Classik Trax of the ’80’s


Barbryn mentioned in a comment during his ’88 ‘spill years post:

I’m not at all a dance music expert, and could be wrong, but my impression is that the acid house scene didn’t leave behind many records that you’d want to listen to if you weren’t off your face at a rave. But it did cross-fertilise with indie to give us the Stone Roses, Happy Mondays and so on, and came into full flower a few years later when DJs and dance acts became superstars (as Fuel alluded to in last week’s thread).

So I thought I’d sling together a playlist because the rise of acid / house / techno music and it’s euphoric beats is to me just the equivalent of someone sitting in a field and getting emotionally involved in the intricacies of a ’60’s guitar/sitar/drum wig out …. you can experience it in that field on drugs or analyse and enjoy it on a record player without added stimulants. Acid House, Techno, Hip Hop that sampled dance/disco beats and using it as a backing, are just as listenable and simply the same thing as an extended guitar solo or drum workout… it’s your personal preference as to what you will drive to, work to,  relax to, or jump up and down to .. my children are as happy listening early 80’s electro, Congotronics, 2tone or The Velvet Underground, they will obviously listen to unimaginative crap when they teenagers – but good on them for that – I hope its too cool for the authorities/adults.

The reactionary idea of acid being all unlistenable bleeps and repetitive soulless machine made music isn’t actually true – there is shock of the new in ’80’s acid – Mantronics and Phuture give us a taste of that – but the soul in 808 State or some of the first chill out in Sueño Latino is stunningly beautiful.

At a rave the tracks are mixed with extended beats – like a guitarist re-working and flamboyantly extending their solo – the beats might be rewound (returning to a particular part of the track that gets a reaction from the dancing masses) – and breaks added for effect where the record doesn’t possess one – it’s the DJ playing the crowd, to tease and create that euphoria.

The original tracks, unique, beautiful, euphoric in the own way, revolutionary in another – yet strangely just a track in the same sense as music has always been, it hits the spot, bring memories flooding back and will be played by some of us until the strings of life fade out. I’ve selected these so it makes the playlist interestingly listenable (if you can cope with this sort of thing) – the date line is ’79’s Dan Hartman showing the disco influence all the way through the decade to 1989 – if I continued into the ’90’s you’d hear musicians taking these ideas far beyond the structures of an acid track – our ears had become attuned so they could push it farther – LFO, The Apex Twin, etc pushed Detroit Techno, electro, and disco to it’s boundaries – but we were used to it by then because the pioneers had given us the gateway recordings.

A selection:

Sterling Void – Runaway Girl 1989

Young MC – Know How 1989

The Stone Roses – Fools Gold 9.53 1989

Mantronix – King Of The Beats 1988

Dan Hartman (feat. Loleatta Holloway) – Vertigo / Relight My Fire 1979

Nitro Deluxe – This Brutal House ( US Version ) 1987

Keep On Movin’ – Soul II Soul 1989

808 State – Pacific State (Original Extended Version) 1989

Stetsasonic – Talkin all that jazz 1988

Kariya – Let Me Love You For Tonight (Original House Club 12″ Mix )1988


Hashim – Al Naafiysh (The Soul) 1983

Sueño Latino (The Latin Dream Mix) 1989

Lil Louis ‎– French Kiss (Original 12″ Mix) 1989

A Guy Called Gerald – Voodoo Ray 1988 Frankie Knuckles – Your Love 1989

The Source – You Got the Love – (Love / Rock) Original Bootleg 1989

Phuture – Acid Tracks (1987)

Inner City – Good Life (Mayday Club Mix) 1988

Mr Fingers – Can You Feel It (Trax Records 1986)

Rhythm Is Rhythm – Strings Of Life – Original Piano Mix 1988

The Nightwriters – Let The Music (Use You) (Club Mix) 1988

Joe Smooth featuring Anthony Thomas – The Promised Land (Underground Mix) 1987

Ce Ce Rogers Someday (Club Mix) 1988

Eric B & Rakim – Paid In Full (Seven Minutes of Madness – The Coldcut Remix)  1987

38 thoughts on “Classik Trax of the ’80’s

  1. I listened to about the first third of that, will have to get back to the rest tomorrow. I of course know and love Fool’s Gold, and I knew Soul II Soul. Also liked Young MC and Mantronix, and then will take a pass on the rest through 808 State – that’s the type that has me running away screaming. So from this small sample so far – i think i hang towards the psych and R&B / soul / hip hop flavored ends of it, and away from the more disco ends. Which is no big surprise.

    Dn Hartman usually sends me packing too, save for an odd interlude as a member of the Edgar Winter Band. No idea how they made that work, but somehow it did.

