Everyone has their favourite Old Skool dance tune from the past; ones they danced to in clubs years ago, listened to on the radio or listen to now! I have listed most played old skool from the 80’s right up until 1999.
Eurythmics – Sweet Dreams – 1983
Perfectly played in the middle of an Old Skool, current pop, party set and 80s set making a very versatile track. Suitable for all age groups from young to old and a great choice to play to help fill an empty dance floor. With the advancements in technology and more and more sound samples at a push of a button dance music, as we hear it today was born and about to explode into something very new and exciting. Considering its release in 1983 the sound was well ahead of the times and definitely groundbreaking stuff.
Frankie Knuckles – Baby Wants To Ride / Your Love – 1987
If you are into house music then you will have heard of and know something about Frankie Knuckles – some say the God Father of house music. The main melody is more recognised and associated with ‘You Got the Love’ by Candi Staton. However, Mr Knuckles didn’t come up with this track and was in fact produced and released back in 1986 by another Chicago house legend named Jaime Principle who is better known in the States. In 1989 this was considered the summer of love track all over the UK.
New Order – Blue Monday – 1988
A perfect blend of electronic beats, rock samples and vocals. A floor filla for sure and suits best when played for an with an older crowd, although many of the younger generation will know this too. Originally produced and released in 1983 and later remixed into the famous 12″ version we all know today. A great tune to play that sets the mood, or during the peak of set without worrying that you will loose the dance floor and atmosphere.
CE CE ROGERS – SOMEDAY – 1988
Probably the most influential and recognised piano riff used on a house track that is still being remixed today. Marshall Jefferson was the master who created the production and the classy vocals performed by Ce Ce Rogers. Any dance music fan will go crazy when they hear that defining piano melody, whether on the original or any of the many remixes. It took the US club scene by storm before hitting Europe and most people say (I believe also) that this was the start of dance music as we know it today, so on this list, the biggest (possibly) and most influential track.
Joe Smooth – Promised Land – 1988
Beautifully put together with a deep sounding production and big soulful vibes. The song is about humans making it to paradise and angels coming down so make what you want out of that – but after a long session on the dance floor this will help you wind down. I wasn’t on the dance floor during the late 80’s, but I’m sure a happy atmosphere was created. You could say this was the first big chill out house tune ever made.
Theme to S Express – S Express – 1988
The sound of commercial acid house was born and introduced to clubs and bars worldwide. You could also categorise this as an early Eurohouse track, but lets not get too hasty.. Produced in the UK and built up with 14 samples from other songs that were made mainly in the 80’s, a few in the 70’s and one from the 60’s. A versatile song that can be played during an Old Skool or 80’s set.
The Adventures of Stevie V – Dirty Cash (Money Talks) – 1989
A great pop song invented in 1989 with a funk breakbeat, loud scream (typical Old Skool) samples chopped up and then a melodious and soulful vocal to top it off. Reaching number 2 in the UK charts a remix from Dizzee Rascal put ‘Dirty Cash’ back into fame in 2009 – 20 years later! Not best to be played in the middle of a fast BPM dance set but definitely one to drop as a popular tune.
Blackbox – Ride on Time – 1989
Dance music was gaining credibility with another 80’s chart topper that sounds perfect played amongst a collection of House classics. Sampling from the hit ‘Love Sensation’ its recognised internationally and the lyrics have a good effect on the ladies moving to the dance floor for a sing-a-long and boogie. There were many mixes produced years after and you can be sure another DJ-producer will remix this again soon enough.
TECHNOTRONIC – PUMP UP THE JAM – 1989
The best tune to come out of Belgium gaining more exposure for commercial house music. The track uses different styles of electronic sounds, or some may know as a sub-genre named New Beat which originated from Belgium bringing a completely new sound to dance music. ‘Pump up the Jam’ includes a catchy chorus that the crowd can easily join in with. This tune is recognised by all ages all over the world.
Jimmy Polo – Better Days – 1989
You don’t need to be into any particular style of music to understand how inspirational a good piano melody is. With simple elements and purity that combine to make my favorite American house track from the 90’s. The beat is original US garage through and through with a great vocal added and to top it off a catchy piano riff. I actually play the Sasha remix that came out in 1991 – it’s just that little bit more refined. For anyone who doesn’t know Jimmy Polo’s mix then I’m sure you’ll be familiar with the Pianoman’s mix ‘Blurred’ (if you were brought up in the 90’s) which was a remix of ‘Girls & Boys’ by Blur in 1994, and/or before that in 1991 ’40 Mile’ by Congress.
