For the second volume of Dance Zone – 2 CDs of mega value – the advertising tagline said “40 more massive dance hits”. More was a larger font and written in yellow. The featured artists being The Grid, 2 Cowboys, Salt ‘n’ Pepa, Cappella, Aswad, Maxx, Crystal Waters, Gloworm, The Brand New Heavies, M People, D:Ream, Ace Of Bass, Degrees Of Motion.
In the summer of 1994 I was mostly working in Lucan. Two buses – the 10 into city centre and then a 25 / 66 / 67 to the village. Swamp Thing was massive then; you’d hear it almost every morning, a big breakthrough for The Grid. Always linked is 2 Cowboys’ Everybody Gonfi Gon, a kind of more tolerable version of Rednex. Another track that’s better than you think is Salt ‘n’ Pepa’s Shoop while Cappella’s U & Me is simply magnificent, a gigantic slice of quality Eurodance. Now That’s What I Call Music 28 is the canon compilation of this era and many of its tracks turn up here – e.g. Maxx’s Get-A-Way, Gloworm’s Carry Me Home, M People’s Renaissance. The beat goes boom for Crystal Waters and her percussive twirler 100% Pure Love. Loads of cowbells with a great pop sound. This what happens when two worlds collide: Kym Mazelle and Jocelyn Brown’s defiant Enough Is Enough.
Pump up the volume! The Brand New Heavies’ Back To Love is a brilliantly sung jam that plays like a duet. Sunday morning gospel next – Sound Of Blackness and the hearty I Believe – before we slip back into Italian project territory on Blast’s Crayzy Man. There’s frantic energy expelled by Anticappella and MC Fixx It on Move Your Body. Someone, somewhere plays this on You Tube and sighs “’90s forever” – especially if Haddaway’s Rock My Heart comes next. The spirit and face of the decade. Dropping down the BPMs are Galliano on the honeyed groove of Long Time Gone. CD1 ends with the long lost Utah Saints single, I Still Think Of You. A non-album 45 with vocals by Jez Willis, it scaled the heights of #32 on the UK charts. They pulled the same trick in ’95 with the underrated Ohio, also preserved on a Dance Zone compilation – Level 6 – reviewed in December.
“I will survive . . . without you”
Ace Of Base’s recording (in a minor key) of Don’t Turn Around continues to endure, its mixed black & white / colour video a vivid memory. Naturally followed by Aswad’s Shine and the mayhem of Doop before the banging I’m In The Mood by Ce Ce Peniston, first fruits of her sophomore LP. Classical gas – the instrumental riff in 2 Unlimited’s The Real Thing is inspired by Johann Sebastan Bach’s Toccata And Fugue In D Minor. Now that’s what I call quite good: Motiv 8’s energetic Rockin’ For Myself. Building like a skyscaper, The OT Quartet’s epic Hold That Sucker Down. Thanxx recalls: “The greatest part of the brain is memory, the worst thing that comes from memory is nostalgia. We remember but we can never go back! So sad.” And a response from Mark R – “This track gives me chills. And the level of nostalgia i feel for it is beyond words. I had one of the best nights / mornings of my life when this dropped. It was the closing track and the rave just exploded before my eyes. It was simply breathtaking. Every single person got up for this track & danced so hard to it. The feeling of unity i felt in that space and time was mesmerizing & I’ll never forget it. If only i could go back just one more time..”
A nice 12″: Dina Carroll’s Here (West End Mix) coupled with Jody Watley’s ace When A Man Loves A Woman, as remixed by BBG. Another legendary diva, Mary J Blige drops the hard-edged Reminisce while Rozalla – somewhat out of time – appears with I Love Music, an O-Jays cover as heard on Carlito’s Way. I rented the video from Late Night Movies, Donnybrook. As is the wont with Dance Zone, there’s a great mix of the well known and the forgotten. Mr Vain followed by the singalong K7 swinger Hi De Ho. Video not seen since back in the day. The old skool party continues on SWV’s crucial Anything with EYC give us plenty beats on the high energy rush of Number One. Meanwhile our friends The Time Frequency bring us to the summit on Such A Phantasy, music from the last rave on earth. Back to reality: CB Milton’s sparking It’s A Loving Thing before Denise Johnson’s rocks out on the intense Rays Of The Rising Sun. Finally, it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy courtesy of DJ Duke – Turn It Up – all mean rhythms. Say yeah to tribal madness.
The OT Quartet – Hold That Sucker Down
Haddaway – Rock My Heart
Brand New Heavies – Back To Love
Anticappella featuring MC Fixx It – Move Your Body
Dina Carroll – Here (West End Mix)
Lest we forget
Utah Saints – I Still Think Of You