Ralph Rosario – You Used To Hold Me [1987]
December 15, 2012

A tune that barely needs an introduction and one thats been on repeat as of late while spending 14 hrs a day at my desk. A pure example of what made House Music as globally successful as it wound up becomming, showcasing pacing and orchestration that you see echoed in practically every dance tune released since. A ridiculously catchy synth riff, some quality vocal work and that pounding 808 bass drum and the crisp high hat. Absolute perfection.

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INXS – I Need You Tonight (12″ Mix)
June 25, 2012

A track that really doesn’t need much of an introduction, INXS were pretty much unstoppable when this was released. The riff is a legendary slice of late 80’s pop, catchy and inescapable once its hooked itself to the inside of your skull. Hutchence’s vocals take an important but laid back, sordid position at the back of the track while the instrumental sits right up front, exactly where it should be.

The 12″ re-edit just lengthens the original composition with some echo effects but more importantly, it keeps the riff and baseline going for much much longer and lets be honest here, its the reason the track is so beloved. An absolute classic.

From Wikipedia

In INXS’s official autobiography, INXS: Story to Story, Andrew Farriss said that the famous riff to the song appeared suddenly in his head while waiting for a cab to go to the airport to fly to Hong Kong. He asked the cab driver to wait a couple of minutes while he grabbed something from his motel room. In fact, he went up to record the riff and came back down an hour later with a tape to a very annoyed driver. This riff was later described as sounding like a cross between Keith Richards and Prince.
The song is a much more electronic track than most of the band’s material before or after, combining sequencers with regular drum tracks and a number of tracks of layered guitars. To approximate the sound on the recorded track, the band often utilizes click tracks for a frequent synthesizer chord as well as rim shots heard throughout the song.

Rhythim is Rhythim – Strings of Life (Piano Mix) [1987]
December 31, 2011

Its New Years Eve so allow for the sentimentality of this one. A track that really doesnt need any kind of introduction, its Derrick May’s seminal classic released some 24 years ago and still bumps as hard today as the day it was committed to vinyl. Many have tried to deseminate why the track touched and continues to touch so many people and a lot more simply dont give a shit.

Derek claimed in the documentary “Pump Up The Volume” that the track actually scared him, left him reflective and in his own words “Buck naked wandering around my place”. Surely a track that can have that kind of impression on the guy who composed it was always destined for great things. For me, despite the fact that its been remixed to death, the original still retains the most important components of any classic house record for me. A pounding kick drum, amazing strings and the catchiest piano riff you can imagine.

No matter where you are, what your doing or who your doing it with this New Years Eve, have a great great night.

Happy New Year!

From Discogs
I read somewhere that Strings Of Life is about the dream that Martin Luther King Jr. gave to the world. Perhaps in the Detroit of 1987 that dream seemed to have died with King but listening to this song, I know that cannot be true. There is an energy in this song, a sense of movement, that I have never heard in another techno song. Somehow the string stabs chafe against the piano line and the drums in a unique way that electrifies my body. Judging by the response I have seen to to this song in clubs, other people have the same reaction. You cannot stay still when the song kicks off after the short introduction, and if there is more than one person listening, something special will happen between the two of you.

Sometimes I feel sad when I look at Derrick May’s catalogue and see that he stopped giving us music after only a few magical years near the end of the 20th century, but when I listen through, I find it full of emotional explosions like this one. They are focused and cut like a scalpel to the heart. Maybe he got sick of the pressure, maybe he is lazy (doubtful), or maybe he just burned out after producing a dozen odd songs like this one. I want him to produce more music, but I also feel satisfied with what he has made so far.

