Classic House Series Episode #32 – Two Fatt Guitars – Direckt

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.

Classic House Series Episode #24 – My Feeling – Junior Jack

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.

 

The Greatest Electronic Album Ever Made: Homework – Daft Punk Part 2 of 4

Here’s Part 2 of our 4-part review of Daft Punk’s Homework.  If you haven’t checked out Part 1 you can do so here.

SIDE B:

6.  Fresh – If you didn’t know this one had a video, you’re not alone.  Originally included as part of DP’s D.A.F.T.:  A Story About Dogs, Androids, Firemen and Tomatoes  DVD, this vid has gained popularity on Youtube and the like and serves to wrap up the story begun about Charles, our favourite canine/human from “Da Funk”.  Not to mention, it was Daft Punk themselves who directed this single-shot clip.  The tune itself has the French-touch filters swirling throughout and serves as a sunny, surf-y, beach-like tune; chilled out enough to lounge to, but funky enough to get your groove on as well.  As far as composition, rumours abound (the way rumours abound about damn near every track they make) that it is based on a sample from “Just the Way You Are” – Billy Joel.  Maybe it does, maybe it doesn’t.  It’s a very cool, laidback track nonetheless, possibly done in tribute to Brian Wilson, a quote from whom adorns the liner notes of the LP/CD.  Great for a chill-out set or a nice transition tune.

7.  Around the World Before delving into the meat of this masterpiece, I would like to clear something up once and for all:  I don’t care what people on Internet forums, Youtube or the idiots who put together that stupid piece of crap compilation “Discovered”, which allegedly contains all of the original tracks Daft Punk have sampled over the years (it doesn’t, BTW) have to say:

THERE ARE NO SAMPLES IN THIS TRACK AND THERE NEVER HAS BEEN.  NOTHING.  NO “REC ROOM” – JERRY GOLDSMITH SAMPLES, NO SAMPLES OF THE BASSLINE FROM CHIC’S “GOOD TIMES”,  NOT A THING.  STOP WASTING YOUR LIVES TRYING TO FIGURE IT OUT, JUST ENJOY THE TUNE AND REMEMBER, DAFT PUNK MAY SAMPLE FROM TIME TO TIME, BUT THEY ARE PERFECTLY CAPABLE OF PLAYING INSTRUMENTS AND RECORDING ORIGINAL SOUNDS.

Thank you for letting me put that out there, now down to business.  This has to be my favourite Daft Punk tune to play out live; it works to this day and sounds funkier and fresher than half the stuff sitting in your local music store’s electronic section.  Funky as anything you’ve ever heard and clearly influenced by the classic bassline from “Good Times”, this track sums up the best of what the boys can do and remains a centrepiece of the album.  Throw in a vocoded hook and everything in this tune is in absolute perfect sync.  The video, also my favourite from the boys, takes this concept one step further by having the robots, skeletons, mummies and dancers not only perform in sync, but each of the characters dance to the unique rhythm of the beat, bassline, keyboard riffs and vocals respectively.  Probably one of the best instances of choreography I can name, the video is a pure classic, just like the tune it is made for.  The track’s funky, futuristic disco sound can bring a smile to anyone’s face (I’ve heard dancers yell out “classic!” and “here we go..!” many, many times) and really gets the feet moving.  A masterpiece contained within a masterpiece if you will, this one never disappoints and there’s rarely a gig I play where this doesn’t get some air time.

7.  Rollin’ & Scratchin’ Originally released as the B-side of “Da Funk” on Soma Quality Recordings, this is a love it or hate it tune for a lot of fans.  It’s long, repetitive, hard, harsh-sounding techno and sounds like an intentional attempt to fuse all of the sounds that made up a “typical” sounding techno track at the time.  Nevertheless, I absolutely love mixing this in my harder sets and then taking the EQs and filters on my mixer and going completely nuts with them.  Peaking and dropping three times during its 7-plus minutes, it demonstrates that you really don’t need to layer a whole lot of sounds on top of one another to make a great track.  Bass, hi-hats, kick, and some synth stabs and you’re there.  In fact, this fell out of favour with a lot of ravers at the time because everyone was playing it.  Now, having had a chance to cool down a little, it’s a classic piece of hard-house/techno that I truly enjoy digging out.  Whether layered with an acapella over top or just played out by itself, this kicks the energy in a party way up and lets the crowd know the DJ has some balls.  It’s also been a big part of their lives shows, check out the video clip above to see what I mean.

Well, we’ve covered the first two sides of Homework, now we move on to the last two.  Keep checking back for our next installment of our review of this house masterpiece!