royal House guise served as reference in many ballroom house tracks (and also yet again there are samples of other staples like Eddy de Clercq‘s aka House of Venus‘ „Dish And Tell“ and MAW‘s „The Ha Dance“), but it arguably seldom hit as hard as in this Robbie Tronco production. One for the true devils on the floor. „Butch Queen vogueing femme. Butch queen voguing like femme queen. Bring it to the runway.“

The Ones – Flawless (Phunk Investigation Vocal Mix) (Groovilicious, 2000)

The Ones was a triumvirate of the scene veterans Paul Alexander, Nashom Wooden and Jo-Jo Americo, whose „Flawless“ was released in 1999 to little attention. Since the early 90s successes of the game changer RuPaul or the camptastic Army of Lovers attempts to conquer the charts had more or less failed, but then Italian remix duo Phunk Investigation were allowed to have a go at the track, and transformed it into an irresistibly catchy big room house anthem that was frowned upon by musical purists, when actually it was indeed pretty much flawless. After all a glitzy fantasy of fame and beauty on the floor appeals to the majority, or so it became evident. „With amazing grace you walk and smile, they answer to your beck and call, you’re flawless. After all, overqualified for the position, your dreams see fruition. Mere class on a higher plane. Everyone wants to know your name .Just like perfection. Needs no correction. Like no other.“

Aaron-Carl – Hateful (Wallshaker Music, 2004)The late Aaron Carl surely was a unique phenomenon in the legacy of Detroit techno. Respected by fellow artists and fans locally and internationally, yet determinedly outspoken about every point he felt the need to make about himself and those that stood in his way, and also gifted enough to succeed with every artistic statement he wanted to make. However endearing he could be, he was neither ready to compromise, nor would he ever put up with everything, and „Hateful“ was a fine testament to that. „Tearing down the future, living like the past. If you can‘t tolerate my kind, you can kiss my fucking ass. I‘m feeling hateful, because you think I‘m weak. I give it all, and you take it away from me. I fight fire with fire when I‘m in this state, and if I can‘t find love, I guess I‘ll hate.“

Electronic Beats 01/2019


A guide to Flute House

Posted: November 8th, 2018 | Author: | Filed under: Features | Tags: | No Comments »

At the end of the 80s house music added deep. Seminal artists like Larry Heard, Marshall Jefferson or Virgo Four abandoned the track-dominated sound palette and introduced musicianship to a genre that was then better known for dancefloor functionality. But it was from 1990 on that the vibe really spread and developed, particularly in New York City. I first heard the term flute house when Roger Sanchez released „Luv Dancin‘“ by Underground Solution. Some also called it ambient or mellow house. But the music was not made for home listening purposes, DJs would use it, too. As a gentle introduction, or as a moment of regeneration during peak time, or as the best possible way to ease the crowd out again into the early morning, so that not a single glorious moment of what just happened the hours before was tainted by something less. A lot of these tracks had enough kicks to have you working at any time, but they also seemed to be created for unique moments, closed eyes, embraces, disbelief evoked by sheer beauty. A lot of these tracks had tags like ambient or jazz in their titles and credits, but they did not really try to be either. The artists involved liked to display their musical abilities, and their skills to establish a mood and an atmosphere. They knew how to write a melody, they knew how to arrange their layers and instruments, they were determined to sound as good as their means would allow. By the time Frankie Knuckles‘ Whistle Song was released in 1991, the flutes, vibraphones, saxophones or similar instruments were already derided, but the sound had come to stay, until this day. This playlist gathers some classic moments that paved the way.

Logic – The Final Frontier (Acoustic Mix) (Strictly Rhythm, 1990)

Wayne Gardiner took Larry Heard’s gentle elegance (the bassline is lifted from Fingers Inc.’s deep house blueprint “Can You Feel It”) and added the archetypical swing of early 90s New York City house. His back catalogue is filled with lots of sublime grandeur, but this track is structured like a jazz band taking turns on their respective instruments, and steadily building up layer after layer of tension and drama in the process. The result is still peerless.

