UPDATE – Although a couple of my posts on this blog have gone viral, I consistently get the most hits from this one page. I just wanted to say thank you for everyone stopping by; whether you are discovering house music for the first time, or re-visiting old memories of vinyl spinning days gone by. You’re welcome to leave a comment below. If you want to learn more about the history of house music, go here. I try my best to update this page, but if a link isn’t working, feel free to comment or email me. Thanks again, and keep the love alive.
Let’s all go back, wayyyy back. Back to a time when you lined up late at night to get into a dark, dingy warehouse. Back to a time when the dancefloor is crowded with smoke, people and sweat, and the dust and dirt are kicked up by people thrown into an uncontrollable frenzy by the deep bass and soulful vocals blasted through the subwoofers.
1. Aly Us – Follow Me
Released in 1992 through NYC’s Strictly Rhythm Label.
Let’s start this set off with something with a standard 4:4 beat and a neat, standard bass line. A very minimal piano riff that comes in… it’s a great introductory house track, the lyrics really encompass what house music is; a vibe of unity, regardless of race, sexuality, and a rejection of conflict or war. It’s pure positivity here with roots of gospel and 100% soul.
2. KC Flightt – Voices (Out Of Reach WONKA REMIX)
Original released in 1991 through RCA Records.
Here’s another classic house track dripping with soul and a slightly tribal vibe. Fantastic to hear to this day, it epitomizes what classic house should sound like.
3. Jinny – Keep Warm
First released through Italian Style Production (an Italian Euro Dance label) in 1991.
Another tune that stays fresh after all these years, with a snappy piano riff. Still remains a great way to warm up the dance floor at the start of the night.
4. South Street Players – (Who?) Keeps Changing Your Mind
Original released in 1993 courtesy of Strictly Rhythm.
South Street Players, whose real name is Roland Clark, delivers another beautiful classic house tune that’s got all the necessary ingredients – a fresh beat and beautiful soulful vocals.
5. LNR – Work It To The Bone
Original released in 1987 through House Jam Records.
LNR was short for Larry Thompson & Rick Lenoir. A simple bassline and vocal repeats and hypnotizes until you become a slave to the rhythm. This is vintage, guttural garage house.
6. N-Joi – Anthem
Released in the UK through Deconstruction Records in 1990.
N-Joi are comprised of Nigel Champion, Mark Franklin and Samantha Sprackling AKA Saffron.
Another classic tune. Beautiful vocals make this a beautiful track with snappy, determined piano chords. The featured vocals in the tune are sampled from Gwen Guthrie’s Peanut Butter, Back To Life by Soul to Soul, and I Found Love by Darlene Davis.
7. Ladycop – To Be Real
Original released in 1991 with London’s Ffrreedom outfit and NYC based Ultra Records.
A re-mix cover of Cheryl Lyn‘s disco hit, this simply remains a big, rough tune. Guaranteed to rock the dance floor. Or your living room. Or your chair in your cubicle at work.
8. Inner City – Good Life
Released worldwide in 1988 through 10 Records, a Virgin outfit.
Inner City formed in 1988, and were comprised of Shanna Jackson, a.k.a. Paris Grey and a guy called Kevin Saunderson – one of the three guys that brought us Detroit Techno.
This track has a kind of child-like innocence to it, and it’s just so positive and infectious, that’s it’s impossible not to love.
“Let me take you to a place I know you want to go – It’s the good life!”
BTW, you ever check out the Spanish version? It’s dope.
9. Hardrive – Deep Inside
First released through Strictly Rhythm in 1993.
Hardrive’s real name is Luis Fernando Vager, and he also goes by Louie Vega. Did your head just explode? I know mine did when I first found that out. This track remains one of my favourites, it’s dark, it’s intense and sweaty – everything a classic house track should be.
10. Fingers Inc. – Can You Feel It
Originally released in 1988 through UK labels Jack Trax and Desire Records.
