CAN YOU JACK? CHICAGO HOUSE AND EXPERIMENTAL HOUSE 1985-1995.

CAN YOU JACK? CHICAGO HOUSE AND EXPERIMENTAL HOUSE 1985-1995.

Hot on the heels of Soul Jazz Records recent critically acclaimed compilation of Acid House and Chicago House, Acid-Mysteron Invade The Jackin’ Zone: Chicago Acid and Experimental House 1986-93, Can You Jack?Chicago House and Experimental House 1985-1995 will be released on 29th April 2013. However, Can You Jack?Chicago House and Experimental House 1985-1995 isn’t a new compilation. Not at all. It was originally released way back in 2005. Now seven years later, just as the Chicago House is about to celebrate its thirtieth anniversary, Soul Jazz Records have decided to rerelease Can You Jack?Chicago House and Experimental House 1985-1995. That’s no bad thing though.

With Chicago House about to celebrate its thirtieth anniversary, there will be numerous compilation released to celebrate house’s descent into middle age. As usual, these compilations will range from the good, the bad to the downright ugly. There will be lovingly compiled compilations right through to cynical cash-ins designed to separate the music lover from their money. To save you wasting your money, I’m going to separate the wheat from the chaff, when it comes to Chicago House. This will allow you to choose the best compilations as they’re released. The last Chicago House compilation I released was Acid-Mysteron Invade The Jackin’ Zone: Chicago Acid and Experimental House 1986-93.

Having recently reviewed Acid-Mysteron Invade The Jackin’ Zone: Chicago Acid and Experimental House 1986-93, I’d suggest that it’s top of your shopping list when it comes to Chicago House compilations. However, you’ll need more than one compilation to get a flavor of what made Chicago House and Acid House such influential musical genres. A possible companion to Acid-Mysteron Invade The Jackin’ Zone: Chicago Acid and Experimental House 1986-93 is Can You Jack?Chicago House and Experimental House 1985-1995. It’s compiled by Soul Jazz Records, who compiled the excellent Acid-Mysteron Invade The Jackin’ Zone: Chicago Acid and Experimental House 1986-93. Will Can You Jack? Chicago House and Experimental House 1985-1995 make a fitting companion to Acid-Mysteron Invade The Jackin’ Zone: Chicago Acid and Experimental House 1986-93? That’s what I’ll now tell you.

DISC ONE.

Looking through the track-listing of Disc One of Can You Jack? Chicago House and Experimental House 1985-1995, it’s certainly not short of Chicago House legends. There are eight full-length tracks from some of the pioneers of Chicago House. This includes contributions from Sweat Boyz, Virgo, Mr. Fingers, Phuture and Roy Davis. There are also contributions from Maurice, Tyree and Fresh.

Interestingly, the Can You Jack? Chicago House and Experimental House 1985-1995, covers a ten-year period. However, unquestionably, the golden years of Chicago House and Acid House were between 1985 and 1989. So maybe, the compiler would’ve been better concentrating on music released during that period. Conversely, if the compiler had concentrated on just that four-year period, then they’d have missed out on some pioneering and groundbreaking music, which I’ll pick the highlights of.

Little did Maurice Joshua realize when he released This Is Acid as Maurice in 1989, that he’d just released a hypnotic house classic. Released on Vendetta Records, Maurice wrote and produced This Is Acid. It’s now perceived as an anthemic house classic, that twenty-four years later, still fills dance-floors worldwide.

One of the most influential figures in the development of Chicago House was Marshall Jefferson. He was there at the dawn of a new musical era. Originally, he was a DJ, who became a producer and remixer. Using a variety of aliases, including Virgo, he released numerous singles, E.P.s and albums. Many of them were groundbreaking and innovative, which influenced a new generation of producers. This includes Go Wild Rythm Trax No. 3, from the album Go Wild Rhythm Trax, released on Other SIde Records. This demonstrates just how innovative and inventive a producer Virgo was.

Larry Heard was one of the pioneers of the Chicago House scene. As Mr. Fingers, he released countless house classics. Beyond The Clouds was a track from Mr. Fingers’ 1986 E.P. It was released on the legendary Trax Records. The other two tracks on the E.P. were Washing Machine and Can You Feel It. Each of the three tracks were written and produced by Larry Heard, and featured on his 1989 album Amnesia. The quality of these tracks are testament to a producer who deservedly, can be referred to as a pioneer and innovator. Mr. Fingers’ music would influence further generations of producers.

Roy Davis’ Acid Bass is my final choice from Disc One of Can You Jack? Chicago House and Experimental House 1985-1995. Just like Marshall Jefferson, Roy was a DJ and producer, who was part of the second generation of Chicago House producers. His career started in 1992, when he released Learn To Live. Although Acid Bass was released in 1995 on The Wild E.P. Part 2, it has a real old school sound. Thunderous drums, crashing cymbals and squelchy synths take you on a trip back to 1985.

