If you are new to the music contained on this companion of the decade then I envy what you are about to experience – forget the agony, this is just ecstasy. Reading Bill Brewster’s sleeve notes for the compilation of releases between ’90 and ’97 who couldn’t escape that excitable feeling only Strictly Rhythm could generate. There was always a sense of trepidation with what you would get to hear next from the label and that translates crystal clear across the three discs of prime, reclaimed time. Founded by Mark Finkelstein and Gladys Pizarro transcendent music such as After Hours – Waterfalls would hit one minute while pulverising epics like Joint Venture’s Master Blaster exploded the next. Musical possibilities were expanded via the Latin tinged River Ocean – Love & Happiness featuring the beautiful voice of India, while The Believers seminal Who Dares to Believe In Me teased out Jazzier notes next. The tough, tribal beats of Armand Van Helden’s delicious Witch Doktor sounded like a new era all over again as did Wink’s now Acid standard, Higher State Of Consciousness. I guess it’s fair to say that the label had few, if any, equivalents at the time and very much came to define those sights and sounds from the 1990’s which can relive here at your own leisure. Is this essential? Of course it is.
Release: February 23