Various Artists

City Rockers Singles 1-23

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The City Rockers label shot to prominence in the early 21th century dance scene right from the start, as the more or less chronological collection of its first 23 or so singles demonstrates on City Rockers Singles 1-23. Felix da Housecat's monstrously great "Silver Screen Shower Scene," one of the best revamps of early-'80s touches into a brutally effective dance track, kicks things off, while the equally noteworthy "Thin White Duke" remix of the song crops up on the second disc. Starting with a jaw-droppingly melancholic string-laden start -- it's as romantic and sorrowful as anyone could want -- it hits a Peter Hook-worthy bass groove and just takes off from there. Remixes in general provide many highlights on the collection. Tom Middleton's revamp of Tiga & Zyntherius' cover of "Sunglasses at Night" is simply marvelous, shifting toward the end of the song into a full-on mash-up with New Order's "Blue Monday." Besides Felix himself (who also appears with the sometimes squirrelly/sometimes [intentionally] stiff "Harlot"), another repeat shower is FC Kahuna. "Hayling" snakes coolly along in a way that could almost be the ghost of trip-hop, but by emphasizing a synth-bassline and soft, spacy keyboard melody, it finds something more futuristic than of the past instead, while "Glitterball" is as celebratory as one could hope for. There are some sharp one-offs as well: Northern Lite's driving beat/restrained melody and singing combination "Treat Me Better," differentGear's Alabama 3-vocal-styled wired-on-drugs "A Little Bit Paranoid," and the synth-punky gang-shout drive of Riot Society's "Understand Me." Given the completist nature of the collection, it's perhaps not surprising that some tracks are time-killers, but all in all this is fantastic of-its-time music well worth hearing.

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