    • I love the use of Shaft on Young MC, that then goes on to inspire Fool’s Gold … anyway the Hartman is interesting – it’s the same idea as I’d rather stuff hedgehogs in my ears rather than listen to Mariah Carey, but in the 90’s you’s find me bouncing about to:

      it’s the amazing way that a a club track can change the whole feel of a singer or track… (it won’t be your thing)..
      Shaft is amazing
      Fool’s Gold is amazing
      Know How is amazing.
      All do their own thing in a perfect manner.
      But I’d argue that The Stone Roses where a Byrds tribute band (and they wanted to be that) the dance crossover wasn’t really their creation.
      In the same way The Happy Mondays were just a second rate indie band with an interesting couple of chancers at the helm – until they were re-programmed by producers and E’s.
      But the Monday’s embraced 1989 the Stone Roses still wanted to be in 1967.

      If I did you a dance collection from the 90’s it would be far more brutal – but I STILL put the records on and find them a fine legacy of the era.

      • Which is of course why i love the Stone Roses. But i like the Mondays too – there’s a funk base to the bass, and they set up a nice groove. I also happen to love Mr. Ryder’s voice and accent – not to mention the rude and snotty lyrics. It’s not like i can’t see myself here –

        I like a small bit of Mariah meself – and a singer can change the whole feel of a club track –

    • It’s funny because whatever I think of our (small) club nights I remember starting the night with Sisters of Mercy and ending them with bauhaus – no matter what the event was supposed to be – It was then ace when in the 2000’s Dave Clark and Chicks on Speed caught up with us and Techno(ed) She’s in Parties:

      • I hadn’t seen that before, cool! I went to a nigthclub by the sea near Newquay which always ended the night with Echo Beach by Martha and the Muffins, good mix of memories.

  2. In the spirit of temporal and experiential equivalence – and to salute a now extinct phenomenon – I’ll throw this in:

    What did the acid house raver say when the drugs wore off?
    – Man, this music sucks!

    A big smiley face from me, shane. I will listen later and pass your words through what remains of my logic and emotion circuits.

    • I first heard that joke from Punks my brothers age, but it went:
      What did the hippy at Woodstock say when the drugs wore off?
      had a very similar punchline.

      I’m not in any way trying to change anyones opinion – it is just an era thing – but it does have that same emotional pull – just because of my age (for instance) Joy Division had already ended – but New Order released Blue Monday – I still have the original release in one of the early sleeves from when I was 12 – the build up of the track has that intensity, a pure joy that you gain from the Grateful Dead. I like a lot of Joy Div tracks, but I love more by New Order… and I do drift off when music before my time goes on a meander… because I don’t have that instant pull.
      Now, I can stop myself and intellectually analyse the quality (otherwise I would not be able to appreciate classic tracks for instance) but the idea was from barbryns comment and a reaction of why wouldn’t it leave behind as many records as any other type of music from any era – off your face or not.
      Nothing against B’s comment by the way – looking from the outside it’s as easy an assumption as the normal British/ Punk era dismissal of The Dead as going on a bit.

    • It’s originally Deadhead joke No.1 (‘What did the deadhead say…’), shane, seen in the comments of virtually every piece about them. Even Family Guy cracked it.
      I was trying to build bridges….

      In fact, there are plenty of connections twixt the eras: the SF acid scene was centred around communal dancing, not nodding your head quietly in a corner.

      • I agree completely – even the term rave had that ’60’s happening thing going on – I do struggle with writing and how people come across on web sites – I always try and imagine things being said.
        I’ve never had a problem with anything you write so no bridges need building (unless that was a musical joke!) … the rave scene had a vast amount of acid involved in it too, because originally E’s were hard to come by – then once they were easy to find they were mostly speed based and ruined the whole thing… again there’s similarities.
        Not that it was particularly my thing (the good stuff was good) but I’m happy with a well brewed European lager – I’d be the one drifting off in a corner from passive doping because I begin the day so laid back an ex once pointed out that the coroner kept sniffing ’round.

      • As if to prove me right, someone has posted Deadhead joke No.1 in the comments under the Graun’s piece about the FTW concerts….. Typically, he prefaces it with ‘I’m not a fan but…’

        I have to confess, a couple of spliffs would have improved the music last night though. 😉

    • “What did the acid house raver say when the drugs wore off?
      – Man, this music sucks!”

      A mate of mine (Mohican, tattoos, 100s of studs with a leather jacket underneath somewhere, had been into it since 1982) once came up to me at a gig and said “I’m sober tonight and I’ve just realised I can’t stand punk”

      • When punk started the drugs were so much better. But then Evo- Stik was soon cheapened until you where just rummaging around for any old Woolworth’s own brand glue to sniff.

