“Move your Body (the House Music Anthem)” (Marshall Jefferson, 1986)

by Konrad

Ok, wow. This was a four course meal. It took me THREE attempts to get through all the material, all the videos, and then properly digest and integrate the experience. Where to start…

  • You are right, I did NOT see that coming!
  • That said, aren’t most of life’s best moments actually surprises and serendipity?
  • Your notes on the 10-min long version are like reading an annotated text of the Orthodox Old Testament. If Moses was a funk guitarist and Abraham had scorching vocals and the Egyptians were a brass band. 
    • p.s. check out this video edit of that long version. Look at that show, that crowd, those outfits…you telling me we wouldn’t have CRUSHED the 70’s??!!
  • Love that they are from Philly. Could definitely here that MFSB influence (some of the session players from MFSB played with the Trammps per the Wiki), as well as the Philly sound in those Hammond keyboards.
  • The SNF clip will be something that future generations 1,000 years from now hold up as the pinnacle of “ancient” 20th century culture. Also, can we talk about a few things:
    • By 1978, disco had peaked. This movie breathed life into a dying genre. All the dope disco shit happened in SF and NY in 1973-1976…this was mainstream culture “getting it”. Think about what it took for a bunch of Italian yobbos in Queens to absorb black/latino/gay culture, put on bell bottoms, and dance
    • DJ Cokes-a-lot. OMG. He is BLASTED.
    • Love how Travolta just leaves the chick behind. “I can’t keep up, Tony! You’re too funky!”
    • The crowd parts like the Red Sea for his awesomeness. Again, you telling me we wouldn’t have CRUSHED the 70’s???

So that one came out of left field and leaves me in a quandary: Where to go next? I don’t think we want this to be a disco playlist, which, while awesome wouldn’t really be the spirit of the list. So what’s the pivot from Donna Summer > Sylvester > Bronski Beat > The Trammps (and yeah, two ‘m’s, not two ‘p’s. Who knew?!) How do we go from funk groove bassline, full brass section, and gospel tinged vocals to the next dance banger.

My line of thinking is this: I want a track that represents the transitional evolutionary step from the funk of disco and the energy of “white people” Hi-NRG and bridged the dancefloors into the era of house, techno, and beyond. What track was an international bomb track, a grenade rolled into every disco, warehouse party, and house party from SF to Chicago to Detroit to NY to London to Berlin and beyond? What took us from a lazy 104 BPM and brass bands to electronic tools, loops, and synths?

Most of what I found were classics that may or may make this list but all of them seemed to represent classic House tunes that demonstrated the best producers and DJs had already found their footing by 1987/88/89 and were destroying dancefloors with the sound of Chi-town (via Frankie Knuckles at the Warehouse) and in NY (via Larry Levan at the Paradise Garage.) [SIDE NOTE: give yourself about half hour or more to full digest this history of house music…fuuuuuucking WOW]

What was that proto-house track that gives us glimpse of the work being done deep underground to take disco off life support (because it was indeed dead) and resurrect it with a new, faster beating heart, more precision, and an entirely new flavor. 

Then I found this…

There it is:

  • The funky piano riff at the start that continues to burn – incidentally, this is purported to be the first house track to use the piano that quickly became a staple of Chicago house!
  • The hi-hat kicking in (tissip – tissip – tissip – tissip!)
  • Then a pulsing bassline that throbs and grooves but has dropped that slappy funk of its descendants
  • An urgent, anthemic vocal deep in self-reference (“Gimme that house music to set me free!”)
  • And at 7+ mins, fully built to just keep everyone dancing

This feels, to me, like the missing link, the bridging type between the dying corpse of disco and the burgeoning form of Acid House that was bubbling and brewing in the after-hours clubs, far away from the bright lights. 

I remember moving to Seattle in fall of 1989 during my gap year, having a fake ID, going to house music nights at The Vogue in Belltown and listening to these acid house tracks and wondering what it was like in the bigger cities. Hearing this track, I realize how dope that would have been. This track and a few like it were the ones that exploded house and what would soon follow was a rapid branching of sub-genres that I have little doubt we’ll explore: hip house, deep house, techno, rave, drum n’ bass, club music, and more.

Ball is in your court. Consider your next move carefully, because we just took the party up a notch.

K

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