Freedom Authority – Expressions (Flute Groove) (XL Recordings, 1990)

That Bobby Konders quit producing house music for a career in dancehall and dub productions when he was capable of track like this, is still a an irreparable trauma for many. As with many of his tunes, this can completely zone you out. Eight minutes of considerably relentless flutiness, accompanied by a dubbed out bassline and some eerie strings. A psychedelic masterpiece.

The Vision – Shardé (Nu Groove, 1991)

Eddie Maduro was an accomplice of Wayne Gardiner (for example he co-wrote Logic‘s „The Warning“ and supplied its seminal vocal introduction), and this is one of his finest moments. It is named after his daughter, and I am very convinced that the world would be a better place if such a beautiful piece of music would be composed for every child.

The Nick Jones Experience – Wake Up People (Massive B, 1991)

New Jersey DJ and producer Nick Jones with a total gem on Bobby Konders‘ Massive B imprint, with some help by Satoshi Tomiie. Not your typical house groove, but this forever remained a special track for special moments anyway. But if chosen wisely, it can elevate those moments to something completely else, be it in the club or when you are on your own.

Beautiful People – I Got The Rhythm (Club Mix) (Cabaret, 1991)

I assume this collaboration of Joey Longo aka Pal Joey with Manabu Nagayama and Toshihiko Mori came into being when King Street Sounds label head Hisa Ishioka introduced American and Japanes producers to each other in the early 90s. This tracks bears the trademark Pal Joey mixture of hip hop ruffness and deep sounds, but it is way longer, more complex in structure, and it even adds a steady breakbeat to fine effect. Beautiful People indeed, and they sure got the rhythm. Read the rest of this entry »


Liner Notes: Various – Front

Posted: September 28th, 2018 | Author: | Filed under: Features | Tags: , , , | No Comments »

The people of Hamburg rarely boast about their achievements, which is why you probably do not know about the club this compilation is about. But you should know about it. The club was called Front, and it lasted from 1983 to 1997, which in itself is quite an achievement. But what happened there in those years is the real treat.

Hamburg in the 1980s had a vibrant nightlife. Mod, soul and (post) punk culture had seemingly always been covered by numerous record stores, live and dance venues, such was the diversity of styles after disco collapsed in on itself when its boom was over at the end of the 1970s. A lot of people say that this was the time when things got really interesting in terms of music, and they are probably right. Klaus Stockhausen definitely knew that. He started DJing in 1977, in clubs in Cologne, Frankfurt and Amsterdam, and had already reached considerable status when Willi Prange and his partner Phillip Clarke opened Front six years later. They were very keen on laying the focus on quality dance music at their club. They knew about Stockhausen and had been travelling to Cologne frequently to hear him play. And when he happened to visit Front by chance in early 1983, Prange recognized him, fell onto his knees and asked him to become the resident DJ. Stockhausen accepted.

His new workplace offered few distractions from the music. It was located in the basement of a high-rise building owned by Leder-Schüler, a leather manufacturing company, in a rather nondescript business district near the Berliner Tor station, away from the traditional entertainment hotspots near the harbour. But in its early years Front was a strictly gay club, and its clientele made no little effort to enjoy the experience, doubtless content that the straight crowds amusing themselves elsewhere across town were shying away from it. The rooms were raw, with low ceilings and bare walls, and through a long corridor you could either descend further into a bar area, or turn right to the dance floor, which was surrounded by low platforms with railings. The quadrophonic sound system was not exactly an audiophile’s dream, but it was very efficient, and very loud. The light-show consisted simply of strobes and multicoloured fluorescent tubes, lighting up the dark at mysterious intervals, and an illuminated sign reading “Danger”. But the boldest statement was that you could not see the DJ. The booth in the corner was completely secluded, leaving the DJ to check the intensity level through some tiny portholes or, more commonly, by gauging the sheer volume of screaming on the floor (thankfully there was plenty of that). It is still unclear what led the Front owners to build the booth in that way, but it was there right from the beginning, and both the DJs and the dancers appreciated it. It meant that the music unfolded like some force from somewhere else, and it was more important than anything else in the room. Of course you can only make this setup work if you know your crowd exceptionally well and, in return, if your crowd trusts you blindly. And the music was much better than good enough, keeping the attention of revellers throughout the night.