  3. Hmmmm. Trying to listen on headphones while my son has an English lesson is not going to work. I can see the attraction of a rave, and had I been born later, might well have participated in a few, but as it is, if I start dancing about it frightens the dog. I shall try again later!

      • It was exactly a year ago this past weekend me and two of my best friends watched Shaun William Ryder and Bez do their thing in a Park in Coventry – the photo we took had the 3 of us looking worse than those two reprobates – trouble was, we were that bad on a few pints nowadays (there might have been a huge jug of punch consumed as well for old times), leaving my best friends teenage daughter to point us in the right direction to where we we staying!


      • Let’s just say that the only dancing i’m conciously willing to do in public is maybe a slow dance with someone in low light on a fairly crowded floor. And not to Color My World either. (That might be an American thing for those of us of a certain age though.) Alone at home though, anything goes, just so there are no mirrors in sight.

  4. Brilliant stuff – some I know,but most I don’t.

    Got about halfway through, but the night has got the better of me…will listen to the second half tomorrow.

    My first impression is that most tracks sound ‘classic’ rather than ‘dated’ in that they were obviously made at a certain point in time, but they still sound relevant today and well…kind of normal in a good way….hmmm, I don’t think I explained that very well, must be time for bed!

  5. Absolute rubbish

    Everyone knows that the top 25 1980’s House tracks should be:

    2 Guys On Acid – House Music
    Maurice – This Is Acid
    Jaime Principle – Baby Wants to Ride
    Inner City – Good Life
    Farley Jackmaster Funk – Love Can’t Turn Around
    Sterling Void – It’s Alright
    DJ Pierre – Box Energy
    Steve “Silk” Hurley – Jack Your Body
    Adonis – No Way
    Bam Bam – Where’s Your Child?
    Mr Fingers – Acid Attack
    808 State – Pacific State
    KLF – What Time Is Love?
    Marshall Jefferson Presents Truth – Open Our Eyes
    Coldcut – People Hold On
    Fingers Inc. – Mystery of Love (Dub Version)
    LNR – Work It To The Bone
    Raze – Break For Love
    Kechia Jenkins – I Need Somebody
    Frankie Knuckles Presents Satoshi Tomiie – Tears
    Richie (The Remix Of Richie Richie’s Salsa House featuring Ralphi Rosario – You Used To Salsa
    Liaz – House Sensation
    M/A/R/R/S – Pump Up The Volume
    Humanoid – Stakker Humanoid
    D Mob – We Call It Acieed!
    Trigger Finger & The Space Cadets Featuring Gina G – Defend It U (Video Freak)
    Art of Noise…

    I’ll make a playlist later. Until then back to the arcade bleeps of 1982

  6. Gah! Just remembered one of my all time faves: Joe Smooth – Promised Land and Candi Staton – You Got the Love (Oooh the minimal vocal version!). “Sometimes I feel just like throwing my hands up in the air”

  7. I’m on holiday this week with fairly dodgy internet (and no drugs) so not going to have the chance to listen, but will try to when I’m back. Love “Fool’s Gold” and “You’ve Got The Love”, and recognise a few names here, but not much I know.

    As I hope was clear from my original comment, I’m pretty ignorant about this era. I guess the point I was making was that, while I could name you the key artists and tracks from a lot of musical scenes (whether I like them or not), I can’t really do that for acid house. While it’s an integral part of the pop culture narrative, it’s not become part of the official popular music canon (I’ll stop now before I turn into Paul Morley).

    • I liked your comment barbryn – it gave me a thoughtful few days wondering if for instance I could name the best tracks of the Punk era or the top Prog – and it comes down to the same thing – I couldn’t except the obvious – but a true fan would laugh at my ‘sold out’ suggestions and real off a list of far better examples of the genre – it’s why this place is great, because people do discuss and learn outside of their selected knowledge (we won’t become superfans – but we will discuss ideas).. I do get your idea that it’s even difficult to pin down the big players, but that could end up as just naming DJ’s as The Streets did.

      The names that are easily conjured up are the crossover ‘bands’ that began at the end of the ’80 start of the 90’s so – Prodigy, Chemical Bros, Faithless, Fatboy Slim are easy to cite – the ‘bands that had dance thrust upon them when Andrew Weatherall or Paul Oakenfold took their typical indie ‘improved’ it – Roses/Primal Scream/Mondays are also easy to remember.
      But Acid/Rave to me is the equivalent of the Pebbles collection of one off 60’s garage tracks or Trojan crate digging for rocksteady – punk compilations of singles made and pressed for £100 of saved up dole money.
      For every Mantronix (Mantronix is a big name in the genre – if you are into that sort of thing; taught the Chemical Brothers everything they wanted to know about big beat!!!) so for every Mantronix there’s a kid doing it themselves – and doing it cheaply and sounding brilliant and releasing that on a 12″ and getting superstar DJ’s waxing lyrical about their track. A proper punk/garage band ethic.

