Level 3 of Dance Zone saw the number tracks increase – “42 essential dance hits.” Getting their names out front were Whigfield, Corona, DJ Miko, Tinman, Reel 2 Real, M Beat featuring General Levy, Maxx, The Brand New Heavies, 2 Unlimited, China Black, Salt ‘n’ Pepa with En Vogue. It was released in autumn 1994, around the same time that I went to see Pulp Fiction in The Savoy and the release of Now That’s What I Call Music 29.
1-2-XU as Whigfield’s Saturday Night leads into the glorious sound of Corona and The Rhythm Of The Night. Dead on the heavy funk are DJ Miko (What’s Up) and Tinman (18 Strings) while it’s a case of maximum familiarity for Go On Move and Incredible. Jungle is massive and so were The Prodigy in 1994. That Christmas would see the band on an Irish tour with a memorable climax on New Year’s Day 1995 at Waterford’s Metroland. I had previously seen them there on 17 September 1993 with The Fourth Dimension in tow. Vicks central. No Good (Start The Dance) is here, a sublime reminder of those hedonistic times, the era of 21st birthday parties. Escape to paradise with 2 Unlimited’s subdued No One. From despair to where – Maxx’s pulsating No More. Meanwhile CJ Lewis stays sweet on Everything’s Alright as The Brand New Heavies excel on Midnight At The Oasis.
Livin’ Joy’s Dreamer remains as vibrant as ever. Ex-Frank’s APA man Tom Ewing says “The bumping, cut-up rhythms and vocals that begin the remixed Dreamer feel like garage, for example, but as Janice Robinson takes the song into its urgently blissful chorus I want to call it house – or even go more specific and say handbag house, that showy, uplifting offshoot that strutted across superclub dancefloors in the mid-90s.” It’s followed by Juliet Roberts’ catchy Caught In The Middle and Eternal’s superb Just A Step From Heaven. After a skank-off between Searching and Whatta Man, we’re treated to the euphoric rush of Cappella’s Move It Up, full of energy and emotion. Next the somewhat forgotten melancholia of Time Frequency’s Dreamscape, a hazy Spar Ranelagh memory. Check out the late Debbie Millar’s cracking vocals. “Wherever you are, enjoy your cake.” There’s a descent into ordinariness with D:Ream’s average Take Me Away and The Hed Boys’ so-so Girls And Boys with CD1 ending on a jungle breakthrough Original Nuttah.
CD2 offers some lesser-spotted numbers from Tony Di Bart, Atlantic Ocean and Club House. The former’s Do It got as far as #21 in the UK and takes a while to grow on you. Like a teenage New Order. Body In Motion is like Don’t Stop compared to Waterfall, camp as hell. And Living In The Sunshine plays like a ghostly walk through fields of corn, wispy summer evening tinged with tragic trance. Ragamuffin mysteries abound next – Chaka Demus & Pliers ply the Gal Wine, Dawn Penn drops the raucous You Don’t Love Me (No No No) while Aswad’s Warriors is welcome history lesson. In the zone, Aaliyah’s timeless Back And Forth, a smooth crossover that once heard, is never forgotten. +8 Shara Nelson’s Down That Found, the lively Def Classic Mix Edit followed by the nocturnal pulsating beat of Kim English’s Nite Life. New for ’94; Diddy’s shimmering remix of Blondie’s Atomic.
Pizzamania: John Reid and Norman Cook joined forces and gifted us with Trippin’ On Sunshine, an epic trip that hit the public’s consciousness upon re-release in 1996. Turn up the music! Tin Tin Out & Sweet Tee’s master blaster, The Feeling with a new updated take on Raze’s Break For Love – Our Tribe Radio Mix. Sasha is not to be confused with Sash! Magic is a superclub smash. More, more, more: House Of Virginism’s rare rapido moment Reachin’ plus D-Mob’s upfront One Day. In a similar vein, Black Diamond’s plaintive yet chunky trance number Let Me Be which slips nicely into DJ Bobe’s Swiss roller Everybody. Elsewhere catch the vibe of Lucas and the nifty dubkatz sound of With The Lid Off. And then a flashback to an earlier era as Ice MC lets fly with Think About The Way. Just one more tune! What a finish, Orbital’s sublime Are We Here? Like an ambient Kate Bush with breakbeats, a fantastic finale. The Trap remembered: Machines (Or Back To Humans).
Orbital – Are We Here?
Cappella – Move It Up
2 Unlimited – No One
Club House featuring Carol – Living In The Sunshine
Aaliyah – Back And Forth
Lest we forget
Time Frequency – Dreamscape