Black Box

Dreamland

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Conventional wisdom has it that disco died with the 1970s when in fact, it has remained a sometimes dynamic, sometimes bloodless idiom in the '80s and '90s. Unquestionably, one of the finest examples of '90s disco (or "dance music") is Black Box's Dreamland -- which reminds one that although glossy production and danceability can be assets, gutsy, heartfelt vocals make the best disco stand out. The real star of Dreamland is Martha Wash, whose full-bodied, gospel-influenced belting on "Everybody, Everybody," "Strike It Up'" "I Don't Know Anybody Else" and other dancefloor smashes is on a par with the best '70s disco/soul of such divas as Gloria Gaynor, Linda Clifford and Loleatta Holloway (who puts in a superb guest appearance on "Ride on Time"). For all its cutting-edge hip-hop and house-music appeal, Dreamland has strong soul-music roots -- a fact that Wash is, no doubt, well aware of.

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