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Sorted! 40 Madchester Baggy Anthems

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If you ignore Sorted! 40 Madchester Baggy Anthems' rather misleading title, then Ministry of Sound's two-disc set functions as a fun trip back to the late-'80s/early-'90s British music scene that includes a nice selection of Madchester, Brit-pop, trip-hop, dream pop, dance, and indie singles from the era. Though there's no way that the Cocteau Twins' "Iceblink Luck," Suede's "Animal Nitrate," or the Sugarcubes' "Hit" could be considered baggy -- indeed, Suede's darkly glamorous version of Brit-pop was in some ways a direct response to some of Madchester's dippier, more excessive tendencies -- these songs do add some contrast to baggy classics like Happy Mondays' "Step On," the Charlatans' "The Only One I Know," the Farm's "All Together Now," and Inspiral Carpets' "Dragging Me Down." Madchester-influenced tracks like James' "Born of Frustration" and the Wonder Stuff's "Size of a Cow" and solid guitar pop such as Teenage Fanclub's "What You Do to Me" and the La's' "There She Goes" show baggy's influence on long-standing acts and the first hints of Brit-pop's rock revivalism, respectively, while the Orb's "Little Fluffy Clouds," 808 State's "Pacific 202," and Moby's "Go" represent some of the era's classic dance singles. Actually, Sorted!'s strongest suit might be its dance selections, with tracks like Stereo MC's' "Connected," Moloko's "Fun for Me," Underworld's "Dark and Long (Dark Train)," and Future Sound of London's "Papua New Guinea" tracing the ascendancy of club culture in Britain. Despite the fact that roughly a third of Sorted! could truly be considered Madchester, the collection's only annoyance is its "mix" effect, which fades in one track as the one before it fades out. Overall, though, Sorted! is a first-rate collection of pre-grunge, pre-Brit-pop British music that transcends nostalgia thanks to its consistent diversity.

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