Each of the four tracks I’ve mentioned from Disc One of Can You Jack? Chicago House and Experimental House 1985-1995 are representative of the quality of music.  Quite simply, there are no poor tracks. Each track is a classic slice of Chicago House. I could just as easily have picked any of the eight tracks. Some tracks picked themselves including Virgo’s Go Wild Rhythm Trax and Mr. Fingers. As for Maurice’s trippy, hypnotic This Is Acid, to me it epitomizes a musical era. However, there’s more to Disc One than four tracks. There’s tracks from Adonis and DJ Pierre under the guises of Sweat Boyz and Phuture. That’s not forgetting Tyree’s Acid Crass and Fresh’s Dum Dum. However, having set the bar high with Disc One of Can You Jack? Chicago House and Experimental House 1985-1995, will the continue on Disc Two?

DISC TWO.

All too often, I’ve come across compilations which are double albums, and the first disc is crammed full of classic tracks. Then when you get to the second disc, it’s a major disappointment. However, looking at the track-listing for Disc Two, I don’t think that’ll be the case here. After all, there’s contributions from Sleazy D, DJ Pierre, Lll Louis, Green Velvet, Two Of A Kind and Armando. There’s also further tracks from Virgo, Tyree and Phuture. If anything, the music on Disc Two looks better than that on Disc One of Can You Jack? Chicago House and Experimental House 1985-1995. Is that the case though?

My first choice from Disc Two of Can You Jack? Chicago House and Experimental House 1985-1995 is Sleazy D’s I’ve Lost Control. Released on Trax Records in 1986, I’ve Lost Control was written by Virgo, who produced the track with Sleazy D. It quickly became a classic track, and is one of the best tracks on Can You Jack? Chicago House and Experimental House 1985-1995. The reason for this, is it epitomizes an era when anything seemed to go, both musically and socially.

Lil Louis was one of the most popular Chicago House producers of the late eighties.  He’s best known for his 1989 sensual house classic French Kiss. A year earlier, he released The Original Radio Clash in 1988. This was a truly innovative track, that will bring back memories for people of a certain vintage. Listening to Video Clash is not unlike the soundtrack to an old school, eighties video game.  Lo-fi, but captivating, a combination of the squelchiest of synths and drums that crack like gunshots have your attention. Even though the technology used to make Video Clash was quite lo-fi, the track has aged well and has an almost timeless sound.

Armando Gallop was one of the most innovative Chicago House producers. His career started in 1987, when as Armando, he released Land Of Confusion. Two years later, in 1989, Armando released Downfall, which he wrote and produced on Housetime Records. From the opening bars, Overload has a truly hypnotic sound. Sadly, Armando’s career was cut short in 1996, when tragically, he died of leukemia. That day, Chicago House lost one of its founding fathers and pioneers.

Fittingly, my final choice from Disc Two of Can You Jack? Chicago House and Experimental House 1985-1995 Phuture’s Acid Trax. Phuture was the alias of DJ Pierre, who cowrote this track. Released in 1987, on Trax Records and mixed and produced by Marshall Jefferson, the compilers have kept one of the best tracks to last. With a combination of squelchy Roland TB-303 and pounding drums, Acid Trax is epitomizes all that’s good about late eighties Acid House as you embark on a nostalgic musical journey back to the heady days of 1987, when anything was possiible.

Earlier, I wondered whether the music on Disc Two of Can You Jack? Chicago House and Experimental House 1985-1995 would surpass the quality of Disc One? That wasn’t going to be easy, given that Disc One featured numerous Chicago House classic. So too, did Disc Two. This included Sleazy D’s I’ve Lost Control, Virgo’s Take Me Higher, Lil Louis Video Clash and Phuture’s Acid Trax. Then there’s contributions from other Chicago House pioneers, including Armando and Green Velvet. As you’ll realize, the quality of music on Disc Two pretty much matches that on Disc One. Choosing which disc features the best music would be like spinning a coin. That to me is pointless. What I would say, is that the music on Can You Jack? Chicago House and Experimental House 1985-1995 features some of the best music in the history of Chicago House.

I’d also say that rather than limiting the music from 1985-1989, which were the golden years of Chicago House, extending this to 1995 worked well. It allowed the compiler to include music from the second wave of producers. This new generation of producers took Chicago House in a new direction. Sometimes, this meant a more experimental direction. Ironically, many people didn’t think Chicago House would enjoy any longevity. They doubted whether it would survive beyond a few years. Many people were surprised Chicago House was still going strong in 1989. The same people were astounded that by 1995, Chicago House music was reinventing itself. Now as Chicago House approaches its thirtieth anniversary, house music has continued to evolve, with numerous sub-genres have been born. That’s ensured Chicago House neither becomes stale, nor predictable. However, as Chicago House approaches its thirtieth anniversary, there’s been a resurgence in interest in the music’s roots and history. One way to find about Chicago House’s roots and history is by buying Can You Jack? Chicago House and Experimental House 1985-1995, which was be released on 29th April 2013. Not only does Can You Jack? Chicago House and Experimental House 1985-1995 feature some of the greatest, most influential and innovative music in the history of Chicago House, but features a lengthy and informative fifty-two page booklet. Together, with Acid-Mysteron Invade The Jackin’ Zone: Chicago Acid and Experimental House 1986-93, Can You Jack? Chicago House and Experimental House 1985-1995 is the perfect starting point for anyone wanting to discover the roots and history of Chicago House music. Standout Tracks: Maurice This Is Acid, Mr. Fingers Beyond The Clouds, Armando Downfall and Phuture’s Acid Trax.

CAN YOU JACK? CHICAGO HOUSE AND EXPERIMENTAL HOUSE 1985-1995.

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