Klaus Stockhausen got to know his crowd very well indeed. Being a resident in those days meant that he played every night from Tuesday to Sunday, for eight to nine hours that he programmed more like a rollercoaster, in terms of tempo and intensity, than a constant peak time. He loved it. He had enough time to test new records and develop a sound that fitted the location and educated the crowd perfectly. Sure, old and new disco and other subsequent sounds as synthpop, electro, freestyle, boogie, hi-NRG and italo where played by other DJs in other clubs around town, but they were not played in the same manner as they were at Front. Klaus Stockhausen had unique mixing skills, with an unerring and adventurous taste, and he worked according to his own intuition, which soon made the Front experience incomparable to other places. He had a preference for edgier, more dynamic dub and instrumental versions and utilized scratching, a capellas and sound effects (the tractor sound bookending the mixes of this compilation being a prime example), and, generally, even if you knew some of the records, at Front they never sounded like you remembered. And they were all played in a way that was so coherent that every further development to the sound palette of the time was immediately sucked into the sound of Front. Thus, from 1984 on, when well selected local stores like Tractor and later Rocco and Container Records started stocking the first house music imports, it did not feel like a major change to proceedings; it felt like an addendum.

But still, after a transitional period, the house sound gained momentum. Around the same time, Klaus Stockhausen started to have a second, equally successful, career as a stylist and fashion editor and, never having been interested in the techno craze or the cult of personality that was beginning to emerge around DJs, he felt it was time to cut down on playing out. Thankfully another, equally talented DJ appeared on the scene with whom he shared the residency until he finally quit in 1992 to concentrate fully on his work in fashion.

In 1984, at the age of 16, Boris Dlugosch educated himself on cassette live recordings from the club and began practicing his own skill set. In 1986 he handed in a demo tape and was rewarded with the job, which, of course, really says something. And soon it became obvious that he could fill the shoes of his predecessor and mentor, even though Klaus Stockhausen had shaped the needs of the Front crowd for such a long time. It certainly helped, though, that the now-dominating house music was evolving so quickly, and that the Front DJs had easy access to the newest releases. But after the early sounds from Chicago had morphed into acid house in the late 1980s, the stylistic variety for which the club was so cherished seemed to be at risk, and the Front residents decided to keep any potential conformity at bay. So when techno established itself in 1990/91, Front did not give in to the desire for harder and steadier beats but instead embraced the machine funk of Detroit, the freestyle hybrids from New York City, and sounds emanating from the UK (the latter also helped by the anglophile tradition of Hamburg’s club culture, the proximity of which had always led to a healthy exchange of  ideas taking place either side of the North Sea). Still, techno was increasingly defining itself in terms of harder and faster and, in the process, it lost its groove. Thus, Boris Dlugosch switched the mode nearly overnight to garage and deep house, and mixed these sounds to such new heights that the typical Front floor dynamics were never lost, they just sounded different. The reputation of Hamburg as national and international hub for house music has its origins right there. House had been played at Front since 1984, so it was one the first clubs outside of the US to feature it, but now it was also defining it. And it was opening up. The door policy was not strictly gay anymore, and guest DJs like Frankie Knuckles, DJ Pierre or the Murk Boys from the US were invited, often playing their first gigs abroad. Nevertheless the club was, in the main, ruled by its resident DJs, first and foremost Boris Dlugosch, but also Michi Lange and Michael Braune. They all defined the ‘90s at Front, as the club managed to uphold its wild hedonism, inventiveness and versatile approach for nearly another decade.

But it was also undeniable that nightlife was changing. More and more DJs entered the scene, and the identification with weekly residencies was fading. In Hamburg, as in any other local club scene, competition was soaring and increasingly crowds grew eager to catch a glimpse of the next big thing, something new, something unfamiliar (however great that was). And, feeling their club was growing apart from that with which they had once fallen in love, the original Front dancers were no longer as fiercely loyal. But pioneering is always easier than maintaining status quo, arguably better, and, true to its original spirit, the club closed its doors at a level that was still extraordinary. And it lives on – you can trace its legend in so many wonderful things.

It really is something to boast about. These mixes by Klaus and Boris in commemoration of Front are long overdue and they stay true to its legacy. Even if they represent but a tiny fraction of the whole picture, they still belong to that picture. And I hope you now want to know more.

