By Issue 8 we had released seven issues of Revolution magazine to the public at large. Editors had spent almost 18 months sacrificing weekends to meet deadlines; coming in at all hours to catch UK and European record labels and music publishers before they quit for the day and staying late to get the mag out the door in time. Amid the fatigue we decided that it was time to have a disc of classics to accompany the publication, so we could rejoice in the culture we were attempting to celebrate. I sat down and made a list of the tracks that I thought would appeal to our readers, and how I could get a few lesser known, but equally important, tunes on there too.
After several weeks of phone calls, hair pulling (my own), wrestling with publishers and trying to track down a minty copy of Mike Dunn’s fantastic EP to replace my own thrashed copy that I bought in ’88 (thank you to Ivan from Guidance for flogging me a nice clean one) because Mike didn’t have the original masters, my editorial colleagues and I decided on this playlist below and ran with it for the disc that accompanied our second to last issue.
1. Renegade Soundwave – The Phantom (Mute), 1989
Breakbeat dance gets a tricked-out Afro-transfusion
Back in 1989, “The Phantom” signaled an enormous shift in British house toward a more punk attitude (check the Clash’s “White Riot” vocal sample loop). This record was a blueprint for dance acts like The Chemical Brothers (who brought acid breakbeat into mainstream global consciousness). Be thankful for this gem.
Father To: Chemical Brothers, Leftfield, the UK big-beat scene (labels such as Skint and Wall Of Sound), jump-up drum n’ bass (think Aphrodite)
2. Joey Beltram – Energy Flash (R&S), 1990
The dark knight of rave culture’s magnum opus
Although it’s labeled techno today, “Energy Flash,” upon its release in 1991, was simply a “hardcore” record, the term referring to an edgy darkness that marked a shift away from the late-’80s “feel good” rave high. Interestingly, Beltram concedes to never having tried ecstasy when he wrote this warehouse monster.
Father To: Every single dark, hard electronic record after 1991. Name them “Energy Flash” inspired them Underworld, Orbital, Hardfloor, and even Detroit techno pioneer Derrick May, who was so enraptured that he licensed it to his Transmat label. www.rsrecords.com
3. Reese And Santonio – Bounce Your Body to the Box (KMS), 1988
Tough, funky techno straight outta the Motor City
Kevin “Reese” Saunderson, the most commercially successful Detroit godfather (due to his masterful work with Inner City), here creates incredibly abstract, funk-drenched acid. Twelve years after “Bounce Your Body to the Box” devastated European dance-floors during the UK’s ’88 “Summer of Love,” it remains one of the most rare, sought-after Detroit faves.
Father To: The hard, funky style of techno championed by such DJs as Carl Cox, Dave Clarke, John Tejada
4. Rhythim Is Rhythim – Drama (Transmat), 1990
Detroit techno enters the ’90s with a tougher, more abstract sound
“Drama,” the 1990 B-side to Derrick May’s last original composition “The Beginning,” is far tougher than much of May’s previous work and foreshadowed the lush, rougher techno that was just around the corner from Detroit’s mean streets.
Father To: The techno of the last decade on every continent
5. Mike Dunn – Magic Feet (Westbrook), 1988
Balls-out, funky acid house with a hint of dark comedy
Considered severely hard and fast for its time, this Chicago acid-house stormer was nonetheless revered by both luuved-up English ravers and old-school house heads. Today, Mike Dunn, when not producing R&B for Sean “Puffy” Combs’ Bad Boy imprint, runs his own Deep Soul label alongside ex-Ten City vocalist Byron Stingily.
Father To: The entire hard house movement, period
6. Black Riot – A Day in the Life (Fourth Floor), 1988
The “feel good” anthem of the ’80s acid-house era
Under his Black Riot moniker, this is one of New York house producer Todd Terry’s most memorable studio efforts (It was even heavily sampled by Rob Base and DJ EZ Rock on their 1988 hit “Get On the Dancefloor“). Over in the UK, “A Day in the Life” defined the warehouse sound of house that led to the early rave scene. Like many of Terry’s early recordings, “A Day in the Life” has a robust Latin and hip-hop feel.
Father To: A huge chunk of English rave culture (including all those cheesy, major-chord Euro rave tunes), which undeniably begot the Chemical Brothers, Fatboy Slim, Prodigy, et. al.
7. Earth People – Dance (Underworld), 1990
The disco-sample house standard
Unveiled in 1990 by New York house legend Pal Joey (who went on to remix Sade, The Orb, and Deee-Lite), “Dance” became the cornerstone of funky, disco-sampled house. That sound, popularized recently by French acts such as Daft Punk and supported by American DJs including Chicago’s DJ Sneak, has been filling main floors on both sides of the Atlantic.
Father To: The French disco-house sound of Daft Punk, Stardust, and Cassius
8. Jonzun Crew – Space Is the Place (Tommy Boy), 1983
Early hip-hop charts electro’s outer limits
Led by Boston’s Michael Jonzun and aided by Maurice Starr (the guru behind New Edition and New Kids On the Block) Jonzun Crew’s “Space Is the Place” is a prime example of the early ’80s electro-inflected, breakdance soundtrack. Today, its mix of fuzzed-out, vocoded vocals and jabbing beats may seem simplistic when compared to Stardust’s 1998 “Music Sounds Better With You,” but in ’83, this was an instant hip-hop sensation.
Father To: A host of hip-hop’s most cherished ’80s icons: worn linoleum, head spins, the “electric boogaloo,” and as a result, a large chunk of modern electronic dance music, including the European electro revivalists Daft Punk and LRD
9. Brenda Taylor – You Can’t Have Your Cake and Eat It Too (West End), 1983
The spacey, left-of-center disco perspective
A great slab of space disco from New York’s influential West End stable, this 1983 produc-tion proves that disco was an early influence on Detroit techno. Without disco’s weird direction toward intense, edgy electronics accented with live instrumentation, modern dance music simply wouldn’t sound the same.
Father To: Any/all ambitious, stargazing electronic music; US garage, acid house, techno, and trance
Disc Editor Chris Orr