When it comes to sampling vintage material to make house music, some songs a simply a no-brainer. Such is the case with this sublime cut from Chicago producer Cesar Hernandez a.k.a. CZR who cheekily turned a classic funk groove into 1996’s dancefloor destroyer “Chicago Southside”.
If you’re familiar with Gene Chandler‘s 1979 disco hit “When You’re #1″, then you should know from hearing the lyric “On the south side of Chicago, how they boogie…..” that this one was just waiting to be turned into a house music anthem. CZR grabs his disco shears and incorporates several sections of Chandler’s tune thus creating an anthem that gives nod to his native Chicago and simply encourages everybody in the venue to hit the floor and get their collective groove on. First appearing on CZR’s 1996 EP “Another Level“, “Southside” would later see remixes courtesy of fellow legends Paul Johnson and Rick Garcia together with a re-rub from CZR himself. CZR would go on to release tracks on a plethora of labels including the legendary Subliminal Records and continues to produce and DJ to this day.
This one definitely best suits a proper house crowd, an audience that knows their history and who will appreciate the simple genius of this great record. If you’re feeling bold, toss this one on during a late-night house set and watch the dancefloor erupt!
Despite the hoards of advantages that the digital age has brought us in terms of accessing music, I really miss record shopping. I still do it as often as I can, but I miss the days when my Saturday afternoons were always blocked off for a trip to Yonge & Dundas in downtown Toronto where I would troll the record stores and HMV to grab the latest bangers, browse the hard-to-find classics and, if I was lucky, hear something completely at random that would shift the mood of the entire trip (and my purchasing priorities).
Such was indeed the case one Saturday afternoon in 1999 when just as I was sorting out which slices of wax I would be taking home with me from Toronto’s legendary DJ institution Play De Record, one of the staff put on a MASSIVE slice of disco house with a sound that was very similar to the Stardust anthem “Music Sounds Better With You” and a vocal hook that just screamed to me “you need to buy this track and play it out tonight“. A few seconds later, a copy of “My Feeling” by Italian-born producer Junior Jack (Vito Lucente) was in hand and the itch began. I couldn’t wait to get to the club that night to throw this one on.
Yes, the Stardust influence is all over this track (right down to the solo kick drum bridge and the phaser on the drums during the breakdown), but Lucente’s use of two separate samples that work perfectly together are the glue that gives this one its shine. The backing track consists of a sampled loop taken from Sister Sledge‘s endearing classic “One More Time” from their magnificent third album We Are Family. Once again, it’s a Chic-produced sample that does the trick here, pitched up to give it that disco house feel. On top of that we have a few vocal snippets from the top 10 US R&B smash “Saturday Love” from Cherelle & Alexander O’Neal to form the hook. The instantly recognizable quality of the vocal sample over a classic disco house loop certainly continued the trend seen in recent releases from Phats & Small (“Turn Around“) and Armand van Helden (“U Don’t Know Me“) and Lucente’s track was well-received worldwide including peaking at #1 on the Canadian National Dance Chart.
When I did finally drop this one at the club that night, the results were as I expected: we had an anthem on our hands. It’s simple, somewhat formulaic and even corny to a point, but it worked wonders wherever I played it (and I played it out a lot) and I even got the chance to meet Junior Jack before he played a guest set on the long-running dance music show Electric Circus on MuchMusic. He signed my vinyl copy and I was very happy to see this one get a lovely 12″ x 2 release on Defected Records not long afterwards. A great addition to any disco house set, this one still gets the crowds going.
When I first got into house music, compilations were a great way to keep up to date with what was hot at the time while being exposed to new music as well. With the advent of music going digital, the compilation has in many ways gone the way of the dinosaur, however, if you regularly troll for used CDs and vinyl like I do, you’ll be able to appreciate the value in coming across a great compilation that sees a lot of classic tunes assembled in one place. And for anyone who is looking for an enjoyable lesson in classic French house music, My House In Montmartre remains a great place to start.
Released by acclaimed electronic label Astralwerks in conjunction with MTV, the disc serves as a real “who’s who” of the French House music scene in 2002. The Daft Punk crew is well represented with Stardust’s “Music Sounds Better With You“ appropriately appearing as the opening cut, my favourite cut from “Discovery“, “High Life” coming in at track 3 and the inclusion of their brilliant remix of I:Cube‘s “Disco Cubizm“. Roule label-mate DJ Falcon‘s legendary remix of Cassius‘ “La Mouche” is a welcome addition in its full-length form, together with Alan Braxe & Fred Falke‘s live bass anthem “Intro” which received a huge response worldwide when originally released.
Other classic cuts include the Buffalo Bunch remix of Phoenix‘s “If I Ever Feel Better (I’ll Go to the Disco)“, “Grandlife” – We In Music and “Lucky Star” – Superfunk. Add all of these to a plethora of great tracks and remixes from the likes of Air, Alex Gopher and others and you have yourself one very versatile comp which would well suit anyone looking for a thorough snapshot of what was hot when French House was at its peak.
This one is definitely worth tracking down and is very DJ-friendly given that the majority of the tracks appear in full-length form. In fact, grab two copies if you can and work the floor with these classics!