Various Artists (Mickey Oliver, Ralphi Rosario) – Sweet House Chicago ( Still Music)

Reviewed By: Roger Roger
Very talented producer and superb DJ, Jerome Derradji runs the excellent Chicago, Illinois USA based label Still Music, along with lovely sub labels J/A/C/K, Past Due, Stilove4music. They specialize in rare House, Disco, and Boogie Funk born of the Windy City, and newer EPs that nod to past Golden eras of Chicago, Disco, and Acid House.

Any true fan of those styles should immediately check this label and it’s sub labels out, as well as Derradji’s releases and mixes if you haven’t; To sum it up, ‘Great taste, catalogs of quality, and “serious reissues”. The latest from Still exemplifies how time is not a constraint on music with quality; it will always purvey through the rotations. It’s clear Still Music understands this well and has taken time to rewind back to Chicago 1989, for their latest curation, a compilation and superbly remastered reissue of ‘Sweet House Chicago’.The original project is the brainchild of the legendary Mickey Oliver, a pioneer in Chicago House, Absolute Legendary DJ( there were no sync buttons in his day), and owner of Hot Mix 5 Records. This is the same label who brought us over 40 certified bangers of House music on wax, including the legendary Jack Trax series. Furthermore, Hot Mix 5 was more than a label, but also a movement led by a group of pioneering DJs and producers, and world renowned for their exclusive mixes and tracks, helping establish foundations in the culture of underground house. Likewise, the time was right when Mickey Oliver formed M Records as a sub label of Hot Mix 5 Records in 1988, and dropped the original Sweet House Chicago compilation the following year.

Now 30 years later the influence of house and acid showcased on this release still inspires producers and DJs around the world, and those soulful, lysergic ingredients just seem to get stronger over time since they first unleashed flavor onto the underground club world in 1989. Indeed, for the real house heads and DJs this release is essential, as this is the quality dope original, full of moments with soul, vocals, acid, and instrumentals.

Sweet House Chicago features legendary names in the House game, sorry no posers or lames…here’s the lineup; Mickey Oliver, Ralphi Rosario, Larry Heard, Phortune, Jamie, and Pierre’s Fantasy Club also known as DJ Pierre. Decades of influence follow those names, to discuss what they brought to the music could be a book of its own, and there is no need to debate or explain. 8 tracks are on display via ‘Sweet House Chicago’ including 2 bonus CD only remixes. ‘Sweet House Chicago’ is part of Still Music’s reissue series of classic material from Hot Mix 5 Records and they have done beyond perfect handling the job of remastering tracks from the original Hot Mix boxes and tracks; and now let’s get into these timeless House artifacts.

Legendary Hot Mix label owner, Mickey Oliver hosts this affair, so what better way to serve the first plate than the first track ‘Anticipate’. Things get straight to the point as industrial beeps create a rhythm and groove of their own over driving 909 house kickdrums full of punch and rich low bass for your hearing taste. Satisfying the further needs for your groove is the funk filled bassline with plenty of step flavor for you to savor that kicks in right as a voice sample chants

“let’s go”! And go deeper you will, as samples of speak and spells delight your audio cells while the 909 flavored house drums continue to flow, spiced up with 909 rimshot arrangements, closed hats jacking the track. The track is experience is further enhanced by mixing and scratching done in the finest way for your ears. You’ll also hear a soulful and moody arpeggio of bleep during the tracks peaks, semi-erotic vocal samples, speak and spell, and plenty of dialtone telefunk providing the aura over driving 909 rhythms and scratching. ‘Anticipate’ builds the foundation and makes quite the establishment. Historical, yet never sounding dated and influencing real producers who stay dedicated. Are you suffering from loss of real House?, ‘Anticipate’ has what it takes to medicate, and gets the House parties started Great.

Test your endurance, as the first jam follows up with another mighty floor burner and head turner for those Real club nights with ‘House Rights’ (Fight For It) rich with flavor from Phortune. It’s a perfect theme for the underground house scene, today, tomorrow, and in the past, so as the samples in this song warn, “Step back or get smashed”. The song starts off with shuffling 707 kickdrums, as acid sequences soon make a welcome entrance adding melody to the rhythm. You’ll really begin to feel the heat from this beat when the kickdrums evolve further with layering from claps as a mean all attitude bassline entices you without choice to move to the groove.

While the acid stabs are satisfying your senses, you’ll be even more emotionally enhanced by explosive boom effects as deep vocal samples chant “House Music Rights For, We Will Fight For, Step Back or Get Smashed”; Shout outs to the realest in the House are included as well. And there’s also some psychic support, as hypertoned vocal samples warn of posers, declaring to them “Don’t take my house”…as even back then they smelled the filth of hipster infidels.

