Joe Smooth - 'The Promised Land'

'Brothers, Sisters...'

Promised Land is one of the greatest House records ever made. It came early in the game, being released in 1987 & was recorded in the spiritual home of all House Music, Chicago. We’ve caned it ever since we first got our sticky little mitts on a copy, everywhere we’ve played.

Joe Smooth was a Dj who began producing records as a kid & then hooked up & recorded Promised Land with Anthony Thomas, who delivers the outstanding vocal performance on here.

Back in the day

The soulful, unifying sentiment of the lyric made this a massive underground dancefloor hit with the ecstasy generation of the late 80’s & early 90’s. There isn’t a single one of us who were there then, back in the day (at the birth of modern Clubbing scene you all know today), who doesn’t love this record & we all sing every single word of it, whenever it’s dropped at weekends in the Club.

Name any type of liberation & it is nailed by Promised Land, Black, Female, Gay, every box is ticked & rarely has the truly unifying power of House music been so clearly demonstrated. The lyrics (which appear below the Youtube clip further down the page) are really simple, heartfelt & open, so they can be bonded to almost any situation that involves human beings struggling.

Technology vs Art

Since the rise of technology & computers have made home music production easily accessible for the masses, the quality of a lot of House music has plummeted. Kids can piss about on a computer for an afternoon & think that they have come up with a tune… 

Whilst that’s all very nice for them & yes, they certainly have made a tune – It’s just not a tune like the one Joe Smooth made. You see Promised Land isn’t just a tune –  it is a Tune!!! 

We wish more music producers today would exploit the amazing, empowering, opportunity they now have at their fingertips. Use the relative ease of modern technology, to up the game & start making actual, lasting, beautiful art – Rather than just some God-awful Skrillex inspired racket.

Art that like Promised Land, is gonna actually mean something & stand the test of time. It’s a shame & we realise Club music needs to maintain a cutting edge & all that – but thinking about it honestly, it seems much of what is released today, dates within a year & is never heard again.

People seem to have forgotten just how powerful a force, music combined with the human voice can be. Earth-shattering results are achievable, if you just focus & set the bar that little bit higher. Knock the computers off for a bit & start sorting your poetry out – as well as your beats.

Where it sits

Promised land epitomises the absolute heyday of modern Black music, a time when producers from Joe Smooth & Marshall Jefferson, right through to the Bomb Squad & Public Enemy were all sending positive, unifying messages to the world via music. A time before daft gangster rap, misogynistic twaddle & the disappearance of musical instruments, became the norm in Black Music & also society. 

You can draw a clear line from Promised Land, straight back to Dr. King’s epic speeches of the 1960’s. As such, it’s a piece of music that has major significance in all modern human culture.

Promised Land & WHQ Club

Along with Someday, it was also one of the many great records that soundtracked the struggle in South Africa. A tune that was being constantly spun in the Club, in parallel to all that racist oppression taking place & finally being addressed with Nelson Mandela’s release.

What an amazing night that was in WHQ… Promised Land right there, spinning on the turntable in front of us, as the entire room erupted singing – ‘Brothers, Sisters, one day we will be free!’

Along with Someday, it was also one of the many great records that soundtracked the struggle in South Africa. A tune that was being constantly spun in the Club, in parallel to all that racist oppression taking place & finally being addressed with Nelson Mandela’s release.

What an amazing night that was in WHQ… Promised Land right there, spinning on the turntable in front of us, as the entire room erupted singing – ‘Brothers, Sisters, one day we will be free!’

Playing the weekends in the Club consistently, for a very long time has had it’s benefits. It’s given us the opportunity to have deep & special relationships with all of our extended Club family (you included!) & also certain songs.

Making the long journey from the Old Club to Curtis Mayfield House (see History), you can easily imagine why Promised Land & it’s uplifting vocal, is such a massive deal to us.

Wasn’t easy, but eventually for World HQ Club – all that Joe Smooth stuff actually came true…

Promised Land lyrics


Brothers, Sisters

One Day we will be free

From Fighting, Violence, People Crying in the Streets

(Chorus)

Were the angels from above

Falling down and spread their wings like doves

As we walk, hand and hand

Sisters, brothers

We’ll make it to the promised land

You and I

We’ll walk the lands

And as one, and as one

We’ll take our stand

(Chorus)

Were the angels from above

Fall down and spread their wings like doves

As we walk hand in hand

Sisters, brothers

We’ll make it to the promised land

(Repeat this chorus 2x)


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