Shelley Johannson's Essential Classic Dance Playlist

Shelley Johannson's Essential Classic Dance Playlist

September 21, 2021

So much of our recent chat with Shelley Johannson centered around her musical roots. She opened up about the songs that made her fall in love with dance music and how they’ve made such a lasting emotional impact on her life. Her podcast One-Eighty and her Instagram feed perfectly encapsulate her love for moving forward while never forgetting where she came from. She’s a dance music encyclopedia and regularly shares her knowledge with the community.

We thought it’d be a great move to hit her and have her share her favorite classic dance tracks. It was a welcome trip down memory lane for the Toronto-based techno artist. It was also a reminder of the rich tapestry of sounds that have made up dance music for the last three decades.

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1. Reese - Rock To The Beat (1989)

Released on Kevin Saunderson’s KMS records this classic Chicago house cut features a slinky soulful vocal from Latonya Saunderson, Kevin’s sister. Saunderson adopted the Reese moniker for the first time on "Just Want Another Chance" in 1987. It was the first time the iconic reese bass was used in dance music, a sound that has gone on to be the foundation of jungle and D&B.

 

2. Age Of Love - The Age Of Love (Jam & Spoon Watch Out for Stella Mix) (1992)

Long before Charlotte DeWitte and chart-topping remake by Charlotte de Witte and Enrico Sangiuliano, this trance classic captivated the murky warehouse dancefloors of the early 90s. The Jam & Spoon remix was released two years after the original and was much more successful than the original. The remix takes its name from Jam El Mar's daughter of the same name. While it’s not the first trance record released, it’s one of the finest examples of early trance.

 

3. Bedrock - For What You Dream Of (1993)

Written by progressive icons John Digweed and Nick Muir, the vocal that carries this rousing emotional beat into the stratosphere was written and performed by noted playwright and vocalist Carol Leeming. It was just one of the many classic dance tunes featured in the movie “Trainspotting.”

 

4. New Order - Confusion (Pump Panel Reconstruction Mix) (1995)

There are few synth riffs more recognizable than the bouncing acid line from this remix. Often mistakenly called “Blood Rave” by The Crystal Method, no such song exists in their catalog. Aside from the distorted vocoded vocal version of the original’s acapella, Pump Panel’s remix bears no resemblance to the original and has become an iconic piece of dance music history all its own. 

 

5. Armand Van Helden - U Don't Know Me (1998)

Armand Van Helden sent German vocalist Duane Harden a loop of samples from “Dance With You” by Carrie Lucas, Plastic Dreams by Jaydee, and oddly a clip from 90s Nickelodeon cartoon Dexters Laboratory, to write a vocal for. What resulted was a disco house tune for anyone that has ever felt judged in their life. Thirty years later it still results in a giant dance floor sing-along.

 

6. Stardust - Music Sounds Better With You (1998)

This is the only release by French band Stardust, made up of Thomas Bangalter of Daft Punk, DJ and producer Alan Braxe, and vocalist Benjamin Diamond. The song was originally performed live by the trio at the legendary Rex nightclub in Paris. The lyrics were co-written by the bandmates, and were originally much longer. The shortened version ended up sounding like a mantra, and when completed the trio felt like they had written something groundbreaking.

 

 

7. Mr. Oizo - Flat Beat (1999)

 

Flat Beat was a wonderfully weird beat written for a loveable orange puppet named Flat Eric. Oizo thought it was just a “stupid loop” that he created solely to make Flat Eric dance in a Levi’s commercial. Oizo didn’t even consider himself a dance music producer at the time, but he unknowingly gave birth to the electro house movement several years before it had a name. 

 

8. ATB - 9PM (Till I Come) (1999)

Taken from German producer ATB’s debut album Movin' Melodies, the iconic pitch-bent synth comes from a pipe organ hook played on a guitar. The sultry suggestive vocal from spanish model Yolanda Rivera’s appearance on “The Way You Make Me Feel” by Ricky Rich and Julio Posadas. According to legend, ATB spent just a bit too much time in a studio session, giving the song it’s name 9PM.

 

 

9. Zombie Nation - Kernkraft 400 (1999)

I bet you thought the name of this song was Zombie Nation, so did I at one time. “Kernkraft 400” had a slithery hook that was inescapable after its release. It echoed from the rave to sports arena’s around the world. It’s seeped so far into the fabric of popular culture that its become genre-less. Elements of breakbeat, trance, and german techno are all heard, but who cares what genre it is, it still slaps.

 

10. Motorcycle - As The Rush Comes (2003) 

Motorcycle was a collaborative effort between Gabriel & Dresden and vocalist Jes. Released at the height of trance’s popularity, it was a crossover hit in the US and UK. It hit #1 on the US Billboard Dance Charts in 2004, remarkable for an underground record in the pre-EDM era. Proving that sometimes the best things in life come when you’re in the flow, the trip says they wrote and recorded the song in one day.

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