Various Artists

The Annual 2002, Vol. 2

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In commemoration of 2001, Ministry of Sound released a single-disc version of The Annual featuring many of the year's most popular house, 2-step, and trance anthems. But since it was such a strong year for popular dance music in the U.K., Ministry of Sound also released a second edition of its long-running Annual, a triple-disc box set that features a disc of radio-friendly house and dance-pop, one of U.K. garage and 2-step, and one of progressive and trance. In particular, the first disc of mostly house-inflected tracks is stacked with huge hits: iio's "Rapture," the "Mirwais Extended Mix" of Jean-Jacques Smoothie's "2 People," Roger Sanchez's "You Can't Change Me," Supermen Lovers' "Starlight," Basement Jaxx's "Romeo," the "Joey Negro Club Mix" of Jakatta's "American Dream," Kings of Tomorrow's "Finally," and more. And though the other two discs also have their share of highlights, the most popular dance tracks of 2001 in the U.K. were house tracks for the most part, making this first disc the real gem here. As always with Ministry of Sound albums, the mixing is nothing to get excited about, being more functional than anything. In addition to the three discs of music, a fun booklet filled with pictures and some self-promotional hyperbole also comes with the box set. Though a bit bulky, The Annual 2002 is a great one-stop collection for anyone looking to investigate the most popular dance songs of 2001 in the U.K. Stateside listeners probably won't recognize many of these songs, but that's half the fun, trying to figure out why this sort of music is so enormously popular in the U.K. when only the occasional international sensation like "Rapture" or "Finally" manages to dent the U.S.' mass consciousness.

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