Al B. Rich

Club Nation America, Vol. 2

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Being a club-hound doesn't necessarily make one a raver. There are plenty of people who love dance-pop but don't necessarily care for a rave-oriented sound -- in other words, they prefer dance music that has vocal personality and a real song structure (as opposed to the type of rave music that is all beat and no melody). And those who like their electronica with a lot of pop appeal will find a lot to admire about Club Nation America, Vol. 2. On this two-CD set, the New York-based al b. Rich provides a nonstop dance mix that is rhythmically exhilarating but, for the most part, doesn't ignore things like melody, song structure, and vocal personality. Consequently, dancers who prefer a dance-pop outlook over a more underground rave outlook will appreciate the way Rich presents early 2000s club hits like DJ Encore & Engelina's "I Can See Right Through to You," Flip & Fill's "True Love Never Dies" (which features singer Kelly Llorenna), and DJ Sammy and Yanou's unlikely remake of Bryan Adams' "Heaven" -- on these tracks, Rich is mindful of vocal personality as well as the beat. Most of the artists on this double CD are club-friendly, but occasionally, someone from outside the club realm gets the club treatment. Mary J. Blige was never a dance diva -- she's a neo-soul/urban contemporary singer with hip-hop leanings -- but the Thunderpuss team manages to make "No More Drama" more club-sounding. Nor is RES a dance diva; her music is an unconventional, risk-taking blend of alternative pop/rock, urban, and hip-hop. But thanks to Robbie Rivera's excellent remix of RES' "They-Say Vision," the Philadelphia singer visits the dancefloor. One of the stronger club/dance-pop compilations of 2002, Club Nation America, Vol. 2 is enthusiastically recommended to club-hounds who hold rhythm and melody in equally high regard.

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