Underrated Trax Records Tracks | Features | MN2S

We shine a light on underrated cuts from the Trax Records vaults.

Trax Records may be one of the most respected and influential record labels in house music history, but that doesn’t mean all of its releases got the recognition they deserved in their own time. Alongside tentpole artists like Marshall Jefferson and Frankie Knuckles, there were many more DJ-producers putting music out on the label, some of whom never gained superstar status. Even Jefferson, Knuckles and co. have their fair share of underrated gems.

To set the record straight, here are some of the most underrated classic Trax tracks of all time.

1. Mystic Bill – ‘Homage To Chicago’ [1995]

“In my mind there ain’t no doubt that we created a sound called house,” says the spoken-word vocalist of this Mystic Bill track. The DJ came on the scene slightly after Chicago’s original boom, which may explain why he went relatively under the radar. It certainly wasn’t down to the quality of his music, which easily lives up to Trax Records standards.

This track is a battle of duelling sequencers, with multiple drum lines being frequently overridden by a staccato acid synth. A reissue of his Mystic Files EP made the track much easier to track down recently, so it’s definitely worth seeking it out.

2. Maurice Joshua with Hot Hands Hula – ‘I Gotta Big Dick (Instrumental)’ [1988]

Maurice Joshua’s big hit was ‘This Is Acid’, which originally appeared as a B-side for ‘I Gotta Big Dick’, but the instrumental version of the lead track went sadly under recognized.

Those familiar with the vocal version of ‘I Gotta Big Dick’ will know that the song is mostly made up of iterations of the titular vocal sample. If, like most instrumental versions, producer Lindell Townsell had just removed the vocal line, the song would have fallen apart.

To make it work, ‘I Gotta Big Dick (Instrumental)’ is almost an entirely different song, bringing in some synth lines that don’t appear in the original song until much later in the game, and adding original instrumental parts of its own. The resulting track has the makings of an acid house classic.

3. Farley Jackmaster Funk – ‘Give Yourself To Me’ [1986]

Released under the creative pseudonym The Rude Boy Himself Farley Farley Farley, ‘Give Yourself To Me’ flew under the radar when it was first released, so much so that it appeared on Trax’s Chicago Trax Volume 2 compilation, which specifically set out to shine a light on ‘lost tracks’ from the label’s history.

The track is one of Farley’s most layered, with Ricky Dillard and Kevin Irving making uncredited vocal cameos. A collaboration with fellow producer Danny Wilson, ‘Give Yourself To Me’ deserves to be up there with the Jackmaster’s finest work.

4. Willie Wonka – ‘What Is House?’ [1986]

Though Chicago house is known for its love affair with the Roland TR-808 drum machine, ‘What Is House sees producer Dwayne Grant taking the Linn Drum for a spin, and to great effect. The vocalist is uncredited, but some say it’s Grant (or Wonka as he’s known here) himself, reading a news article about the rise of dance music in Chicago.

Whether it is based on an existing news report or not, Grant’s essay is a comprehensive answer to the question ‘What Is House?’ at the time, which acts gives us a snapshot into the way house music was perceived during its earliest days.

5. Fast Eddie – ‘No Other Lover’ [1993]

Eddie “Fast Eddie” Smith was one of Chicago’s premiere DJs during Chicago house’s peak, both on the airwaves and in the clubs. He released three albums to great success on DJ International Records, but this song for Trax is now one of the rarest releases from the era.

Featuring a melodic vocal line and some dark and atmospheric instrumentation, ‘No Other Lover’ almost anticipates the sounds that would come out of Detroit in the near future. This is one classic Trax track that was far ahead of its time.

Book the Trax Records tour or Farley Jackmaster Funk, to bring the classic Chicago sound to your venue.

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