583. ‘Jack Your Body’, by Steve ‘Silk’ Hurley

1987, then. Officially the ‘late-eighties’. I think you can divide the 1980s into roughly three chunks: the early, new-wave, post-punk years (‘80-‘82), the gloopy, synthy, new-romantic years (‘83-‘85)… I’m excluding ’86 from this, as I’m still trying to wrap my head around that strange year… And the poppier, dancier, HI-NRG years of ‘87-‘89. And speaking of dance music…

(Steve ‘Silk’ is on the left)

Jack Your Body, by Steve ‘Silk’ Hurley (his 1st and only #1)

2 weeks, from 18th January – 1st February 1987

We have our first ever house #1. In fact, we probably have our first modern dance chart-topper, if by ‘modern dance’ you mean a repetitive, electronic beat twinned with a repetitive, inane lyric. Steve ‘Silk’ Hurley was a DJ, a leading light in the Chicago house scene, and jacking is a free-style dance move that looks like a cross between the robot and break dancing (and which Wikipedia helpfully reminds us is not to be confused with ‘jacking off’… something not seen on a dancefloor since ‘Relax’).

It is repetitive and, yes, it is inane. The shortest edit I can find of ‘Jack Your Body’ on Spotify is over five minutes, which is three minutes too long. YouTube has the single edit, which has few more vocals thrown in: some Uhhs and a Jack it up out there… to end on. And yet, there is something thrilling about it, something that still sounds fresh and modern. It’s a window into the future, a line in the sand as we reach the halfway point in our journey through the charts… This is a sound that will last from here to eternity. In the UK, there have been several dance #1s this year. Beyonce, no less, borrowed a bass line that sounds a lot like ‘Jack Your Body’ for her recent smash ‘Break My Soul’.

The part of this record I enjoy the most is the complicated bit, around the midway point, where several different synth lines build together. It sounds a little like a fifties piano instrumental gone wrong – like Winifred Atwell on Ecstasy. Dance music isn’t really my thing, as you’ll see as we delve into the nineties, though I’m not morally opposed to it as some rock-leaning people are. Yet I’m glad that this made #1, both for the variety and the statement that it makes, and that I can claim it as a birthday #1 (I turned one year old on its last day at the top).

Being born in January means that I have an interesting mix of birthday number ones: indie faves, nu-metal, a Disney theme, and the only Chicago house chart-topper. Steve Hurley had limited chart success following this hit, but he continues to DJ and in his work as a Grammy winning remixer has worked with Madonna, New Order and both Michael and Janet Jackson.

Except… Controversial postscript alert! Turns out ‘Jack Your Body’ should never actually have been a number one single. The 12” was too long (ooh-er!), running to over twenty-five minutes which meant it should have counted towards the album rather than the singles chart. Apparently nobody at the Official Charts Company had bothered listening to it until it made the top and so, rather than delete it, they quietly let it remain there. Luckily the worst thing that happened was that ‘Reet Petite’ and then our next chart-topper were both denied an extra week at number one…


13 thoughts on “583. ‘Jack Your Body’, by Steve ‘Silk’ Hurley

  1. When I first heard this, I quite appreciated the novelty of it in a sense – rather like I did with ‘Are Friends Electric’ at the end of the 1970s. The novelty very soon wore off for me!

  2. You are much too generous! Its about 5 minutes too long. I love dance music across the decades but this is and was annoying pap. If someone cant be arsed to make up a few extra lyrics, insert a break, a drop, a variation on a melody than im going rate it lower than Mr Blobby. Oops! 🙂

    • Hmmm… I have no real desire to listen to it again, but I think it has a novelty factor at least, for its time. I’d be much less kind on a dance record from the current day, with a 35 year headstart, being as repetitive / uninventive (i.e. your average David Guetta track…)

      • Oddly enough i heard it on radio 2 this morning and i didnt hate it. I will stick take LF Soundsystem or Eliza Rose over this though, the latter is fairly repetitive but quite pleasant anyway. Ive just bought Im Good so Guetta can still do an occasional decent track even if his best days were a decade ago. Titanium I rate as top 5 of the 10s no question. He even managed to make Nicki Minaj sound brilliant, which is quite a difficult concept 🙂

      • Oh yes, ‘Titanium’ is certainly his best, head and shoulders above everything else. The songs he did with Kelly Rowland were great too. It’s just he seems to always have a record out, and they all tend to merge into one… Though fair play to him for remaining so popular well into his fifties!

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