The sound of early house music is having a moment. In the past few years, producers such as Tornado Wallace and Motor City Drum Ensemble have been making music that directly references records that were being played in Chicago clubs 30 years ago. In the world’s better nightclubs you’re as likely to hear a record made in 1996 as you are a record from 2016.
For people who remember the early days, it can be slightly startling to realise house music is now into its third decade. The music that must have felt so revolutionary in the late 1980s is now an accepted a part of our sonic landscape, but that makes it no less special when one of the early producers comes to town.
Recording under many different names, Chicago’s Larry Heard has been making music and DJing since the 1980s, and is widely credited as a pioneer of house music.
Before his first ever live set at Melbourne’s Town Hall with Gaussian Curve, we asked Melbourne’s inimitable Andee Frost to select five records by Larry Heard that give a sense of what he means to dance music, and what to expect from his show.
Larry Heard presents Mr White – Sun Can't Compare (2006)
“One of his more recent club jams, usually dropped around the 4am mark, and instantly inducing pure euphoric bliss. Maybe you've just met your new dancing buddy, but after you've shared this moment, your life will never be the same again.”
Mr Fingers – Can You Feel It (1998)
“There's another song called The House Music Anthem out there, and depending on the style of house music you like, the same title could be applied to this anthem. A call to arms (in the air) via the D.Floor. Slap a lil’ Dr MLK or Chuck Roberts accapella over the top of it and you have a message as fresh and relevant today as when it was made.
The It – Donnie (1986)
“Dondondondondondondondondondondon DONNNIEE DDOOOONNIIEEEEE … when I used to work in a record store (the much-loved Hear Now and Central Station, which were both in Melbourne’s CBD), we had a girl named Dominy working for us, The boss, Jim, used to sing this too her every time he wanted her to do something. For that reason alone it will stay with me for ever.”
Disco D – Beat it (1986)
“Purveyors of the Booty/Ghetto-tech sound tend to get this one confused with the late Detroit producer Disco D, when in fact this is another of Larry's nom de plumes (which only lasted for one record, adding to the confusion). Dance Tracks on side one was a beat record, while on the flip, Beat it, and another of my faves, High Noon, won the attention of most DJs. PSA: This just got re-pressed so you will probably see the record floating around your local record store.”
Larry Heard – 25 Years from Alpha (2008)
“A perfect example of his range as a producer who shows no sign of slowing down is this gem from 2008. It’s Larry in full soundtrack mode. Fifteen minutes of sci-fi bliss. A popular go-to jam across the Melbourne bar DJ scene.”
Larry Heard plays the Melbourne Town Hall with Gigi Masin and Gaussian Curve on Saturday September 10. Tickets available here.