It became a common sense the fact that ‘Strings Of Life’ was the most important Techno classic of the early period, most precisely the eighties. On this matter, this English Twelve Inch pressing of the tune by the label Kool Kat became among the main responsibles for the Techno explosion in Europe (together with ‘Techno! The New Dance Sound Of Detroit’ compilation and the Inner City massive hits ‘Big Fun’ and ‘Good Life’). According to Mark Archer, ‘Strings Of Life’ (present in the ‘Deep Heat 89 – Fight The Flame’ compilation) was “one of the tunes of the year of 1989 and the tune of 1990”, though being conceived in America years before, in 1987. The Burden brothers from Octave One didn’t hesitate to claim that, “with Strings of Life, Derrick was the real precursor”, for “that was the track that started bending things”. They also said that, without this essential anthem, there probably would be no ‘Jaguar’ or ‘Blackwater’. The last track of the B Side of this single, ‘Nude Photo’, also released originally by Transmat in 1987, was included later on WARP 10+1 Influences compilation. All of these facts (among others) lead us to the conclusion that this English single, packed with a gorgeous sleeve cover of an android in the middle of musical notes, was one of the main reasons for the Techno definitive invasion in Europe.

Fallout – The Morning After (Sunrise Mix) [1987]
September 30, 2011

Im amazed its taken me this long to post this up here since its one of the best tracks on the planet. Yet again, another simple composition but so damn effective with its ridiculously catchy riff, driving 808 bassdrum and high hat (so clean!). Add some atmospheric strings and you well onto a winner. Delivered up by two of the behemoths of dance music, Lennie Dee and Tommy Musto. I cant imagine how they must have felt when they finished this one, probably the same instant joy that this track brings to anyone that hears it. For the first time, for the millionth time. Its a total classic.

From Discogs c/o Alain Patrick
What makes a tune so unique? Sometimes those synthesizer timbres it took so long to create, or the melodies that catch you almost instantly; the strings, the basses, or the drums. And sometimes, it will be just the combination of these elements together.

A dance music masterpiece built up with special, strong synth timbres is a sure shot. That was the case of “The Morning After (Sunrise Mix)”, and believe-me or not, like the compositions that stand the test of time, it went further than that. Produced by the amazing couple of
talents Lenny Dee and Tommy Musto back in 1987 and released on the legendary Fourth Floor Records, it quickly became a reference. Lenny & Musto were both music makers from the Big Apple – a natural center for Sounds of all genres. They got along with the best of their background and put into this amazing classic. “When we did the tune, it was the real beginning of House music. I was vibing on loads of Peter Gabriel, Paul Hardcastle, Mr. Lee, etc. We did not go in the studio to copy these guys, we had just finished “Bamboo”, my first EP for The Fourth Floor Records, so we went in to work on the next record with no real idea except that I wanted to make a deep track that had string based influence and a deep feel”, declared Lenny Dee about the “The Morning After”‘s first steps.

The powerful piano basslines appear brilliantly in a perfect combination with a flute-simulation melody that goes along with atmospheric strings and typical Brooklyn-style House beats (just listen to the music from people such as Tommy Musto, Frankie Bones, Lenny D. and Joey Beltram back in the end eighties and you’ll notice
that there is something about their rhythm that is behind their essence). “The track started off with the 808 Drum machine, I made the beats & fill patterns. We created the drum grooves pretty fast. Musto had just got the first Roland linear synthesizer called the D 50 whose strings were a big part of the vibe. As I was looking for a deep mellow trip – the linear sounds brought a lush wide atmosphere”, said Lenny about the equipment used. “It was fantastic, and it’s the back bone of the new sounds made today with newer Digital synths”.

They both (Lenny and Tommy Musto) used the Casio CZ 101 for the bass lines – which they wrote after the drum patterns, chained together in the 808 live while mixing – that gave the changes a real on the fly feel. Later, they used to their advantage when editing the final verson. The strings really came out durring loads of passes, and they found out the final notes which leaded to the suttle yet eerie feel that “The Morning After” is known for.

Despite having a House mood, the track’s snares were deeply broken, creating a singular rhythmic synchronization with the organ basslines and some piano-stabs improvisations. Everything is so rhythmic, so syncopated, like a sort of XXIst Century swing. The result, as good as it gets, is a non-labeable timeless tune that you could certainly play it today on a House, Techouse or even a Breakbeat repertory.

