The fierce Liz Torres has fascinated the club music underground ever since 1986 when her first
12” single, the darkly defiant and wildly percussive “Mind Games” thundered through quaking
sound systems the world over.
Born in Ponce, Puerto Rico, Liz was three when she, her father (a preacher), mother, and five
brothers and one sister moved to Chicago. Raised in a strictly religious home, allowed no radio
or television, she grew up listening to “Spanish church records” and singing every chance she
got—for her church (“I was so nervous I sang with my eyes closed”) as well as for her family. In
high school she hung out at Gramophone Records absorbing “everything” from Barbara
Streisand, Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, and Luther Vandross to Grace Jones and Loleatta
Holloway. But it was her discovery of house music on a Chicago beach as it rocked from the
boom-box of then soon-to-be boyfriend and producer, Jesse Jones, which set her on fire.
She explains, “I began hanging out at Jesse’s house, because that’s where the music was. One
day one of his friend [Carl Bias] came over with this really hot track and I told Jesse I could sing
to it. Jesse said, ‘Yeah, right.’ So I asked if he had words to it. He said he didn’t, but was
thinking about singing on the track himself. I said, well, I just want to let you know I can sing a
little. He said all right, prove it. ” Boom, “Mind Games” was born.
The song was instant hit at the Paradise Garage. Liz gave up her day job at a bakery to put in
some serious diva time jetting between Chicago and New York City to perform. Torres performs
completely live, teasing reading, seducing and feeding off her often boisterous audiences as she
slips from English to Spanish and back again. On her acceptance by the fierce Paradise Garage
crowd, she says, “I was scared. When I went to perform for the first time in New York, people told
me that if the audience doesn’t like you they’ll throw chairs at you! So I just went out on the stage
at the Paradise Garage and I was myself. They loved me, and I was so happy that I cried!” Torrid
shows at the Garage, as well as the Palladium, The World and Sound Factory made Liz a
legend—the supreme “Queen Bitch” (as she calls herself) of the gay, Latin, black, urban
underground club scene.
“I felt like I’d been reborn,” she says, “I got into never wearing an outfit twice. The queens loved it!
I’d always be trying to top the last outfit and all these designers were throwing clothes at me, the
hotter, the wilder the better!” Custom outfits from Patricia Field (the House Of Field once threw a
Liz Torres ball), La Troya Fashion, and Alfredo Viloria were her trademark.
The passion, defiance — the fire that fuels this Liz Torres — is palpable. “I think there is a bitch
in everyone,” she says, laughing. Bullied by boys and older girls in school and later by industry
honchos during her strained relationship with Jive/RCA, Liz is used to putting those who, ah,
“mess” with her, in their place. Liz explains, “Being bitchy is giving a damn, letting them know,
expressing yourself.” “There is a lot of me,” she adds, “there is the bitch, the seductress, the little
girl…” Drop your laser on the exemplarily humid “What You Make Me Feel” and it’s easy to
feel—and appreciate—the heat, the sweat, the sex that drives the Master C&J/Liz Torres sound. •
QUOTES ON MASTER C&J / LIZ TORRES
Liz Torres was a ferocious talent to be reckoned with: on wax AND on stage. Her personality and
assuredness came through effortlessly. Liz had a star power, which was undeniable and helped
her shine amongst the many who were grasping for the ring during the late ‘80’s house
movement. Few females are recognized for their contribution to the history of the revered
Chicago scene of that day, but Liz should undoubtedly be at the top of the list. Her 12” releases
and live performances were highly anticipated and never failed to inspire. I, for one, would relish a
thorough compilation of her work remastered and re-released. Besides being long overdue and
warranted (kudos as well to her stellar production/songwriting partner in crime - Jessie Jones), it’s
important that Liz’ legacy not be overlooked or taken for granted. Like her male Chicago house
compatriots (who’ve been compiled and re-compiled ad nauseum), Liz’ contributions should be
acknowledged for their pioneering (bilingual house!) and somewhat feminist stance. Liz was a
special talent and performer with a distinctive voice and perspective that was very rare and
innovative for that era.”– BILL COLEMAN, Billboard Dance Music Editor ‘87-90
All these records were peak hour “anthems” for every club I played at in NY & NJ. The tracks &
vocals worked so well together and always cut thru everything else that was played each night.
All true “screamers” on the dancefloor…wish there were more of them at the time. They were
always unique and always GREAT. [If you put these out] I’d buy ‘em. In fact even though I got
these in my pool at the time…I’d always but extras mainly from wearin’ them out. I remember goin’
to Vinylmania, Manny putting them on in the store and watching them fly out the door. – Tony
Monte, VP Crossover Promotion, Capitol Records.
Liz Torres, the incomparable and undisputed original “Queen Of House,” is one of the unsung
heroes of the Chicago House music scene. Along with producers and chief collaborators Master
C&J, Torres has been sadly overlooked as one of the influential pioneers and contributors to the
nascent American House music underground that formed in the dual epicenters of Chicago and
New York. The undeniable sharp-tongued seductress was renowned for her fiery, infectious,
visceral and occasionally raunchy narratives. She was one of the few female voices of the
movement - an assured and defiant Latin diva whose essential anthems like “Mind Games,” “In
The City,” “I Can’t Get Enough,” “Mama’s Boy” and the timeless after hours masterpiece “Face It”
remain definitive classics of a seminal musical era. Generations of dance music lovers worldwide
would undoubtedly benefit from uncovering or rediscovering her tragically ignored oeuvre. It is
time for Liz Torres to stake her rightful claim in the House music history books and gain the
recognition that has long eluded her. – Craig Roseberry, music journalist for BPM, Billboard
and Stereophile / owner of Shifty Entertainment artist management and music marketing
company (representing Chris Brann, Richard Morel, Peter Daou and more).
