VARIOUS ARTISTS Old Skool Classics (Muzik)

Something of a superfluous review, this, (what, even more than usual?, I hear you cry), in that neither love nor money will now get you the March issue of premier tunes-that-go-boom magazine Muzik, to which this was sellotaped. Which is a shame, because here is a darn fine primer in some of the best tunes a decade of dance culture has proffered.

After you’ve got past the opening track, Kariya’s dire "Let Me Love You For Tonight" (dance music with words? Get out of Denver, baby!) , "Old Skool Classics" more than lives up to its moniker. No record collection can have too many occurrences of thumptastic tracks like A Guy Called Gerald’s "Voodoo Ray", Slam’s "Positive Education" (which contains what sounds like a Darth Vader sample - I suppose if I’d misspent more of my youth studying the trilogy I’d know), (Joey) Beltram’s "Energy Flash", Hardfloor’s madly acidic "Acperience" (which still makes my head buzz every time I hear it), Leftfield’s evergreen "Song Of Life" and Sueno Latino’s eponymous classic, staple of just about every mix CD ever.

New discoveries here include further evidence of the Godlike genius of Derrick May in the form of Rhythm Is Rhythm’s "Nude Photo", the fairly explanatory "Acid Thunder" by Fast Eddie, and the Jungle Brothers inventing hip house by rapping atop Todd Terry’s "Can You Party?" on "I’ll House You". Best bit, however, is Joe Smooth’s "Promised Land", the exception that proves the rule postulated above that all vocal dance tracks are a waste of recycled uplifting, hands-in-the-air positivity-drenched anthem along similar lines as Sterling Void’s "It’s Alright" (yup, the same one the Pet Shop Boys covered), it shows how sometimes (only sometimes, mind you) words can say more than a rackful of hot-wired TB303s. Heck, the first forty seconds of this track are probably as soulful as machine music deserves to get: on a scale of 1 to Franklin, it’s at least an Otis.

What else can I say? 73 minutes of almost total brilliance stuck on the front of a magazine. My spies tell me that, round these parts, all stocks of February’s Muzik had vanished three days after publication day, and deservedly so: this really is as good as it gets.