Various Artists Hardcore Traxx: Dance Mania Records 1986-1997

Various Artists Hardcore Traxx: Dance Mania Records 1986-1997
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Trax and DJ International got more exposure, but in the early House music landscape, Dance Mania was an equally influential label, a fact that the 24 cuts and two discs that comprise Hardcore Traxx attest to. The first half offers early landmark sides like Duane & Co.'s idiosyncratic "J.B. Traxx" (which marries James Brown vocal samples to a raw, jacking pump), the House Master Boyz and the Rude Boy of House's "House Nation" and Hercules' (a.k.a. Marshall Jefferson) sexually charged "7 Ways," yet Dance Mania cemented its legend as the chief purveyor of "ghetto house" in the early to mid '90s, which is documented on the second disc.

Paul Johnson's "Feel My M.F. Bass" and Jammin' The House Gerald's "Black Women" bristle not only with amped-up, raucous energy and political incorrectness, but their unvarnished, lo-fi production and pitched-up tempos point the way to juke and footwork. This is music of pure catharsis, making Hardcore Traxx not only an invaluable historical document but a hell of a great time. There's a reason why a third of the forty artists the young Daft Punk mentioned on 1997's "Teachers" were Dance Mania artists. (Dance Mania/Strut)