Have you heard of this thing called Apple Music? Apparently it's kind of a cool way to listen to tunes. We're teaming up with them to present a series of playlists celebrating the roots of electronic dance music. To kick things off, we're heading first to (where else?) Chicago, taking you back to the juice bars full of heads asking for that "warehouse music"—which was later simplified to "house."
From the early classics played at Muzik Box and Power Plant, up through Phuture's "Acid Trax" and "Coffee Pot (It's Time for the Percolator)," these are the songs that defined Chicago house from birth into the 90s.
Head over to Apple Music for the playlist, and read below for why these tracks matter. It's time to do your homework—in the dark.
Jesse Saunders – "On and On" [Jes Say Records 1984]
This is where it started: "On and On," one of the first proper house records that laid the groundwork for jacking 808 beats.
House Master Boyz – "House Nation" [Dance Mania 1986]
Long before Dance Mania sped the tempo up (and doled out instructions for your ass), Farley "Jackmaster" Funk of the Hot Mix 5 beat the shit out of a sampler for his debut on the label.
Frankie Knuckles – "Baby Wants To Ride" [Trax Records 1987]
On "Baby Wants to Ride," the godfather of Chicago house offers a transcendent house music experience padded by sultry moans of a young vocalist and songwriter from nearby, Jamie Principle.
Frankie Knuckles – "Your Love" [Trax Records 1987]
Knuckles changed everything with his first release on Trax Records. When the record was at its peak, even featured vocalist Jamie Principlecouldn't even get into the club.
Ten City – "Devotion" [Atlantic 1987]
If you've never wept hot, salty tears to this deep classic in a club at closing time, you haven't lived. This might be the ultimate dancefloor heartbreaker. Well, apart from Ten City's other all time classic, "That's the Way Love Is".
E.S.P. – "It's You" [Underground 1986]
Full of synth melodies and vocal hooks, E.S.P.'s "It's You" is provocative enough to remain a timeless Chicago classic.
Tyree – "Acid Over" [Underground 1987]
"I was kinda tired of listening to that 303 sound," said Tyree Cooper about the acid house sweeping Chicago at the time. He decided to put his own spin on things with "Acid Over." The elegant and jazzy piano mix is equally sublime.
Marshall Jefferson – "Move Your Body" [Trax Records 1986]
Has there ever been a more appropriate title for a house track then "Move Your Body"? Marshall Jefferson's classic trax cut from 1986 was a powerful call to the dancefloor during a time where clubs were sanctuaries of pure physical expression.
Phuture – "Acid Tracks" [Trax Records 1987]
This track isn't just a slice of classic acid house. It is acid house. Without Phuture's squelchy attack on the senses, the beloved sound might have never taken off in the way it did. Decades later, it's still getting rinsed to the same applause.
Mr. Fingers – "Can You Feel It" [Trax Records 1986]
Mechanical yet still totally soulful, "Can You Feel It?" is always a rhetorical question.
Steve "Silk" Hurley – "Jack Your Body" [Underground 1986]
Dances of all shapes and sizes were born from Chicago, especially the "jack," a move that owes much to Hurley's cheeky vocal hook on his 1986 release for Underground.
Lil Louis & The World – "French Kiss" [Diamond Records 1989]
Nearly ten minutes of full-on hedonistic bliss, starting with a pounding intro before segwaying into a punchy valley of drums and unfolding into a finale that's for the lack of a better word—orgasmic.
Frankie Knuckles & Satoshi Tomiie – "Tears" [Polygram Records 1989]
Still one of the most evocative house tracks ever made.
Robert Owens – "Bring Down the Walls" [Trax Records 1986]
Robert Owens has one of house music's most glorious voices, and "Bring Down the Walls" is proof.
Sleezy D. – "I've Lost Control" [Trax Records 1986]
Equally terrifying as it is tempting, "I've Lost Control" is a nearly ten-minute ride through manic laughs, demonic growls, and dark, nervous beats.
Adonis – "No Way Back" [Trax Records 1986]
Adonis' Chicago hit exemplifies the moment on the dancefloor when you know you're in too deep, and have to accept your sonic abduction.
Cajmere – "Percolator" [Cajual Records 1992]
Cajmere's ground-breaking track for his own label, Cajual, actually isn't about brewing coffee—though there is some "grinding" involved. "Percolator" was so massive, it inspired its own dance routine.
Frankie Knuckles – "The Whistle Song" [Virgin Records 1991]
While always upbeat enough to tear apart any nightclub, Knuckles' tracks are loved because of thee heart-tugging soulfulness written into their DNA. Those flutes are simply… glorious.
DJ Wax Master Maurice – "Foot Work 'Let Me See'" [Dance Mania 1996]
Wax Master Maurice has a message banging at the forefront of a powerful sound. Teetering on the edge of where consistency meets chaos, "Footwork" is equivalent to a hefty injection of adrenaline.
Armando – "100% of Dissin' You" [Warehouse Records 1988]
Coming up during the proper development of acid house, Armando's repetitive, looped samples feature his sound engineering prowess.