Last month we published an article in which Dimitri From Paris charted Disco’s evolution into House, and House’s recent devolution back into Disco. Here, Dimitri identifies and discusses some of the key records that define these distinct, yet ultimately fluid, musical shifts.
The House that Disco Built
I've been a DJ since the mid-80s and House music is really what defined my sound, but in the most indirect way. House led me to its Disco roots, and that is what stayed as the strongest ingredient in my musical output. If it wasn't for House taking me there, things might have sounded very different.
Here I've put together a by no means exhaustive selection of ten personal sonic milestones to illustrate how Disco spawned House, and how House is now finally embracing its Disco forefather, with global recognition.
Part 1 - From Disco to House
A Number Of Names - Sharevari (1980) A rather obscure, yet sonically obvious, pioneering record: a genre-defying mix of Disco and Electro with strong House stylistics. It is influenced by European new wave as much as US R&B, backed with a classic Disco acoustic rhythm pre-dating the drum machine invasion. Most likely because of its Detroit origin, ‘Sharevari’ is usually referred to as a ‘pre-techno’ record, although it actually has much more in common with what House later became. Now 34 years old, it still sounds unique.
Jesse Saunders - On & On (1984) Considered by many to be one of the earliest House records from Chicago, ‘On & On’ is like most of the city's releases of the mid 80s: a rehash by a DJ of a cult Disco record. It’s largely inspired by the ‘On & On’ medley by the mysterious Mach, itself a DJ blend of a few New Wave and Disco tracks: the whistle intro from Munich Machine ‘Get On The Funk Train’, the drum break from Lipps Inc. ‘Funkytown’, and the bass line of Playback ‘Space Invaders’.
Steve Silk Hurley - Jack Your Body (1986) ‘Jack Your Body’ was one of the first widely distributed ‘House’ branded records (thanks to a European signing on Pete Tongs FFRR label). It led me, and a lot of others, to discover the ‘real’ R&B Disco, and onto understanding that was where House music came from. What I knew of Disco in the 80s was the equivalent of today's ultra-commercial EDM, and I didn't care for it. But somehow, I got tipped that ‘Jack Your Body’ was based on the bassline of First Choice's ‘Let No Man Put Asunder’, a Chicago and New York classic from 1977. From then on I started digging deeper into that kind of R&B Disco and was immediately hooked for life.
Man Friday - Love Honey, Love Heartache (1986) After Disco was declared ‘dead’, Chicago DJs like Frankie Knuckles and Ron Hardy were freshening up the R&B Disco sound their crowd loved by means of re-edits and remakes. Their mix was based around classic Philly Disco as well as European electronic New Wave. In New York, DJ Larry Levan of Paradise Garage fame, a child of David Mancuso's Loft parties, had a slightly more subdued and romantic approach to his mix. One of his early productions, Man Friday, stems from a UK-originating Paradise Garage classic. Distinct from Chicago's relentless ‘jacking’ output of the time, it introduces the deeper, more soulful elements that grew to become the first hallmarks of US Garage.
Ten City - That's The Way Love Is (1989) Marshall Jefferson is undoubtedly a pioneer in his own right; his ‘Move Your Body (The House Music Anthem)’ is one of the few historical Chicago House tracks to be still played today. A musician before a DJ, interestingly he was the first to go full circle from Disco to House and back. As early as 1989 he put together the band Ten City, and while all of his peers were dabbling with electronics, he recorded a 100% acoustic Disco album, with horn and string sections, even bringing in legendary Philly drummer, Earl Young, the originator of the Disco beat.
Part 2 - From House to Disco coming soon...
Dimitri From Paris In The House of Disco is out 15 June (2CD and digital) on Defected Records - order on iTunes and Amazon