"Back in June, the Guardian gave it a go and in our opinion missed much of the point..."
November 15, 2011 11:30 AM   Subscribe

DJHistory.com's list of 100 Greatest Dance Records may not be definitive or feature your favorite record, but it's hard to say that each and every record on there hasn't earned its place, from the Northern Soul swing of "The Clapping Song" to the post-ironic dancehall of "Pon De Floor."

DJHistory.com sprung from the work of Bill Brewster and Frank Broughton, whose books Last Night a DJ Saved My Life and The Record Players: DJ Revolutionaries are in the (woefully) shallow canon of intelligent, unpretentious writing about dance music.
posted by beaucoupkevin (38 comments total) 36 users marked this as a favorite
Any list that starts out with Shirley Ellis is on the right track.
posted by Foam Pants at 11:58 AM on November 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

Two Skream songs and not a single Giorgio Moroder?
posted by synthetik at 11:58 AM on November 15, 2011 [2 favorites]

I imagine the amount of Northern Soul on there might puzzle a non-British audience, but whatever - it's a list of really great records, without any dance music snobbery, either (see, eg., numbers 57 and 68).
posted by jack_mo at 11:58 AM on November 15, 2011

not a single Giorgio Moroder?

That is a bit of an oversight.
posted by jack_mo at 12:02 PM on November 15, 2011 [2 favorites]

synthetik: donna summer's "i feel love" was produced by moroder

going to go through this flame-bait (every list is...) right now... i'm digging it so far. thank you for posting! :)
posted by raihan_ at 12:03 PM on November 15, 2011

That's true, I didn't even think of that one, it probably is his best known work.
posted by synthetik at 12:05 PM on November 15, 2011

I imagine the amount of Northern Soul on there might puzzle a non-British audience

I think Americans could discover a new joy in their own musical history by getting into Northern South. I know I did.
posted by Foam Pants at 12:06 PM on November 15, 2011

Since they link to every track on youtube, is there one youtube playlist that includes all the songs in order?
posted by ChrisHartley at 12:08 PM on November 15, 2011

Yes, I really, really appreciate the fact that they went through the list and have links for them all. That's essential these days. But if, down the line, there's one big play list -- or maybe a Spotify or other music service way of sharing it -- I'd be all over that.

(And it's all on one page. Yes, I set the bar very low for 'Internet lists')

That said, the list as is is fantastic, and I look forward to being able to listen to both the songs I know and (especially) those I don't. There's enough that I like on the list that I'm feeling pretty confident that I'll enjoy the rest.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 12:13 PM on November 15, 2011

Not a bad list...but no MJ?
posted by Lutoslawski at 12:26 PM on November 15, 2011

No Kiss, I Was Made for Loving You? Excellent work!
posted by Renoroc at 12:26 PM on November 15, 2011

Lots of great stuff listed, but no Daft Punk. Really?
posted by sparkletone at 12:42 PM on November 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

At least it contains the single best bassline of the 1990s.

It is, however, missing the best sub-bassline of the 1990s (also by Armand van Helden).
posted by yellowcandy at 12:52 PM on November 15, 2011

Fucking love The Clapping Song. Someday, in an alternate universe where I'm a film director, I'm going to use it to score an opening credits montage from the perspective of a car driving into and then around a city, past famous signs and quirky landmarks.
posted by Afroblanco at 12:54 PM on November 15, 2011

So, who's going to make this into a Spotify playlist? (Dammit, MCMikeNamara suggested it first).
posted by loriginedumonde at 1:17 PM on November 15, 2011

No George Clinton, Stevie Wonder...anyway, I guess that's not the point, so I'd add Les Ritas Mitsoku - Marcia Balia and Edwin Starr - 25 Miles.
posted by johnny novak at 2:00 PM on November 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

Love that they included Faze Action - In The Trees.

Other than that, #60-#80 are all pretty on-point picks. Back when those records were new and I was hearing them on the dance-floor for the first time, they sounded so impossibly futuristic. I remember thinking that if underground music could be this fresh and this funky now (in 1993), what will it sound like in 20 years...? Well, to be honest, I'm a little disappointed it hasn't gone further, but I guess Skrillex is interesting enough. Maybe in another 15 or 20 there will be something radical and scary enough to make me want the kids off my lawn.
posted by FeralHat at 4:19 PM on November 15, 2011

Everything I recognize feels like a good choice but then I think of something like George McRae's Rock Your Baby not being there and think, some lists just shouldn't be limited to 100.

Seriously, I've seen that song melt the toughest crowds. Heavy duty rocker dudes who were demanding ACDC ten minutes earlier unconsciously grooving away, even singing along, going for those high notes.
posted by philip-random at 4:30 PM on November 15, 2011

Any list that starts with the Clapping Song is OK with this heavy duty rocker dude.
posted by jonmc at 4:39 PM on November 15, 2011

("Northern South" is an excellent typo.)
posted by nebulawindphone at 4:48 PM on November 15, 2011

I'm not up on the genre, so tell me. "M/A/R/R/S – Pump Up The Volume" only comes in at #50? That's one of my favorite songs ever. Does it really not deserve to be any higher?
posted by benito.strauss at 5:00 PM on November 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

Not to mention missing the best bassline of the 1990s played entirely by an instrument that isn't a bass (or a synthesized bass)