Inner City – Good Life – 1989
From Detroit a powerful track that combines soul and techno elegantly and perfectly, bringing together genres and cultures. Good Life is another (out of many) track that puts everyday troubles to one side to allow for a mix of cultures and tastes to unit and enjoy the night out. A high flyer in the charts so anyone who likes and knows music from the 80’s and Old Skool lovers will appreciate this one. More of an early night warm up tune than an ‘in your face’ banger!
Xpansions – Move Your Body (Elevation) – 1990
Another natural progression in house and stand out anthem from the 90’s that sounds just as complete now. This was possibly the biggest dance tune from 1990 with its recognised chorus (Move Your Body, higher, higher, hi-hi-higher), raw & quick piano riff intro and not forgetting that positive beat. If I can remember rightly it was also part of the soundtrack for California Man.
Anthem (N-Joi song) – 1990
A UK dance single produced by a couple of Essex boy’s. I still experience goose bumps when that gorgeous piano melody channels in and I see an excited an dance floor jumping with appreciation. An established track which had more success on the Billboard charts than the UK where it only progressed to 45th!
Asha – Tribute 1990
One of the best, if not the best piano house tracks ever produced with legendary vocals by Janis Joplin. The piano riffs are the main characteristics on this and when the main hook is very uplifting The original was made in 1990 but then realised as a UK mix in 1995 which still managed to receive major play. For anyone who was around for the rave scene during the early 90’s most would say this was one of the greatest underground dance tracks.
King Bee – Back By Dope Demand – 1990
All the way from the Netherlands mixed with a hip hop vocal and a distinct hint of sounding Old Skool flavours. The Dutch were pretty much in command producing dance beats with hip hop vocals laid over during the early 90’s and they still had a lot more to come. Its one to drop for the guy’s who are in to their hip hop context but you can always get away with playing this beast during a dance set.
C+C Music Factory – Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now) – 1990
A perfect mix of down tempo breakbeat, electro and hip hop – this took the world by storm by smashing the charts internationally. One of the most diverse and useful tunes on my list because it can be played in the middle of any set genre, although it’s not the quickest tune and is difficult to try and beat match with most dance or house beats. It’s a big tune so just drop it in and the crowd will go wild! A tune for anyone who’s into their 90’s and for the younger crowd a great remix saw French producer Bob Sinclair sample most elements from the original.
Truelove* Presents… Source, The Featuring Candi Staton – You Got The Love (Erens Bootleg Mix) – 1991
“Sometimes I feel like throwing my hands up in the air. I know I can count on you” Those lyrics stand out more than any others in the dance music world and of course, perfect for a hands in the air moment. Its slow tempo makes a perfect end of the night tune but will also be just as effective as an alternative to a regular house BPM track. The recognised intro was taken from the legend Frankie Knuckles and ‘Your Love’ and anyone of any age will appreciate & know this phenomenon.
Finally – CeCe Peniston – 1991
A fine approach to house, representing class in production using a strong piano melody. One of the biggest dance tracks that fits into the House & Garage genre which the UK embraced and went on to form many other sub Garage genre styles. Best played for ladies of all ages during a party or Old Skool set, or if you simply want the dance floor to get busy!
Rozella – Everybody’s Free (To Feel Good) – 1991
For me this tune was the introduction of trance sounding Euro-House with the fashionable Acid house and to top it off a great and catchy vocal. Many DJ’s have had the honor of remixing this authentic track to play for busy & bouncing dance floors in Europe, Australasia and over in the USA where it reached No.1 Spot on the Billboard dance charts. In all honestly though I do not play the full tune – crowds like the lyrics mainly.
Liquid – Sweet Harmony – 1991
One of the big early UK Hardcore rave tunes which used Ce Ce Rogers infectious piano melody on ‘Someday’. One for the Old Skool crew this is an all-rounder with a sharp production and a unique & beautiful vocal that makes the hairs on your arm stand to attention! Anyone should have the desire (100%) to play this in an Old Skool set. Produced in 1991 with only 500 copies realised, it went on to be released officially a year later. My personal favorite is the Ratpack remix!
