On this week’s Unsung Heroes, we travel to decades past to rediscover a hidden gem that tore apart clubs when spun, particularly in the House heavy city of Detroit, Michigan. Nowadays, EDM has grown to monstrous proportions with armies of fans, staggering production value and festivals seemingly popping up every single year. However, back before we had even coined the term ‘EDM’, (and the massive movement exploded in America), we had House music, the music that started an entire cultural and musical movement that has spread throughout the world. From its humble beginnings in Chicago and Detroit to its eventual spread to New York and overseas to Europe, it was a movement that appeared overnight and was one of the first genres to unify people under one musical creed. It is important to remember the people who had pioneered the music that we listen to today, because they were able to create astounding music with nothing more than simple electronic equipment and their own imaginations. Many of these early producers were not even musicians, but instead crafted their music by listening to other artist’s productions and try to sequence sounds in a mathematical formula, all while trying to input some human emotion towards their mixes. Nevertheless, certain records that were created during this period of House prosperity still hold their own today and needs to be showcased to the newer generation of fans in order to see the entire spectrum that EDM has taken us.
We then turn our attention to one of the most influential House guru’s that has become an iconic figure in House and in dance music as a whole: Steve Silk Hurley. The head of the iconic S&S Chicago Records imprint and one of the first real DJ’s to breakthrough in Chicago, Hurley has been synonymous with raising the entire scene to a new level of public recognition. He is most noted for creating one of the first number one tracks on UK’s Single’s Chart with Jack Your Body, as well as a slew of Top 10 releases back home in the states. As an aspiring engineer, Hurley dropped out of college to focus on his music career, as well as creating music out of simple synthesizers and recording gear. Throughout his tenure, he was also known as one of the best remixers of the time, as he has worked on tracks from such high quality artists as Michael Jackson, Madonna, Inner City and New Order. One of his all time greatest reworks was his stunning Deep House remix to Ten City‘s single, Superficial People. Ten City was an R&B group back in the late 80’s and Hurley did a fantastic job of recreating this track towards friendlier club atmospheres. Noted as a track that jump started any club crowd, its unusual instrument implementations as well as its soulful lyrics provides brand new avenues of musical directions for us to explore in depth.
Superficial People begins with a fantastic string ostinato that sets the entire tone of the piece with its disco influences and fast paced drive. 303 acid sounds, claps, hi-hats and tambourines are effortlessly added to the mix before a sly, down to earth bassline brings the natural groove to a hilt, with extra help from some incredibly funky bongos. Added percussion, old school piano stabs and returning strings solidify the pace to a straightforward drive of musical magic, which is heightened even more with the addition of the soothing, silky vocals of Ten City. The vocals add an entirely new dimension to the piece, as its high pitched vocals adds a decisive human touch towards its purely electronic atmosphere. While not a huge track in terms of peaks and drops, it was instead formatted to the clubs back in the early 90’s, which was focused more on the soul and unity of music through a constant groove that keep dancer’s shuffling towards the vibes of House that continued well into the night. The ‘breakdown’, (in a sense), is the bridge of the piece, as the strings become a more prominent voice throughout the subdued percussion and heightened vocals before a definitive funk stab brings the strings to new musical ideas and vocations. Due to the increasing popularity of Deep House during the last month, this may be a perfect Deep House/House transition into soulful House and we may yet again see a resurgence of the music that had brought us to where we are today.
Steve Silk Hurley‘s Deep House remix of Ten City‘s Superficial People is not available for purchase, as it is only available in vinyl form. However, check out the track above and appreciate the history while getting lost in the old school grooves of the essential 90’s.
Keep the music alive. -Q
Unsung Heroes is a weekly segment where we take a look back at an amazing production and bring it back into the light for older and newer fans alike. These tracks were often overlooked, overshadowed by a huge release or are just not that well known to the public here in America. Here, you can find all the hidden gems in many genres and find a new favorite track (or another tool/weapon for aspiring DJ’s).