The most popular game was house

506794House music – what Frankie Knuckles called ‘disco’s revenge’ – first began to appear in clubs like the Mud around 1986. Initially resisted by an underground scene accustomed to rare groove, go go and hip hop, it failed to gain a foothold in London at first and made more of an impact up north. But by 1988 and the arrival of acid house, house (together with the accompanying horrendous fashion choices and dance moves) was everywhere, and it was terrifying the tabloids. Those of us still after rare groove turned to the emerging acid jazz scene at places like Dingwalls and Jazzadelic, but most clubs were playing 4-to-the-floor. More significantly, house also supplanted the trashy pop that had previously dominated the playlists of resident DJs at every cheesy local disco from Staines to San Antonio.

House originated in Chicago as a term for music Frankie Knuckles was playing at The Warehouse in the early 80’s. Closely linked with the early techno coming out of Detroit, it soon spread east and splintered into myriad different sub-genres. In the UK, small record shops with dedicated racks of white label 12″s for each sprung up in backstreets and basements everywhere, and by the 90’s we had hard house, progressive house, garage house, disco house, deep house, funky house, tech house, ambient house, jazzy house, hip house, Italo house, latin house, soulful house, New York house, tribal house, handbag house, and even some imagined types – ‘euphoric’ house (Sean), ‘wafting’ house (Jankster), and ‘hardcore ecstasy’ (Harry). Meanwhile, the drum tracks on pop records began to sound more and more like house music, and of course every club track got at least one ‘house mix’.

imagesI always had most time for deep house (which I’ve written about before), but living with an insomniac DJ (Paul) who mixed disco and funky house all night, I couldn’t help but get into a few tracks (and by the ’90s the attire seemed to have gotten better too, skinny rib tees and vinyl jeans being a marginal improvement on day-glo and wallabees). The first mix below is an old one and is mainly this sort of funky house. Black Magic was a Strictly Rhythm record we all seemed to like (thanks to Dr Wilson for that one), and Brighter Days was the sound of the Notting Hill Carnival in 1993. The U.N.I. track is probably my favorite house track (traded with Neil for a very expensive afro single in the days before discogs…), the Greg Fenton track was one of Paul’s favorites, and a funky house mix wouldn’t be complete without something from Kenny Dope and Little Louis Vega (aka Masters At Work). Funky Guitar was one I got asked for constantly (whatever happened to scouser Giles?), while Tony Petchell’s Funk On Up came out of Cambridge and samples Earth, Wind and Fire’s Africano (heard here) and Get On Up by Jazzy Dee. For some reason, it always reminds me of a wild-eyed El Grito rapidly shifting mindset from dancer to vigilante in an illegal party at The Oak. The mix ends with Francisco Zappala, a track that got a lot of play with Gabs and Katie above that Mexican place on Castle Hill.

  1. Freedom (Make it Funky) – Black Magic
  2. Don’t Hold Back The Feeling – U-N-I
  3. Brighter Days – Cajmere
  4. Love Infinity – Greg Fenton
  5. Funk’n Space – Alex Neri
  6. I Can’t Stop the Rhythm – Masters At Work
  7. No Props 2 – Mateo and Matos
  8. Funky Guitar – TC92
  9. Funk On Up – The Undergraduates
  10. We Got To Do It – F. Zappala and DJ Professor


maxresdefaultNext is a new mix that reflects how ubiquitous house became in the ’90s: it’s a bunch of club classics that were played everywhere, with a couple of less well known tunes thrown in. I don’t remember when I first heard Gypsy Woman or Finally, but they were played constantly around 1991, and I do remember hearing Finally at a New Year’s Eve bash in Covent Garden when Tone and Ald stepped in to save me (after an uncharacteristic moment of chivalry) with a well-timed stranglehold on an aggressor who’d looked much smaller when he was further away. After that we get techno founder Kevin Saunderson’s Good Life – techno, I suppose, rather than house, but it reflects how close the two often were then. Then there’s two of the most overplayed records of all time from a few years later (I’ve just about become desensitized to Sophie Ellis Bextor but if I never heard Daft Punk’s Music Sounds Better again I wouldn’t miss it). A post in part inspired by Paul wouldn’t be complete if it didn’t include some Joey Negro tracks (he could do an entire night of Joey Negro productions/remixes); so we get a couple of those, including a nostalgia-inducing Devotion remix that thankfully lacks the rap (1991 again and the ‘entertainer’ wasn’t Bruce Forsythe but Mikee Dee Freedom). Basement Jaxx inevitably make an appearance, with the big Samba De Flora sample. The mix winds up with Music Is The Key from 1985, which some have called the first ever house record, and Urban Soul, a tune that felt like it was on permanent rotation in that house I shared with H, Jane, Sarah, and Nicky in ’91.

  1. Gypsy Woman (La Da Dee) – Crystal Waters
  2. Good Life – Inner City
  3. Finally – CeCe Peniston
  4. Groove Jet (If This Ain’t Love) – Spiller
  5. Music Sounds Better With You – Stardust
  6. The Ghetto – Bob Sinclair
  7. Body To Body – The Men From Mars
  8. Samba Magic – Summer Daze
  9. (I Wanna Give You) Devotion (Joey Negro remix) – Nomad
  10. Music Is The Key – J. M. Silk
  11. Alright – Urban Soul


~ by ricardosevere on 02/11/2015.

3 Responses to “The most popular game was house”

  1. […] that climaxed with a ritual burning of disco records in Chicago (ironically the place where house music, disco’s revenge, would be born soon after). Disco’s only real crime was that many […]

  2. […] I wrote about house music a while back, but a recent night out with citizen Kang got us reminiscing about old times and prompted a mix of some of the house/techno we used to hear. As I’ve said before, I was never a big house fan, but when the rare groove scene died, it became almost inescapable at clubs, parties and, of course, raves. Unless you sought out a dedicated night like the Mo’ Wax sessions or headed down to somewhere like Dingwalls, chances are it’d be house everyone was dancing to. A trip to Ibiza (Al fell into a sewer); pulling moves on the floor at Riots with Kempski (sadly no longer with us); shaven-headed, wearing monks’ robes to a party for assassins (Eric wore a dog collar); traffic jams at 4 am on the M25 trying to find Energy (oh dear, the dancing…); hanging out at Ennerdale Road for days (Soph lipsynching to Alison Limerick); Tom playing ‘green’ house on his keyboard; or scanning the FM dial for pirate stations on a Friday night: for a couple of years all of this seemed to be accompanied by the same chords, jacking tracks and 303 squelches. […]

  3. […] sampled by Cambridge’s own Undergraduates (not actually students if I recall) in Funk On Up (heard here). The third version of Hamilton Bohannon’s classic is next (I put the first version in this […]

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