Armando Gallup was a famous Chicago party promoter, DJ, A+R for Felix da Housecat‘s Radikal Fear record label and foremost, an early acid innovator. Sadly, he passed away from Leukemia at 26 at the height of his powers. In his short time on the planet, he recorded a slew of influential dance tracks. Perhaps best known for bouncy lysergic work outs like Land of Confusion, 151, and Downfall, Armando was not afraid to twiddle some knobs and let his 303 run wild.
Recorded when he was just 18, Don’t Take It is, by contrast, a slow burn. It’s repetitive in a way that defined early Chicago House. 15 full seconds of kick drum lead off the track. No high hats, no snare, no nuthin’. Then the 303 line comes in, dropping five short simple rhythmic bass notes over the kick drum. Next, Sharvette Cole’s vocal enters. It’s raw, unselfconscious and in your face. Legend, and internet rumor has it that the vocals were laid down in one take in a hotel room bathroom. The effect is claustrophobic, hypnotic and startlingly fresh. Around 2 mins, we finally get high hats.
As the track continues, the acid line bubbles up in the best way. The filter takes about 6 minutes to fully open. The squelchy bass lead creeps from innocuous to acerbic and then finally to straight up gnarly. At five minutes in the 303 gets absolutely drenched in flanger and delay. It’s dubby, trippy and no doubt sounded like something from outer space to the kids down on Milwaukee Avenue back in 1988. Don’t Take It goes up the back staircase, tip-toes down the hall, crawls across your bedroom floor, slips under the covers, grabs you and then doesn’t let go.