When looking back on people and artists who influenced me as a DJ, one of the first names that comes to mind is Chris Sheppard. Back in the late 80’s and early 90s, Shep dominated the weekend radio airwaves in Toronto as far as dance music was concerned. Through his extremely popular and highly informative Pirate Radio Sessions syndicated show on Saturday afternoons and his live-to-air broadcasts from Toronto’s legendary Guvernment(and formerly RPM) nightclub on Saturday nights, Chris Sheppard was the undisputed champion of quality dance music I Canada. As a dedicated listener, believe me, I learned a lot from those shows.
One common thread throughout Shep’s programming was to use his shows as a format to provide exposure to the more underground house sounds and genres that reflected what was happening in Toronto’s early race scene at the time. Key to that was to find and play tracks that brought people together on the dancefloor, ones that can create a very communal feeling and a sense of kinship with those around you. 1993’s “House 4 All” is one such record and despite being relatively simple in its creation, producers Shawn Caesar and Ty James (under the name Blunted Dummies) provided a standout track in terms of demonstrating the emotion that could be generated by a jackin’ house tune.
As was the template for many a great classic house track, “House 4 All” is composed mainly of samples; from 5 different sources to be exact. The underlying organ chords and hi-hats are lifted from “The Poem” by Bobby Konders and this is one of the most important parts of this record. The organ sounds invoke an unmistakable feeling of being in church and any dedicated house-head will tell you exactly how close being in a packed club with hundreds of strangers locked into the same groove compares to being part of a congregation. Vocal samples come courtesy of “Happy Music” by the Blackbyrds and that glorious kick that hits you squarely in this chest was lifted from “Dance” – Earth People. The remaining beats heard throughout the record come from hip-hop samples; specifically, Brand Nubian’s “All For One” and the old-school anthem “Check the Rhyme” by A Tribe Called Quest.
The end result is actually quite ingenious in terms of getting all the samples to work together and if you’ve got an older crowd looking to hear some truly classic sounds, this one comes highly recommended.