Various Artists

Best of House Music, Vol. 1

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Contrary to popular belief, disco didn't die with the '70s -- it simply changed its name to dance music in the '80s and evolved into such forms as European Hi-NRG, so-called Latin hip-hop/freestyle, and house music (which originated in the nightlife mecca of Chicago and quickly spread to New York, Europe, and elsewhere). Like late-'70s disco, house -- defined by its tinkling keyboard grooves and thumping bass, among other things -- can be either mechanical and formulaic or soulful, enriching, and even spiritual. Profile Records' excellent Best of House Music series, though far from the last word on house, has done a fine job illustrating house's diversity. The first volume ranges from producer-oriented, track-minded club hits like J.M. Silk's "Jack Your Body," Exit's "Let's Work It Out," and Moonfou's abrasive acid house number "Shut Up" to songs making vocal personality the main attraction, such as Liz Torres' "Can't Get Enough," Ralphi Rosario and Xaviera Gold's "You Used to Hold Me," and Jeanne Harris' "Just Another Man" (a captivating example of deep house, which is essentially an extension of late-'70s Philly disco/soul). Producer Marshall Jefferson, one of house's key figures, is well represented by the insanely catchy "Move Your Body." This compilation's more producer-oriented cuts are enjoyable enough but ultimately limited -- in the long run, warm and personal singing would do the most to keep house artistically healthy.

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