Various Artists

The Perfect Beats, Vol. 1

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The subtitle of The Perfect Beats series, New York Electro Hip-Hop & Underground Dance Classics 1980-1985, pretty much sums it up. Gathering 14 songs from the seminal days of club-hopping electronica (not necessarily born in the Big Apple, just raised there), Volume 1 focuses on the genre's pioneers (Kraftwerk, Afrika Bambaataa & Soulsonic Force), as well as some early stabs at replicating the robofunk sound via a disco aesthetic: Planet Patrol's "Play at Your Own Risk," Peech Boys' "Don't Make Me Wait," Imagination's "Just an Illusion" and Nick Straker Band's "A Little Bit of Jazz." Subsequent volumes cover similar ground, occasionally veering toward old-school ancestors and the rare chartbuster. All four volumes should be heard; they document a consequential period in dance music that's influenced clubtrotters from Madonna to Goldie. Best cuts: Bambaataa's history shaping "Planet Rock" and Yaz's Europoppy, synth burp, "Don't Go."

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