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.

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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.

 

15 years of Discovery

15 years ago this weekend, Daft Punk released their 2nd full-length studio album Discovery on the world and the world has never really been the same since, the dance music world anyway.

After transforming dance/house/electronic music as we know it with their landmark debut LP Homework, many fans were expecting a sequel of sorts for their sophomore release.  When the first single “One More Time” was released approximately three months before the album, it became one of the most instantly polarizing records in dance music history.  Purists were stunned by the duos foray into the world of Auto-Tune and the overall “commercialized” feel of the single.  Others thought the move to be quite brilliant, and look to it as the moment when Daft Punk truly crossed over from an underground house act to a mainstream phenomenon.  Let’s not forget that this is the record where they introduced us to their now standard robot helmet guises.

With the release of Discovery, fans now had a full-length concept album to embrace, which also served as the soundtrack to the accompanying anime film Interstella 5555:  The 5storu of the 5ecret 5tar 5ystem produced by Daft Punk and legendary Japanese animator Leiji Matsumoto.  The duo spent about 2.5 years recording and developing the album and it certainly sounds like it.  To this day, I believe it is the slickest sounding purely electronic album that has ever been produced.  Every note, transition, nuance and sound is EXACTLY where it’s supposed to be with a beautiful sheen that makes the metallic font used for the album cover ever more appropriate.  Beyond the tracks released as singles, the album has wonderful moments of, yes, DISCOVERY, including “High Life”, one of my favourite DP tunes, “Voyager” and even the tongue-in-cheek 10-minute long closing track “Too Long”.  The list of guest performers is relatively short when compared to those featured on their collaboration-heavy fourth album Random Access Memories, but if that list is comprised of house legends Romanthony, Todd Edwards and DJ Sneak, clearly something is being done correctly.

Sampling made up a huge part of the record and I will not go into what was officially cleared and what was not; you may debate that among yourselves and, if necessary, use that rubbish Discovered bootleg disc which allegedly contains all the samples used.  Half of them are wrong anyway, and include tracks thought to be sampled on Homework and Human After All.  The point is, rather than simply looping samples and adding a beat to it (which they both did to great effect on their Roule and Crydamoure labels and releases), they ADDED and built songs around the samples putting their own brilliant touch to each.  They have stated themselves that this was meant to be a FUN record, paying homage to the sounds and musical styles they most closely identified with in their youth.  Indeed, it is difficult to find a moment on the album that can be described as introspective or deep and that’s fine.  What we have are 14 tunes that blend together to create a timeless listening experience and considering the lasting impact the songs have had, this may very well be the duos most instantly recognizable release.  “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger” was employed to great effect in Kanye West’s “Stronger“, 6 years after its original release.  I personally can attest that “One More Time” is my most played Daft Punk song as a DJ.  Countless television and radio programs have used excerpts of the albums tracks as bumper or background music.

I won’t bother with a track-by-track review of this magnificent album.  Instead, check out the video above so you can rediscover the beauty of this important, genre-bending and ultimately satisfying release for yourself.  ONE MORE TIME.

The Greatest Club Record Ever Made

For some it’s “Blue Monday” – New Order.  For others it’s “I Feel Love” – Donna Summer.  Everyone has their favourite, the one, the ultimate club track for life that will never lose its magic no matter what.

For me that track happens to be “Music Sounds Better With You” – Stardust.

Here’s a record that landed upon this planet like a nuclear bomb.  Its impact has been seen through countless imitators, but no one, NO ONE, has even come close to replicating the sound created by members Thomas Bangalter, Alan Braxe, and vocalist Benjamin Diamond.

I clearly remember the weekend it descended on Toronto.  I was watching the Electric Circus (this should bring back some good/bad memories for fans of dance music in Toronto) broadcast live from Canada’s Wonderland and the guest DJ for the show was none other than Chicago/Toronto house legend DJ Sneak, whose strong ties to Bangalter and the whole Daft Punk crew came through loud and clear during his set.  He simply played one record for his entire time on air:  Music Sounds Better With You.