Awesome 3 – Don’t Go – 1991
A big rave tune that’s piano riff and beat (sampled from Stone Roses – Fools Gold) are instantly recognisable. Personally for me the best version is by Kicks Like A Mule, as you can chop the mix up with some great samples. I find the vocals appeal to the ladies and they’re easy enough to sing to. It has some heavy sub kicks which sound awesome on a loud sound system and adopting a big piano melody like this works for anyone.
Dr Alban – It’s My Life – 1991
‘Its My Life’ is a known chorus all over the world and a very likable tune. More of a Euro house style sound and beat, produced in Sweden and hitting the number 1 chart spot over there as it did in other countries. A great pop tune that you would hear at a wedding or general party where you wouldn’t normally find hardcore ravers!
Unfinished Sympathy Massive Attack – 1991
Timeless is the only fair comment I can possible say about Unfinished Symphony. After playing a heavy dance set finish off with this track and you’ll see in turn a happy dance floor, feeling the love and chilling out as the night comes to an end. The strings were taken from Henryk Gorecki’s ‘Symphony No.3’ produced in 1976 which probably helps make this the greatest chill out track of all time. If you know a better one, please let me know!
Bizarre Inc – Playing With Knives – 1991
What I love about the early 90’s was the fact that dance tunes were so unique and special with personality. Playing with knives will easily be in anyone’s top ten favorite Old Skool tunes with its amazing vocal, piano riff and edgy acid sounds samples. It really does combine various musical flavors, chopped up samples and new sounds to help move the dance genre in to a new phase. Reaching number 4 in the UK charts it was loved by men and woman and even those who were not really into, or had no real idea what dance music was!
2 Unlimited – Get Ready For This – 1991
So on to one of the big gun dance acts in the industry and who else but 2 Unlimited. The real raver’s from that period would hate this tune – it’s just too commercial but no one can deny that its iconic. Like most dance tracks there was an orchestral mix realised originally but then a cheesy vocal added which sent ‘Get Ready For This’ mainstream. It charted very well all over Europe and was the only track from the group that was listed in the Billboards. This is an honest Euro dance track for any party and any occasion – it does what it’s supposed to do to any dance floor and that is rock it.
Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam – Let The Beat Hit ‘Em – 1991
Another great development in dance from the USA with catchy vocals and a distinctive melody that has been remixed plenty of times. Everything about this tune is aimed at the nightclub and dance scene – especially for the ladies too. This is a great line – “The DJ comes to the next cue. You feel the beat you’ve got to move to. The people screaming yelling on the floor singing please Mr. DJ!
FPI Project – Everybody (All Over The World)
A great sample taken from Kool & The Gang ‘Come Together’ this is a great early 90’s Ibiza house track from the Germans. I always seem to compare this tune to Jinny ‘Keep Warm’?! It’s a definite crowd pleaser with friendly vibes and great piano drops – which you gotta love!
Bassheads – Is There Anybody Out There – 1991
Everything from acid riffs and deep strings that make this track unique and absolutely special, not forgetting fantastic too. The guitar string that helps this track build up and up for almost half the track length to then drop into a solo piano riff which his truly magical. The dance floor will illuminate with happiness and a few whistles will be heard for sure.stays A perfectly balanced record throughout mixed with deepness and happy vibes. The Vocals from are taken from “Just Get Up And Dance” by Afrika Bambaataa but they do not turn the instrumental (original) in to a cheesy radio track.
Jinny – Keep Warm – 1991
All the way from Italy a quick, happy and great tune by the the band from Italy. With a quick break beat and a quick piano riff this track is faultless and a 90’s classic. The video is less desirable though as you may figure out.
Adamski & Seal – Killer – 1991
A tune that was well ahead of its time for me put together with soul and passion and this is probably why it held the number 1 spot for weeks! A timeless and distinct bassline which makes the song is instantly recognised by anyone into their 80’s / 90’s tracks. Adding the to amazing beat and strings was Seal who performed the vocals who in one of the best UK R’n’B vocalists around. All in all a great chilled out tune, great for warming up the crowd.
Sonz of a Loop da Loop Era – Far Out – 1991
A big ravey beat, a ravey piano and great chopped up scratching samples which makes fun track to beat match. This was an instant hit and should always be played at the peak of your set and if you loose the dance floor then you’re at the wrong gig!