Brilliant how the alternating samples help paint quite the scene that backs what this track means, while the punchy clap layered kickdrums alternate and shuffle with stepping snares keep plenty of drive alive. Cowbells of the 707 type are also present here and help provide percussion throughout as hats alternate at times in full on attack mode, and others riding out.

With ‘House Rights’ Phortune crafted a vision and theme for the underground clear,no matter the year. ‘House Rights’ aggressive and still fresh, as it’s enduring respect from the Real DJs and listeners worldwide, shows that ‘House Rights’ has more than stood the time test. Again another moment that makes this reissue essential.

If you are addicted to soulful acid house with faster pacing, Pierre’s Fantasy Club brings ‘I Can’t Stop’ to give you the deep dose you need as soon as it drops. The track enters with 707 kicks and a rolling, tight knit,reverb acid bassline with heavy lows that also serves as a prime melody in this track. By the time the drums shortly arrive to set a layer of foundation, you’ll be ready for this proper House lesson education, as the faster pace of the track delightfully guides you on a time trip back, while the acid bassline wiggles your mind, and bass lows make the floor jack.

For great taste and class, Deep piano key stabs drop in and out fast, and make moments in this track that last, defying time in your mind as the groove and melody frees you to leave the masses behind.

Congas alternate and create rhythm elements for the percussive grind and help make this track more than just a song, but rather a damn good time..what we mean by Music creating lasting memories in the mind. The vocals here are the strong soulful house type and sing the title of this song “I Can’t Stop” as well as other harmonious vocals, along with urgent string like synth stabs that add melody to the track throughout and during the hooks and peaks; indeed another slice of Real house music for the freaks. ‘I Can’t Stop’ is soulful enough to take your emotions to the top, groovy enough to keep generations dancing until they drop; and yes this is House not dance pop. Don’t be alarmed, the posers have been warned.

This is essential house music with timeless late evening class, not constrained by words like contemporary or stuck in the past; you can win and play this just as confidently today. There’s just enough lysergic juice to add this to an acid set, or spin this for a proper banging house trek.

Mickey Oliver’s ‘I Need A Beat’ features production by the Legendary, Larry ‘Fingers’ Heard with smooth female vocals singing the hooks and verbs. It’s a cool, evening hours summer flavored track with a moody vibe and plenty of soul.

The beat you need starts with pumping centre focused kicks serenaded by congas on percussive escort duties. Soon after, those kicks transition into 909 house drums with plenty of drive complimented by shuffling hats and conga percussion. The bassline is quite proper here, high on low bass and a moody yet groovy flavor, as it surfs the punchy kick drums of this House track’s rhythm foundation. Larry Heard’s sensual signature is painted all over the track as well; synth strings that evoke the feel of a hot summer sunset, laced with moody soul, and crystal laced key stabs in inducing melody. The lyrics here are also a perfect match for this sizzling moody and late evening house; sexy and have plenty of harmony with the beat of the track singing the hook “I need a beat to turn me on”; call it if you will “Arouse Style House”. Amazing how the soulful yet feel of drama evoking, late evening melody found in ‘I Need A Beat’ will heighten your senses, and like it has done for 30 years, keep inspiring with every listen.

Next up is Jamie with ‘I Want Your Love’. Starting off properly and the old fashioned way, we are given the step and groove of kickdrums cruising with rolling 909 rimshots. It’s a beautiful collision next, as we are promptly hit square in the chest with deep low bass frequencies as this track gets ready to build a house in your mind’s audio channels; “Are You Ready”, the cool vocals ask while piano stabs come through the synth boxes, and the beat returns to strictly drums and percussion. This sets the scene for some persuasive vocals, so late 80s in nature, yet timeless in flavor. Included with the arrival of the tracks vocal sections are soul tinged and funky hightone synth stabs accented with dripping wet piano rolls; music for good times, quite memorable in our minds.

The mixing flair is quite charming as well, with staggered mixing of the tracks main vocal hook and title deeply whispering “I Want It”. And that amazing low bass frequency we spoke of earlier, continues to loom in and out of the track all throughout this funky house flashback. With ‘I Want Your Love’ be a brave DJ and throw this in to mix up things and take your house sets on a journey in that cool club. With vocals in late 80s R&B funk style, thorough bass, piano rolls, jheri curl funk synths and scratches, this track has plenty of dynamic appeal to let the cool crowd feel when you spin this wax wheel.