 

Finn Johannsen, Front Kid, est. 1987

Forever grateful.

 


A Guide To Sex Tags

Posted: August 29th, 2018 | Author: | Filed under: Features | Tags: , , , | No Comments »

When the brothers Stefan Mitterer (DJ Sotofett) and Peter Mitterer (DJ Fett Burger) decided to extend activities from their graffiti origins in their small hometown Moss in Norway to music, they founded the label Sex Tags for their own sounds and those of friends and artists they admired, either from their own country or met while travelling. Thus an ever growing and fiercely independent network came into being that by now is so complex and diverse that many find it difficult to decipher. But for the brothers it all makes perfect sense, and there is a coherence based on their own varied musical preferences, humour and attitude, and that of the likeminded collaborators they encountered along the way. There is also a vital dose of determination and conviction that ensures that the whole construct is as antithetic as it is cohesive, and as tight-knit as it is open-minded. We take a look on some choice tunes from the back catalogue of the parent label Sex Tags Mania and its leftfield offshoot Sex Tags Amfibia, plus the imprints the Mitterers run individually (Sotofett’s Wania, and Fett Burger’s Sex Tags UFO, Mongo Fett and Freakout Cult, the latter a joint venture with Jayda G). The other talents that populate the Sex Tags universe are too many to list, but we included some that pop up more frequently.

Bjørn Torske & Crystal Bois – As’besto (Percussion Mix) (Sex Tags Mania, 2006)

This joint venture of Norwegian old school don Bjørn Torske and the enigmatic Crystal Bois (or Siob Latsyrc, if you prefer) is a supreme example of how little a good house track needs to achieve magic. A deep and dubbed out chord, some improv percussion, and that is basically it. But it keeps moving floors since it first appeared twelve years ago, and will most likely continue to do so.

Acido – After Club Rectum (Crystal Bois’ 727 MANIA) (Sex Tags Mania, 2007)

An early appearance of the tag Acido (but confusingly not involving Acido label head Dynamo Dreesen himself) and Laton label head Franz Pomassl, who was to become  a regular fixture in the Sex Tags universe. Crystal Bois on remix duty, and they transform the source material into a hard jacking rhythm tool track that you can most probably mix into anything and gather all attention. Erlend Hammer provides brilliant liner notes, making a perfectly valid point that every local scene needs a Club Rectum.

Doc L Junior – Baracuda (Sex Tags Mania, 2009)

Kolbjørn Lyslo had already released fine and highly individual tracks on the prolific Music For Freaks UK imprint in the early 00s, but the sound of this track (originally scheduled for Torske’s Footnotes label, but then lost for very obscure reasons) was not to be expected. A latin and jazz tinged summer breeze of a tune that could so easily have ended sounding camp and corny, but sounded absolutely sublime instead. A reproachful echo of the days when uplifing was not yet an insult.

Busen Feat. Paleo – Stream Of Love (Wania, 2010)

The first appearance of Greek vocalist and musician Paleo, the closest the Sex Tag empire has come to an in-house diva. He delivers his trademark meandering voice to a dark hypnotizing jam produced by Busen, an alias of Daniel Pflumm, a prolific graphic designer who also released on Elektro Music Department, General Elektro and Atelier, and Stefan Mitterer. Also well worth noting for a typically tripped out session on the flip, provided by Dreesvn alias Dynamo Dreesen and SUED label head SVN, at their Neues Deutschland studio HQ.

Transilvanian Galaxi – Transilvanian Galaxi (Sex Tags Mania, 2010)

Another mainstay at Sex Tags and affiliated labels, Skatebård, who rides a psychedelic new wave take on new beat, before most even cared to remember what both were. Skatebård always manages to come across as both earnest and gleeful with every reference he works into his music, and is thus a perfect match. At Sex Tags, fun and seriousness go hand in hand. Read the rest of this entry »


When House Met Disco – A Guide

Posted: August 8th, 2018 | Author: | Filed under: Features | Tags: | No Comments »

