C.J. Mackintosh

Ministry of Sound Presents: One Half of a Whole Decade

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Released halfway through the 1990s, One Half of a Whole Decade attempts to present a quick summary of the massive developments made in the genre of electronic dance music in the early '90s. Of course, since this is a Ministry of Sound album, the DJs and tracks are very typical of the glamorous London club. The mixes by C.J. Mackintosh, Todd Terry, and Jon Pleased Wimmin are very typical of what one might expect from the early to mid-'90s Ministry of Sound: accessible house music with tons of diva vocals and a light-hearted, gay mood. The other mixes by Seb Fontaine and LTJ Bukem are a bit less out of the ordinary and end up being the more rewarding mixes on this triple CD. Fontaine's mix does include some forgettable early-'90s club hits such as Bizarre Inc's "Raise Me," but the then-unknown DJ also lays down some tracks that have become recognized as timeless classics that sound just as good in the early part of the 21st century as they did back in the early '90s: Leftfield's "Not Forgotten," Jaydee's "Plastic Dreams," and Golden Girls' "Kinetic." The CD devoted to LTJ Bukem and his partner, MC Conrad, heads off into the then burgeoning world of drum'n'bass, offering a very different sound than the other four DJ sets featured in this collection. Bukem moves through ten songs that were released by his label, Good Looking Records, in 1996, including Peshay's remix of "Music," PHD's "Above & Beyond," and Appaloosa with DJ Dream's melodic "Night Train." The seamlessly mixed set integrates samples from the film Little Caesar and features Conrad spouting some rhymes that complement the music rather than take away from it, much unlike hip-hop MCs. Overall, this triple CD covers a lot of ground in its attempt to document the different sounds of a particular era, but there are some problems with the record. First of all, the booklet lists the tracks out of order, meaning, for example, that the listener must realize on his or her own that Jaydee's "Plastic Dreams" is actually the fourth track on the Fontaine mix rather than the sixth as the booklet says. Secondly, the Bukem mix is just one long track, causing considerable headaches for anyone wanting to skip to specific tracks. Finally, and most importantly, this is a very uneven album that includes both the ultra-accessible vocal house sounds of C.J. Mackintosh -- of "Pump Up the Jam" fame -- and the intelligent drum'n'bass experiments of Bukem. It's doubtful that listeners will appreciate all of these juxtaposing sounds, making this an album worth skipping. Go pick up Bukem's Logical Progression album from 1996 for a better taste of his style, or go pick up some of the other Ministry of Sound records from this era such as the first few Annual albums for a real taste of the sugary vocal house so often associated with this superclub.