More is what Sweet House Chicago knows your ears long for, and that’s why Mickey Oliver and Darci ‘Mor bring the track “Lost Me Boy” through the door. No time for heartbreak though, as you will love how this beat takes you where you want to go. Like the tracks that precede it on this compilation, its real party house music, from Chicago, the windy city of Skyscrapers and Big cash chasers. Starting with a classic rewind/ flashback effect, the scene builds with super clean, yet hard hitting kickdrums accompanied by conga rolls and percussion.

The bassline is funky Chicago House by definition and it’s drive keeps this track’s groove on a serious mission. Close to a minute into the track, a rolling and dark synth melody so memorable arrives and continues to highlight the tracks already serious mood with even more “dangerous” attitude and groove. Still, there’s a lot of fun to be had here as the drums keep kicking and rhythms and vocals modulate and keep sticking. You’ll also hear deep piano notes and moody desert tinged synths playfully entangled with the track as it peaks and rides on out until the end, while you impress your dear friends.

Ralphi Rosario provides excellent quality on this excellent compilation with the Latin flavoured rhythms of ‘Suavesito’.

‘Suavesito’ enters with 909 congas and 808 cowbells percussively riding clean 909 house kickdrums. A groovy and funky bassline rolls in next and also serves as the main groove of the tracks melody. There’s also plenty of thick bass underlying the warmth of a bassline this is Rolling sun touched and Latin flavored key stabs delightfully dance between the percussive rhythms at times during the tracks peaks. And if your cool senses crave more, there’s plenty of fresh vocal chants in both Spanish and English to keep this house righteous in 1989 style from the first moments of the track until the end; like “No Tengo Tiempo” ( perhaps referring to no time for fakes), or “Keep your eyes on the Wicked Lady, Keep your eyes on the Wicked Girl”…and we will add here for DJs to Keep your eyes on the crowd as you’ll move them wild with this Wicked track. Timeless moments once again; 30 years later and ‘Suavesito’ still does more than just get the job done, like it just dropped as something new under the sun.

The final dose to satisfy your acid habit is the jamming and jacking the box style of ‘Take It To The Top’ by Mickey Oliver and Joe Magic. And damn, what a track…Feel the magic build from its first moments of cruising and echoing 909 kickdrums, laced with rimshot shuffles before the tour de force of acid soaked 303 arpeggios take over and don’t stop..as the title suggests; this acid will take you to the top. A little different from the other great tracks on this release, the approach in this classic is harder edged acid. Its largely instrumental with plenty of bass in your face, and mixing and scratching of the highest order, stuff we sadly miss in these social zombie days in both Real Hip Hop and Real House. Excellent sample use and mixing of the banging hip-hop anthem ‘It Takes Two’ by Audio Two adds even more fun to this number that will always be perfect to hype up the coolest parties of the summer. Arguably one of the strongest tracks on this history marking release. The acid melodies here are just right, full of season and flavor that

provide many years of savor; the type that has influenced entire catalogues of artists and labels, and is meant to touch the turntables.

Still Music delivers the classics and rightful respect with ‘Sweet House Chicago’. Theres only more to come from this fine label…whether its reissues or all new original artist material, Derradji/Still Music label is a dedicated purveyor of the golden quality we talk about on Timeline Music. Again, check this label out.

Toast to Still and Hot Mix 5 for making the ‘Sweet House Chicago’ reissue happen, as it really is historical in meaning, this compilation, originally dropped in 1989, and now has been reissued for the first time; and wow is the remastering done mighty,mighty fine.The wise will listen and hear just what we are talking about. Surely this one is anticipated with great interest, something that hasn’t happened in 3 decades, and will likely sell out fast. Their is a 12” and CD version; the CD version contains the 12” mix of ‘Anticipate’ remixed by Mickey Oliver himself, and Ralphi Rosario’s 12 “ remix of ‘I Need A Beat’. These are great inclusions, and both are rare and special to have.

This is essential house music with timeless late evening class, not constrained by words like “contemporary” or stuck in the past; you can win and play this just as confidently today.

There’s just enough lysergic juice to add tracks from ‘Sweet House Chicago’ to an acid set, or spin these for a proper banging house trek, so it’s time to pay the Legends from Hot Mix 5 and Still Music the real respect; You’ll do yourself and that cool audience quite a favor with much flavor, when you put these original bangers on deck for your next House set.

‘Sweet House Chicago’ reinvites you to taste the fine mix of House and Street Soul with Acid and indulge in these Chicago House classics. Now available at the realest and finest of dealers.