Fingers Inc. are comprised of Larry Heard, Robert Owens and Ron Wilson.Original instrumental version of this song was previously released on Mr. Fingers’ 3 track EP, 2 years previous to this track’s release.If I were to try to explain what house music was to an alien species, my 8 year old Niece, or my grandmother, this is the song I would play.
11. Royal House – Can You Party
Released in 1988 through Champion in the UK and NYC hip hop label Idlers.
This is slightly on the Acid House tip. And completely blew my mind when I first heard it. Lots of crazy samples going on in here. The song pulls no punches as it starts with sirens announcing it’s arrival…”Can you Feel it?” “AHH EEEE YEAHHH”
12. Jungle Brothers – I’ll House You
Released through Idlers Records in 1988.
Jungle Brothers were comprised of Nathaniel Hall, Michael Small, and Sammy Burwell. Another definitive house track. If you don’t know the lyrics to this track, you missed out on the early nineties, and most likely lived in a cave. Not a hut. “You in my hut now. My hut.”
13. Raze – Break For Love
Original dropped in 1987 through New Jersey’s Grove Street Records.
Raze was comprised of New York multi-instrumentalist Vaughan Mason along with soul singer Keith Thompson. This was the first House track I ever heard. It was late night on a school night on a college radio station, I had my radio on with my headphones, and it changed me forever. Still remains one of my favourite tracks of all time. It’s elegant in it’s simplicity – there isn’t anything in there that shouldn’t be. There’s an intimacy in the vocals that’s hard to find elsewhere. The reason I love this song is why I love classic house. It’s raw emotion, stripped pretty bare, generally there’s a bass line, some piano or synth and some vocals – it’s pure, not overproduced the way most other music is.
14. Robert Owens- I’ll Be Your Friend (Original Def Mix)
Original released in 1991 through RCA in the US and Perfecto in the UK.
Another favourite, often played at the end of the night, and for a good reason. Robert Owens was one of the founding members of Fingers Inc., and was a part of the so-called Golden era of late 80s Chicago House. This track hypnotizes with good vibes.
15. Frankie Knuckles Presents Satoshi Tomiie – Tears
First pressed in 1989 through FFRR (London Records) in the US.
We’ll close this set with Frankie Knuckles’ (one of the founders of house music), all time classic Tears. It’s one of the largest and best known House music songs of all time.
BONUS TRACKS – Joe Smooth – Promised Land
Since y’all won’t clear the dance floor and nobody’s ready to go home yet. (And who would? The sun’s coming up kids) Another huge classic house tune filled with hope and good vibes.
Masters at Work Feat. India – I Can’t Get No Sleep
This tune is from 1993 and features a classic bassline, hypnotizing horn loop and blistering vocals supplied by India make this an absolute classic. Video features old school voguing dance styles.
Candi Staton – You Got the Love
Although technically speaking this was more of an early rave anthem, the lyrics are just so soulful, and this is an absolute favourite of mine that I couldn’t quite squeeze into my Techno anthem list, so I hope you’ll all forgive me. It really seems like a fitting song to close the set. (UPDATE) As one of DG’s readers has reminded me, this track samples heavily from an earlier tune from Jamie Principle called Your Love, which is 100% pure Chicago classic House goodness, first pressed in 1984, and made available to the public in ’86. Listen to that one over here.
Mind Readers – Living My Life Underground
I first heard this on a mix tape with tons of bouncy house I picked up at X-Static back in the day. I ended up tracking down the original DJ Lily Tran, who I believe was based out of San Francisco at the time it was made, sometime in the early 90s. Curiously she couldn’t quite remember this particular track, but boy I certainly couldn’t ever get it out of my head. A hypnotizing beat with gospel audio. Classic quarter to 4AM dance floor heaven.
You may also want to check out:
10 of the Very Best Classic Techno Anthems from 1991 at 23 Hop.
15 of the Very Best Classic Summer Jams