While not as euphoric as prototypical Italo house, Dilemma's In Spirit qualifies as an Italo house ballad. Here, Scarlett Wollenmann provides beautiful vocals on a backdrop of synths and strings, directly sampled from Rondò Veneziano. Just a gorgeous track, even if it's better suited for 4am than midnight.
The Boom Boom Mix from the original release features a pounding bassline. Somehow it works for me.
And I also like the Biff 'n' Memphis Mix from 1996 - on par with the original:
In The Trees is tricky to categorize, but it's very deserving of the classic label by virtue of its supremely refined production. This track features swooping and soaring instrumentation, transplanting the listener on a magic carpet ride with immersive strings, bass, drums, the whole works. If you put disco, jazz, and house in a cosmic blender, this would be it. A first-rate orchestral floor filler.
Fred Jorio (aka Lectroluv) put out a ton of great stuff in the 90s - with the Junior Vasquez mix of Dream Drums probably being the most widely played. Under the alias Ofunwa, Emanuele Luzzi served up the Nylon Mix of People Don't Believe. This track has just the right balance of tribal elements against a deep house bassline. The vocal refrain is on point too. All in all, an understated classic from the golden era.
Hold Still is one of several standout productions from Svek Records - a pioneering Swedish label known for their downbeat tech-house sound. Mr. James Barth is an alias of Cari Lekebusch, an esteemed Swedish DJ and producer (check out his SoundCloud). Hold Still is the penultimate chillout cut, built around the funky riff heard in Grace Jones' Everybody Hold Still (1982) - You can hear the sample here. Lekebusch threw in some clever vocoder vocals and polished up the production to create a classic. If you like this sound, be sure to familiarize yourself with other Svek Records releases (like this and this).
Label: Radio Rhythm Records / Sm:)e Communications
It's not that uncommon for tracks originating on smaller labels or by less prominent artists to generate confusion about the actual release name or artist when they later attract more attention. Some examples of this confusion have been profiled here and here. One stellar track with a complicated back story is Central Pro NYC, attributed to Violet. Violet was the moniker of UK-based Nick Phillips and Sarpong Adjaye. Here's Nick Phillip's website - you can see and hear a lot of the really cool work he's done, much of it inspired by Ghanaian rhythms.
Apparently the original tracklisting on Sm:)e Communications mixed up Central Pro NYC with another track, Burn The Elastic. Shortly after, a Kurtis Mantronik mix of the track was featured on Sasha and Digweed's Northern Exposure 2 (Eastcoast) where it was, not surprisingly, labeled Burn The Elastic. So strangely, the track that me and a million other people knew as Burn The Elastic is really Central Pro. Personally I've never heard the true Burn The Elastic as I don't own the original release and can't find it online. I consider them one and the same until proven otherwise.
What I do know is that Central Pro (aka Burn The Elastic) is a really awesome track - It's a cleverly sculptured break track with a ton of funky layers. The bassline is what really kills it and solidifies its status as a classic. Breakbeat isn't for everyone, but this release would be hard to hate. The original:
And below is the Violet vs. Mantronik mix from Northern Exposure that I uploaded to Soundcloud. A little bit different, still awesome.
This site profiles my favorite classic house tracks. Most selections are from the 80s and 90s with a strong - but not exclusive - deep house, progressive and old school Chicago influence. I could never really warm up to acid house, overly ambient tracks, or anything that bumps >135bpm. Many have asked, but there's no consensus definition of classic house music...however Ishkur has an excellent guide to electronica music that can serve as a primer for anyone interested. Some of the videos get pulled due to copyright issues - just search on YouTube since most stuff gets re-upped anyway.