It’s difficult to do justice to the accomplishments of Chicago’s legendary TRAX Records in a short introduction. But we’ll have a go anyway.
With TRAX having started life as a vinyl pressing plant in 1984, it was the 1985 release of ‘Wanna Dance/Certainly’ by Le Noiz that properly marked the beginning of one of the most important and influential labels in dance music history. Since then, they have released over 2,000 titles.
A crucial outlet for house music in its Chi-Town infancy, and later its worldwide expansion, TRAX’s release history reads like an embarrassment of riches. ‘No Way Back’ by Adonis. ‘Your Love’ by Jamie Principle and Frankie Knuckles. ‘Can You Feel It’ by Mr Fingers. ‘Move Your Body’ by Marshall Jefferson… Real foundational stuff.
TRAX are credited with giving birth to acid house via Phuture’s seminal 1987 ‘Acid Tracks’ EP. Its squelchy low end came courtesy of the Roland TB-303, a synthesiser that has since become synonymous with the acid sound. Of course, acid house became the catalyst for the UK rave scene, which then spawned jungle, UK garage, dubstep, etc. So if you’ve been out clubbing recently, you probably have TRAX to thank – albeit in a somewhat roundabout and tangential way.
TB 303 O’Clock, whose Twitter account is a wonderful resource for all you acid fiends out there, asked the current TRAX artists (including label co-founder Screamin’ Rachael!) as well as owners of the I Love Acid imprint, Posthuman – to provide their favourite TRAX Records classics. Lady Fingers has also contributed a guest mix to accompany the picks, described as “a sizzling melangerie of acid” that features Hula, Phuture and Mr.Fingers. Dig in below…
Phuture – ‘Acid Trax’
“The Fantasia of House Music, it’s an Opus! The guys from Phuture, Herb, Pierre and Spanky got ahold of a Roland 303 bass machine, turned knobs and just had at it! They recorded magic totally by accident! From that time on the 303 was THE acid machine. It’s like winning the Lotto!”
Screamin’ Rachael – ‘I Need A Party/ Hula’s Acid Mix’
“It was the summer of love in NYC! Maurice and Da Posse’s This Is Acid was burning up the streets! They headlined The Palladium and were featured on my TV Show! We were everywhere, and from there we got to the studio and came up with this dreamy underground cut with the most devastating acid break you’ve ever heard! Hula turned it out! The music put me in the mood for those vocals and it was a party!”
Summertrax LP (2012)
“I began putting together this compilation in the dead of Chicago winter while I was walking with my Chocoroll and listening to ‘Starships’ by Nicki Minaj. I was thinking that this song reminded me of being somewhere warm and sexy, and then it lead me into thinking about summer bangers — you know, like Katy Perry or any song that dominates the radio in the summer. So that’s why I started the album with ‘Extacy’ but then I expanded my idea into narrating the story of summer. From finding summer love, to nights where you’re lost in the music etc. The compilation ended up being almost all acid by accident, but it’s amazing and it’s an LP that digs deep into the catalogue.”
Phuture – ‘We are Phuture’
“If Prince made a house track and traded his falsetto for a 303 line gone vibrato, it would be ‘We Are Phuture’. This is a highly stompable piece. DJ Pierre of Phuture who brought us acid in the first place gets my vote for this one.
Maurice – This Is Acid (1988)
“Pretty obvious and theme-like song for an acid track choice, right? How I came across this gem is because it’s on the flip of Maurice’s ‘I Got A Big Dick’ hit 12″! And I love the cowbell/boogie vibe and vocals in this one, still VERY playable today.”
ADONIS – ‘No Way Back (Vocal Mix)’
“I pick this track because it’s a 20 year old track that can still make some damage when I use it on my sets!”
Hula – ‘Hot Hands’
“I like this track because it starts with a bang. The complicated cymbal and snare alternations keep you guessing as the steady hypnotic acid bass keeps the blood flowing & body pumping. ‘Hot Hands’ should be a part of every ‘after 3am’ DJ’s
Mr Fingers – ‘Can You Feel It’
“While there’s so many obvious classics – ‘Acid Trax’, ‘Baby Wants To Ride’, ‘No Way Back’, ‘This Is Acid’, etc… ‘Can You Feel It’ was one of the big anthems in the early days of I Love Acid clubnights, I used to play it pretty much every month back at Ginglik.”
Maurice Joshua – ‘I Gotta Big Dick’
“This one just has the dirtiest, funkiest acid line ever – the kinda vibe that’s being channeled today by the likes of Paranoid London. Of all the Trax records, it’s the one that unexpectedly is a total dancefloor killer.”
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