The Ten Best Samples in the History of House Music

Josh Baines & Angus Harrison


“The problem with music today is that nobody writes their own stuff, all these producers and rappers and DJs are just stealing other people’s tunes”…is an opinion you might sometimes read in the comment section under a Youtube video, often accompanied by a creepy statement about how girls were way more attractive in the eighties. Well, fuck those guys, they’re wrong. Of course, sampling is now about as central to popular music in the 21st century as the washboard was to popular music during the great depression. This is, of course, more true of house music than almost any other genre.

Today we heard the news that Music Radar were offering over 54,000 samples on their website for free. With the offer of some free hooks we made our way over to the site and had a play around with a few, only to discover that the selection was underwhelming and we, actually, couldn’t produce for shit— something we’re not sure why we had forgotten. So, in order to appease the gap left by the glut of shit hooks, we set about compiling a list of our absolute favourite samples ever in house music. Here they are…

1. David Morales – Needin’ U

Sample: The Chi-Lites – My First Mistake

If you asked your grandad to sit you on his knee and tell you about the birth of house music, he’d say, “Well son, it all started when disco was a thing you see…” and you’d walk off hunting for stray Werthers’ Originals and an hour later he’d be sat there, misty eyed in the midst of reverie, having only just got up to the bit where he’s heard “My First Mistake” for the first time, and you’d say, “What grandad, the song that David Morales samples to absolutely devastating effect on all time club classic “Needin’ U”?” He’d smile down at you, extracting a crisp pound coin from his pocket. “Now you go and buy yourself a pint…keep the change!” Thanks grandad. (Josh Baines)

2. Black Box – Ride on Time

Samples: Loleatta Holloway – Love Sensation

When “Ride on Time” was first released, there was some controversy surrounding the fact that the Italian house outfit hadn’t secured the rights to use Loleatta Holloway’s roaring vocal. It’s pretty easy to see why she might have been pissed off at not being credited. Ignore the money, the massive sales, and cultural domination; can you imagine recording a vocal that dripping in absolute, inimitable sass and nobody knowing it was you in the first place. It would be like James Joyce writing Ulysses, only for the front cover to read “by Irish bloke (probably).” (Angus Harrison)

3. Daniel Wang – Like Some Dream (I Can’t Stop Dreaming)

Sample: Anita Ward – Ring My Bell

Wang’s “Like Some Dream (I Can’t Stop Dreaming)”, taken from the sample-heavy Look Ma No Drum Machine EP released on his own Balihu imprint back in 1993, is a great example of how a sample, used well, forces you to rethinking long-held prejudices. I’ve always thought I hated Anita Ward’s “Ring my Bell” purely because of “the horrifically insistent drum beat of the Pollard Syndrum that unwontedly pumps its way into every available crevice of the song,” but when Wang pitches it down ever so slightly it becomes just another gorgeous layer in a sample-filled track that 23 years on sounds as fresh as ever. So thank you/fuck you Danny Wang, because now I’m listening to “Ring my Bell” with fresh ears and it’s sort of…perfect? (JB)

4. Michael Mayer – Falling Hands

Samples: Kylie Minogue – Falling

Kompakt boss Mayer’s a man who understands the importance of direct emotional connection on the dancefloor. He’s a purveyor, and producer, of some of the weepiest sadlad house and techno ever press to tear-stained vinyl, and “Falling Hands”, taken from the still-fantastic Total 4 compilation, is the platonic ideal of soft, sad techno. It helps that the Kylie track he cribs from is already a pristine, crystalline, elegiac roller. Written by Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe of the Pet Shop Boys, and produced by Peter Heller and Terry Farley, “Falling” is as lush as deep house gets. Mayer expertly lifts the barely-there beat free breakdown and buries it under icy-blue synths and a big room bassline, crafting a record that wallops and weeps at the same time. Komplete perfection, and an object in lesson in vocal sampling. (JB)

5. Essence – Moments in House

Samples: Art of Noise – Moments in Love

Do you think that everyone’s favourite Newsnight Review guest Paul Morley ever thought he’d be responsible for one of the most sampled records ever made? He probably did and I bet he said something really wordy and OTT about it and he probably referenced sixteen cultural theorists while he did so. Bloody Paul Morley and his Art of Noise psuedo-pop-for-psueds-corner project. The best use of this Fairlight-assisted slow-motion monster, arguably comes from this Strictly Rhythm classic. It’s house music at it’s most intimate, tender, and alien. Which is a combination that all art should strive towards achieving if you ask us. (JB)

