ACID RAIN: DEFINITIVE ORIGINAL ACID AND DEEP HOUSE 1985-1991.

ACID RAIN: DEFINITIVE ORIGINAL ACID AND DEEP HOUSE 1985-1991.

For those of us of a certain vintage, the music on Harmless Records’ forthcoming box-set Acid Rain: Definitive Original Acid and Deep House 1985-1991, provided the soundtrack to our lives, over a six year period. These six years were the golden days of house music. Born in Chicago, in the early eighties, this was the start of a new, innovative and revolutionary musical genre. Back then, no-one realized this. House, most people thought, was just another musical fad, that like disco, Philly Soul, punk or new wave, would last a few years, then be replaced by something else. How wrong could they be? Instead, we were entering one of the most exciting periods in music. Better still, we were the lucky ones, fortunate to witness and hear the rise and rise of house music, which is documented on Acid Rain: Definitive Original Acid and Deep House 1985-1991. It will be released by Harmless Records on 12th August 2013. Compiled by Terry Farley, Acid Rain: Definitive Original Acid and Deep House 1985-1991 features sixty-one tracks spread over five discs. Before I tell you about the music on Acid Rain: Definitive Original Acid and Deep House 1985-1991, I’ll tell you about the background to house music, without perpetuating any of house music’s many myths that many supposed journalists continue to perpetuate.

During the six year period that Acid Rain: Definitive Original Acid and Deep House 1985-1991 covers, weekends were spent dancing to Acid House. Back then, it wasn’t just case of turning up at a club to dance the night away to a new musical genre. No. Instead, it was an adventure, a game of cat and mouse with the authorities. This involved spending half the night traipsing up and down the motorway networks, trying to outwit the authorities. Best described as a magical mystery tour, all the time, everyone awaited the phone call about where the elusive venue was. There was a sense of anticipation that was almost tangible. Where are we heading and what will happen? Would it be a deserted warehouse that someone had conveniently found a key to? Maybe it would be a farmer’s field in the back of beyond? Often it was just a small backstreet club, which was packed to the rafters with loved-up, blissed-out dancers. Before long, what started as an underground movement, born in Chicago, in the early eighties, became a musical phenomenon.

Soon, house music’s popularity grew. What started off as underground scene, moved into the mainstream. Record labels, club nights, promoters and clubs sprung up. By then, house music was like a religion. Dancers were converted into believers. They headed to the clubs, warehouses and fields to worship. For dancers, clubs and warehouses were their churches and temples. At these churches and temples, DJs were like priests, with their rituals of beat-matching and track selection. Most importantly, the supplied the Jack, the hypnotic groove that ensured dancers were spellbound and enthralled. For six years, believers regularly attended worship and gave thanks for the groove that they gave themselves over to. Little did the pioneers of house realise the effect this new musical genre would have on people. That was all still to come. Before that, we need to head back to the end of the seventies.

To trace house music’s origins, we’ve got to head back to July 1979, when disco almost died. The aftershocks of Disco Demolition Night was felt long after July 1979. After that, very few, if any, disco records were released. Disco labels closed and disco artists were dropped by labels. For some DJs, this presented a problem, what were they going to play?

Following disco’s demise, DJs were faced by a problem, the music that had provided the soundtrack to their dance-floors was in disgrace. Dropping a disco track, could result in the dance-floor clearing. This was the case everywhere. In the WIndy City of Chicago, innovative DJs like Frankie Knuckles, Ron Hardy, Tee Scott and Marshall Jefferson decided to cast their musical net wider. They decided to dig deeper, and play a more eclectic selection of dance music. It was a case of anything goes. Anything from recent Italo Disco tracks, right through to hip hop, electro funk, synth pop, funk and classic disco sat side-by-side with the electronic delights of Kraftwerk, Yello and Yellow Magic Orchestra. Add to this boogie, which had recently replaced disco as the de rigeur choice of discerning DJs. This musical collage would provide the soundtrack for Chicago clubbers who graced The Warehouse and  the in 1982, The Power Plant, the club Frankie founded in Chicago.

The Warehouse opened in Chicago in March 1977, when disco was at the peak of its popularity. Frankie Knuckles, who previously, had DJ-ed at Better Days in New York. Following its bankruptcy, travelled to Chicago to play at the opening night at The Warehouse. After the opening night, Frankie was asked to stay on and become resident DJ. At the start,  attendances were poor, but gradually, Frankie won over The Warehouse’s dancers. Fusing his slick New York style with the more eclectic “Chicago sound,” that could be heard on radio shows like Hot Mix 5’s, WBMX and Kent’s Punk Out. With Frankie fusing everything from boogie, Italo Disco, synth pop, hip hop, electro funk, funk punk and classic disco he quickly established a loyal following, among this new generation of DJs, who’d become the first wave of Chicago House producers.

