In the digital age, where everybody (us included) is a DJ, it's very rare that you'd hear a song with a tempo change in the middle. Most modern tracks are rigidly tempo locked, perfect to DJ with but not exactly pushing any boundaries.
In the 70s and 80s, however, there was a trend of producers and artists utilising the tempo change as a powerful tool to add impact in the middle of the track – in some cases changing the mood completely. Here's 3 examples of tracks we love which do just that:
Diana Ross 'Love Hangover'
Perhaps the most obvious choice, this Diana classic starts off as a slow burning, sultry ballad. The tightly mic'd vocals are very much front and centre, as if Ms. Ross is whispering directly in your ear. Then, at around the 2.40 mark, it transforms into a full power disco stomper, complete with massive Earl Young-esque open high hats and a bouncy bassline. Great stuff (and even better, re-edit king The Reflex has recently provided us with a DJ friendly version!).
The Chi-Lites 'My First Mistake'
Now here's where things get interesting. This absolute barnstormer of a track will be best known by most younger readers as one of the two tracks sampled by legendary DJ David Morales on his track 'Needin' U' - a house music anthem and a UK top ten hit in 1998. The original, though, is an incredible piece of work. Beginning as a mid-tempo funk track, 'My First Mistake' has a smooth, horn and string laden intro that essentially acts as a 2 minute build up. Then, the track explodes into what can only be described as complete fire. Insanely catchy vocals, a horn solo, string flourishes left, right and centre – plus listen out for the brilliant baritone male voices in there singing 'bet you bet you bet you' as low as humanly possible.
Taana Gardner 'When You Touch Me'
Perhaps a little more obscure, we discovered this Taana Gardner (of 'Heartbeat' fame) track because it's a Larry Levan production (of course) and features on various compilations, including this great West End Records retrospective mixed by Masters At Work. As the newest of these three tracks, it probably has the most 'kick' production-wise. The beginning is again very sultry, probably inspired by 'Love Hangover', but when the tempo change comes in the track pre-empts house music, transforming into a total banger complete with massive kick drum and four-to-the-floor hats. Plus is comes in at over 10 minutes long!