Acid House – the sound of the Roland TB-303 part one

Fatboy Slim famously wrote ‘Everyone loves a 303’ as a homage to the Roland bass synth manufactured between 1982 and 84. Originally designed to assist guitarists practising alone, its real power was only discovered some years later after production had ceased by some clever house music producers in Chicago; they would overdrive the signal to create the signature acid sound. Little did they know what they would go on to create. 

Over 25 years after the birth of one of the most all encompassing youth culture movements since Rock’n’Roll or Punk, Acid House is still at the foundations of many dance tracks today, and although seasoned music fans will tell you that trends are cyclic, Acid House has remained constant.

Its 1987, and shortly after returning from a holiday in Ibiza with friends Paul Oakenfold, Nicky Holloway and Johnny Walker, Danny Rampling opens the first dance club dedicated to the music he’d heard pioneered by veteran DJ Alfredo Fiorito in Amnesia (yes, its been open THAT long!). Shoom soon became an institution in the London scene and heralded the beginning of what many refer to as the ‘Second Summer of Love’ due in part to its peaceful and drug tolerant ethos. In fact many report rival football fans hugging and dancing together after taking ecstasy in its original form. Acid House clubs sprang up all over the country and soon the music which had originated in Chicago a few years earlier was the new underground sound.

Below is a selection of records we at Decoded feel optimise the Acid House sound: the sound of the Roland TB-303.

Phuture – Acid Trax


Widely regarded as the first ever acid house record, DJ Pierre is quoted as saying he wrote it as early as 1985. The track rose to popularity at Ron Hardys ‘Music Box’ formerly ‘The Warehouse’ in Chicago and marked a complete departure from the soulful proto house sound developed by Frankie Knuckles some years earlier.

Maurice – This is Acid


Number 1 in the billboard charts in1989, this catchy acid house classic cemented Grammy award winning producer Maurice Joshua among the burgeoning Chicago club sound. Acid had truly arrived.

Pierres Pfantasy Club – Pfantasy Girl


Acid Pioneer DJ Pierre’s solo project, and the first proper song of the list. The mixture of TB-303 and TR-909 sounds were really explored here in this classic slice of machine funk

Adonis – Too Far Gone


With one of the most iconic bass lines in dance music, this homage to excess became an instant classic. Adonis was 19 at the time he wrote this and the track is alleged to have gone on the sell over 100 000 units. An utterly terrifying sonic journey.



1990. And the Northern UK clubbing scene was the envy of the world. This debut single by Gez Varley and Mark Bell became a top 20 hit reaching a peak at number 12 and was one of the records I heard as a naive teenager which piqued my interest in dance music.

Hardfloor – Acperience 1


Cologne based producers Ramon Zenker and Oliver Bondzio pushed acid in directions the originators could never have dreamed of. This track from 1992 took the acid house aesthetic and married it with a European trance sound really coming into its own, and the resultant track is still as fresh and relevant as it was 23 years ago.

Armando – Land of Confusion


DJ Pierre describes this piece of Chicago history as the first acid track that was funky. Armando together with Mike Dunn set up 2 record labels and helped the careers of Ron trent, DJ Rush and Robert Armani to flourish.

Ecstasy Club – Jesus Loves the Acid


An acid track which utilises sampling technology. This became the norm in dance music. The sample here is a 1979 speech by Pope John Paul II in County Louth, Ireland and its sentiment is as poignant today as when it came out.

Fast Eddie – Acid Thunder (Fast Thunder Mix)


Arguably Eddie’s biggest hit, this track came out on Chicago label DJ International in 1988.

Sleezy D – Ive Lost Control


Enigmatic producer Sleezy D, assisted on this occasion by Marshall Jefferson under his Virgo alias, disappeared off the face of the map following the release of this ominous ode to dance floor excess. Easily one of the most foreboding tracks ever made, and yet so undeniably catchy.