This new generation of DJs included Jesse Saunders, Farley Jackmaster Funk, Ralph Rosario and Steve “Silk” Hurley.” They were also the first wave of Chicago House producers. Their musical tastes were equally eclectic and their approach to DJ-ing inventive  and imaginative. It would go on to influence other producers. An example of this is Jesse Saunders and Farley Jackmaster Funk using a drum machine to add a 4/4 beat over other records. This would prove to be one of the tell-tell sounds of house music. Frankie Knuckles  relied upon a trick, but one that wasn’t a new one. Indeed, it was one that was a reminder of disco’s heyday.

Many DJs, including Walter Gibbons, used two copies of the same track to extend the break. That was all very well, but Frankie took it much further. Like Tom Moulton, he used reel-to-reel tapes of tracks to create an edit. With his friend Esmaro Rivera, Frankie was able to rebuild a track, in such a way that it was dance-floor friendly. Not only could breaks be lengthened, but new parts added. He could use parts of other tracks to heighten the drama, tension and sense of anticipation. These became Frankie Knuckles’ secret DJ weapons. Sensing an opportunity, the original versions of these tracks started finding their way into the racks of record shops. To describe this as yet, unnamed musical genre, it was described: “as heard at The Warehouse.” This was shortened to House Music, which described Frankie Knuckles’ then style of DJ-ing. It would later describe a musical genre, which was about to be born.

With technology suddenly becoming much more affordable, drum machines, sequencers and synths were within the budget of ordinary people. All of sudden, you didn’t need a huge budget to buy the technology required to record a track. Taking advantage of this technology, was Byron Walton.

Mention the name Byron Walton and people will say who? The name  Jamie Principle evokes a different response. Byron was born in Chicago was one of the pioneers of house music. As Jamie Principle, he recorded house music’s first love song, Your Song. Based on a poem Jamie wrote about his girlfriend, this was the start of the career of a true musical innovator, who went on to released singles like Cold World and I’m Not Over You. Jamie’s music was crucial to the development of house music and influenced other aspiring producers So too did the music DJ Jesse Saunders and his friend Vince Lawrence, a lighting engineer who’d both dreams of becoming a producer. 

Vince’s father owned a record label, and had released the new-wave track Fast Cars. It had given Jesse and Vince a minor hit. Then Jesse and Vince met pianist Duane Buford and Screamin’ Rachel, the future co-founder of Trax Records. Together as Z-Factor, they recorded a series of singles that Vince’s father was to release. He however, was taking too long for their liking. So they recorded a basic beat track, which was based upon a vintage disco megamix and incorporated parts of the tracks they’d already recorded. Complete with a handwritten label, this new track, On and On, was taken to the local record pressing plant, Precision Records. One-thousand copies, costing a Dollar a copy, were pressed. These thousand copies were sold for $4 each around clubs, where Vince and Jesse were well known. For other aspiring producers, On and On would provide them the inspiration to make their own house tracks. 

With its far from polished sound, every wannabe producer thought they could better On and On. That may have been the case, but did these tracks capture the imagination like On and On?

Other producers however, had different approaches to making music. Lil Louis, another of the first wave of Chicago house producers, first production Your Love, appeared on tape. It was a much more slick and flamboyant track. So good was Your Love, the consensus was that it was the work of a European producer. While this was wrong, it set the tone for future productions. Soon, other producers wanted to produce tracks as polished as Lil Louis.’ That included Marshall Jefferson. However, Marshall’s music had a much more everyman sound.

Marshall Jefferson first heard house music on the radio. The Hot Mix 5 was his introduction to house music. Soon, he was absorbed in the music. Listening on the radio, or heading clubs to see Frankie Knuckles and Ron Hardy, Marshall was hooked. Then fate intervened. Frankie’s friend needed  lift to his local Guitar Centre. With his friend, they headed to the music shop. Just window-shopping , the saleman was showing them a  Yahama QX1 sequencer. According to the salesman, even a non musician could play keyboards like a musical veteran. When Marshall heard this, he was hooked and bought his first equipment. However, since then, what he purchased has become another of house music’s myths. 

