Lil’ Louis – “French Kiss”

Important note:
All the French Kiss versions below are the first and original mixes and remixes circa 1989.
It is amazing how French Kiss stood the test of time.  Exactly 21 years ago, around October/November, or let’s just say Fall of 1989, Lil’ Louis came out with this gem.  To my ears, French Kiss was really the first serious progressive/house track (through its rolling, hypnotic bassline) to come out at that time, thus making most other house tracks in the dance and mainstream charts to sound like kindergarten music.  French Kiss took the world by storm with its no-nonsense attitude.  Its incredible breakdown in the middle, as the track slowed down gradually to a complete pause (accompanied by a sustained high-note and a female’s erotic moans, groans and heavy breathing) …. with few seconds of no beats …. and then the beat started to pulse at the lowest BPM, increasing its speed slowly and gradually back to the track’s original fast-paced tempo.  All of that was ground-breaking musically and technologically (as it was really a-first-of-its-kind to be programmed/midi-sequenced at that time when it was hard to do so with midi gear).

  • For those of you interested, the sound of that bassline was a preset called “Solid Bass” from a Yamaha DX-100 synth (pictured above).
  • If you use Native Instruments FM8 software synth, then you can download and unzip the following sys-ex patches of the Yamaha DX-100/27/21.  These synths had identical engines, although each one was different in size. However, they also shared the same exact factory patch/program presets.
  • Download a-z.zip —–and—– DX21.zip
  • Upload the patches to FM8.
  • Look for “Solid Bass” or “Solid Bass 2” patches for that French Kiss bassline sound.

When I first heard the track at Medusa’s club in Chicago, I stopped doing what I was doing ….. stood still in the middle of the dancefloor where the sweetspot was in the stereo-field …… and just listened.  The DJ played the entire 10-minute track.  The only words that came out of my mouth were, “HOLY SHIT!” I said those words three time …. once in the beginning of the track, once in middle/breakdown and then once three-quarters towards the end.

Lil’ Louis- “French Kiss” (Original Mix)…

Artist: Lil’ Louis
Title: French Kiss (Original Mix)
Year: 1989
Label: FFRR (Full Frequency Range Recording)

Lil’ Louis- “French Kiss” (Original Mix) (mp3)

 

Lil’ Louis- “French Kiss” (Hitting Virgin Territory Instrumental Mix)…

Artist: Lil’ Louis
Title: French Kiss (Hitting Virgin Territory Instrumental Mix)
Year: 1989
Label: FFRR (Full Frequency Range Recording)

Lil’ Louis- “French Kiss” (Hitting Virgin Territory Instrumental Mix) (mp3)

 

Lil’ Louis- “French Kiss” (Innocent Until Proven Guilty Vocal Remix)…

Artist: Lil’ Louis
Title: French Kiss (Innocent Until Proven Guilty Vocal Remix)
Year: 1989
Label: FFRR (Full Frequency Range Recording)

Lil’ Louis- “French Kiss” (Innocent Until Proven Guilty Vocal Remix) (mp3)

 

Lil’ Louis- “French Kiss” (Backup Your Conversation)…

Artist: Lil’ Louis
Title: French Kiss (Backup Your Conversation)
Year: 1989
Label: FFRR (Full Frequency Range Recording)

Lil’ Louis- “French Kiss” (Backup Your Conversation) (mp3)

 

Lil’ Louis- “French Kiss” (Passion Radio Mix)…

Artist: Lil’ Louis
Title: French Kiss (Passion Radio Mix)
Year: 1989
Label: FFRR (Full Frequency Range Recording)

Lil’ Louis- “French Kiss” (Passion Radio Mix) (mp3)

 

Lil’ Louis- “French Kiss” (Album Version)…

Artist: Lil’ Louis
Title: French Kiss (Album Version)
Year: 1989
Label: FFRR (Full Frequency Range Recording)

Lil’ Louis- “French Kiss” (Album Version) (mp3)

 

Mantronix - "Simple Simon"

Spring 1988, Denham Village, Buckinghamshire, UK ….. on the way to Syco Systems (high-end pro audio shop — by appointment only — caters only to high-end clientele and famous artists such as Peter Gabriel) to pick up the gear for my first studio (see pictures below)  ….. I heard this track by Mantornix on the radio.

