Album Reviews

Various – The Annual 2006

(Ministry Of Sound) UK release date: 31 October 2005

It’s ten years since the Ministry of Sound began their Annual, agroundbreaking idea at the time, and it’s instructive to compare theinaugural and most recent volumes. The first issue, mixed by PeteTong and Boy George, was handsomely bound and produced. Adecade on, the market saturated with similar compilations, the signs are theAnnual is now just one of a very large crowd, and unfortunately doeslittle to stand out with distinction.

Thankfully CD2 goes some way to redeeming this, heading forDefected-style vocal house with some relish, taking a dollop of discoalong the way. Lesser known cuts (commercially, at any rate) from Fallen Angels,Digital Dog and Soundbwoy make much more of a lasting impression thanthe clubbing-by-numbers fayre on the first disc.

For this first disc is effectively a filtered version of the RadioOne playlist as it currently stands – Mylo heading off with thesoundclash Doctor Pressure, Bob Sinclar‘s whistle while you workLove Generation, then Tom Novy‘s Your Body, one of theoutstanding vocal tracks of the year. Unfortunately several of these are presented intheir updated and mostly inferior versions – the aforementioned Mylo, Basement Jaxx with Do Your Thing and the Audio Bullys, messing with the Prodigy‘s Out Of Space. Far more valuable are the remixes of Hard Fi, Jamiroquai and Royksopp, all dressed for success, or tracks that delve further underground from Tiga and Lee Cabrera, sneaking towards the lazily closing track from Goldfrapp.

Unlike the original volume, this year’s Annual does not credit a DJand seems to have been clinically mixed, particularly on CD1. CD2 is much better, excluding a couple of cover version aberrations, Roxettetaking a pounding on the opener. It should also be noted that this being Ministry there is still a slight dependence on their own material,which was never the case in 1995. That aside, there’s some really good stuff here from Joey Negro, Future Funk and Scape, a fewdisco influences showing at the edges.

The accompanying DVD is a good move but even more Ministry heavy. It does however catch some of their biggest shakers this year – CabinCrew, Axwell and Les Rhythmes Digitales to name but a few. As a retrospective of the commercial side of clubbing this yearthe package does a pretty good job, but doesn’t stand out from the crowd enough to earn an unconditional recommendation.

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