Disco-house phenomenon Joey Negro – one of several peerless aliases wielded by institutional Essex DJ-remixer-producer Dave Lee – is soon to join the exclusive roll call of music-makers helming Defected’s illustrious House Masters compilation series – a series compiling magical productions, remixes, rarities and collectables from those chosen artists’ stellar careers.
Lee, of course, is widely regarded to have recorded one of the UK’s first house records (M-D-Emm’s ‘Get Busy’) – right at the start of his impactful career in 1988. But what of the nascent British house scene’s other early, influential moments? Fear not, here’s a snapshot of five key records, including Lee’s grand and highly significant debut…..
Dave Lee’s punchy debut, recorded alongside fellow producers Mike Cheal and Mark Ryder in 1988. Even back then, ‘Get Busy’ demonstrated the kind of rich and epic studio scale that would later define Lee’s sparkling discography – well-rounded beats, hooky synths, jazzy piano solos and a blast of soulful vocal snatches and brass. ‘Get Busy’’s uplifting, jump-up groove – also sampling The Jammers’ 1982 hit soul-funk hit ‘And You Know That’ – not only boosted the credibility of domestic dance in the UK but announced Lee as a house producer to watch. Just a few months later, in fact, Lee, as Raven Maize would turn out one of the first house records to utilise disco samples. The track was called ‘Together Forever’; the sample was from Exodus’ 1982 disco-jam of the same name. The British house revolution had exploded….
T-Coy – ‘Carino’ (UK Deconstruction)
According to DJ-sage Greg Wilson, this track – part of a 1987 EP also featuring B-side cut ‘Regret’ – was truly the first British house record to create national impact. T-Coy, an amalgam of Hacienda grandee Mike Pickering, his Factory Records cohort Simon Topping (both he and Pickering played in new wave Factory band Quango Quango) and the late keyboardist Richie Close, was supposedly influenced by Chicago house pioneer Adonis as much as by salsa supremo Tito Puente in recording ‘Carino’. The track, a crisp Latino-piano banger, quickly earned support beyond the dancefloor – notably via Stu Allan’s Piccadilly Radio show in Manchester and Coldcut’s equivalent for Kiss in London. In due course classic British house from the likes of 808 State and A Guy Called Gerald was a regular feature on UK airwaves….
Perfectly Ordinary People – ‘Theme From P.O.P’ (UK Urban)
‘Theme From P.O.P’, all bass bounce and spritely acid lines, was a huge anthem at illegal raves all over the UK in 1988 when it was first released via label Urban. In due course the track appeared on Urban Acid, the biggest-selling acid house compilation of that year. We have goa-trance artist Martin Freeland to thank for Perfectly Ordinary People – one of many late Eighties pseudonyms adopted by the long-term DJ-producer, also including Positiv Noize and Pisces. In 1990, Freeland first recorded as Man With No Name – his main studio identity to date and responsible for crossover hits ‘Teleport’ and ‘Floor Essence’.
Paul Rutherford – ‘Get Real’ (Happy House Mix) (UK 4th & Broadway)
This particular remix of ‘Get Real’ was an underground gem in 1988 – jagged acid undercurrents juxtaposed with soaring vocals (and ‘computer’ talk) and lush synth-scape melodies. Rutherford was a dancer, keyboard player and backing vocalist with Frankie Goes To Hollywood at the time. Hollywood hit ‘Two Tribes’ had already entranced iconic Chicago club Muzik Box (and its iconic resident Ron Hardy) and, of course, Rutherford had serious clubbing form at pivotal UK house parties like Shoom. There was a strong sense, then, that ‘Get Real’ was meant to be….
Bang The Party – ‘Bang Bang You're Mine’ (UK Warriors Dance)
Bang duo Kid Batchelor and Keith Franklin earned the best kind of London notoriety with early capital smash ‘Bang Bang Your Mine’. Their 1989 production (re-issued by Embassy Records in 1990 and then Classic in 2002) blended classic Chi-town jack and urban London soul, via marauding b-lines (subsequently utilised by Murk), deliciously sleazy vocals, sweet organ riffs and scissoring drum machines. An immensely powerful workout still bringing floors to heel today. Its current value to collectors is priceless.
Defected Presents House Masters Joey Negro, a seriously comprehensive retrospective of one of UK clubland’s finest exports, is out 11 January 2015 on double-CD and digital - order from iTunes and Amazon