Whether you’re preparing to throw a party at your beach house, at your summer home, at your pool party, or in your car — celebrating bumper-to-bumper rush-hour traffic — you’re no doubt looking for a good compilation to play. Why not try one of these several recent compilations, each of which should suit your immediate needs perfectly and still sound fresh at summer’s end.
Of all the mix compilations churned out since the turn of the year brimming with radio-friendly dance tunes, none have registered with the kind of long-lasting satisfaction as Ministry of Sound’s The Annual 2004. True, few of the two-dozen tunes are truly original, but none are dull, either. The most mundane tracks, at worst, are like cotton candy.
If you’re not familiar with the German DJ Kicks compilation series with its devoted following, it doesn’t really matter: Erlend Oye’s DJ Kicks edition is very different from the norm. And if you’re not familiar with the Norwegian Oye, you will be by the time this low-key, chillout-oriented compilation runs its course. He’s the “singing DJ, ” with the delicate, plaintive voice, and he contributes to over half the songs here. After several listens, you’ll probably want to home in on certain irresistible tracks, like Oye’s “The Black Keys Work ” or Avenue D’s “2d2f. ”
The Best of Club 69 is the soundtrack for a drag pageant, and considering that no track on here is less than seven years old — and several have been around for a dozen or more — it’s not a particularly cutting-edge drag pageant. But don’t let any of that dissuade you. This unmixed “greatest hits ” compilation of noted gay DJ Peter Rauhofer’s first production project is worth having on the strength of just a handful of its tracks alone. And it should serve as a primer, before Rauhofer releases Club 69 Remixed later this year. “Unique ” is here, as is “Twisted, ” and of course “Muscles, ” which sounds almost fresh since it’s been years since we’ve heard it. It still reigns as the theme song of many a gay man: “I want muscles, all over his body. ”
It’s true that the East Coast leads the West Coast in dance music. But it’s just as true that the West Coast is going its own way, and Jay-J of San Francisco and Marques Wyatt of Los Angeles are leading the laid-back, jazzy house movement out yonder. I’ve been swooning over Jay-J’s sensual-grooved Loveslapped 3 from the first listen months ago. But Wyatt’s funky, soul-drenched Horizons has grown on me with each listen, enough to say that if you like one of these albums, you’ll no doubt love the other.
Blue Note Records has not had success in the electronic music market. But no one expects the esteemed jazz label to, so who cares? Well, they do. Odd as it first seems, they’ve set out to rectify this through this compilation, Blue Note Revisited. After all, their similarly esteemed competitor Verve has proven there’s an audience who loves both jazz and modern-day dance music with two popular Remixed volumes. Blue Note takes a more modern approach than Verve using as its base modern jazz. It’s also more organic, churning out remixes that sound more like modern adaptations of up tempo jazz of old, not traditional contemporary remixes, based on electronic beats and bass. They may not make you actually dance in the same way, but they do make you move, and groove.
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