      • Mantronix’s Got to Have Your Love is a fave single of mine. Still got the 7″ somewhere. (Just found it next to the Mixmasters’ Grand Piano. I don’t know if that is great or cheese or great cheese.)

        That’s a great observation about the diff between true fans and those who dabble.

        I love compilations because I’m very much a dilettante and because my taste is varied and I like collecting stuff that I can’t afford to buy as standalone pieces. Recently I got hold of MoH’s Old Skool cos I wanted Stakker Humanoid, I’ll House You and Valley of the Shadows and decent copies of other well-known tunes (cost 5€) but there are a fair few tunes that I don’t recall at all. It sits nicely against my old ffrr Silver on Black/Classics comps.

        My fave comp is a tape that someone made for me back in ’89:

        2 Guys on Acid – House Music (All Night Long)
        Corporation of One – Real Life (A mix of Simple Minds Theme for Great Cities and a line or two from Bohemian Rhapsody!)
        OrangeLemon – Dream of St. Anne
        S.L.F. – Show Me What You Got
        Kechia Jenkins – I need Somebody
        Hashim – Al Naafiysh (the soul)
        808 State – Let Yourself Go
        Liaz – House Sensation
        Maurice – This Is Acid
        Sterling Void – It’s Alright
        Mr. Fingers – Can U Feel It
        Beat Club – Security
        LNR – Work It to the Bone
        Stetsasonic – Talkin’ All That Jazz

        Wish I could remember who made it for me. I probably swapped it for a baggy/Madchester/indie tape.

      • I look at my compilation tapes of the era and love the fact that they are so varied.
        The other thing I did because I couldn’t afford or find the tracks I wanted was buy Ministry/mixmag/Musik/Jocky Slut magazines and you got to understand which reviewers had a similar taste (first found a certain original RR boss Dorian Lynskey in those pages).. but even that was expensive – thankfully the 2nd hand CD/record/video shop next door to my flat – didn’t like selling on cover mount CD’s – so he collected them for me “can’t sell this shit – it’s not music”

        I also liked the 2manyDJs style mix-up – Liam Howlett’s Dirtchamber Sessions and DJ Andy Smith’s the Document – stuff like that

        Old Skool comp sound ace… and that comp tape too.

      • I have all but OrangeLemon on various comps and other stuff – let me see if i can send them to you and you can recreate the tape in glorious MP3! (might not be the same era mixes though) … back later if I can work it out.

  8. saneshane: sorry if I just deleted a reply you made to me, the postman knocked and I pressed some random buttons putting the laptop down!

  9. I’ve just listened to (most of) the first 10 tracks. I tried to keep my ears and mind open, but I really don’t believe I could analyse and enjoy them on a record player without – or even with – added stimulants. I’ve always liked Fool’s Gold, and some of the sounds in other tracks (e.g. Soul II Soul) hit a few spots, but it’s the insistent 4/4 beat that turns me off. It feels like an instruction to dance in a particular way which, en masse in a field/club/etc, makes some sense and must create a communal vibe, a wave for everyone to surf on. In a single space, that rhythm just becomes dumb and annoying (to me), particularly not having the memory of the communal experience to draw on.

    There are some clever bits of mixing and sampling in several tracks – but Stetsasonic’s justification for what they do is logical and musical bollox. Sorry, I just don’t buy it: James Brown’s original music has spontaneity and nuance, both melodically and rhthmically; his lyrics have musicality and emotion. ‘Talkin all that jazz’ has all the subtlety and nuance removed in its flat vocals and an attempt at depth and sophistication added by the whiff of ‘jazz’ in the backing track. Pumped-up shadows claiming equal status with the three-dimensional world from which they derive.

    Sorry, I didn’t mean to go off on a rap rap. I meant to stay calm and objective.

    To each, his or her own, of course. But I need my dance music with a little more freedom and variety in it before I can listen for any length of time. Or dance, for that matter. For example:

    • No worries Chris – I would analyse that track (I did, but it sounded arsey written down, when it’s only personal preference after all , so I scraped it) – it would only go to show we are not going to sing from the same hymn sheet or even read the bumps of the turtle shell similarly on our appreciations here.

      We can stick with Throwing Muses, Pavement, PJ Harvey, and the odd other as crossover artists we both admire.

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