Danny Tenaglia is called “the DJ’s DJ” for good reason. After seeing firsthand the genre-less approach the legendary Larry Levan brought to the equally legendary Paradise Garage, Tenaglia vowed to one day create a club concept based on Levan’s bold foundation match with his own musical and experiential vision. Tenaglia would achieve his dream years later after lengthy residencies at New York institutions Twilo and the Tunnel with his Be Yourself parties at Vinyl where he enjoyed complete creative freedom over every aspect of the music he was playing. Danny would regularly sit the newest anthems right next to classic favourites from his childhood and extended marathon sets were the norm for this club veteran. In addition, for an entire generations of clubbers, Danny Tenaglia also rules as the undisputed king of tribal house.
After releasing successful remixes for the likes of Jamiroquai and Madonna, Danny Tenaglia’s debut LP Hard & Soul arrived in 1995. The title sums it up well: the album is an infectious mix of the hard-hitting tribal rhythms and percussion that have become Tenaglia’s trademarks with deep, soulful basslines of the nastiest quality. “Bottom Heavy” remains a standout cut and actually began life as a remix for 80s legends New Order’s track “World (The Price of Love)“. When the mix was rejected by the band, Tenaglia asked for permission to release the track as his own minus the vocals and the track became an instant club anthem when released in 1994 on Tribal America Records.
With the original mix clocking in at over 13 minutes in length, this is a real treat for the dancefloor that doesn’t let up for a single moment. Tenaglia’s debut single firmly establishes the blueprint for his signature dark, dirty, sexy tribal sound and would be best served in the early hours of the morning on a good, powerful sound system.
The late 90s could be considered the golden age of disco house, especially with the strong influence of the French Touch sound that was dominant at the time. Strong releases from Daft Punk, Bob Sinclar, Armand van Helden and others would serve to define the sound, but there remains a plethora of great disco house tracks that pre-date the explosion seen in 1997 and Direckt’s anthem “Two Fatt Guitars” stands out as one of the best.
Here’s a tip for any house producers reading this: if you’re looking for some great disco tunes to sample, grab a Chic record. You’ll likely have a much easier time getting a nice, clean loop from their material than some others you may have tried. Formed by the late Bernard Edwards and producer turned Daft Punk collaborator Nile Rodgers, Chic remains one of the tightest bands you will ever hear and their impact and influence on musical styles ranging from hip-hop to hard rock is arguably unparalleled.
For Direckt (Michael Kirwin and Daniel Bennett), nicking a few samples of Chic’s 1978 megahit “Le Freak” was a wise move indeed. With sales of over seven million, “Le Freak” was Atlantic Records‘ biggest-selling single until it was topped by Madonna‘s “Vogue“. With it’s fantastic interplay between Rodgers’ “chucking” guitar licks and Edwards’ booming bass, after over 21 years of DJing “Le Freak” remains not only my favorite Chic song, but my favorite disco record of all time.
Taking a few snippets of the main guitar riff, Direckt drops them over a similarly funky house beat and tops the whole thing off with some serious sub-rattling bass and a bit of old-school ragga toasting. The funky factor is out of bounds on this one and with the added bonus of the instantly recognizable guitar loop, this one is a floor filler whenever I pull it out.
In preparation for the launch of his incredibly successful and influential Subliminal Records label, internationally renowned DJ and producer Erick Morillo made sure he had all of his bases covered. Having achieved his first success through a plethora of releases on the legendary Strictly Rhythm label, Morillo knew firsthand what was needed to establish Subliminal as a leader in top quality house music.
“It’s All Good” remains high on the list of the very best tracks to come out of the Subliminal camp and that should come as no surprise given the producers behind it. The second release from Da Mob (after 1997’s “Fun“which also served as the label’s debut release) is a soulful, funky vocal house number with a nice jazzy feel and the incredible vocals of legendary R&B and dance music singer Jocelyn Brown. The 2×12″ release features a dub courtesy of The Dronez, but the real gems in this package come courtesy of the gorgeous remixes from acclaimed house producers Full Intention.
Michael Gray & Jon Pearn take the original and turn it into an uplifting piano-house anthem with more than pinch of gospel influence and their signature pumping drums and percussion. The result is a track every house-head dreams about; one minute you’re dancing in a group hug with all your friends and moments later you’re lost in your own world but still completely locked into the same groove as everyone else around you. Well worth tracking down if you don’t already have it, this one can still deliver in any prime-time house set just as well as it does as a late-night classic.