Classic House Series Episode #33 – Bottom Heavy – Danny Tenaglia

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.



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.

thekeytothehousemix 2012 – Mixed by DJ Shawn Austin

It’s been a great year here at thekeytothehouse so here’s my way of sending another big thank you and a little Christmas present to all of you!

This 75 minute DJ mix features many of the tracks that have been featured in my posts and reviews here on the site including:

Happy Days – P.J., Do You Know What I Mean? – Fresh Tunes #1, I’m In Love With You – B.K.S., Music Sounds Better With You – Stardust, Lovelee Dae – Blaze

I definitely wanted to give this one a classic feel, and I hope you enjoy the trip back in time including a simply incredible house re-edit of one of my all-time favourite tunes, “Why” – Carly Simon courtesy of Redondo, a duo to watch out for in 2013.  Please be sure to check out my Soundcloud page for the full track listing and more of my tunes and remixes.

I’d like to wish everyone who visits this page warmest wishes for a happy holiday season and a prosperous 2013!  Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from thekeytothehouse!

DJ Shawn Austin


Madonna is back with her twelfth studio album, MDNA and the first not to be associated with Warner Bros. records since 1982.  The question is always the same:  what is Madge bringing this time around and does a Madonna record still carry the same weight it used to?

The answer is, mostly, yes.  While it doesn’t resonate quite as well as Ray of Light or even Confessions on a Dancefloor, MDNA certainly works both as a decent Madonna album and as a piece of dance-pop fair.  Madonna isn’t stupid; she knows what her fans want and incorporates that into what she wants.  And she wants to dance again.

Serving as the album’s executive producer, Madge calls on some of the top names in dance music to bring the beats and the result is a much heavier sounding disc than Confessions, but laced with enough pop influences to give her some decent crossover appeal.  While her co-productions with tech-house superstar Benny Benassi (“Girl Gone Wild” and”I’m Addicted”) work well, it’s actually her work with Ray of Light collaborator William Orbit (“Gang Bang” and “Some Girls”) that stands out here, especially with the harder-edged beats and synth lines that Mr. Orbit drops all over these tracks.

Some of the tracks that should otherwise carry the record do fall a bit flat here, notably the lead single “Give Me All Your Luvin'” featuring hit-generating guest superstar Nicki Minaj and MIA, with rather silly chanting and guest rhymes that really don’t add much to the song at all.  And this seems to be the biggest hole in the album’s plot:  the lyrics are unabashedly clichéd and not very deep and meaningful at all.  That being said, it’s a Madonna record.  If you’re expecting something out of Bob Dylan’s notebook, head to that section of the store.  Madonna does what she does best, creating a good, uplifting party atmosphere and encouraging her legion of fans to head to the dancefloor one more time.

While there may not be any classics on here that will stand the test of time, MDNA is a disc that probably contains more bang for your buck than half the other albums on your local top 20 chart right now.  A must for the dedicated Madge-head, and possibly a pass for the casual fan, you’ll no doubt have the refrain from “Girl Gone Wild” in your head for a few days, but probably not six months down the road.  Check out the deluxe edition for a bonus disc including five extra tracks if you like, but the last thing I need to hear is anything labelled as a “Party Rock Remix.”


Please post your thoughts and comments about Madonna’s new disc below and let us know how you feel about it!