As it was a continuation in the timeline of club music it is quite natural that via sampling the early years of house were already littered with references to what happened before: disco. Pioneering Chicago house records used vocal snippets of the classic repertoire of disco and replayed its basslines and arrangements. Just take Isaac Hayes’ „I Can’t Turn Around“ for example, which was not only used in Farley Jackmaster Funk’s „Love Can’t Turn Around“, but also numerous other house tracks at that time. And acapellas from the back catalogue of classic disco labels like Salsoul, Prelude or West End never stopped being used for giving a track that extra imperative on the floor. But as well as disco always remained an integral of house music’s matrix, particularly lesser productions means led to different approaches of utilizing it. From the mid 80s on, nearly no house producer could afford to set up an orchestra in a studio, also many were not trained to write and arrange music as many protagonists of the classic disco era were. Still, the desire to reference or recreate the disco legacy with a house groove was always there until today, and the ways with which disco and house connected were manfifold and innovative. We take a look at some prime examples.

Mitch Winthrop – Everybody’s Going Disco Crazy (Everybody’s Much Crazy Records, 1991)

I first heard this record at Hamburg’s Front club, where it was a total anthem. At the time most people were actually not disco crazy anymore, but this was a perfect reminder to never forget where it was all coming from.

Reese Project – Direct Me (Joey Negro Disco Blend Mix) (Network, 1991)

Dave Lee aka Joey Negro was one of the first house producers that were not content with only sampling disco elements, but who aimed for a production that came as close as possible to disco’s original production and arrangement values. His remix for Kevin Saunderson’s garage house project went all the way. Joey Negro had the knowledge and had paid close attention, and obviously his directive was to achieve anthemic euphoria, and as all was done with loving detail, straight to the syndrum pew pew pews, he proved himself to be a trustworthy ambassador of the disco heritage, and remained ever since.

Nature Boy – Tobago (Black Label, 1992)

Milo from Bristol’s legendary Wild Bunch soundsystem deconstructing disco source material down to dark and gritty netherworld. None of the glitz of the sample references survived the process, and the music seemed to rather kick you out into the back alley through the back door than sway you in through the velvet rope on the other side of the building. I found „Ruff Disco Volume One“ in a bargain bin in the early 90s and I think it still sounds totally visionary and unique.

Romanthony – In The Mix (Azuli Records, 1994)

A tribute to Tony Humphries and the whole New Jersey legacy by Romanthony, one of house music’s greatest producers ever. If there ever was a more convincing argument to never deny your roots and keep them alive in what you are doing, I would like to hear it.

Jump Cutz – House Luck (Luxury Service Records, 1995)

One of many highlights from the Jump Cutz series, produced by Rob Mello and Zaki Dee. This really shows that often a good disco house track is no rocket science. Deconstruct source material into several parts. Reconstruct said parts as you please. Watch them go.

The Morning Kids – Free Lovin’ (Housedream) (Balihu Records, 1996)

As a true disco lover and dancer, Daniel Wang knew that it is the early morning hours when the magic of a good night out really unfolds. A rather simplistic meditation based on just a few samples compared to his later vintage syntheziser led output, but it still works a treat if the DJ decides it is finally the right time to switch gear. When it was released, the balearic revival was just a few sunrises away.

Los Jugaderos – What You Doing To This Girl? (Jus’ Trax, 1996)

A rework of Dazzle’s „You Dazzle Me“ which is indeed dazzling. The well-proven disco evangelists Ashely Beedle and Phil Asher concentrate on building up the tension mesmerizingly and release the strings at exactly the right moment. A masterclass in structure.

Turntable Brothers – Get Ready (Music Plant, 1996)

There once was a seminal live recording archived on deephousepage.com that captured Ron Hardy whipping his floor into a frenzy with an extended reel-to-reel edit of Patti Labelle’s „Get Ready“. This Chicago label already carrries the legacy of two legendary windy city clubs in its name: the Muzic Box and the Warehouse (later Power Plant). So it should come as no suprise that most records on Music Plant are a straight homage, albeit with banging beats and the freewheelin’ demanour with the use of samples so typical for Chicago. „Get Ready“ skips the traditional verse part of the original and heads straight to the climactic chorus, then rides it far into ecstacy. Read the rest of this entry »