What Marshall purchased, depends on what version of the story you read or hear. One version of the story is Marshall bought just a synth and sequencer to create house music. The other is, he fell for the smooth talk of a persuasive salesman and left the shop with $9,000 worth or equipment, which today, would be the equivalent to about $30,000. This included keyboards, a drum machine, Yahama QX1 sequencer, Roland TB-303, mixer and four-track recorder. Bought on credit, Marshall headed home with all this equipment. The only problem was, he could neither play the keyboards, nor knew how to work the rest of equipment. 

Two days after buying all this equipment, Marshall produced his first track. Part of his secret was adjusting the tempo of the sequencer. He’d play the music note by note, then speed the music up. Just like On and On, the music Marshall’s made was “everyman” house music. Marshall was the Bruce Springsteen of house music. It was the type of music people heard and thought they could do better. Very few could though. That’s why a year later, Marshall Jefferson’s name was known worldwide. Looking back, Marshall’s style and therefore sound was unique. With each producer having a different sound, it’s possible to tell a Marshall Jefferson track from Mr. Fingers, and Virgo 4. However, not everyone producer had the same budget as Marshall Jefferson.

For some producers, it was a case of make do and mend. With just really basic equipment, they produced groundbreaking music. An example is Steve Poindexter making a track with just a Casio RZ-1 drum machine. Given its minuscule sampling capacity, that’s a remarkable achievement. Other producers didn’t even have a Casio RZ-1. Instead, they’d to beg and borrow, using equipment during other producer’s downtime. Frankie Knuckles lent Chip E a Roland TR-909 rhythm composer. First released in 1983, aspiring producers cast envious glances at the 909. The same beg, steal and borrow attitude came when it came to vocals and samples.

Not every producer had the budget to pay for a known vocalist. Often, it was a case of asking around the neighborhood, and a friend of friend would add the vocal. For Farley “Jackmaster” Funk’s Love Can’t Turn Around, Farley came across Darryl Pandy, a college-trained vocalist. This proved a masterstroke, as the track reached number one in the UK. If there was no vocalist available, house producers weren’t above “borrowing” samples from old soul, funk and disco tracks. 

Nothing it seemed, was off limits for nascent house producers. They thought nothing of sampling old soul, funk and disco tracks. The problem was, often, no permission was asked. Uncleared samples were at the heart of successful house tracks. They were following in the footsteps of hip hop producers a few years earlier. Back then, they’d been seeking the perfect break. Among the artists sampled were First Choice, Candido, Dexter Wansel, Loleatta Holloway, Carrie Lucas and Cerrone. Even Dr. Martin Luther King’s speeches were sampled by teenage, Chicago producer Tyree Cooper. By not asking for permission, which may well have been granted, producers were storing up problems for further down the line. Mind you, by then, many producers had lost control of their music.

With any new musical scene, opportunistic people under the guise of “entrepreneurs” prey on unsuspecting musicians and producers. This problem is as old as popular music. Whether it’s managers, promoters or record labels, many an inexperienced house producer rues the day they met their nemesis. Often, desperate to have their record released, many a naive producer was approached by a record company offering a contract. All too often, the contract was on far from favorable terms. Royalties would be minimal and often, never be paid. Sometimes, producers would lose control of their music. Other times, producers were offered a lump sum for their track. A few thousand Dollars seems like a fortune. Little did they realize they’d signed away a small fortune. This age old problem was rampant in Chicago. In many ways, Chicago was the Wild West and house music was the equivalent of a gold rush. So, a new wave of labels were formed, hopefully, to right the wrongs of the past. 

Two labels in particular played an important part in the development of house music, Trax and DJ International. Trax was formed in 1983 by Larry Sherman and Screamin’ Rachel Cain. It began operating in 1983, when it purchased a company called Musical Products. A year later, Trax Records started signing artists. In charge of A&R, was Vince Lawrence, who’d suggested that Larry Sherman formed Trax, who played an important part in the development and growth of house music. Known for releasing influential and innovative music, Trax was one of house music’s leading labels. Numerous classic tracks were released on Trax, including Adonis’ No Way Back, Larry Heard’s Can You Feel It and Marshall Jefferson’s Move Your Body. Despite the important part Trax played in house music, Trax wasn’t above criticism.

Trax’s critics accused the company of using poor quality vinyl. It’s alleged recycled vinyl was used, rather than virgin vinyl. More serious allegations included neither honoring contracts, nor paying royalties and even illicitly releasing tracks. These however, are just allegations. Nothing was ever proven in a court of law. However, with these rumors going round Chicago’s musical community, it’s no surprise a rival label was set up, DJ International Records.

