The birth of our underground brand, Factory 93, not only brought on an adrenaline rush reminiscent of the renegade warehouse era of raving—on which Insomniac was founded—but it also had us thinking back to all the people, places and parties that made this whole operation possible. And with that came a burning desire to crack open our collection and dust off the classic records we couldn’t live without. Through our From the Crate series, we’ll be breaking out both seminal and obscure cuts alike, imparting some knowledge in the process.
It was released when house music was still in its infancy, but “Jack Your Body” wasn’t the first house track to employ its now-iconic title phrase. That honor, perhaps, goes to Chip E’s 1985 acid workout “Time to Jack.” But “Jack Your Body” can lay claim to another breakthrough: It was the initial house release to reach #1 on the UK singles chart, a milestone even more impressive when you take into account that the average listener outside of Chicago had no clue as to what jack even meant in the context of a dance song. The producer of “Jack Your Body,” Steve “Silk” Hurley—who, among other claims to fame, was a member of the Windy City’s famed Hot Mix 5 radio-jock crew—certainly knew its definition, but even he seemed a bit unsure about the term’s provenance. As he told 5 Magazine in a 2006 interview, “I really don’t know where it originated; it just caught on in our clique, like any other slang does, and started spreading to the masses. When I deejayed, I wanted people to ‘jack their bodies,’ so hence the song.”
House music had previously reached both the UK singles charts and US dance charts, albeit not in the top slot—but the success of “Jack Your Body” went much further than that of its predecessors in establishing house as a sound in its own right, rather than just a DIY means of recreating the orchestral delights of disco. “Jack Your Body” was simultaneously skeletal and rich, raw and joyous, and at the time, downright alien-sounding. It’s often cited as one of the songs that marked the start of the UK’s acid house revolution—and by extension, the spread of house music across the globe, far beyond its Chicago roots.
The track itself is easy enough to describe. A sizzling cymbal and husky-toned call to “jack” gives way to what sounds like a Roland 909 kick drum, with a rubber-band bassline borrowed from Shep Pettibone’s 1983 remix of First Choice’s “Let No Man Put Asunder” setting the pace. Toss in some chirpy keyboards, hissing hi-hats, rat-a-tat handclaps and snares, some guttural “time to get jackin’ out there” and higher-toned “jack your body” vocal samples… and that’s about it, with those basic elements simply dropping in and out of the mix. (Well, there’s also a short, bluesy, goofy bridge, which probably assisted the number’s chart success.) But the effect is far greater than the sum of its parts—to this day, it’s one of the best and most pure house tracks ever produced.