Various Artists

Trax Records: 20th Anniversary Collection

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AllMusic 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.

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