The 20 best New Jersey house records - Lists - Mixmag

The 20 best New Jersey house records

The greatest soulful house records from New Jersey

  • Bill Brewster
  • 12 February 2019

If Chicago was the birthplace of house and Detroit invented techno, then a soulful offshoot of both was born in New Jersey in the mid-80s. In the UK, for fairly unfathomable reasons, it became known as garage (named after the Paradise Garage in New York), while in NJ itself they simply called it club (or perhaps more pertinently, the Jersey sound). Clearly inspired by disco, particularly its gospel side, this unique sound was driven by a collective called Blaze (Josh Milan, Kevin Hedge and Chris Herbert) and revolved around record stores like Abigail Adams’ influential Movin’ in East Orange, a former skate shop turned label and record store.

Meanwhile in Newark, the Zanzibar, a dance club with Tony Humphries as its principal resident, became the foundry for this new style of music and the club built such a reputation that even notoriously travel-shy New Yorkers would venture over the Hudson River to sample Humphries’ sets.

The Jersey sound was arguably even bigger in the UK, particularly in the south-east, where for a period it was the sound of young London. Promoted by DJs like Paul Trouble Anderson and Bobby & Steve on Kiss FM, i inspired a new wave of British producers, such as Mount Rushmore, Sensory Elements and, in particular, Dave Lee, aka Joey Negro, who licensed and/or remixed several of the tracks we’ve included in this list via Republic Records and, later, through Z.

We’ve selected 20 of the greatest examples of one of dance music’s most soulful styles below.


This brilliant and unusual reworking of the Otis Redding classic was a massive club record and top twenty hit for Adeva in 1989.

'One Man' (One Mix)

Originally released on NY label Profile, 'One Man' is a fine example of production team Blaze’s knack for a pop hook. Licensed to Cooltempo, it went top twenty in March 1989.


Yet another Blaze nearly-hit. This was licensed to Dave Lee’s Republic in the UK, where it became one of the big soulful anthems of 1988.

'You’re Gonna Miss Me'

Written by B.O.P.’s Paul Scott, alongside Hippie Torrales, original resident of the influential Newark, NJ, club Zanzibar. Released via Lee’s Republic Records in the UK, another that didn’t quite make the Top 40 but is a stone-cold classic.

'Hideaway' (Deep Dish Mix)

Written and produced by Blaze (them again) for Easy Street, its British iteration, with fresh Deep Dish mixes, took it from Jersey aficionados in London basements and out to high street discos. UK Top Ten hit in the summer of ’95. The most successful NJ crossover ever.

'Get It Off'

Could’ve chosen any one of scores of Kerri Chandler productions, but 'Get It Off' is arguably the one that made his name. Deep and devastating.

'So Into You'

For a period in the early 1990s, Michael Watford gospel-influenced voice was the sound of Jersey. Signed to EastWest in the UK, this Bobby D’Ambrosio mix is the nearest he came to a hit.

'Reasons To Be Dismal' (Foresight Version)

Alter-ego of producer Johnny Dangerous, this moody slice of late-night club music was his breakthrough track on New York’s lamented Nu Groove Records.

'Feel Like Singin’' (Classic Def Mix)

Written and produced by Jersey stalwarts Shank Thompson and Paul Scott from B.O.P., this Morales mix is Tri-State perfection.

'I’ll Say A Prayer 4 U'

Hard to pick only one track by the legendary Burrell brothers (born in New York, but raised in Jersey), but this soulful and deep cut is the ur-sound of Nu Groove at its peak.

'Definition Of A Track' (From Back To Basics)

The flipside to a hip-house workout that became bigger than the original version. Classic house minimalism from Backroom Productions.

'Take A Stand' (Blaze Mix)

The Stevie Wonder-inspired Gerideau was a fixture in underground clubs in the mid 1990s and this Blaze mix emphasises the Stevieness of the vocal with added harmonica sounds.

'Going Through The Motions'

Another Blaze banger, this time using the winsome vocals of Keisha Jenkins. The sound of Paul Trouble Anderson circa 1993.

'Getting Hot'

Backroom Productions’ associate Cassio Ware’s 'Getting Hot' was one of the classic releases on East Orange-based Abigail Adams’ hugely influential Movin’ (both a record store and label).

'Follow Me'

This killer vocal, produced by Kyle “Small” Smith, never quite made it into the charts, but was a ubiquitous club record in 1992.

280 WEST
'Scattered Dreams' (Boom-Chocka-Boom Mix)

NJ-trio led by Mark Mendoza whose leftfield Kraftwerk-sampling "Boom-Chocka-Boom Mix" was huge at The Haçienda in the UK.

'Keep On Believing'

Written and produced by Larry Rauson, whose entry into music was inspired by Tony Humphries’ sets at the Zanzibar. Another Humphries favourite.

'No Way But Our Love' (Ed & Sandi)

One of those tracks that seemed to slip out unnoticed at the time, but has become a big collectors’ item over the past ten years. Beautiful and anthemic.

'Everybody Be Somebody'

Another Backroom Productions classic,this Yello-sampling track crossed over into the British charts in 1995, making top twenty in 1995.

'Party People In The House' (Deep Under Mix)

Another excellent release on the short-lived Newark, NJ, label Kaleidiascope Records, thanks to Gary Michael Wade’s excellent deep remix.

Bill Brewster is a dance music historian and regular contributor to Mixmag, he dedicates this chart to the memory of Paul Trouble Anderson and gives thanks to Jeremy Newall for the suggestions. Follow him on Twitter

Next Page
Newsletter 2

Mixmag will use the information you provide to send you the Mixmag newsletter using Mailchimp as our marketing platform. You can change your mind at any time by clicking the unsubscribe link in the footer of any email you receive from us. By clicking sign me up you agree that we may process your information in accordance with our privacy policy. Learn more about Mailchimp's privacy practices here.