Around this time we normally debate the tracks that defined the year just finished. More than ever we’ve discovered that naming those tunes has become a more challenging task which each passing year and invariably, its the anthems you remember. Often our attention is drawn back to a simpler time in dance music, when vinyl was king and the DJ was a sorcerer with the best music months ahead of release. As fans, bedroom DJs and trainspotters, we waited patiently for these tracks as they finally became available, and their place in our own collections became coveted.
We’ve compiled a list of tracks we feel are the greatest end of night anthems we know. Tracks so powerful and timeless, they still have the ability to slay dance floors today.
Capricorn – 20Hz
Capricorn was the brainchild of Dutchman Hans Weekhout. An experienced musician, engineer and producer, he was professionally involved in music for many years. Born in 1965 in Naarden, he began playing bass and keyboards in his early teens and figured in various locally successful bands, most of them soul and funk-orientated. After finishing school he found his occupation in studio work, recording and mixing for innumerable Dutch acts as well as for international artists such as Ian Gillan and Falco.
Moby – Go
In a time when sampling was the de rigeur way of making music, Moby took a slice of pop culture and transformed it into one of the most icon pieces of dance music ever conceived. Like it or loathe it, Moby – Go still makes a dance floor go weak at the knees, and still inspires new generations of producers to remix it.
In a time when pirate radio stations could play these tracks several months prior to general release, the anticipation was sometimes tangable. The Angelo Badalamenti produced theme from the Twin Peaks TV series was sampled to perfection, but possibly the real beauty with this track are the kick beats that sound as though they’re emanating from somewhere down the road.
Orbital – Belfast
If ever there were a tune to end the greatest night of your life, it would have to be arguably Orbital’s biggest track, Belfast. From the lush opening keys and operatic vocal, this emotionally charged breakbeat track from the 90s stills tugs at your heart strings and brings back happier more care free times. Originally released in 1991 on Pete Tongs FFRR label, it pushed dance music in to the main stream and was the making of bands like Orbital who would go on to perform at world famous festivals such as Glastonbury. Interestingly, during the e-release in the late 90s, when Sasha was asked to remix the track, his first attempt with his then sound engineer, a young Charlie May, was rejected as being too obsure – it would later resurface as Belfunk on Sasha’s 1999 EP Xpander.
Inner City – Good Life
Face it DJs, if you want a happy dance floor, you gotta play a few tracks with sing a long lyrics. The 90s was full of them, tracks like Inner City’s ode to positivity – Good Life. Remixed to the point of ridicule, its nothing short of a perfect record. That piano, Paris Grey’s vocals and that awesome 90s bass line that Kevin Saunderson excelled at. It tousled the hair of the house/techno paradigm and turned us on to a new sound and away from the awful post punk chart sounds and twee New Romantics. In recent times, its been sampled by Britney Spears on her 2011 album Femme Fatale (Up n Down), and by Hercules and Love Affair on their 2008 track ‘You Belong’
Bizarre Inc – Playing With Knives
Playing with Knives uses vocal samples from the 1990 house track ‘Shelter Me’ by Circuit. Later in 1991, Circuit released a remix of ‘Shelter Me’ known as the ‘Retaliation Mix’, which itself samples the acid bass line from Playing with Knives.
The American/British act Blue Pearl used the song as their basis for their 1991 single (Can You) Feel the Passion, which went on to be a bigger hit in the United States, placing number-one on Billboard’s Dance Club Songs Chart in 1992. The group mentions ‘playing with knives‘ in the chorus. Parts of the song were sampled in the 1994 hit dance single The Rhythm of the Night by Corona. As a slice of 90s history, its up there with the best, and its iconic keyboard stabs are recognisable from the first note.
UNKLE – In A State (Sasha Remix)
U.N.K.L.E. (occasionally known as UNKLE Sounds) are a British musical outfit founded in 1994 by school friends James Lavelle and Tim Goldsworthy. Originally categorised as trip hop, the group once included producer DJ Shadow and have employed a variety of guest artists and producers.
Following their recent Global Underground CD release in which James Lavelle completely re-invented the song with a female singer, the status of ‘In a State’ as an end of night anthem became legendary. Here in its Sasha remix format, the emotions of the room are played with like a cat playing with a sonic ball of wool. The perfect end to a fantastic night of clubbing.
Commander Tom – Are Am Eye
Commander Tom (real name Tom Weyer) was a German DJ and music producer. He began working as a DJ at the Drops SuperDisco in Kehl in the 1980s, moving onto the Rheinpark discothèque in Germersheim in the 1990s. As far as trance goes, back in the 90s it was pretty hard to differentiate from Goa, Psy or Hard.
In fact many of the elements of 90s trance found themselves in the harder dance styles of the time, like the iconic Hoover sounds used here or the short stabby kick drums. Noom Records who released this classic in 1995 was a go to label for the harder edged trance and hard dance sound. A label you could trust.
Joris Voorn – Incident
We’ve always been fans of Joris. Incident was the track which cemented his place in the elite. The clattering percussion was indicative of the kind of loopy 3 deck techno prevalent in the mid 2000s, but its the addition of the latin swing groove and the piano line sampled from Reese Project track ‘The Color of Love’ which propelled this track into the stratosphere. In 2004, not many DJs passed this by, famously Danny Howells hammered it where ever he played, and Awakenings, well… it was heard a few times!
Rhythim Is Rhythim – Strings of Life
All subsequent remixes of this track have quantised the keyboard stabs, but for us what makes this record so special and gives it such energy is the fact all the keyboard parts were played into a sampler by Derrick May himself, and so are slightly out of time. In a club its in a class of its own, no record evokes such powerful memories. Named by Frankie Knuckles back in the 80s, he is reported as saying: “It was like something you can’t imagine, the kind of power and energy people got off that record when it was first heard. Mike Dunn says he has no idea how people can accept a record that doesn’t have a bassline.” Sorry Mike, we’re with Frankie on this one.
Joe Smooth – Promised Land
If there’s one song that epitomises dance music and all it stands for, its Joe Smooths’ 1987 smash hit ‘Promised Land’. Still as relevant today as it was 29 years ago, it talks of peace in our time and an end to the violence that blights our planet. Played at the right time, it can reduce a dance floor to a tearful hugging mass of love and joy. If you don’t own a copy, go and buy it now!