10 classic House Music intros & the death of the Intro in contemporary dance music.
How many times have you skipped through the latest releases and found that almost every single track you test out before purchasing always starts with a beat. It really has become so generic and extremely tiresome.
With so many tracks employing the DJ friendly technique theses day, and I myself am guilty of it, we have somewhat taken away one of the very skills that a DJ should have in their bag, and also one that many producers have left behind in the studio, which is the skill of creating more atmosphere with an intro within their music production.
The intro was more often than not a nemesis for the DJ. If you were starting your set then you always began with a track that had an intro. If you were a soulful house DJ or a Progressive DJ, then the intro was the thing to begin with.
But mixing a track with an intro was a challenge worth taking. The risks were high during the midst of a set in a club. You could hear the track go off sync if it was out by the odd Beat, and you would certainly have to manually push that platter around to catch the beat.
It was dangerous but if you got it right it was an awesome achievement.
Intros were what made tracks stand out, they had that instantly recognizable feature that your four to the floor tracks didn't have, and that was creativity being pushed to the limits with a signature sound or a theme that built the track up.
These tracks often gave out a unique atmosphere which added a great vibe to your set.
DJ Sasha was a master of the intro along with Brian Transeau AKA B.T. Who back in the day created some of the most stunning productions within the Prog house scene.
Even vocal Garage tracks would also have a piano intro or a vocal build up at the start before the track entered into the main sections. Take the Lil Louis track entitled Freedom which was released on Strictly Rhythm that had a huge story line introduction for example.
There were many records that employed the intro back in the day and it is something that should not be forgotten, and so I feel that a big part of dance culture has been abandoned as a whole in order for the DJ who grabs the latest tracks and just mixes them together in a sync buttoned frenzy because their one hour festival set has to have banger after banger.
This is often due to today's crowds having much less patience anymore, and event promoters putting on too many DJ's on one bill to fill the event which leaves those interesting small features such as the intro far behind in the history vaults of house music production.
So I decided that I would list the records that have some of greatest intros below ranging from a wide range of genres within dance music over the years for you to check out. So lets bring back the intro 90's style.
In no particular order here are some of the greatest and most atmospheric intros ever to exist on vinyl and in dance music history.
HELICOPTER ON YA WAY 1993
Funky house back in early 1993 was known more as glam house. DJ's such as Jon Pleased Wimmin or Jeremy Healy were pioneering that sound of funky disco sampled house and all out bangers for the dance floor. Clubs like Miss Moneypenny's in Birmingham and Progress in Derby were heavily focused around the funky house sound during that era.
Here with the track On Ya Way it has a deep string intro that is coupled with some closed hi hats that keep on rising up the scales with some percussive drum hits that work their way up to a drop that then kicks into the funky organ riff before all hell breaks loose and the track kicks off. A fine way to display a build up for a funky house track that in today's world would probably start with a beat.
URBAN SOUL ALRIGHT THE SASHA REMIX 1991
Now I could pick many records that Sasha produced during the early to mid 90's but this one was a masterpiece. Bearing in mind he was still in his early days here in the studio which makes this piece even more outstanding.
The intro consists of a mysterious bell like arpeggio and reversed vocal like synth stabs. The percussion then enters and is triangle sounds backed with chopped up scatty vocals, that lasts for over a whole minute before the main riff comes in with the drums.
The track then breaks down to a piano riff that is still as anthemic today as it was back in 91. The whole structure of this composition is brilliant in its arrangement. There is every great element of a dance floor classic here, vocals with meaning, solid synths, great pianos and an atmospheric ending.
THE DISCO EVANGELISTS DE NIRO SPACEFLIGHT REMIX 1993
David Holmes and Ashley Beedle, what a combination. Two of electronic musics finest producers from very different musical worlds combine to produce one of house musics greatest prog tracks of the 90's. De Niro was an intro like no other with its helicopter propellers and haunting church bell chimes that made mixing this bad boy a major challenge on vinyl.
But if you pulled it off you would grin like a Cheshire cat. The track then goes into the synth pad strings and some acid styled lick before the kick enters and builds up in a traditional way. A brilliant track throughout with an oriental breakdown towards the end with gongs and string pads making this a very euphoric track indeed, before helicopters and church bells close the piece.
The original mix also has a New York cop street scene siren intro too, which goes to show that the intro was alive and well in those days.
T-EMPO SATURDAY NIGHT SUNDAY MORNING 1994
Originally recorded by Thelma Houston for Motown back in the late 70's which surprisingly was not a massive hit for her. This was re-recorded here by Manchester outfit T-Empo led by Tim Lennox in 1994 for FFRR Records. An outstanding example of uplifting soulful piano house music in all its glory.
