Three Classic Frankie Tracks
If you were unaware, Frankie Knuckles passed away a couple weeks ago. Frankie Knuckles, in addition to Larry Levan, Ron Hardy, and a handful of others, was an essential part of house music evolving from disco in Chicago and New York in the early 1980s. In an effort to pass the knowledge of his influence on to those unfamiliar with Frankie’s work, I am going to highlight three representative tracks of his that showcase his wide production prowess, both in his original work and his remixes.
Frankie Knuckles and Jamie Principle – Your Love (1987)
This doesn’t have the overwhelming melodies and percussion of contemporary house tracks, but its sparse atmosphere lets the rolling bassline breathe. Adrienne Jett’s sultry vocals recall Knuckles and Principle’s naughty counterpart, “Baby Wants To Ride” and make the track the perfect selection for the peak 2 AM time of a party. Quintessential Frankie.
Hercules and Love Affair – Blind (Frankie Knuckles Remix) (2007)
DFA’s Hercules and Love Affair might seem like an odd choice for an old-timer like Frankie to remix, but this track just goes to show how deep and committed he was to house music. The original was dance-able enough, but Frankie takes it to the next level and adds a swinging bassline, classic Chicago piano, and a cheeky trumpet. The vocals surprisingly work quite well with the track which should not be that much of a shock considering the quality of his compositions and ear for melody. This track probably goes over much better with younger audiences, but it fits in perfectly with the rest of his oeuvre.
The Shapeshifters – Back To Basics (Director’s Cut Signature Mix) (2013)
Frankie Knuckles remixes the UK’s Shapeshifter’s 2005 house hit with this tune under his Director’s Cut series. Feeling a bit more glossy than some of his other work, this remix still brings the heat with synths that climax periodically to complement the classic disco orchestral sound. Frankie gives the DJ (and crowd) a bit of a break halfway through the track with a darker, percussion-based breakdown that culminated in everything but the mids being cut off. Shortly thereafter we orchestra and drums hit full force after everyone has gotten a breather. Upbeat and sexy, Frankie continued blessing us with tunes and DJ sets up until the day he died.
How do you thank someone for giving the world a gift as important as house music? I’m not sure there is a way, so I’ll just have to suggest everyone give him and the music a chance and embrace all it offers. We love you, Frankie.
While I’ve included a monthly Rinse Out mix that is a tribute to Frankie, I would highly suggest checking out the above Boiler Room set he did in New York City last year. Even while in the midst of poor health, Frankie still rocked a Boiler Room party pretty damn hard.
Written by Mike VanElser. Tune into the Rinse Out every Thursday night from 10-midnight on 90.7fm KJHK.