Founded in the mid-eighties by Rocky Jones, DJ International Records quickly became one of Chicago’s big two house labels. Among their signings were Tyree, Joe Smooth, Fast Eddie, JM Silk,Farley “Jackmaster” Funk and Jesse Saunders. Along with Trax Records, DJ International Records would release some of the most innovative music from the first wave of Chicago house producers. Chicago the label where house music was born, was now the house music capital of the world.

Whether it was producers, record labels, DJs or clubs, Chicago had the best. Even if they weren’t born in the Windy City, producers and DJs called Chicago home. Clubs like The Music Box, The Warehouse and Record Plant were home to DJs that included Ron Hardy, Frankie Knuckles, and Gene Hunt. They had a seemingly never-ending supply of new releases to play. Thunderous drums and pounding bass-lines pumped the music out of huge, industrial strength speakers. Only they could fill the cavernous clubs full of dancers lost in the music. At one with the music, the dancers worshipped at the altar of Ron Hardy and Frankie Knuckles. The dancers were believers, and like the DJs were determined to spread the gospel of house music, further afield than Chicago and rest of America. Soon, Britain was about to discover house music.  

This is where the controversy begins, and we come across more of house music’s myths. Three of these myths are: when was house music first heard in the UK; where was it first heard and who introduced house music to Britain? Trying to come up with a definitive answer to these questions is impossible. So, unlike some people, I won’t shamelessly perpetuate the myths about when and where Britain was introduced to house music. Similarly, I won’t try and make an educated guess  at who introduced Britain to house music. It’s an argument that will never be settled. All we can say with any degree of certainty, is that was between 1985 and 1986. Where and when it was first heard, is disputed.

Depending on the books and articles you read, house was first heard in the South in London, or in the North in cities like Liverpool or Manchester, at clubs like the Hacienda. Like so many things, house music caused a north, south divide. Strangely, Londoner’s attitudes towards house music were divided. Many people, including the then “soul mafia,” were anti-house, while other factions jumped on the house bandwagon straight away. Ironically, many of the“soul mafia,” eventually changed their attitude and become enthusiastic, if not evangelistic about house music. In the North of England, house music was much more enthusiastically greeted. Especially in Manchester, a city which eventually, would become the Britain’s house music capital during the Second Summer Of Love. Some of the music played during the Second Summer Of Love featured on one of the first British house compilations that was released. Like many people, I can remember buying a copy.

Towards the end of 1986, London Records released a compilation entitled The House Sounds Of Chicago. It was so successful, that the album spent four months on the UK albums charts. Two singles were released from the album. Farley “Jackmaster” Funk’s Love Can’t Turn Around was released in September 1986, reaching number ten in the UK. Then when Steve “Slik” Hurley’s Love Can’t Turn Around was released in January 1987, it reached number one in the UK. Not long after this, the Chicago House Music Tour visited the UK. Marshall Jefferson was the headline act in what was the pre-Acid House era. Before long, Acid House was about to explode in Britain.

Later in 1987, Britain was about to discover the hypnotic sound of Acid House. This was one of the first sub-genres of house music. Before this, people generally spoke about house music. With its squelchy bass-synth sound, that came courtesy of the Roland TB-303 Acid House’s popularity spread from America over to Europe and then the UK. When and who, brought Acid House to the UK depends upon who you ask. Many people lay claim to having heard Acid House in variously Chicago, New York and Ibiza and brought the first records back to the UK. Exactly who was responsible for exporting Acid House is unclear. What we can say with certainty, is that a musical revolution was about to happen.

As I said, where and when Acid House was first heard in the UK, depends who you talk to, or what interviews and books you read. According to some people, Shoom in London, which was opened by Danny and Jenny Rampling in November 1987, is thought to be one of the first places where Acid House was first heard in the UK. Shoom however, was an exclusive club, where dancers were enveloped in thick fog and introduced to the hypnotic sound of Acid House. That Shoom was the birthplace of Acid House in Britain, is disputed though. There are some people who claim to have heard early house tracks at the alternative nights at Heaven, in Charing Cross. It could just as easily have been clubs in Liverpool or Manchester where house was first heard. One club would play an important part in the rise of house and also, in its demonisation.