Back in the late ‘80s when house music was still in kindergarten these two artists were at the
forefront of their game and helped break down boundaries, define a sound that was
quintessentially Chicago Hip-House and most importantly made people dance their asses off!
Let’s not forget our roots! – Lewis Dene, Solitaire / Westway Journalist: Update, DJ, Blues &
Soul, Record Collector magazines / BBCi reviewer
Liz Torrez in my humble opinion was one of the few if not the House Music Diva we had back in
the Garage Hay day. The compilation is a must to document her important place in dance music
history and our house music culture. Her tracks still move the dance floors for me today as they
did when they were released in the 80’s. I can’t wait for my re issues, mine are worn from
constant use. – Joey Llanos, Paradise Garage DJ, 718 Sessions DJ.
Master C&J are the great-unacknowledged geniuses of that scene. – Bill Brewster, co-author
“Last Night A DJ Saved My Life,” “How To DJ Properly,” “The Manual: The Who Where
Why of Clubland” (Ministry of Sound Books), and over a decade documenting dance
music in top UK press and owner of http://www.djhistory.com.
Liz Torres is the true queen of house. She is a musical pioneer - a Latina pop star before her time
who was at the forefront of the house music revolution. Credit is long over due for this amazing
singer and performer, whose music needs to be remembered and celebrated. – Luke Howard,
Star DJ, journalist, and half (with Princess Julia) of UK electro band and remix team, The
In a world where classic artists are being re-introduced to the next generation Liz Torres should
be an essential selection as many fans are discovering her classics through the web… – Oscar
Poche, DJ, owner Media Services, Rumba Jams, Manager Maurice Joshua, many others.
Liz Torres and producers Master C&J first turned me on to the deep dark and dramatic
experience you could have from a piece of house music. The high drama and brooding delivery of
these classics has paved the way for whole genres of music - The Progressive/Tribal/Sound
Factory sound started with this stuff. It’s important. It’s a bit of history - these tracks stood out a
mile when they emerged. They were sparse, heavy and more emotive than anything else at the
time… more importantly ‘In the City, Face It and Touch of love still sound amazing in 2005! They
surely deserve to be highlighted as the classics they are. — Leo Elstob www.faitfanzine.com
London June 05
There’s a generation of young dance music fans who are eager to explore this music’s history,
and a seminal artist like Liz Torres deserves to be heard - and deserves the chance to reap the
rewards of her outstanding contribution to dance music. – Russell Deeks Editor, iDJ
Those Liz Torres/ Master C&J records from the late ‘80s aren’t just really cool-sounding tracks;
they’re also among the most influential of the whole electronic-dance-music era and helped to
expand the boundaries of what house music could be. The kids need to hear these seminal
records, and oldsters definitely need clean copies!” – Bruce Tantum, Clubs Editor, Time Out
What can I say? Besides being legendary, classic just doesn’t describe the impact Master C&J
and Liz Torres had on the underground in the late 80’s to early 90’s…With such masterpieces as
“Face it” and “Can’t get enough” these pieces were such of a delicious memory of the Chicago &
New York city underground. Liz herself went onto work and become produced by the likes of
Danny Tenaglia, and Junior Vasquez. The voice, the persona of Liz Torres will always stay
echoed in my Brain! Just like her haunting chorus’ and riffs that swirled us at one time, these
classics being re-issued are destined to be timeless…Just like the artists themselves. — Ralphi
Hi Andy would make a great re release but even better get that woman remixed—people (me
included) would kill to remix that shit…please check out the faith site www.faithfanzine.com —
Terry Farley, legendary UK DJ, producer.
When this diva’s debut song hit the clubs back in the mid-eighties, it had everybody on the floor in
a trance. I was there. She deserves more credit in the House Music Divadom. I would be on it if
she made a new record! Do u hear me Liz??? I hope u read this, u diva u!!! . Peace! – Aldo
Hernandez, former owner of Throb Records store, beloved underground NYC DJ,
Very raw, very basement, very underground and a unique, brand new sound that hit me hard.
There were other records out at the time, but “Dub Love” (by Master C&J) was the record that
made me say, “Oh my God!” — David Depino, former opening DJ for Larry Levan, Paradise
Garage, DJ Trax NYC, star in “Paris is Burning.”
“Liz Torres was the original kitten with a whip, dance music’s first toxic brat. Many sweat-soaked
nights before your Britneys and Christinas were out of jammies, Ms. Torres perfected the ploy of
coming on all sweet and blissfully self-possessed so as to disarm one’s victims - namely, us. In
classic trax like “Can’t Get Enough” and “What You Make Me Feel,” her anaconda venom was
already burning its way through our bodies as she sent the dancefloor up higher. And the
inevitable drop down made for one mighty atomic ride. Rows and rows of disco chix have
subsequently adopted this stance. But Liz Torres got their first. And they need to be TOLD!” —
Kevin John (Village Voice, Dallas Morning-News)
DJ Doc Martin (interview excerpt)
What record never leaves your box?
It’s an old one: Liz Torres/ Master C & J - ‘Face it’ (State Street) from, I think, 1986. Deep moody
Chicago female vocal house and an all time classic for me.
Edited by stylesthatshock on 25 Sep 2009, 02:13
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