Trying to nail the exact appeal of a song is a bit like taking a hammer to a frog. Sure, you’ll splay its innards and identify the individual bits that make it what it is, but why would you want to? Never is this daft metaphor more true than in the case of dance music, where genre classics are supposed to transcend nerdy analysis.
But sometimes a song has such power it can define a genre and a generation – surely that deserves more than just fleeting dancefloor glory? So goes the story of Your Love by Frankie Knuckles, a track considered an anthem for Britain’s 1989 Summer of Love, unwittingly going on to influence a quarter-century of pop music and dance culture.
“From the arpeggiated synth line to that thick, fat analogue bassline, it’s one of a handful of tunes that captures the spirit of acid house,” says Nick DeCosemo, editor of Mixmag. “Lots of current producers still look back to it for inspiration.” DeCosemo insists electronic music wouldn’t be the same without it. Dave Pearce, who interviewed Knuckles for a special edition of 6Mix on BBC 6 Music last weekend, agrees. Pearce tells me it’s not just misty-eyed rave nostalgia that gets him going, “it works because it manages to combine a soulful spirituality with a darker side, while being very sexual at the same time”. Not bad for a track recorded for a laugh in the DJ booth of one-time Chicago house club, The Power Plant, with a drum machine borrowed from Derrick May and pal Jamie Principle roped in on vocals.
Knuckles, a 55-year-old New Yorker whose name hardly ever appears in print without the words “godfather of house” preceding it, has even managed to pip Chicago icon Oprah in having a street named after him in the Windy City, so appreciated is his influence on the music scene. Meanwhile, America’s doyenne of daytime TV had to wait around until this week before finally being honoured with Oprah Way.
But it’s not just me, club DJs, and the mayor of Chicago who remain hypnotised by the Knuckles back catalogue: Animal Collective sampled Your Love on My Girls while Friendly Fires covered it on their Photobooth EP. And, of course, the Source mixed it under Candi Staton‘s You Got the Love and produced an even bigger hit (several times over), spawning additional covers from Florence and the Machine, the xx and, er, Joss Stone.
In short, the debt pop music owes to Your Love isn’t just to those old enough to have indulged in the days of acid house (as opposed to huddling in front of the box for the next episode of Fun House). Nor can the track be relegated to propping up the bargain bins of 90s pop. To paraphrase Pearce, its shelf-life extends way beyond the usual dance music sell-by date, largely because “it’s an exquisite record you can really lose yourself in. It will just live for ever.”
CHICAGO HOUSE: Frankie Knuckles – Your Love (Trax Records, 1987)
Your Love by Frankie Knuckles: a song that will be raved about for ever (The Guardian UK)
This Summer of Love anthem still packs a punch after influencing a quarter-century of pop and dance music
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- Our House Sydney presents ALTON MILLER (DETROIT, USA) Sunday April 24th (soulofsydney.wordpress.com)
- CHICAGO HOUSE MUSIC: Farley Jackmaster Funk and Darryl Pandy- “LOVE CANT TURN AROUND”: A Tribute to Darryl Pandy.. R.I.P (sydneyunderground.org)
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Posted on June 13, 2011, in chicago house, frankie knuckles and tagged Acid house, BBC 6 Music, Candi Staton, Chicago, Dance music, Disc jockey, Frankie Knuckles, Jamie Principle, Joss Stone. Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.