The small but hugely influential Rockin’ House catalog still holds many mysteries it has yet to surrender.
DJs love to dig this label, finding random b-sides and alternate mixes that were ahead of their time, went out of fashion and came back around to please dancefloors yet again.
You can read about some of the better known records, like DJ Lil’Tal’s Juke Tracks and Tyree Cooper’s “Video Crash” in our tribute to Rodney Baker. “Love Is Happiness” is very well known at this point too. Here we wanted to farm some of the lesser known gems from Rockin’ House’s back catalog.
Various: Rockin’ House Tracks (1987)
This is a brilliant slice of life from the Summer of ’87. Rockin’ House’s second release was a V/A 12″ and all four tracks deserve their own entry here, featuring several producers with a very slight discography outside of Rockin’ House. Keith Anderson flexes his drum machine patterns on “Jack Your Back.” Acid invades on the B-side with Terrence Woodard’s fierce “Jack The Box Part 2” and the prototype Chip E-style jack track on Kenny K. Collins’ “Beat My House.” The highlight is just the second release from the mysterious Fred Brown, “Roman Days,” which Baker would later prefer over Brown’s better known “House Whop.”
Rodney Bakerr: Club House (Acid Mix) (2014)
Another “lost” recording, “The Club House Sessions” were dated by Baker to 1989 (and retained the early RH012 catalog number), but released from the notorious Baker vaults only in 2014. The Acid Mix is otherworldly — floating over a plodding bassline like some kind of disembodied tweaked-out choir.
The Answer: The Party Line (1988)
Two of the most influential figures in early Chicago house have barely any record credits to their names. Ron Hardy’s fame has spread far and wide. Michael Ezebukwu, who began spinning in 1977 on the Southside of Chicago, is still a largely overlooked figure, despite Frankie Knuckles and Robert Williams both vouching for him — the latter, founder of the Warehouse and The Muzik Box, judging Ezebukwu’s contributions “equally as valuable as Ron Hardy, Frankie Knuckles and his other DJ peers.” This is one of the handful of records with an Ezebukwu credit, the X-rated “Bukwu Line” remix and a mix named after his residency at Club LaRay on North Halsted.
The H-Men: Scream (Acid Pella Mix) (1988)
The bassline on this song is apocalyptic: you can feel it long before you hear it and you can feel it much better than you can hear it. Pure sinister energy on the “Acid Pella Mix,” which is still beloved by DJs who want to pull the walls down on the party.
Rodney Bakerr & The Rocking House Chicago Mob: The Numbers (Mike Dunn Mixx) EP (1990)
Maybe one of the best examples of Rodney dropping live instruments into hard tracks for the better. “The Numbers” doubled a 303 squelch with a brassy trumpet solo, and Rodney himself played guitar on the Play It Again Mix. The vocals on Mike Dunn’s mix are like free electrons slamming into each other — those vocals, keys, trumpet and the 303 are racing. It gets heated.
Mystic: House Girl (Acid Mix) (1988)
Listen to most of the mixes and you can hear the age in which these tracks were made. Listen to the tweaked as fuck “Acid Mix” and you can hear the future seeping in from the crack under the door. Great 303 track that has been loved up by some of the top DJ diggers over the years. Inexplicably, the Acid Mix was left off the reissue by Clone.
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