Notice: If you need to know more about Mantronix and the man himself, Kurt Mantronik, refer to my previous blog Hanson & Davis. Please read that first and then come back here and continue reading this blog/article.

I used to dream about having a Linn-9000 one day, so I could load my own drum samples and program beats with its sequencer; I used to sit for hours and drool over the brochures of the Roland D-50 synth and think about how breathy and paddy (also see video below) my tracks would sound along with the Linn-9000 drums pulsing underneath. The D-50 was revolutionary at its time (1987), because it was the first synth to have built-in effects, such as the the reverb, attack-transient samples and linear synthesis, among many other things. When I went to Syco Systems with my dad to buy the new gear, Kendall Wrightson (see quick shout-out below) informed me that the Linn-9000 was no longer in production, because its parent company went bankrupt; however, its designer Roger Linn had come up with a much better machine through Akai. He pointed his finger towards the Akai MPC60 at the other end of the room. It was GORGEOUS. It looked like a mean machine with a tilting LCD screen! Oh, those 16 square rubber finger pads. I didn’t hesitate to add it on the transaction. Kendall said something along the lines that he had one in stock, boxed and with Tony Banks’ name on it (yes, Tony Banks — the keyboardist of Genesis), but Tony didn’t want it at the time. When I looked at the box, sure enough his name was in fact printed on the shipping label.

After picking up my new studio gear from Syco, I stopped by Our Price record store, bought the 12-inch of Simple Simon and then drove home from London to my parent’s country-home in Denham Village. I love this track through and through. It’s very melodic and street-emotional, especially the bassline. Love the guitars (which are not real but tone-sampled and played from a keyboard sampler). The sound and style is very different from Mantronix’ previous releases which were more freestyle-based. Simple Simon sounded more mature but still had that “Mantronix” feel … perhaps it was the snappy, hard drum samples and programming coming from an E-mu SP-1200. Whatever it was, it certainly had the Mantronix‘ stamp with MC Tee‘s rap vocals. These two guys really stood out with this one.

I used to play both A and B sides of the 12-inch. Check out the amazing editing and fast-gating on You Dubba Regard mix, which were very hard to produce. Around that same time of year, the Latin Rascals were doing clever edits like this, with stutters, splice-edits and gated chops. Check out their sound/edits on Information Society’s – What’s On Your Mind which I’ve blogged about previously.

Quick shout-out to Kendall Wrightson:

Kendall Wrightson
who was my personal salesman at Syco Systems. He was very well-known in the pro-audio industry, for representing and selling high-end gear like the Fairlight (watch Kendall’s demonstration), SyclaviersSSL mixer consoles, etc.. There were times when Kendall used to let me and my best friend Noel Derblich to go inside one of Syco‘s studio rooms and transfer samples from the E-mu Emulator-III (also watch video here) to my Akai MPC60 drum-sampler/sequencer (64 midi channel, 99 tracks). Kendall was also featured in several documentaries about music technology.

Mantronix – “Simple Simon” (You Gotta Rock Hard)…

Artist: Mantronix
Title: Simple Simon (You Gotta Rock Hard)
Year: 1988
Label: 10 Records (UK)
Media Source: Recorded straight from 12-inch record to enhanced digital.

Simple Simon – “Simple Simon” (You Gotta Rock Hard) (mp3)

 

Mantronix- “Simple Simon” (You Dubba Regard)…

Artist: Mantornix
Title: Simple Simon (You Dubba Regard)
Year: 1988
Label: 10 Records (UK)
Media Source: Recorded straight from 12-inch record to enhanced digital.

Mantronix – “Simple Simon” (You Dubba Regard) (mp3)

 

My first studio with nice gear which I've bought from Syco Systems, London. Kendall Wrightson was my personal salesman. See his videos below.

Kendall Wrightson at Syco Systems, demonstrating the Linn-9000…

Kendall Wrightson at Syco System, demonstrating the Fairlight…

Roland D-50 synthesizer demonstration of its sounds/presets…

E-mu Emulator-II demonstration of its sounds/presets…

Mantronix - “Simple Simon”…

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