The Dance Zone series began in early 1994 with double disc releases appearing on the Polygram TV label. The compilers primarily focused on front-loading the CDs with big dance hits while the lesser-known material featured later on down the road. The advertising tagline went as follows: “40 massive dance hits” with the lucky names chosen for the cover being Tony Di Bart, Reel 2 Rel, Bitty McLean, CJ Lewis, Black Machine, Degrees Of Motion, Loveland, JX, Cappella, Deep Forest, Ace Of Base, Wreckx ‘n’ Effect.
Here comes the flood: we start off with The Real Thing and then bang on to the sound of I Like To Love It, Dedicated To The One I Love, Sweets For My Sweet. Raising the roof are Black Machine with the funked-up sax of How Gee. 1-2-3-4. Blow yer whistles. In the zone, Wreckx ‘n’ Effect’s pure hip hop sound Wreckx Shop (Jamaica Mix), produced by Teddy Riley. It’s followed by the pure radiant house of Shine On from Degrees Of Motion and Loveland’s positive Let The Music Lift You Up. Many of this opening salvo can be found on Telstar’s Dance Hits ’94 – Volume 2, among them JX’s blinding Son Of A Gun. Equally impressive, the forceful Move On Baby by Eurodance stalwarts, Cappella. Cellar Bar!
Purely moody: Deep Forest’s Sweet Lullaby needs no introduction. In a welcome twist, we get the 6:49 Round The World Mix, played endlessly on 12″ at home. A truly after hours deep house classic spiritual experience. Culture Beat’s Anything is followed by M People’s fantastically slinky take on 80s Motown classic Don’t Look Any Further. R&B: Sisters With Voices and their Jill swing Downtown + E.Y.C. and The Way You Work It. 47 Marlborough Road anthems for the ages include D:Ream’s Things Can Only Get Better, Bjork’s Violently Happy and Atlantic Ocean’s hypnotic Waterfall. Elsewhere D-Mob and Cathy Dennis make a surprise return on the bass-driven Why. As seen on Beverly Hills 90210, prom scene. Hidden gem time: Honky’s freeform and catchy Love Thy Neighbour. Described as “The kind of dippy kaleidoscopic jeunesse that De La Soul would kill for.” (Pete Paphides)
CD2: Ace Of Bass show us the way on The Sign while East 17 provide reassurance on It’s Alright. Back once again are the renegade masters known as The Orb with Perpetual Dawn hitting #18 in January 1994. Next comes the legendary Shara Nelson with the tidy grooves of her beautifully sung Uptight. Tripping and hopping; Urban Species’ languid Spiritual Love which also bears a scorch of acid jazz. Loreal studio gel. Touching all of our hearts – Gabrielle’s wistful and dreamy Because Of You – before Lisa Stansfield drops A Little Bit Of Heaven. Up jumps the tempo with Let The Beat Control Your Body and Stakka Bo’s Here We Go. +The song we have all been waiting for – Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s Two Tribes (Fluke Minimix). Bang!… The Greatest Hits of Frankie Goes to Hollywood came out in October 1993 with their first run of singles getting period remixes. Great to see this one on a compilation as opposed to playing safe with the original versions. “Score no more.”
DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince released their final album in 1993. Code Red gave us the catchy and soulful Can’t Wait To Be With You. It’s followed by the moody Blow Your Whistle by DJ Duke plus Slo Moshun’s jump-up styings of Bells Of New York. More whistles – The Goodmen’s frantic Give It Up – that was everywhere back then – and then Loni Clark’s lung-busting U. Great K-Klass remix but not here. We’re in Now Dance ’94 Volume 2 territory with Bass Bumpers while Nu Colours introduce a gospel mixed with R&B sound to The Power. Getting some millennium fever (early) were Apollo 400 whose Astral America still thrills me with its Shamen-style sound and killer guitars. There’s an Italian project in the house: Deadly Sins and We Are Going On Down. Finally, it’s an overlooked dope jam from Young Black Teenagers – Tap The Bottle. They got the name because they lost a rap battle to Leaders of The New School. The record label had them compete over the name of the two groups. All white. Check out the flow and press repeat.
JX – Son Of A Gun
Apollo 440 – Astral America
Deep Forest – Sweet Lullaby (Round The World Mix)
Shara Nelson – Uptight
Young Black Offenders – Tap The Bottle
Lest we forget
Frankie Goes To Hollywood – Two Tribes (Fluke Minimix)
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Hi Paul, By no strange coincidence, this was the first Dance Zone I bought. One thing struck me as soon as I played the second disc – EQ. All Polygram TV compilations I bought at the time have a similar trait – slightly increased bass and treble and, in terms of volume, that little bit louder.
In case anyone is interested, here’s a spectral frequency display of the CD single and the Dance Zone version (just the opening 10 seconds).
CD single – https://www.dropbox.com/s/yed49w2uurpqn0x/The%20Sign%20CD%20Single.jpg
Dance Zone 1 – https://www.dropbox.com/s/xivdul9o3pmolml/The%20Sign%20Dance%20Zone.jpg
The brighter the colour, the louder the frequency. Here you can see both the increase in volume and in bass. You can hear the difference. CD single first, Dance Zone second. It’s very noticeable. https://www.dropbox.com/s/7i3wocfpk0bix0c/The%20Sign%20CD%20Single%20Dance%20Zone.mp3
I’d argue this harms the track and many more throughout the series. One heard, you can never unhear it. I might do a spectral analysis on Hits 94 volume 1 and maybe Best of Dance 93. The gain on both is uncomfortable. Strange, as Telstar in the early 90s tended to reduce volume a fraction, reduce bass slightly and increase treble a smidge. I’m not really aware of any others messing about with EQ until we head into the late 90s, early 2000s with Ministry of Sound, Hed Kandi etc.
It all makes getting as perfect a copy on a compilation all the more difficult!
Hi Andrew, thanks for the waveform images. Didn’t have the CD single to compare but on playing the sound file, it’s noticeable. Yes, tracking down a perfect compilation copy is nigh on impossible in such circumstances. I would argue that things got worse as the 2000s progressed though. Horrendous gain and no dynamic range on many releases.
I hadn’t noticed your reply, apologies. I totally agree. I rarely buy cds of music from the 80s and 90s produced in more recent times. I’d much rather source originals.