According to Lenny, “The Morning After” would be about thirteen to seventeen minutes long; many differant versons of the tune were made. But the final verson is a comp edit done on reel to reel tape which Tommy & Lenny edited at a later day. “This is probally what took the more time – the mixing of the track” said Lenny. Back in the days, the sequencing was not done on a computer so they had to manually edit every piece & compensate for cuts live prior to the final version. “All in all the track consisted of ten to twelve tracks. I think this is why it still has a great feel & great sound, which by the way was totally helped by Herbie Powers Jr”, claimed Lenny Dee. “He is one of the World’s best mastering engineers. He worked at Frankfort Wayne Mastering in NYC. When he heard the track, he insisted to do it, which for us was a complete surprise as he only worked on mastering music that he wanted to do”, stated Lenny again with enthousiasm.

The name ‘Fallout – The Morning After’ was a reference to Lenny & Musto. They used to DJ in a private after hours called the RoofTop on the 23rd floor of a building in New York which was filled with crazy people from the Disco scene, as well as from dance music in general and yes, drugs. “There were many late mornings DJing from midnight to three o’clock on the next day afternoon. Hence ‘The Morning After’ – the effects of this schedule was a Fallout of the mind & body. So, we named the title ‘Fallout – The Morning After’, says Lenny Dee.

“The feel of the track was what we felt every weekend. I guess this is still true today with people & new parties. I am happy we un-knowingly touched on that. We were just expressing what we heard, played & most importantly what we went through along the way in our life”.

Parade Ground – Strange World [1987]
July 14, 2011

What a wonderful, upbeat synth led stormer from Parade Ground, two Belgian guys with very close ties to Front 242. Supposedly, the song is about being in a plane crash, both with the sound effect and the rather telling lyric “We hear a big noise, then we’re on our way” – cue plane crash sound. Nobody ever said songs had to be only about love or hardship. Despite the macabre subject matter, the track itself is the very definition of a classic 80’s Synth Pop track.

Sterling Void & Paris Brightledge – It’s All Right ( House Mix ) [1987]
October 23, 2010

A track that needs almost no introduction, its the first track ever released from Sterling Void and what a track it is. Conscious lyrics, great string work and that bassline rolling around in the back, a great example of proper House Music. Produced by the legendary Marshall Jefferson, the track was actually covered by the Pet Shop Boys a couple of years after this was released. Did you know that? No, neither did I. Know why? The PSB version is shite! It completely misses the soul and optimisim in this track, sacrificing that message for some weak socio-political commentary.

For me the track says but one thing;

“Sure, its not perfect… but it’ll get better”

Joe Smooth – The Promised Land (12″ Vocal Mix) [1987]
February 6, 2010

Time to pay our respects on this Saturday to one of the greatest tracks of all time. Despite the fact it was actually released what, twenty three years ago it has not lost any of its appeal. Smooth’s voice is perfect and while some of the production certainly harkens back to the early days of House music, for the most part I dont think its ever actually dated. Proper singalong tune, reminds me of being in the chillout room at Goodbye Cruel World, chatting shit and singing with people I didnt know, drinking in this classic in every sense of the word.

From Discogs
Sundaymorning, 7 am. You have been dancing and jumping around at this beach party since 11 pm last night, meeting new people and having a good time in general. The place is still packed. You look at the sea, you know the sun is about to rise. And at that exact point in time and space, with the sun rising, the DJ drops “The Promised Land” by Joe Smooth, the ultimate housemusic celebration and sing-along anthem. You get overwhelmed by feelings of joy, get tears in your eyes and you hug people you have never met before. This is the true house feeling. Welcome to the family.

New Order – True Faith (Original Mix) [1987]
November 12, 2009

I inadvertently slipped into an 80’s coma this afternoon. But if your gonna go down that road, it is critical that you include New Order in there. While I love Blue Monday, True Faith just takes it way further for me. Plus, legendary Vid 🙂