I knew the record was something truly unique and special as soon as I heard it.  The formula was simple enough:  a pounding 4-4 kick drum, a disco loop and a very catchy vocal hook.  I won’t lie, I LOVE DISCO HOUSE and the fact that this was the only record Sneak played for his live set told me this was something I’d better add to my collection in a hurry.  Never mind the fact that I heard it AGAIN that night on the radio while moving my mom’s car.

The next day, I promptly made my way down to Toronto DJ institution Play De Record not even knowing the proper title of the track nor the artist.  Clearly, Eugene Tam and crew had been tipped off about this one(no surprises there) as a batch of 12″ vinyls bearing the iconic Roulé label and the simple title “Music Sounds Better With You” – Stardust were displayed very prominently upon my arrival.  As I was examining this somewhat vague single-sided pressing, the remaining copies were scooped up and paid for by about 6 other DJs who clearly had had a similar experience to mine.  I have never seen anything like that at any record store since, so I promptly paid for mine (the $14.99 import price being well worth it) and headed home to give this tune a proper spin on my home system.

My 12″ copy is now so worn from beating the hell out of it over a period of many years that you can hear the wear from cuing when you first put it on.  But back then, the first thing that hit me was the absolute THROB of a bassline that Bangalter and Braxe laid overtop of the sample (I’ll get to that in a minute) and how the arrangement was so simple, yet so very, very effective.  You could sing it, it was easy to groove to and Ben Diamond’s vocal hook stayed in my head for the rest of the weekend.  I spent that time mixing it into essentially every other house tune I had at the time, and MSBWY stuck out like a sore thumb for just how incredibly GOOD it was.

How the record came into being is a unique story unto itself.   The song was conceived in Rex Club, Paris, where the trio were playing a live set. If anyone out there has audio or video footage of this landmark event, please let me know!  Bangalter and Braxe created the instrumental, which Diamond instinctively sang the title words over. The next day they laid down the track in the studio, adding the sample of Chaka Khan’s “Fate”(explained in the video above). The group then wisely handed mastering duties over to Nilesh “Nilz” Patel at the Exchange in London.  RIP, our friend in house music.

The demand for the single, only available on 12″ initially, was so great that there were literally people lined up at the ferry docks in England waiting with cash in hand to buy copies as soon as they arrived from France.  The tune would eventually sell over 1 MILLION COPIES ON VINYL (let’s see that happen today) and let’s not forget the success it had with the CD single version (first disc in my CD wallet, every time).   I even went out and tracked down the Chaka Khan album the sample came from, What’cha Gonna Do For Me.  Great album, BTW.

The single spawned a host of imitators who essentially copied Stardust’s formula of house groove+disco sample+vocals(live or sampled).  Phats & Small had a hit with “Turn Around” as did Armand Van Helden feat. Duane Harden with “U Don’t Know Me”.  NOTHING, however, has ever come close to the magic of the original.  Countless bootlegs have surfaced, my favourite being the mash-up with Madonna’s “Holiday” by the Stuntmasters (played out many times by Bangalter himself), but the original, I’ve discovered, can work on so many levels with just about any kind of crowd that there really isn’t a reason not to play it to this day.

So whatever happened to Stardust?  Thomas Bangalter carried on his ingenious production methods with Daft Punk after turning down a reported $3 million deal to deliver a full Stardust album, stating he couldn’t possibly top MSBWY.  Alan Braxe came into his own as a producer and formed a successful collaboration with fellow Frenchman Fred Falke to deliver some of the best original productions and remixes that truly helped define the “French Touch” sound.  Benjamin Diamond release a solo album, Strange Attitude and was briefly a member of the short-live group We In Music.

What are your thoughts on this epic tune?  Please post your thoughts and comments below and let’s hear what you have to say about this timeless piece of house music.