Classic Compilation Review – My House In Montmartre – Various Artists

My House In Montmartre

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!

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Classic House Series Episode #21 – T.I.T.T.S(Take It To The Street)/ Music Box – The Buffalo Bunch

Any Daft Punk fan worth their salt knows that beyond the scope of their studio albums and live shows Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo have forged their own successful solo projects through their labels Roule and Crydamoure respectively.

Thomas’ Roule label was arguably the more commercially successful of the two, particularly with the massive worldwide popularity of Music Sounds Better With You” – Stardust, and later releases featured Thomas’ collaborations with DJ Falcon under their Together alias.  Roule also released the debut single “Vertigo” by Alan Braxe and singles from house legends Roy Davis Jr. and Romanthony, who would provide vocals on “One More Time” and “Too Long” from DP’s Discovery album.

The Crydamoure sound was also built on the above formula but took an even more bare, stripped-back approach to production and focused on sampling (and microsampling) obscure R&B and disco loops, then drowning them in effects and filters.  The bulk of the Crydamoure catalogue comes directly from Guy-Man and label partner Eric Chedeville under their guise of Le Knight Club, together with collaborations and releases from DJ Sneak, Sedat the Turkish Avenger, and the Buffalo Bunch.

Consisting of Guy-Man’s brother Paul de Homem-Christo and Romain Seo, the Buffalo Bunch have the distinction of being the only artists to have a release of Roule’s sister label Scratche.  The single, “Buffalo Club” was well received but it wasn’t until the release of their double-single on Crydamoure that people really took notice.

The A-side, Take It To The Street, loops a portion of Leo Sayer’s “You Make Me Feel Like Dancing” over the hi-hat and cymbal heavy percussion the Bunch are known for.  Definitely a decent tune, but IMHO the real gem lies on the flip.

Music Box is an absolute cracker of a tune and was created by combining three different samples; “New York City” – Boney M. and “No, No, Joe” and “Thank You, Mr. DJ” both by Silver Connection.  The samples are delightfully obscure, but come together over some tough-as-nails beats to create a delightful disco house stomper.  Check out the video above to see how the sampling was done as this remains my favourite Crydamoure release and whips a crowd into a frenzy.

Classic House Series Episode #19 – The Ghetto – Bob Sinclar

1997-1999 were indeed golden years for French house and it wasn’t just Daft Punk that was making some waves at the time.  French DJ/Producer Chris Le Friant, better known by his alter-ego Bob Sinclar, released his debut studio album “Paradise” in 1998, a set of funky, filtered house jams that relied even more heavily on layered disco sampled than his fellow Frenchmen did.

Sinclar’s association with Thomas Bangalter led to the creation of “Gym Tonic”, a track mixed and programmed entirely by Bangalter, and later released as a promo single against Bangalter’s wishes(you can read about that debacle here).  Despite it’s popularity the single, in Toronto anyway, was difficult to find leading many DJs including myself to simply grab the full album on vinyl.  “Paradise” turned out to contain several club-worthy tracks, including a little gem, “The Ghetto“.

By combining elements from a live recording of soul legend Donny Hathaway‘s “The Ghetto” and George Benson’s classic “The World is a Ghetto“, Sinclar threw together a funky stomper of a tune that made my jaw drop when I first heard it at Toronto’s legendary Venus nightclub during our Saturday sessions.  Over the coming weeks, people would seem to lose their minds when the delirious piano loops came in and the track remains a favourite of mine to pull out every now and again.  Despite “Gym Tonic” getting most of the shine, this cut and the album as a whole are not to be overlooked and stand out as true French house classics.

Classic House Series Episode #13 – La Mouche(Played Alive by DJ Falcon Remix) – Cassius

France’s DJ Falcon is one of the more unique contributors to the French House scene; his discography includes but a handful of releases, but they include some of the most important and genre-defining tracks in house music.  From his critically acclaimed debut EP Hello My Name Is DJ Falcon on Thomas Bangalter‘s Roule label, to his collaborations with Bangalter under the alias Together (Together and So Much Love To Give), his output may not be huge, but just about everything he puts his name on turns to gold.

Cassius, consisting of Phillipe Zdar and Boombass, enjoyed similar success in the late 90’s with their debut album 1999 and singles Cassius 1999 and Feeling For You.  La Mouche was also released as a single and though it may not have been as popular as the others, an absolutely cracking remix courtesy of DJ Falcon led this track to become one of the most powerful French House tunes to hit the clubs in a long time.

Falcon mercilessly loops a sample of “The Rock Is Hot” by Crown Heights Affair and adds some pumping house beats to the mix.  The big moment comes a little after the 5 minute mark when the EQs are played with, dropping out everything except the bass which not only sounds great on a big system, but is sure to throw your crowd for a loop(no pun intended).  House music legend Joey Negro sampled Falcon’s remix for his own tune “Fascinated” in 2002 bringing some exposure back to the remix.

Featured on numerous compilations including the excellent French House compendium My House In Montmartrethis is a true gem of the genre and worthy of a spin at any time you want to take your crowd on a ride.

Classic House Series Episode #12 – Rock Shock – Roy Davis Jr.

Given the plethora of quality releases that came out of Thomas Bangalter‘s Roule label in the mid-90s, it’s easy to overlook the funky, filtered, stomping gem of a tune that Chicago house music legend Roy Davis Jr. released in 1998.  In fact, Rock Shock was the label release that immediately preceded Roule’s biggest success, Music Sounds Better With You.

Davis Jr. previously worked as an A&R scout at the revered Strictly Rhythm label and released the massively successful single “Gabriel” which was a worldwide club hit.  With Rock Shock, based around a sample of Claudio Simonetti‘s “I Love The Piano“, Roy drops a fantastic piece of futuristic funk complete with booming drums, a thick bass and some nice filtering on the sample.

Thomas himself takes over remix duties and his “Start-Stop Mix” take Davis’ original formula, stands it on its head and…..well, I’ll let you have a listen for yourself.  Bangalter’s blend of crisp beats, signature filters and some deft turntablism tricks makes for a stellar remix and both sides of the vinyl can literally rock the dancefloor at anytime of night.

This is definitely a great jam to drop if you want to take your crowd for a ride and remains an iconic release in the Roule catalog.