House music has grown wide and tall in the three decades since it first took root in the after-hours clubs of Chicago. These days it is a global phenomenon with its own industry and countless distinct sub-cultures, sounds, and social movements branching off from the source. It's so big that when one person says they're "into house music," you can't exactly be sure what they're referring to—is it the slick, hypnotic house of Ibiza? The piano-heavy diva house of ’90s New York? The more restrained minimal house you're likely to hear in Berlin?
Even at the turn of the ’90s—only five or six years after the term "house music" had been uttered for the first time—the movement had reached the far corners of Europe and the Americas. The Brits in particular ran with the new records from Chicago, Detroit, and New York and added their own experimental edge to the mix, giving birth to the beginnings of rave culture. In the U.S., house music had already climbed the pop charts by the late ’80s, and underground producers were signing major label contracts. There were formidable domestic movements in Belgium, France, Italy, Japan, and South Africa, each with their own sound and style.
And while the decade's great producers are known more for successful club singles and mixtapes than for their long-players, a few memorable albums emerged from those early years. Below you can dig into a wide-reaching selection of LPs that illustrate the many forms that house music took as it began to mature into the music we know today.