It was in June 1988, that Nick Holloway opened Trip In London’s West End in June 1988. Trip was the in place. Dancers danced until 3am, then would spill out into the West End’s streets singing and dancing, heading to after-club parties. This didn’t go down well with residents, who complained to the police. Further down the Acid House road, these complaints would result in anti-clubbing laws. That was still to come, back in 1988, the Second Summer of Love was just beginning.

Apart from clubs, which sprung up all over Britain, outdoor raves stared taking place the length and breadth of Britain. Again, saying where the first rave was held, would be perpetuating another of house music’s many myths. Many of them took place in the unlikeliest of places. Keys were conveniently found to empty warehouses and factories. Sometimes, farmers fields, in middle of nowhere were the venue for the rave. Just like warehouses and factories, generators and sound systems were brought in and dancers danced until dawn. Fuelling the Second Summer of Love was the controversial drug ecstasy. 

Many clubbers enthusiastically discovered ecstasy. Some people became ecstasy evangelists, given the chilled-out way it made them feel. Among those ecstasy evangelists were football hooligans. According to them, after dropping an E, they underwent Damascene transformations. No longer did they want to fight. Instead, they were candidates for the peace corps. Other people had horrendous experiences after taking ecstasy. Indeed, some people even died after taking ecstasy. By 1988, the combination of illegal, unlicensed parties, drugs and large gatherings of people, the police and government started to clamp down on raves.

Later 1988, attitudes had changed about Acid House. No longer was it just the latest musical movement or scene. Not at all. Acid House was now seen as something that could undermine society. The press and media began running sensationalist stories about Acid House. Painting the parties as sodom and gomorrah, tabloid newspapers published tales of hedonism fueled by a variety of psychedelic drugs. Soon, the police started clamping down on warehouse parties. The police raided the parties, arresting the organizers, confiscating equipment and the takings. Under pressure from the public, this lead to the government passing legislation, which later, became the Criminal Justice Act 1994, which banned illegal gatherings of over one-hundred people. Ironically, by 1988, Acid House’s popularity was challenged by deep house.

Deep House, which became popular towards the end of the eighties, was a fusion of Chicago house, soul and eighties jazz-funk. This was a much more complex style of music. In the early days of deep house, the chords used were much more complex and had a jazzy influence. Vocals were added, and generally, were slow and soulful. The music was smooth and melodic and very different from Acid House. Influenced by disco, Philly Soul and Salsoul deep house seemed to appeal to a much wider audience. Pioneers of deep house included Larry Heard. He was one of the pioneers of deep house. As Mr. Fingers, he released 1985s Mystery Of Love and 1986s Can You Feel It. He paved the way for DJs like Harry Dennis, Frankie Knuckles, Candy J, Virgo Four, Libra Libra and Ace and The Sandman. All these artists and more feature on the five-disc, box-set that is Acid Rain: Definitive Original Acid and Deep House 1985-1991, which I’ll tell you about. 

DISC ONE-THE BIRTH OF DEEP HOUSE.

Each of the five discs that comprise Acid Rain: Definitive Original Acid and Deep House 1985-1991 has a title. Disc One is entitled The Birth Of Deep House. It’s also a mouthwatering musical prospect. No wonder. Of the twelve tracks, seven were released on Trax and two on Hot Mix 5, Saber Records, Chicago Connection Records and Westbrook Records contribute a track apiece. These twelve tracks were released between 1986 and 1993. There’s contributions from Frankie Knuckles featuring Jaimie Principle, Libra Libra, Virgo 4, DJ Pierre, Jungle Wonz, Candy J and Pierre’s Fantasy Club. Classics, anthems and hidden gems sit side-by-side on Disc One. That makes choosing few highlights of disc one difficult, but here goes.

One of the highlights of Disc One of Acid Rain: Definitive Original Acid and Deep House 1985-1991, comes courtesy of Frankie Knuckles. Featuring Jaimie Principle, Bad Boy was originally released in 1987 on Trax. The sultry, sensual 12” version has never been released before. That seems strange given the quality of a track. It’s a fusion of electronica, Euro Disco and house. Pleasure Zone’s Fantasy, released in 1989 on Trax, has a similar sensual sound to Bad Boy. It has a Germanic sound, that’s sometimes, sounds as if it’s been inspired by Donna Summer’s I Feel Love. Candy J’s Desirable Revenge was released on Hot Mix 5 Records in 1988. Feisty and sassy, this hook-laden, dance-floor friendly track has been influenced by Loleatta Holloway, disco and Hi-NRG. 

