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Only the most exhausted tracks get in...
on 11 August 2010
So it's been 15 years since the launch of Ministry Of Sound's flagship compilation 'The Annual'. During this time the club has grown from its origins in East London into a huge global force to be reckoned with. The sheer popularity and reputation of The Annual series has played a big part in this growth, regularly topping yearly best-selling album charts in the UK alone.
So 15 years of an impressive back catalogue of dance anthems should be something special? Well, unfortunately, this album shamefully doesn't quite hit the spot. They could have lifted any of the fantastic tracks this series has uncovered, but by picking only the most obvious tunes, only very casual newcomers to dance music will find something worth listening to...the rest of us will have to listen to 'Bonkers', 'Call On Me', '9pm (Til I Come)' and 'Put Your Hands Up For Detroit' for the 10-millionth time on a Ministry compilation. Yes these tracks have appeared on the Annuals, yes they are massive dance anthems, but do we really have to hear them yet again?
Further to this, the album is presented like a random hit parade: absolutely no context by era, genre or chronology. As a result you get the likes of The Prodigy sitting uncomfortably next to some Funky House anthems on CD3, and the late 90's cheese of Alice Deejay mentioned in the same breath as legendary trance producer Paul van Dyk on CD2. The mixing doesn't help either, occasionally it's not too bad in places, but in others, the tracks sound like they've been 'smashed' together: not a great listening experience. It all feels like it was rushed together with very little thought.
Oddly enough, the saving grace is the handful of new tracks that make up the first half of the first disc, particularly the new tracks 'Believer' by Freemasons and 'I Think I Like It' by Fake Blood, which are superb. Also the write up inside the booklet is excellent, talking about each past edition of The Annual and putting it into the context of each year.
It's been said many times before, but if you've got any of the original Annuals from 1995 to 2000, hold on to them dearly for this new offering is a very pale imitation by comparison.
A bit of quality control on the mixing and track selection on this album would have gone a long way to making this something special. Unfortunately this is just yet another random collection of exhausted dance anthems. Shame.