It seems like the list runs out of steam towards the end, with only two songs in the last five years. But overall the tunes are pretty great, even if they miss Dead or Alive, Inner City, etc.
posted by snofoam at 5:07 PM on November 15, 2011

I'm kind of surprised that there isn't a twist record of any kind on there, if only because it was the biggest dance craze of all time (I have over 50 mp3's of twist records in my collection, and many of them are fantastic), so it's due some historical respect if nothing else.
posted by jonmc at 5:33 PM on November 15, 2011

The list, if you haven't noticed (as some may not per some comments, and I didn't at first) is chronological. Which makes it even better in my opinio. I liked everything I recognized near the top but once I got to, say, 1987 (Nitzer Ebb for the win!*), I was won over. (To be embarassingly obvious that's when I first noticed the order...'why are all these high school/college tracks ranked here?....oh...duh')

In the interest of being the change I want to see in the world, I am, as suggested above, putting together my first Spotify playlist. Will update when I finish. Though I have know idea how to share such things yet. (See d.o.b. referenced above...I'm Napster, BitTorrent at best)

Also, I'm pretty sure it'd be chatfilter but (based on this thread) I'm tempted to AskMe what was forgotten. Twisting, for sure.

* Can you imagine how fucked up awesome that parallel universe version of Hollywood Squares would be?
posted by MCMikeNamara at 5:39 PM on November 15, 2011

Well, it's trivial to make a YT playlist of all the tracks which have YT linked videos. However, as I browsed the list, I listened to many of the tracks and then saved 22 or so of my favorites to my own playlist.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 6:13 PM on November 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

I think Americans could discover a new joy in their own musical history by getting into Northern Soul.

from the perspective of someone who actually spent a good part of the 60s listening to american top 40 radio, yes, the northern soul thing has rediscovered some nice obscure records - but it's impossible for me to separate those songs from 60s soul at large

besides - we have beach music, which actually has its own kind of feel to it, for the most part
posted by pyramid termite at 6:34 PM on November 15, 2011

Here's a list of 75+ of the songs that I could easily find on Spotify. I may update it as I have more time (as anybody who has ever searched for dance music online knows, shit is hardly ever spelled or labelled consistently... or right)
posted by MCMikeNamara at 6:01 AM on November 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

That's a pretty good list, though I'll note the absence of Shannon's "Let the Music Play," a huge hit and a key influence on Latin Freestyle. (Maybe it made the Guardian list instead.) Also, the omission of Stop Bajon" and "Where Love Lives" seems amiss. The former was a Balearic staple, the latter has that fab piano intro.
posted by octobersurprise at 6:56 AM on November 16, 2011

Jeez, terrible list. Dizee Rascal is Dance music now? No Chic, Stevie Wonder, Abba. Sometimes they try too hard with these lists, like it has to be "just-so".

Useless media-centric guardianistas try to prove how cool they are. Massive Fail.
posted by marienbad at 7:23 AM on November 16, 2011

Oh, don't be a grouch, marienbad, you're cool, too.
posted by octobersurprise at 8:30 AM on November 16, 2011 [2 favorites]

On the 90s techno front, I'd add Hardfloor - Acperience 1, Plastikman - Spastik, and Dave Clarke - Red 1. And to expand a little more by way of the format techno was intended to be heard in, mix #11 here nails a lot of important tracks of the early 90's for me.

Sweet Exorcist - Testone (Warp)
Choice - Acid Eiffel (Fragile)
Vapourspace - Gravitational Arch of 10 (Plus 8 Records)
Aphrohead - In the Dark We Live (Dave Clarke's 312 Mix) (Bush)
Polygon Window - Quoth (Warp)
Hardfloor - Acperience (Harthouse)
Joey Beltram - Energy Flash (Tresor)
Orbital - Chime (FFRR)
Nightmares On Wax - I'm for Real (Warp)
Emmanuel Top - Replay (Novamute)
The Martian - Star Dancer (Red Planet)
posted by Hubajube at 11:41 AM on November 16, 2011

The fact that it has not a single trance record is kind of ridiculous.
posted by empath at 2:25 PM on November 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

pyramid termite: "it's impossible for me to separate those songs from 60s soul at large"

To be fair, Northern Soul encompasses a fair amount of stuff that wouldn't ordinarily be called soul, and release dates stretch right into the late '70s (though you might get punched in the face for suggesting the latter to some fans!).

empath: "The fact that it has not a single trance record is kind of ridiculous."

I might have to revise my 'no snobbery' assessment - it's a shame trance gets completely written off for being embarrassing mainstream cheese, when there's plenty of good stuff under that label (especially from the early 90s).
posted by jack_mo at 11:00 AM on November 17, 2011

I mean, I can get why you wouldn't want Sandstorm on there, but I dunno, pick something to represent what was at one point the most popular genre of dance music world wide.
posted by empath at 11:35 AM on November 17, 2011

No question, Shirley really knew how to reach her audience!

MeFi MeFi Bo BeFi
Banana-fana fo fefi
Fe-fi mo mefi
posted by Twang at 6:02 PM on November 17, 2011

Played to death everywhere from middle school dances to big deal hockey games (and sporting a dumb video) but Darude's Sandstorm is conspicuous by its absence on this list.

It's a genuine joy to dance to.
posted by philip-random at 8:50 PM on November 17, 2011

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