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As the co-founder of Chicago’s Trax Records, Screamin’ Rachael can lay claim to being one of the most influential figures in the embryonic days of house music.

Launched in 1983 with co-owner Larry Sherman, Trax was responsible for unleashing dozens of classic 12″s onto the city’s dancefloors, including touchstones of the nascent genre like Adonis’ ‘No Way Back’, Marshall Jefferson’s ‘Move Your Body’ and acid house launchpad ‘Acid Tracks’ by Phuture.

As well as being a label boss, Cain has recorded many tracks under her own name, including 1987’s ‘Fun With Bad Boys’, an early example of hip-house which was recorded with her friend and mentor Afrika Bambaataa. After losing control of the label in the ’90s, Cain bought back Trax in the late ’00s and is now the owner and president of the label.

This month sees the release of a retrospective album of Cain’s music curated by visual artist Jorge Cruz, also the creative director of the revived Trax. Screamin’ Rachael: Queen of House features a host of classics plus rare and unreleased tracks spanning from Cain’s early punk days to her new single with Todd Terry, ‘U Used To Hold Me’.

To mark its release on 20 August, Cain has picked her 10 favourite records (in no particular order) from the Trax back catalogue, from stone cold classics by the likes of Larry Heard and Farley ‘Jackmaster’ Funk to lesser known tunes by David Chong and The It.

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‘FANTASY’ (1984)

“Back when Jesse Saunders, Vince Lawrence and myself recorded it, we were just kids with a big dream. I don’t think that at the time we realised just how much those lyrics expressed our future and what was to come. ‘I’ve got to have them until, only dreams make my life for real, imagination is strong, there’s still time, why don’t you come along?’ That was the first song of mine I ever heard on the radio. I can’t even explain what that felt like. It was a lot different from the punk music I was doing at the time, but I knew it was a special turning point for me.”


“Darryl Pandy was probably the most beloved vocalist in house music. He did everything in a big way! He was a big man with a big heart, who commanded the stage with a super big voice. I loved him, and when we performed together, he always pushed me to do my best. We had a friendly competition, and there was no slacking when you took the stage with Pandy! Throughout the years he treated me like a little sister and always cheered me up when I was down. That song embodied his spirit and captured the magic that was Darryl. When he passed away last year his final wish was that there would be no memorial, and he quietly donated his body to science. Every time I hear that song it’s as if he never left us. He passed on leaving us with the most powerful legacy of all, that song.”


“The creation of that song was indeed a very special night, and one of my favourite studio sessions of all time. For one thing, it was all about the people at Universal Studio, a classic magical place where many amazing records were made, and which no longer exists. There was top engineer Richard Fairbanks, Darryl Pandy, Marshall Jefferson and Ron Hardy, and Kevin Irvin who sang the lead vocals. The rest of us all joined in on background vocals and the unity was incredible.”

‘CAN YOU FEEL IT’ (1986)

“Larry Heard, AKA Mr. Fingers, wrote what I consider to be the most iconic instrumental of the Trax catalogue. It has been re-recorded many times with various spoken word and vocals, and each time it’s a hit. When you have that amazing track as a backbone it’s no surprise. My favorite version is the one featuring Chuck D. The unity for all people expressed on it really sums up the reason for house music. ‘You may be black, white, Jew or Gentile, it don’t matter in our house…'”


This is a super rare cut that I love. It features Harry Dennis, who I refer to as the beat poet of house music. No one writes or delivers lyrics like Harry. You’ve probably heard him on records like ‘The Jungle’ and ‘Time Marches On’. One night after doing a radio interview with Bad Boy Bill, we stayed up till morning listening to ‘Love Can’t Turn Around’. I must admit we were quite high! I really got to know Harry, and had him autograph a picture for me which read, ‘Don’t be a Donnie’, referring to the girl in his most familiar track. The next afternoon we stopped by a little shop in my neighborhood called Gallimaufry Gallery. I can’t help but think I was an inspiration.”

‘SENSATION’ (1985)

“First of all, Ron Hardy was and still is my favorite DJ of all time. It’s a pity that we lost him and only a group of people got to hear him at the Music Box. He never had the chance to travel to Europe, so the Box was really his special domain. At the time Ron worked at Trax where he did A&R. Larry decided to press the record on white vinyl. Of course, in typical Trax fashion there was a vinyl imperfection. The original pressing had a brown streak. Those lucky enough to have it refer to the vinyl as ‘That’s the Shit’.”

‘KLUB KIDS’ (1996)

“First of all I love DJ Rush! I refer to him as the Jimi Hendrix of house, because of the sounds he creates with his own unusual twist. His cuts are powerful, sparse and truly avant-garde. Rush and I click as friends and on many levels. For one thing, Rush is a club kid and so am I. One day the subject of club kids in Chicago and New York came up. We spoke about our days at the Limelight in NYC and our times at Chicago’s infamous party at Red Dog. So he created his own homage to the Windy City kids, where he refers to Jo Jo Baby who is one of the most fabulous club kids ever!”


“You just have to know Marshall Jefferson to understand how humble and innocent he is about his music. I heard about the record and really wanted to hear it immediately, so while visiting DJ International I stole it! When I next saw Marshall I told him that he had just written his ‘Rock Around The Clock’ and people would remember him for it forever. His reply was, ‘You think so, Screamin’?’ Guess I was right!”


“In 1999 Trax opened an office at Espace Kiron in Paris. I had the time of my life! Getting to know groups like Daft Punk, Superfunk, Busta Funk and others at that formidable time literally created house music history. I found this cool underground record store called KGB where I loved to hang out. It was there that I met David Chong. I find producers and talent for Trax based on my initial feelings, usually before I even hear their music, as I did with David. I really knew nothing about him! He did the project ‘There Is No Place’ featuring my French Zulu Nation brother Dee Nasty. When I DJ I always play it.”


“Jorge Cruz came to us with Nic Sarno’s cut ‘The Flow’ to remix. It was great and I knew it would be a challenge to come up with something worthy of the original. I went to Joe Smooth’s home studio and we just did the record on the spot. Nothing was pre-arranged at all. Joe is so talented that working with him is always a fantastic adventure for me. So the title of the song matched the way we created the mix. It just flowed, free form and free style, and it worked! I’d also like to add that Nic was very pleased with our re-creation!”

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