Various Artists

A Secret History

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There's no denying the awesomeness of New Religion's compilation of '80s left-field dance music, A Secret History. It would be ridiculously revelatory if it had come out before compilations/series like Tommy Boy's Perfect Beats, Strut's Disco Not Disco, Soul Jazz's Mantronix-curated That's My Beat, and Tigersushi's More GDM. Most of the tracks on this disc were made available on those earlier comps; to that extent, it doesn't fully live up to the name of the title. Still, it doesn't make much sense to have a bone to pick with another set that surveys a point in time when risk-taking club jocks were spinning a very disparate range of artists -- artists who were all discovering the possibilities of new, more affordable technologies. Italo-disco, new wave, industrial, electro, and the avant-garde all cross-sected to soundtrack underground clubs with audiences that didn't care where it all came from. This is how we've ended up with a disc that includes both Paul McCartney and Throbbing Gristle. With the increasing compartmentalization of dance music that began in the late '80s and continued throughout the early 2000s, with no foreseeable end, A Secret History is another valuable reminder that club music's lines of separation have grown far too thick.

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