6. Outlander – Vamp

Sample: Yazoo – Bring Your Love Down

Truly one of the weirdest, wildest records of the early 90s, “Vamp” is one relic of acid house that still stings with genuine shock every time those piano chords drops into the mix. That being said,the tune as a whole is a total Frankenstein’s monster—part Roland sample disk, part Todd Terry Tune, and most interestingly, part Yazoo. That little “didn’t I” noise that chirps into earshot over the percussive breakdown is pulled from this slice of eighties power-pop. Which means it’s the best use of Yazoo ever. Well, apart from the Office christmas specials, obviously. (AH)

7. Together – So Much Love to Give

Samples: The Real Thing – Love’s Such a Wonderful Thing

We could have pretty much picked anything Roule ever released in this list, such is the perennial power that their oft-imitated LETS WHACK A SAMPLE OVER A KICKDRUM AND PRAT ABOUT WITH THE FILTERS FOR A BIT YEAH has, but this cut from Thomas Bangalter and DJ Falcon is the one. In the best way possible, it’s one of the least intelligent dance records ever made: there’s a line of vocals, a massive kick, a spangly synth chord sequence. That’s it. There’s nothing else to it. But it’s that simplicity that turns it into a work of dumbheaded genius, a gloriously unrelenting paean to the pleasures of going out. It sounds like that magic moment when you’re entire body’s taken over by the rush and swell of whatever you’ve ingested that night, and you transcend yourself. Just for a second or two. Replicate that at home by downing three bottles of Lucozade, headbanging for a bit and whacking this on full blast. (JB)

8. Armand Van Helden – You Don’t Know Me

Samples: Carrie Lucas – Dance With You

Many of the examples on this list showcase the capacity for a sample to disappear into a track, leaving you almost unaware that an element in a huge house track actually came from somewhere else. The opposite is true in this case. In this case, the sample belongs to the rework rather than the original. Listen to that Carrie Lucas track and you’ll hear a taut, glistening disco record, that is until the 2 minute mark when somebody randomly starts playing “U Don’t Know Me” by Armand Van Helden. (AH)

9. Floorplan – Never Grow Old

Samples: Aretha Franklin – Never Grow Old

If there is one track, one monument to human achievement, that will forever quicken our pulses, clench our fists, and begin our heads dart back and forth infinitely, it’s “Never Grow Old” by Robert fucking Hood. Or rather, Robert fucking Hood and Aretha Franklin, given just how important she is to the tune. I mean, it’s essentially just the Franklin song but with that completely fucking mental hi-hat that Hood drops in the mix exactly one minute in that sounds like the universe being torn apart added into the mix. (AH)

10. Esther Silex – Oskar

Samples: Beverly Craven – Promise Me

A while back now we were sat there on a Saturday morning after a Friday night and we put on a mix by Kornel Kovacs and our lives changed for the better, forever. “It’s four o’clock in the morning, and it’s starting to get light,” sung a voice over and over, as we watched the sun rise over the shitty fucking street we pay £650 a month to live on. I say the sun was rising but what was really happening was the sky turning from bruised to beige, as another day in paradise broke. “It’s four o’clock in the morning, and it’s starting to get light,” the voice sung. Over. And over. Who was it? Who was saying this to me. Who was telling me that it was four o’clock in the morning, and it’s starting to get light? Who was it? Beverly Craven, apparently. No, we’ve never heard of her either. Scooter have also interpolated her hilariously intense and OTT AOR gem “Promise Me” on their absolutely fucking raucous “4AM” but we think Studio Barnhus affiliated producer Esther Silex handles it with a kind of delicate sensibility that lends itself perfectly to DJs playing to packed clubs stuffed with goggle-eyed slackjaws who gurn away gleefully when they realize that, hey, it really is four in the morning! Love it! Fucking love time me, mate, time is fucking mad because it’s like, it isn’t actually real yeah, but it sort of is? Got a filter, mate? Nice one. (JB)

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