Various Artists

Big Tunes: Back 2 the 90s

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Whereas most dance retrospectives concentrate on the credible Ibiza club anthems of yesteryear, Big Tunes: Back 2 the 90s is an unashamed celebration of all the decade's guilty pleasures, from the thumping techno of 2 Unlimited's "No Limits" to the novelty pop of Whigfield's "Saturday Night" to the Euro trance of Sash!'s "Stay." And with the likes of Calvin Harris and Bloc Party making old-skool piano riffs fashionable again, its release couldn't be better timed. Disc one mainly relies on the summer holiday favorites that dominated the upper reaches of the charts in the mid-'90s. There are irritatingly catchy one-hit wonders (Ann Lee, Doop), faux-American rap/Europop crossovers (La Bouche, Clock), and some rather unique dancefloor tunes (the Grid's banjo instrumental "Swamp Thing," Technohead's stoner anthem "I Wanna Be a Hippy"). The superior second disc opens with the powerhouse artists of the genre, Haddaway, Real McCoy, Snap!, and Corona, all of whom managed to at least briefly carve out a career, but Jam & Spoon's flamenco-tinged "Right in the Night," Urban Cookie Collective's chillout classic "The Key, the Secret," and the Original's uplifting "I Luv U Baby" are the highlights. Disc three sounds like a far more conventional dance compilation, with contributions from esteemed DJs Todd Terry and Pizzaman, one of Norman Cook's many guises.De'Lacy's soulful "Hideaway," Baby D's drum'n'bass chart-topper "Let Me Be Your Fantasy," and Phats & Small's Gallic house-inspired "Turn Around" are the highlights, but there are also several forgotten gems from the likes of Praxis, Pulse, and T-Empo. The Prodigy's menacing rave anthem "No Good" and Aswad's reggae-pop smash "Shine" feel like they belong on a different album, and there are a few notable omissions (e.g., Livin' Joy, Tony Di Bart). But overall, Big Tunes: Back 2 the 90s is a unique collection of songs that represents a genre, often neglected, at its best.

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