The intro on this was a great joyful piano that just began as a solo then was built up with the finger snaps before the beats entered and the piano got more and more uplifting before the first breakdown of the track enters with some large brass riffs coupled with the vocals.
A proper hands in the air song that is full of soul and joy and a style of house we no longer hear much of these days.
BT DEEPER SUNSHINE 1993
No producer shook the dance music world quite like Brian Transeau did between 1993-1996. He literally ripped the manual apart and brought to the stage a whole new way of delivering dance music.
His style was so lush and so ahead of its time, he even had DJ Sasha eating out of his hand and performing whole DJ sets with just the music of BT. This was partly due to his epic 10 minute tracks which Sasha would blend into one.
Sasha being a master of the mix made this sound even more incredible with his fine DJ skills. The intro on this track was a really haunting but dreamlike affair with warm pads and woodwind riffs combined made this a weird but awesome intro for a dance floor back then , but it worked perfectly.
The ticking percussion builds up and as the track progresses with a funky house style synth riff embedded underneath until it drops to the breakdown make it one of the smoothest intros ever. Pure Progressive house at its finest.
JULIET ROBERTS CAUGHT IN THE MIDDLE 1993
One of dance musics greatest vocalists delivered a gospel tinged house anthem back in 1993. The piano intro coupled with a vocal hook that builds up nicely making this one of those tracks you would start your set with. A massive vocal track should have the components of a good song structure built within to take it to different places and this version does just that.
The lyrics are well written and performed to a high standard, but the intro is a perfect start to this great track which has other stand out characteristics where the lyric states "My heart beats like a drum" which coincides with a heart beat sample underneath, and it was little techniques like this that make records what they are and why they stand the test of time
A pure Piano house classic remixed by David Morales in his classic Def Crew remix guise.
BRUCE HORNSBY & THE RANGE THE WAY IT IS
BROTHERS IN RHYTHM DMC REMIX 1995
DMC Records was a subscription only club that was set up by Mixmag. They released exclusive tracks of famous recordings and remixed them using high profile producers.
This remix of the Bruce Hornsby classic has one very long intro and one that carries so much influence by BT as it was during that time of the prog house boom.
This track starts off with a windy atmosphere that drifts into piano laden melodies and riffs that build up over phasing pads and percussive hi hats. These then build up to a crescendo as the pianos take you off into a break beat section as classical strings run throughout the mix to perfection bringing the track up to the main riff.
In all its eleven plus minutes of pure progressive uplifting glory, this is one of Brothers in Rhythms finest remixes. It was so fine that it was in such huge demand by the public and had to be reworked as a cover version for an official release on Stress records later that year.
M PEOPLE HOW CAN I LOVE YOU MORE SASHA REMIX 1992
M People were one of Manchester's finest dance exports during the 90's. This remix by that man once again DJ Sasha with his standout remix skills is here once again to show us how it should be done. With his percussive build ups firmly placed behind warm pads and subtle synth like arpeggios, whilst Heather Smalls vocal kicks in on top.
As this builds up so does the break beat and the powerful chorus as the chords rise to take the track into the bass line and the beats. A stunning piece of Pop music crossing over into the house clubs. Timeless.
GAT DECOR PASSION THE ORIGINAL NAKED MIX 1992
Quite possibly one of dance musics greatest and most famous intros.
The warm pads and drum fills collide with some enchanting congo loops which then join up with piano chords before finally being met with that solid bass line as the track kicks in at exactly one minute.
The whole build up of the track is just progressive house at its ultimate finest. There was a version with Degrees of Motion vocals on top that came out a couple of years later that took away the originals glory, but for pure house heads the original mix will always be the one.
SANDY B MAKES ME FEEL LIKE SINGING 1992
That man again David Morales at the mixing desk and what a scorcher he created here with this lavish soulful garage anthem. The piano and organ intro is magnificent in its deliverance as very gospel and church like, Which really is a reflection of the lyrics, whereas the singer is urging you to forget your worries and go to the club to dance away your blues.
A massive tune will always have these qualities where they deliver great pianos, striking vocals with slick backing vocals, all the way through to the beat programming. But here the intro is another one of those tracks that you start the set with to get the crowd hyped.
So there are ten of the finest most recognizable intros in house music history. So remember the next time you DJ or produce a track, perhaps look for an intro or create one to stand out that little bit further. thank you
RobJamWeb @ Waxadisc Sept 2022