Altern 8 (Come With Me) – 1991
Altern 8 is a British Duo who was a massive influence to the rave scene and this track led them to fame in music. You may have been asked on Facebook to ‘Like’ a dedicated page to gatecrash the charts by sending ‘Come With Me’ to the number one spot and knock off the usual, boring a X-Factor Christmas release for that year. The hardcore duo were a massive influence on the rave scene and Come With Me reached number 3 in the UK charts which was superb for an un-commercial sound. Word of warning though – this track is for individuals who appreciate early 90’s rave and no one else!
Brothers In Rhythm – Such A Good Feeling – 1991
A crowd pleaser tune with everything that’s needed to make a massive chart hit. It reached number 1 in the USA and number 4 in the UK. It has a short beat intro before dropping into strong piano melody! Not all DJ’s would try and mix this in with its short intro but that doesn’t matter to the crowd waiting for that piano drop! Go a couple of years back you will know that the vocal sample is taken from CharVoni ‘Always There’. Classic!
Lock Up – Zero B – 1991
Amazing euphoric strings at the start with a classic rolling break beat (sampled from KC and the Sunshine Band ‘Let it Go’) dropped in, off-key bassline and then an original sounding breakdown of brightness a happiness that makes your hairs stand up. This is one of those rare tracks where you couldn’t name a specific year as to when this it was made because, simply, it is so good. One for any Old Skool raver and not your Nan – but defiantly a classic anthem.
Congress – 40 Miles – 1991
All the way from Belgium 40 miles samples the same piano riff created by Jimmy Polo for Better Days. Being from Europe it has a more techno vibe accompanied by a female vocal over and a plain 4 x 4 beat. It is obviously the piano riff that makes this badboy a successful rave tune!
Outta Space – The Prodigy – 1992
Now we enter the hardcore era and The Prodigy pretty much took the genre by storm. Outta Space vocals came from Peter Tosh originally and The Prodigy turned the tune in to a classic dance track that everybody knows today. This tune should always be played when the crowd is hyped up – it’s very fast and loud. The lead singer Keith really expresses himself by singing the Lyrics ‘ I take your brain to another dimension, pay close attention!’ Everyone knows that line! Taken from my favorite dance album – The Prodigy Experience.
Don’t You Want Me – Felix song – 1992
The dance industry said this tune opened the doors to Hardbag house which is more of a European and most certainly electronic sound (less dub) that we know and hear in clubs today, but Felix is from the UK remember! Being a successful UK dance track and popular liste it reached top ten here in the Uk, Europe and the States. Definitely one to drop during an Old Skool set to create a ‘big room’ atmosphere.
Manix – Feel Real Good – 1992
A powerful and simple rave tune that basically summed up what people were doing at the time (without going into obvious details) and that was simply having a great time in a happy atmosphere. Most will know what I’m on about! The main piano melody comes from another classic gem Sterling Void – ‘Don’t Wanna’ Go (1991) from the states which is speeded up. An addictive melody to make a fantastic and infectious hardcore tune.
Ratpack – Serchin for my Rizla – 1992
A very controversial rave tune from the UK which honored the no. 1 spot beating the likes of Madonna and taking the rave music scene to a new level. At the time police were trying to crack down on illegal raves which were fuelled with drugs and alcohol. For a chart topper the lyrics are not exactly radio friendly and that’s why Radio1 didn’t play the original – “Build another spliff until I was totally off my head” as the line went. A small sample was taken from Suzanne Vega’s ‘Tom’s Diner’ but other than that an original hit. They brought MC’ing as we know today to the dance music scene and this was ground breaking stuff from the London duo. A big tune that still rocks dance floors now.
ebeneezer goode – Shamen – 1992
Another commercial classic hit which was controversial and was originally banned by the BBC for blatantly advocating ecstasy usage – but then realised again with a radio friendly flavour. This is defiantly one tune for the lads to jump around to when they’re half cut on the dance floor and bumping in to each other on purpose. It was a chart topper in the UK and did quite well in other European countries and over in Australia. Not to be taken seriously and was purely made to make people laugh and piss off the police & government who were against the rave scene.
House of Pain – Jump Around – 1992
You can call a tune a grower but ‘Jump Around’ grew more popular the older it got. You will often see this track on some sort of ‘all time chart’ show, and why not, it is a true Old Skool party classic. Often used to keep an audience hyped up and used during sorts half time shows and other similar occasions. As soon as your audience hears those horns at the start they will be sure to know what is coming! The horn samples at the start were taken from Bob & Earl ‘ Harlem Shuffle, which also feature at the start.