Virgo 4’s Take Me Higher was released on Trax in 1989. It’s quite different from the other tracks I’ve mentioned. Best described as hypnotic and moody, it’s reminiscent of Kraftwerk’s musical opus Autobahn. Just as hypnotic and moody, but more melodic is Ace and The Sandman’s Let Your Body Talk. Released on Trax on 1992, this track shows how much house music had changed since the early eighties. There was a much more soulful, melodic sound to house music, which by 1992, was constantly evolving and reinventing itself. Terry Farley documents house music’s evolution on Disc One of Acid Rain: Definitive Original Acid and Deep House 1985-1991.

DISC TWO-IN THE DARK WE LIVE.

Entitled In The Dark We Live, Disc Two of Acid Rain: Definitive Original Acid and Deep House 1985-1991, features fourteen tracks. They were released between 1986 and 1990 on labels that include Hot Mix 5 Records, Bigshot Records, State Street Records and Housetime Records. Just like Disc One, Disc Two certainly isn’t lacking in quality. Not with stonewall classics like Frankie Knuckles’ Baby Wants To Ride and Mr. Fingers’ Washing Machine. There’s also contributions from Virgo 4, Jungle Wonz, Cool McCool, Gene Hunt and Phuture.

Virgo 4’s R U Hot Enough opens disc one of Acid Rain: Definitive Original Acid and Deep House 1985-1991. Released in 1986, this piano driven track was released on Trax. Built around a simple piano riff, augmented by the squelchiest of synths, the result is a truly innovative track.

Somehow, Jungle Wonz’s The Jungle manages to ethereal, melancholy, beautiful and moody at the same time. Washes of synths and crispy beats combine on a track that was released by Trax on 1986. Haunting and broody describes Cool McCool, which epitomizes Acid House. Released on Hot Mix 5 Records in 1986. Just as moody and dark is Phuture’s Your Only Friend (Cocaine), which was released on Trax in 1987. Eclectic describes the music on Disc Two of Acid Rain: Definitive Original Acid and Deep House 1985-1991. The fourteen tracks are full of surprises. Just like Forest Gump’s box of chocolates, you never know what Terry Farley has in store on Acid Rain: Definitive Original Acid and Deep House 1985-1991.

DISC THREE-CHILDREN OF THE NIGHT.

Disc Three of Acid Rain: Definitive Original Acid and Deep House 1985-1991, is a disparate and compelling collection of tracks. The thirteen tracks range from jazz-tinged to dark, dramatic and gothic. These thirteen tracks were released between 1986 and 1988, on Trax, Hot Mix 5 Records and Westbrook Records. This includes contributions from Mike Dunn, Bam Bam, Farley Jackmaster Funk, Ralphi Rosario, Sleezy D, Mr. Lee and Phuture. Among these tracks several house classics. Who can forget Sleezy D’s I’ve Lost Control and Mr. Lee’s I Cant Forget. Apart from these two tracks there’s much more to discover on Disc Three of Acid Rain: Definitive Original Acid and Deep House 1985-1991.

Bam Bam have two tracks on Disc Three of Acid Rain: Definitive Original Acid and Deep House 1985-1991. The first is Another World, one of the most uplifting tracks on Disc Three. Released on Westbrook Records in 1988. Written by Mike Dunn, it’s the polar opposite of their other contribution Where’s Your Child. Penned by Chris Westbrook, it’s dark and almost disturbing. It’s a bit like excerpts of a horror movie put to music. There’s a similar darkness to the gothic sound of Farley Jackmaster Funk’s I Need A Friend, which was released in 1986, on Trax. Ralphi Rosario’s In The Night, released on  has a broody, moody sound. So too does Phuture’s Slam. A mixture of the squelchiest synths and thunderous drums, classic Acid House meets darkness and drama. Not all the tracks on Disc Three are dark, dramatic, moody or broody.

Two tracks on disc three, released in1988 define Acid House. The first is Fingers’ Ecstasy, released on Hot Mix 5 Records in 1988, and the other is Jack Frost and The Circle Jerks. It was released on Trax. So was Lidell Townsell’s I’ll Make You Dance. It’s an irresistible fusion of Acid House and hip hop. These three tracks demonstrate another side to the music on Disc Three of Acid Rain: Definitive Original Acid and Deep House 1985-1991, which thanks to Terry Farley, are suitably eclectic examples of innovative and quality house music released between 1986 and 1988. 

DISC FOUR-NO WAY BACK.

