The ‘Great Grandfathers’ of house music: 6 Chicago classics that brought house music to Europe
A simple press run for David Guetta has turned into an all-out internet burn session against the French producer by October 22, 2018 — and even more so against ABC’s Nightline program.
According to Nightline and the original web copy by the ABC web team, Guetta purpotedly is the “grandfather of electronic dance music” who *apparently* “helped bring house to the US.” There was only one caveat in this tale: the crossover star didn’t bring house music to the United States at all. In fact, some might be shocked to hear that this popular genre of dance music and the vaguely-related pop version that Guetta purveys were actually born right here in the country, in the warehouses of Chicago. Dance music and all its contemporary offshoots wouldn’t even exist, had it not been for minorities and the LGBTQ community gathering together under the banner of house to escape persecution from the outside world. It’s disappointing — albeit, unsurprising — to see a large news organization like ABC choose the watered-down, whitewashed version of history around the sound when really it should be expressing pride in a home-grown movement. Nor did it help that Guetta’s response completely missed the mark as to why he’s the indirect subject of such widespread outrage.
A more accurate angle of the Nightline report would have been, “How Frankie Knuckles, Farley ‘Jackmaster’ Funk, and others brought house music to France/Europe.” Since this more accurate angle wasn’t taken, we here at Dancing Astronaut have decided to put our teaching helmets on and educate the masses on a few critical house essentials that actually helped shape the global rave revolution — no David Guetta required.
“My House” is one of the most, if not the most, sampled American house tunes of all time. It involves Chuck Robert’s famed “In My House” speech, and the original version proves to be far ahead of its time. “My House” by Rhythm Controll was originally released in 1987, and continues to capture the intrigue of dance fans worldwide thirty-one years later. The famed speech was also re-used and cemented into house fans’ cycle when re-patched with “Can You Feel It,” another huge anthem of the era.
If there’s one good thing that came out of the Guetta fiasco, it’s that he has good taste in classic house. The producer’s Instagram rebuttal pointed to the above record by Farley ‘Jackmaster’ Funk as the one that started it all for him as a young teenager in France. It’s one of the biggest anthems of its time, and for good reason — it’s a quintessential house tune at its core, down to its piano stabs and disco elements set to a 4/4 beat.
Acid house in particular is what caught Brits’ attention in Ibiza and kicked off the European rave movement that later birthed David Guetta. Phuture’s classic “Acid Tracks” was one of the biggest anthems of this era, and a pioneering track within the then-nascent subgenre of house. Its scintillating synthesis still raises hairs, and the original is still rinsed quite often throughout the international circuit.
Marshall Jefferson’s “Move Your Body” pretty much defined the house formula of the day. Many pieces aimed to emulate the catchiness of this song, but simply cannot come close to the original. It’s no wonder this record climbed the charts even before most people knew what house music was. Not to mention, the vocal sample manages to retain a sense of refined class in it despite its repetition that other house vocal clips lack today. Try not to feel transported into a euphoric, sweat-filled warehouse while listening — we dare you.
One of dance music’s very first wunderkinds was Adonis, who had a mass hit on his hands at the ripe age of 19 with “No Way Back.” Considering Trax was THE house label at that time (keen readers of this feature can note the majority of our picks came from here), it’s quite the accomplishment to have created a production that’s considered one of the imprints greatest releases of all times. Its encouraging clap samples, hypnotically-classic bassline, and stripped-down atmosphere makes it hit in all the right places.
It would be absolute blasphemy to not feature Frankie Knuckles somewhere on this list. The legendary, and sadly departed, producer and DJ is considered the actual “godfather” of house music and is credited by everyone except ABC for helping to make house a musical institution. His celebrity is so great that even ex-President Obama has been seen celebrating his achievements and contributions to the industry in the past. “The Whistle Song” is from 1991 — a good half-decade or so since he really broke the glass house ceiling. However, its breezy, happiness-inducing nature made it a fitting cap off to an already nostalgic list.
Proud of America yet? Good, we’ve done our job.