SL2 – ON A RAGGA TIP – 1992
A lively and happy tune which samples an old 1980’s Ska hit ‘Walk & Skank’ by Jah Screechy (I only just found this out to be honest). Some may think this is just another cheesy remix which hit number 2 in the UK charts but it didn’t damage SL2’s strong credibility. In fact I would never leave this track out of a set – it gets people going and without a doubt is an all time hardcore classic for anyone to enjoy. There are not many other vocals as catchy as Ey ey ba day ba wadladie day, Ay um ba day, Ba day ba wadladie day, Ey ey ba day ba wadladie day, Ay um ba da- ay um ba da-da-da-da wadladie day!
Rhythm is a Dancer – Snap – 1992
As much of a chart song as a dance tune which reached number 1 in 11 different countries which is incredible. It was number 1 for 6 weeks in the UK charts alone – not many tunes do that! Coming from Germany this definitely fits into the Eurodance genre for anyone to dance too and is one of the most recognised tracks of all time! Great singing vocals with a terrible rap creeps in to my head.
Your Love – Prodigy – 1992
Coming from the The Experience album that introduced and got addicted dance music this hardcore classic will get any Old Skool fan jumping to the beat. With quick electro riffs the creativity on this track is unrivaled and arguably the most recognised track on the album. For anyone what the Prodigy do this just about sums it all up. The video gives you a pretty good idea of how mental they’re live. Oh….this will not be the only Prodigy tune on my list….obviously.
Aly-Us – Follow Me – 1992
When that perfect bassline projects out of a heavy sound system whether you know the song or not, you will absolutely love it. One of my personal favorites, this is a beautiful tune with interesting vocals – I mean, not the best singing but none the less this is a true anthem that will always sound great. If you want the dance floor to rock, drop this banger and you will be let down. An original House & Garage belter to come out of the USA.
Gat Decor – Passion – 1992
One of the most iconic and relevant early progressive house songs which triggered a new sub genre of house; an original in its own rights some may say! Just like any popular dance track it’s obligatory for any DJ to drop this classic during any Old Skool set, with pleasure. During this period we heard a lot of excessive piano riffs but Passion was constructed using subtle melodies, piano riffs and a controlling bassline – all perfectly and beautifully to make a stand out anthem. In 1996 ‘Do You Want it Right Now’ was placed over the instrumental to make another hit that reached number 6 in the UK charts. In 1992 this tune was for the early house lovers and in 1996 for the commercial radio lovers.
THE PRODIGY – EVERYBODY IN THE PLACE – 1992
A strong hardcore track from The Prodigy which reached number 2 in the UK charts only being beaten by Queen’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, which to fair maybe the greatest pop song of all time. The track journey probably takes you through a more techno sounding element as much as a more recognised hardcore, however do not under estimate that this is a true rave tune. The proactive UK dance group continued to move commercial dance in a more radical direction.
Bizarre Inc Featuring Angie Brown – I’m Gonna Get You – 1992
A bouncy and bubbly vibe that Samples Jocelyn Browns – Love Is Gonna Get You. Bizarre tried to get the soul singer on ‘I’m Gonna Get You’ but she refused. With cutting edge synthesizers it was another established dance track from the UK dance act. A great mix of pop and house culture to form a fun track to play.
Jaydee – Plastic Dreams – 1992
Now and again a dance music producer just pulls out a unique and very special track from the studio and Plastic Dreams is one of them. It’s subtle in every way with a catchy organ sound that was used in a piece of music from Charles Laurens in 1930. When you think about minimal Techno songs today this is was how it all started with its minimalist attitude that strives to sound like something different. The full intention mix builds up and up and treats your ears to 10.35 minutes of pure progressive heaven.
New Atlantic – I Know – 1992
The diversity of this track is unbelievable with modern & funky beat that was totally different to other tracks being realised at the time. The vocal was recently used as a sample on Count On Me (Ft.Moko) by Chase & Status which sounds like a Old Skool dance track – probably why it was so good! A complete atmospheric track with interesting flute keys, dark and up-lifting all in one batch. Many Old Skool fans will have a big place in their heart for this track.