Unlike the previous discs, the eleven tracks on Disc Four of Acid Rain: Definitive Original Acid and Deep House 1985-1991, are from a number of smaller labels. The eleven tracks were released between 1987 and 1990 on labels like Lets Get Puppies Records and Tapes, Bouncin’ Music, Future Sound, Kool Kat Records, Transmat Records, Fragile Records and of course, Trax. Among the artists that feature on disc four are familiar faces like Armando, Bam Bam, Jack Frost & The Circle Jerks and Liddell Townsell. That’s not forgetting Neil Howard, Model 500, Neil Howard and Fade 11 Black. These eleven tracks were released between 1987 and 1990, when Acid House’s popularity was soaring and Deep House was growing in popularity.

Armando’s Don’t Take It was originally released in 1988 on Let’s Get Puppies.The version on Disc Four is a reedit. Everything from disco, techno, deep house and Acid House are thrown into the musical melting. Minimalist beats, squelchy synths and a feisty half-spoken vocal combine to create a timeless musical treasure.

Marcus Mixx’s Psychousic has a futuristic, eerie sci-fi sound. That comes courtesy of robotic synths, while crunchy drumbeats drive the arrangement along. Together, they create a track that’s mesmeric and futuristic. 

Neil Howard’s To Be Or Not To Be bursts into life. What follows is five minutes of Acid House. Released in 1988 on Future Sound, the music is more complex than the early Acid House. Dramatic and energetic describes this track perfectly. Our old friends Jack Frost & The Circle Jerks contribute Cool and Dry, another slice of Acid House. Released in 1988 on Trax, stabs of synths join the Roland TB-303, which contributes its trademark squelchy sound. In an instant, you’re transported back to the Second Summer Of Love thanks to the music on Disc Four of Acid Rain: Definitive Original Acid and Deep House 1985-1991.

DISC FIVE-WORK THE BOX.

Work The Box, the title of Disc Five of Acid Rain: Definitive Original Acid and Deep House 1985-1991, seems to be Terry Farley paying homage to house music DJs. Many of them were charismatic, larger than life, musical evangelists. Their raison d’etre was to convert the dancers to house music, which to many DJs in the mid-eighties, was like a religion. Often, DJs were preaching to the converted. Other times, dancers didn’t “get” house music as quickly. Especially if they’d grownup listening to disco, Philly Soul and Salsoul. For some DJs they took this an obstinate dance-floor as a challenge. Through time and the finest house music coming out of the Windy City, the nonbelievers became believers in house music. It was like a Damascene conversion, thanks to the music of Mr. Fingers, Ron Hardy, Santos, Laurent X, Phuture and Jungle Wonz which features on Disc Five of Acid Rain: Definitive Original Acid and Deep House 1985-1991.

Comprising eleven tracks released between 1985 and 1988, Disc Five is the final disc in Acid Rain: Definitive Original Acid and Deep House 1985-1991. The eleven tracks were released on Lets Get Puppies Records and Tapes, House Nation and Trax Records. Disc five is chock full of some of the biggest names in house, so choosing the creme de la creme isn’t going to be easy. 

Mr. Fingers contributes two tracks to Disc Five. The first is the futuristic sounding Distant Planet. Released on Trax in 1988, this groove-driven track is good, but no match for his 1987 classic Can You Feel It?

Machines, which is a truly innovative track is the first of two tracks Laurent X contributes to Disc Five. It’s hard to believe it was released in 1987, on House Nation. Squelchy, Acid House synths contribute the track’s its sci-fi sound. Add to this haunting vocals that drift in and out, and the result is a mesmeric, timeless track.  Drowning In A Sea Of House was released in 1988. Hypnotic and gloriously repetitive it’s a reminder of house’s glory days.

Not only was Ron Hardy a legendary DJ, but an accomplished producer. Proof of this is Sensation, one of the earliest tracks on Acid Rain: Definitive Original Acid and Deep House 1985-1991. Although it was released in 1985, it has a much more sophisticated sound than some of the tracks. Ron seems to utilize the technology better than some producers, producing a track that’s complex, funky and dance-floor friendly.

Apart from the tracks I’ve mentioned on Disc Five of Acid Rain: Definitive Original Acid and Deep House 1985-1991, two tracks deserve honorable mentions. The first is Jack Frost’s Clap, which is another track that defines Acid House. Then there’s Phuture’s We Are The Phuture, a fusion of futuristic and soulful music. These tracks are just two further examples of innovative and influential music that features on Acid Rain: Definitive Original Acid and Deep House 1985-1991.

