20 Best Chicago House Records - Rolling Stone
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20 Best Chicago House Records

In honor of the legendary Frankie Knuckles, the 20 greatest singles from the booming movement he helped create

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Nearly every variation of the untz played in today’s festivals and clubs owes something to the recently departed legend Frankie Knuckles, the DJ and producer who helped foment the early, classic version of house in Chicago. But Knuckles wasn’t the only influential producer in this era, which spanned the Eighties and early Nineties. Here’s a look at 20 essential Chicago house records – by Knuckles and others – that serve as required listening for any devoted student of dance music.

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Frankie Knuckles – “The Whistle Song” (1991)

Knuckles at his most angel-hair delicate, seeming to soundtrack the latest moment possible in the longest night imaginable. An ambient synth wash and feather-brushed cymbals provide just enough structure for an electronically modulated flute to roam carelessly, its open-ended abandon suggesting, in the best possible way, that its melodic improvisation might go on forever. The synthetic chirp that joins in, and gives the song its name, suggests and inspires a spirit of camaraderie that's jaunty but never corny.

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Cajmere – “Coffee Pot (It’s Time For the Percolator)” (1992)

Curtis A. Jones ditched grad school in the early Nineties, returning from Berkeley's chemical engineering program to Chicago, where he establishing his own label, Cajual, and began producing under the name Cajmere. The electronic burble here, adorned with a synth whine and whipped into shape with a snare thwap, might first suggest Pac-Man squooshes if the voice repeating the subtitle didn't remind you what was brewing. Neither as far out nor comically dark as the meta-commentaries on club life Jones would release under the name Green Velvet, but the playful ingenuity of "Coffee Pot" helped spearhead the second wave of house in Jones' hometown.

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