A classic house EP, produced by a 21-year-old.
Kerri Chandler's sound was fully formed by the time he released his debut record, Super Lover. This 1990 EP established a signature style that's often imitated, but rarely bettered. Full of heavily swung rhythms, earworm melodies and song craft drenched in emotion, Super Lover introduced the raw materials that, to this day, remain Chandler's trademarks.
Chandler's music often evokes joy, but his breakthrough track, "Get It Off," was born from despair. It was dedicated to Chandler's girlfriend at the time, Tracy Jones, who was raped and murdered outside the legendary New Jersey venue Club Zanzibar. The tragedy upended Chandler's life—the couple were supposed to get married.
"Get It Off" celebrated Jones's love of house music—she often showed Chandler music before anyone else—while also being a cathartic exercise. The hook repeating the track's title was Chandler's attempt to expel the tragedy from his mind. One refrain—"You are so vicious"—was for the murderer. The sound of a needle being ripped from the vinyl, a sample later copied in countless house records, represented a life being ripped away. Chandler's willingness to pour intense emotion into his music was key to his rise. It's remarkable that his earliest tracks had these traits from the get-go. Somehow dark yet uplifting, "Get It Off" is house at its bare-bones best.
But it wasn't the only tune from Super Lover to make an impact. The title track was championed by Tony Humphries, arguably the most important DJ of the era. With his Kiss FM radio show and a residency at Zanzibar, Humphries had the power to break future house stars. With vocals penned and sung by the local artist Chevelle, "Super Lover" combined a streetwise R&B vibe with Chandler's floor-filling house sound. It was eventually picked up by Atlantic Records, with "Get It Off" added as a B-side. This endorsement pushed Chandler beyond the New Jersey scene.
"Drink On Me" was also notable. It debuted during Chandler's DJ residency at New Jersey's Club America. Featuring the vocals of Teulé, a regular at the club, the track was a signal to clear an overfilled dance floor—the bar staff dished out free drinks when it was played. Boozehounds would leave, opening up space for the hardcore dancers. Despite the improbable backstory, the track has flair. With a propulsive bottom end, Chandler's signature keyboard and a well-deployed disco sample (Sylvester's "Over And Over"), "Drink On Me" had a winning template that Chandler would later revisit and refine. The remaining tracks, "Clint's Ride" and the goofy "Club House Chicken," are footnotes in Chandler's long career. Even so, for a young artist, they feature uncommonly well-developed musicality and engineering skills.
Chandler was 21 when Super Lover was released, but his apprenticeship started a decade earlier. As a child, he'd admired his father, a local club and radio DJ. By the time he was a teenager, he DJ'd regularly himself, developing a deep appreciation for the soulful disco that was key to the New Jersey house sound. He worked at recording studios before graduating high school, honing the engineering skills that made his early productions so sonically accomplished, especially considering the rudimentary equipment used.
Chandler is to house music what The Rolling Stones are to rock, or what Miles Davis is to jazz. As such, his debut record—of which there are only 500 copies—has become a prized artefact. Jeremy Underground, a French house artist, once bought Super Lover in a fierce eBay bidding war. He even outbid Chandler, who didn't have a copy himself.