Although I’ve only mentioned some of the tracks on Acid Rain: Definitive Original Acid and Deep House 1985-1991, there’s any number of other tracks I could’ve mentioned. That’s how consistently high the quality of music is. Considering Acid Rain: Definitive Original Acid and Deep House 1985-1991 is a five-disc box-set, Terry Farley deserves our congratulations. With five discs to fill, we could’ve forgiven Terry the odd musical faux pas. That’s not the case though. He doesn’t resort to filler. Instead, he concentrates on quality. Indeed, it’s mostly killer all the way for Terry, as he takes you on a six year magical mystery tour through house music. He introduces you to the best of Acid House and deep house that feature on the five discs that comprise Acid Rain: Definitive Original Acid and Deep House 1985-1991. This will be the perfect way to celebrate a very special anniversary.

Acid Rain: Definitive Original Acid and Deep House 1985-1991 is the perfect way to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Second Summer Of Love. Like many people, I find it hard to believe that it’s twenty-five years since the Second Summer Of Love. To celebrate this illustrious anniversary, what was needed was a lovingly compiled, box set, that was a reminder of those heady, hedonistic days of 1988. That’s what we got, thanks to Terry Farley. He’s chosen well, and has dug deep, deeper than he’s dug before. Terry Farley chose sixty-one tracks which include old favorites, classics and hidden gems. Most of the tracks are innovative and groundbreaking. This includes contributions from Mr. Fingers, Frankie Knuckles, Gene Hunt, Ralphi Rosario, Armando, Virgo Four, Phuture and Laurent X. Acid House and deep house sit proudly side-by-side and would go onto influence future generations of house producers. 

These tracks were part of a musical revolution, a musical revolution whose roots are shrouded in myths and mystery. Before house music, dance music was at a crossroads. Disco had nearly died in 1979, and other musical genres tried to fill the void. Synth pop, Euro Disco, and boogie all tried. Nothing filled dance-floors like disco. However, disco was perceived as yesterday’s music. What was needed, was something new, innovative and dance-floor friendly. The solution was house music, the musical offspring of disco, funk punk, Italo Disco, synth pop, Euro Disco and Philly Soul.

Just like punk a few years earlier, with its D.I.Y. culture, aspiring producers were able to make music cheaply without the benefit of a large budget, recording contract or even, a recording studio. Drum machines, synths, sequencers and 4-track recorders were much cheaper. Now it was possible to record a hit single in your spare room. Many of the tracks on Acid Rain: Definitive Original Acid and Deep House 1985-1991 were recorded this way. 

Despite the lack of a large budget, recording contract or recording studio, producers were able to record music that was revolutionary, music that was imaginative, innovative and went on to influence further generations of producers. Some of that music, music which was thought would be throwaway, is nearly thirty-years old, but has aged well. Ironically, I’d go as far as describe the music as timeless. That certainly is a good way to describe much of the music on Acid Rain: Definitive Original Acid and Deep House 1985-1991, which will be released by Harmless Records on 12th August 2013. Timeless, innovative and influential describes the music on Acid Rain: Definitive Original Acid and Deep House 1985-1991, which is a glorious reminder of the heady, hedonistic, glory days of the Second Summer Of Love.

ACID RAIN: DEFINITIVE ORIGINAL ACID AND DEEP HOUSE 1985-1991.

2 Comments

  1. Nicky Symon

    Hi Derek,

    Takes me back your article. Liked how you never, how was it you put it, “perpetuated any myths.” A thoughtful and well written article, that looks at the different sides of the history of house music. I’ve followed the blog since day one and enjoy the different styles of music you review. House is a passion of mine, so I was pleased to read this. I’ve read it several times and spread the word about the review. Hope that helps. I hope you’ll do more articles like this, especially on the Trax box set, which Harmless are releasing. Any word of when it’s out and when you’ll be reviewing it. Once you’ve reviewed it, I’ll treat myself. Want to hear your thoughts first.

    • Hi Nicky,

      Thanks for your comments. Glad the review brought back memories. Acid Rain has been a really popular review. It took a lot of research but was worth it. Trying to get the facts correct isn’t easy. In many ways, it’s a minefield, with different versions of the “story” available. Hopefully, I’ve tried to present a fair account.

      As for the Trax box set, it’s available on 26th August. I am hoping to review it, and have been in touch with the record company. I’m awaiting a response from them. You’re one of an army of people who have contacted me about the Trax box set. If I can get a copy, I’ll review the box set.

      Thanks for your comments.

      Regards,
      Derek.

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