Strut teams up with Chicago's Dance Mania for a definitive compilation that highlights the label's impact on house music. The label had its biggest impact during the 90s, becoming one of Chicago house's most popular imprints during that decade. The label's artists could be found at raves throughout the Midwest, while the tracks would be played at parties throughout the world. The path to get there was not necessarily that typical; thankfully Hardcore Traxx traces label's history from the start. Founded in 1985 by Jesse Saunders, Dance Mania went on to be run by Raymond Barney the owner of Chicago distributor, Barney's Records. The compilation takes us through the early years with tracks from Duane & Co. and Farley "Jackmaster" Funk's Housemaster Boyz alias before getting into the thick of things with Hercules' "7 Ways to Jack." If you're not familiar, the track is a Marshall Jefferson production with vocal instructions that get more and more explicit as you get deeper into the track. And it set the tone for what Dance Mania was to become in the 90s, the premier outlet for ghetto house. Hardcore Traxx helps to shine a light on the hard jacking grooves and dirty catchphrases that defined the genre. Tracks from Paul Johnson, Parris Mitchell, and Traxmen & Eric Martin will give you a good idea of what it's all about. There's more to Dance Mania than ghetto house, though. Contributions from Robert Armani and DJ Deeon ("Hypnosis") show the more instrumental side of the label. Still jacking while taking cues from acid house and Detroit techno. It would be impossible to include everything, but Strut and Dance Mania have done an excellent job with Hardcore Traxx. 2LP includes CD copy, "7 Ways (Club)" is vinyl only. Recommended.
- music label: Strut / Dance Mania 2014