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Five Frankie Knuckles Tracks You Need To Know

The anthems that made house music what it is today.
April 1, 2014, 11:36pm

Today the world woke up to the tragic news that house music pioneer, Frankie Knuckles, had passed away. Barely a day out we're already witnessing an outpouring of memoriams and obituarties dedicated to the late producer and DJ whose marathon sets at Chicago clubs like the Warehouse and Power Plant catalyzed house music as a global phenomenon.

Many millenials like myself tuned in too late in history to understand the full extent of Frankie's influence on music and popular culture today. And while all of us live and breathe dance music, there are plenty of you out there who might be missing the man's finest releases from your iTunes catalogue. Without many of these iconic productions, the culture and lifestyle that we know and love simply would not exist. So as we take some time to celebrate Frankie's life, let's also take the time to listen to some of the tracks that made electronic music what it is today. We'll miss you Frankie.



The orginal production of "Your Love," penned by Frankie Knuckles and fellow Chicago producer Jamie Principle, will be engrained in the DNA of house music forever. First released as a demo in 1984, this track was first introduced to the people during Frankie's iconic marathon DJ sets at Chicago nightclubs like the Power Plant. The second edition of the track would be released in 1987 and appeared as a 12'' on the US label Trax Records, quickly catapulting the track into the annals of electronic music history.

"Your Love" would also be heavily sampled throughout the years, fueling the creation of another house music classic, "You Got the Love," by The Source featuring Candi Staton. In 2008, over twenty years later, rock outfit Florence and the Machine kickstarted their career with their epic ballad "You Got the Love," which you guessed it—took a great deal of inspiration from Frankie's earliest musical gem.


While orginally credited to another Chicago house music godfather, Marshall Jefferson, the track "Move Your Body" would never be what it is today if it was not presented, and eventually re-released by Frankie Knuckles in 1986 on Trax Records. Often reffered to as


house music anthem, it was the first song of the genre to include the use of piano, something which down the line would fuel the creation of the popular "piano house" wave of the early 90s. Interestingly enough, the historic reach of this beloved song continues to the present day as countless producers, like Detroit-born MK,


provide their take on the piano house sound



Starting off with a vocal of the Christian bedtime prayer "Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep," and ironically transitioning into some rather "R-rated" vocals and a rapid synth line, Frankie's 1987 track "Baby Wants To Ride" tells a late-night tale of that one thing that's always on our minds. Produced with Jamie Principle, iconic tracks like this can be credited for helping fuel the emerging Chicago ghetto house wave, which is infamous for it's NSFW vocal lines.


Regarded as one of Frankie's most beloved productions, "The Whistle Song" saw the producer storm into the 90s with a sensual whistle-sampled hook that would become engrained into the hearts and minds of listeners for countless years to come. Included on his debut album

Beyond the Mix,

and released on Virgin Records


the track would be his biggest hit to date and could be heard just about everywhere during the summer of 1991.


While Frankie Knuckles is more often regarded for his iconic original productions, he indeed had a career of tremendous, widely received remixes for artists from around many corners of the musical landscape. His more recent 2008 remix for DFA Records outfit, Hercules and Love Affair, which is fronted by New York-based DJ Andy Butler, is stuffed with joyful disco elements, and goes to show how much Frankie evolved during his three decade-long career.

For a crash course on the beat of the 90s, check out 10 Rave Classics That Took the Pop Charts.

David can't stop listening to The Whistle Song. @DLGarber