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Goldmine of ZTT extended treasures at a very reasonable price
on 9 February 2011
By rights, every ZTT 12-inch single should have had a compulsory bonus track with the sound of cash registers ringing, because Messrs Horn, Morley et al. certainly knew how to milk the fan for every penny. Not content to release merely a 7" edit of each song and a long version on 12" vinyl, ZTT cluttered record shops with multiple mixes of their current fave raves. "Got the latest Frankie 12-inch single?.... oh, but that mix is SO last Thursday...". In their favour, however, the 12" mixes from ZTT were at least designed for the punters to listen to as well as dance to, and so avoided most of the remix sins of the period - hey! drum machine solo! Nice.
This ambitious collection of extended artefacts tries its best to gather up some of those remixes and tinkered-with versions of songs that don't crop up on "12-inch/80s" and similar compilations. Some of these haven't been released on CD before and most were hard to find- until now.
There are some obvious gems here: the surreal "Young Person's Guide to the 12-inch" version of Frankie's 'Rage Hard' features a soothing female voice saying things like "Now... the funky guitar" in a detached manner, while slices of the song arrive and depart underneath. There is yet another mix of 'Dr Mabuse' which, no matter how many different ways you hear it, is still an astonishing recording. Propaganda's Claudia Brucken and Glenn Gregory wallow in the gorgeous 12-inch (6 minutes plus) version of "When Your Heart Runs Out of Time" and I was very pleased that the compilers left the little snatch of dialogue from the film 'Insignificance' that preceded the song so perfectly on the original 12" vinyl. The 'beaten' version of the classic "Moments in Love" by Art of Noise is a sumptuous soundscape and benefits from Anne Dudley's superb string (or, knowing ZTT, faux-strings) arrangement.
Elsewhere, ZTT acts that never really troubled the charts (Nasty Rox Inc, Anne Pigalle, Andrew Poppy, Instinct) turn in songs that range from perfectly respectable to excellent. Instinct's legendary lost single "Sleepwalking" sounds like it's built on a left-over Frankie riff, but works amazingly well with the hypnotic female vocal. Andrew Poppy teased us on the "IQ6 ZTT Sampled" compilation in the 80s and here delivers yet another excellent Philip-Glass-meets-Robert-Fripp piece of minimalism.
And, of course, ZTT wasn't just about mid-80s bombast and sampled slap bass... they also released some of the coolest early acid house tracks, evidenced here by Pacific 909 and Cubik, both by 808 State.
Just occasionally the quality drops from 'white hot' to just 'good' (Art and Act weren't quite as wonderful as I expected) and the weird Hibakush-ah mix of 'Two Tribes' seems to have kept just the annoying bits of the song and ditched the cool ones. But with over two and a half hours of ZTT excess on offer here, it's a trivial moan.
Ian Peel has done another excellent job of mastering and 'curating' the compilation and provides some Morley-esque liner notes in the booklet. He's clearly a fan and it's good to have this material compiled by someone who cares, rather than a man in a suit trying to sting us for a bit more cash. The sound quality is excellent - neither 'flat' nor 'too good to be true'.