More than any other genre, house music is all about the dance floor. But that doesn’t mean there haven’t been great house albums. Here are the best house albums.
House music is one of the most popular and musically rich genres of all time. But where many hip-hop, R&B and rock artists focus their efforts on making full-length LPs, house music is often aimed squarely at the club, released on 12” singles, EPs and compilations.
Despite this, there are still many house albums that can easily go toe to toe with the records at the top of conventional Best Albums of All Time lists. Here are just five of them.
5. Masters at Work – The Album [Ausfahrt/UMM/Cutting Records, 1993]
Masters at Work, comprised of ‘Little’ Louie Vega and Kenny ‘Dope’ Gonzales, is one of the most influential production and DJ duos of all time. Perhaps best known for their string of high profile remixes for the likes of Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson, and Madonna, and for their solo singles particularly with India on vocals, Masters at Work changed the sound of dance music forever.
Their mix of Latin rhythms and soulful vocals is present on this two LP set. Also present are sounds indebted to reggae and hip-hop. All of this is wrapped up in Masters at Work’s trademark funky house production. It more than holds up for the album’s duration. Classics like ‘I Can’t Get No Sleep’ and ‘When You Touch Me’ fit just as comfortably on The Album as they do on the dance floor.
4. Moodymann – Silentintroduction [Planet E, 1997]
Moodymann is a deep house enigma. His mysterious and infrequent public appearances coupled with his sometimes cryptically assembled releases help create this image. Sometimes track pop up on multiple LPs and EPs in different forms. Track eight on Silentintroduction does not even appear on the tracklist and track three is simply titled ‘The Third Track’.
All of Moodymann’s albums are expertly constructed from start to finish, and his influence on underground music, electronic or otherwise, cannot be overstated. His debut, Silentintroduction, may be his best. A collage of samples from jazz, funk, gospel and disco, interspersed with vocals and spoken word, and coated in smooth synths and rough drums, Silentintroduction introduced the world to one of Detroit’s greatest and proudest exports. The tracks work in the club, but the album is mixed in such a way and flows so naturally that you would never want to take it apart.
3. Kerri Chandler – Hemisphere [Freetown Inc, 1996]
Kerri Chandler has been an influential name in house music for decades. Released only on vinyl, this record is an LP in the truest sense. Actually it’s two, with eight tracks spread over four sides.
From hard house with techno leanings to softer, more soulful cuts, Hemisphere displays Kerri Chandler’s versatility and mastery.
Features come from Arnold Jarvis, Fonda Rae, and an uncredited Bas Noir on the standout ‘Thinkin’ It’s Over’. Chandler went on to release countless classic 12” singles and EPs on bigger labels and his own Kaoz Theory Records, but Hemisphere remains an essential full-length album fans of deep house.
2. Marshall Jefferson – Day of the Onion [KTM, 1996]
Marshall Jefferson already had a long successful career behind him when he released his first studio album. He made his name with club staples like ‘Move Your Body’, and with Day of the Onion he proved himself more than capable of delivering a full-length album.
The album was more melancholy and meditative than Jefferson’s previous work, but it was not a departure in terms of quality. Standouts like ‘Love Gets Stronger’ and opener ‘Party Time’ demonstrate Jefferson’s strength as a synth player. As one of Chicago house’s original pioneers, it is no wonder Marshall Jefferson made such an accomplished album, but it is to his credit that he managed to craft something that didn’t lean too hard on his established expertise.
1. 808 State – Newbuild [Creed, 1988]
One of the earliest best deep house albums, 808 State’s Newbuild is an acid house masterpiece. Though the group had success with singles, they paid more attention to the album format than many of their acid peers. As a result, their album discography is stellar.
Newbuild’s DIY aesthetic stems from the fact that is was recorded on discarded tape found in a BBC studios bin. The trio, comprised of A Guy Called Gerald (who later made one of the best jungle albums in Black Science Technology), Graham Massey and Martin Price, took DJ Pierre’s ‘Acid Trax’ sound to the next level, making a 303 bass synthesizer sound rawer than ever before.
808 State’s debut and its follow-up Ninety inspired countless musicians to pick up a drum machine and start their own careers in the field of electronic music.