The Mole People ‎– Break Night

It is an onerous task, to try and choose a Top 50, let alone a Top 10 for the label Strictly Rhythm, a label as important as the Apple label by the Beatles, every home should have a least one Strictly Rhythm record.

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For me “Break Night” by The Mole People (‎a pseudonym of Armand Van Helden) is the perfect 03:00AM to 04:00AM record, before you start playing records by Ron Trent and Chez Damier or Moodymann. It’s a long track that builds and builds, one you can get lost in, it’s the frequency of the bass that gets you on a world class sound system.

I first became aware of Armand Van Helden the summer “Professional Widow” by Tori Amos and “Sugar is Sweeter” by CJ Bolland came out, records that the people of Harrow in particular took a liking to. It was Flowerz however that I liked the most around the time the press were talking about a Sunday all dayer in New York by François Kevorkian and Joe Clausell called Body and Soul, Flowerz was an anthem there, and here in the UK as well, a timeless record.

Unlike a lot of the Vinyl I sometimes play, you can buy this and other classic Strictly Rhythm tracks at their website.

Inner City ‎– Paradise

I fell in love with house music through a close family member in the mid eighties that had a boombox and absolutely loved house music. He would play all the classics like Nitro Deluxe’s “This Brutal House ” and Mr Fingers “Can You Feel It” and all the early Chicago trax. It was all cassette tapes back then, and he had loads of the stuff. This influence resulted in me purchasing a copy of Paradise” by Inner City when I got my first Sony Walkman.

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I must have played that cassette every day for a year, wherever I was, that cassette tape was close by.

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It was only a decade later or so that I would hear people refer to the album as techno, it was so well produced, different tracks appealed more depending on your mood and there were stunning vocals from Paris Grey. It definitely was an album, and not an album with one or two hit singles and the rest of the tracks being “fillers” that a lot of albums tended to be like back then. Once you got a hit record, that usually resulted in an album deal, and very few people ever managed to pull it off and create an album worth listening to. In some ways, this is why mix-tapes took off, back then it was always about the record that came next, the focus wasn’t as it is on smooth mixing today, typically you went out and heard records at a hip-hop tempo 96 BPM all the way to 126 BPM and everything in-between, in fact there are a few hip-hop records like Rob Base & DJ EZ Rock’s “It Takes Two” that you would hear at house parties and would appear on house music compilations on vinyl, cassette and CD at the time.

Unfortunately due to the commercial success of the music throughout the nineties, House & Garage music became more and more fragmented, by the mid nineties you had, Piano House, Hardcore, Happy Hardcore, Rave, Handbag, Hardbag, House and Garage, Deep House, Breakbeat, Jungle, Trance, Progressive House, Hard House, Tech House, Speed Garage, Leftfield and so on. In some ways DJ magazine and Mixmag are as culpable as the promoters in pigeonholing music ad-infiniutm. It got to the stage where your typical trance or hard house fan would communicate their complete and utter disgust at US style Soulful Garage. I would sometimes throw parties back then and people would come and complain that the music was “too slow” and that I needed to play the music faster, I would pitch up the techno records I had to plus 130BPM, and they would start nodding and say “that more like it, but play it faster!”, as alas, the tempo of the music had become more important than the actual music.

The most revered DJ’s in the world, David Mancuso, Larry Levan, Frankie Knuckles and Ron Hardy all played across the board. Even today David Guetta or Paul Van Dyk would be household names if they could not just play trance or electro, people don’t seem to mind going to a club and listening to 10 hours of electro non stop but I digress. It is for this reason why most DJ’s and producers today will never ever gain the cult status of David Mancuso, “people are one trick ponies”

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Technotronic Featuring Felly and “Pump Up The Jam” was probably the club single of the year with the “Paradise” album containing hits like “Big Fun” and “Good Life” that would be played on the radio and in clubs as well. Make no mistake about it, this is probably the most important dance record that came out in 1989, if you have never heard it, definitely get yourself a copy.