Trax Records: 20th Anniversary Collection

Various Artists

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Trax Records: 20th Anniversary Collection Review

by Andy Kellman

The Trax label's greatest moments have been streaked across uncountable mixes and compilations, but they've never been put together so densely into one package. Celebrating the 20th anniversary of the granddaddy of house labels, this bountiful anthology features two discs that are rightfully mixed flash-free by Maurice Joshua (the producer behind "This Is Acid") and Paul Johnson (another valued Chi-Town producer, "Get Get Down" being his biggest claim to fame); in addition, there's a third disc containing tracks in unmixed form, several of which do not appear within the mix. It would be a challenge not welcomed by any DJ to come up with a better opening sequence than the one here, which runs from Robert Owens' Larry Heard-produced "Bring Down the Walls" to the paranoia incarnate of Adonis' "No Way Back" to another Heard/Owens collaboration, Mr. Fingers' "Can You Feel It" (any Detroit techno track referred to as "warm and moody" is carrying its genes). Just as difficult would be maintaining that level of momentum for more than two hours, but Joshua and Johnson have help in the form of several house classics, including Marshall Jefferson's "Move Your Body," Phuture's "Acid Tracks," Sleezy D's "I've Lost Control," and Jungle Wonz's "The Jungle." (That said, the second disc isn't a patch on the first.) Each track gets a few minutes to do its damage before being followed up; Frankie Knuckles and Jamie Principle's "Your Love," however, is a justified exception, included in full cold-sweat glory to close out disc one. This is some of the rawest, nastiest, most spirited music you will ever hear in your lifetime, created mostly by inner-city youths on equipment that had just become affordable to them. Other valuable looks at Chicago's house-music history in mix form include Marshall Jefferson's Move Your Body (which digs into some of the disco and post-disco/pre-house spun by Ron Hardy, Knuckles, and many other Chicago DJs) and DJ Antal's Chicago Boogie (despite being mixed by an outsider, it should be a revelation to beginners). Both were released within a few months of this set.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 Robert Owens 05:11 Amazon
2 Adonis 03:20 Amazon
3 Mr. Fingers / Robert Owens 04:52 Amazon
4 Mr. Lee 03:16 Amazon
5 Farley Jackmaster Funk 03:16 Amazon
6 Maurice & Mac 03:27 Amazon
7 Housemaster Boyz & The Rudeboy of House 02:48 Amazon
8 Xavier Gold / Xaviera Gold / Ralphi Rosario 03:25 Amazon
9 Marshall Jefferson 03:26 Amazon
10 Mr. Fingers 02:48 Amazon
11 Phuture 03:41 Amazon
12 Mr. Lee 03:09 Amazon
13 Z Factor / Screamin' Rachael / Z-Factor 03:02 Amazon
14 Farley Jackmaster Funk 03:32 Amazon
15 Jesse Valez 02:24 Amazon
16 Sleezy D 03:17 Amazon
17 Virgo Four 03:08 Amazon
18 William S. 03:31 Amazon
19 Liz Torres 03:38 Amazon
20 Master C & J 03:52 Amazon
21 Frankie Knuckles / Jamie Principle 06:42 Amazon
blue highlight denotes track pick