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Todd Edwards Still Gets Goosebumps Thinking About Masters At Work's "I Can't Get No Sleep"

It's the turn of garage legend Edwards to tell us about the tune that full-on busts his ticker.
September 8, 2014, 9:22pm

In the Heartbreakers series, we look at the dance floor tearjerkers that make your night special, whether that's at the height of your high or the plateau. Electronic music has the power to break hearts and this is an appreciation of those songs. This week we ask Todd Edwards, fresh from his set at Fabric, about the song that make him cry.

The song that had the most emotional impact on me was Masters At Work feat. India "I Can't Get No Sleep."

I remember hearing the track on a cassette tape that I recorded one Saturday night in 1993 from the radio. It was a set by Glenn Friscia, one of the main DJs I would listen to for new house music. His sets were broadcasted from wherever he was playing on a Saturday night. You see kids, before Soundcloud and blogs, the main way people would hear new music before its release was at a club or on a weekend radio show. I still have about 100 cassettes that I'm holding on to that I recorded from the early '90s.

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So, I'm listening to this cassette and I hear these deep soulful chords as the track is being mixed in. "Therefore I need your sweet, sweet love…" is being sung over and over. It was India, a house music staple in the '90s. This gorgeous, soulful, and intense voice was singular among the many other singers in the industry at the time. The production of the song was so clearly Masters At Work with those distinct chords played by Little Louie Vega and drum programming by Kenny "Dope" Gonzalez, whose style still boggles my mind and continues to be a source of inspiration.

What made this song so distinct aside from these three major house music icons was the transition in the middle of the song. The lyrics were free-flowing and with a little rhyme but not too constrictive. They almost had an improvised feel to them that stuck in your head, not to mention India has such a great vocal range and strength, especially when it comes to high notes. In the middle of the song, India sings "You're the one I'm thinking of" holding the last note. She starts out low and slides up to the pinnacle high note that announces the transition from the permeating darker chords to a more uplifting crescendo. The drums cut out as India begins a jazz scat. The drums and a new bassline kick in. The only thing I was thinking at this point was what's the name of this song and when does it get released?

About a couple months later, I was at the Sound Factory Bar on a Wednesday night and Little Louie was spinning. It was there that I heard the track for the first time in a club, but it was a new version with a powerful new drum intro and a saxophone line that would soon come to trigger cheers from an audience whenever they heard it. However, the climax for me was the Wednesday night before Thanksgiving at the same club when India performed the song live. Wednesday nights at The Sound Factory attracted an audience that wanted to hear great music and dance; it wasn't a party for the sake of partying - it was a celebration. Besides the typical crowd, producers and DJs would also frequent the night because Little Louie, being an amazing DJ, always playing an inspiring set filled with new and unreleased tracks from the best producers of the time. It was the only place I went consistently for inspiration. You can imagine the energy the crowd felt in this packed club the night before Thanksgiving when India came out onstage.

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People were singing along and dancing to this live performance debut, but it was at that one moment, when India hit that transitional high note, "You're the one I'm thinking of…," that an overwhelmed audience cheered and yelled at the top of their lungs joining in to hit that high note with her. My friend and I looked at each other with a smile and an acknowledgement that this was one of the best moments in our early club-going lives. I still get goose bumps thinking about it.

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More in the Heartbreakers series:

Tiga On The Dance Track That Gets Him All Misty-Eyed

Rave Legend Mark Archer On Why Frankie Knuckles Reduces Him To Tears