Classic Mix Series #1: Sasha & John Digweed – Renaissance: The Mix Collection

Details:

  • Released: 1994
  • Label: Renaissance
  • Genre: Progressive House/ Progressive Trance
  • Format: x3 CDs

 

My epic journey into the world of dance music began right here. I was given an original copy of The Mix Collection as a teenager and never looked back. This mix sparked my fascination with electronic music, djing, club culture, leftfield music, and so much more. In that respect, I wasn’t alone, of course. The mix was the turning point for so many of us.

Renaissance: The Mix Collection is a mix of house, progressive house and trance house of the early 1990s. The songs chosen were supposed to give the listener “an idea of what Renaissance was all about.” As suggested by the album’s name, it was given the title Renaissance for two reasons. Firstly, it reflected a surge of Italian piano/ funky house that was being mastered by the likes of Alexander Coe (Sasha) at the club “Renaissance” in Nottingham, England. But more importantly, Renaissance also stands for ‘rebirth’ or more freely, ‘a time of change, and so with the dance music scene heavy on acid house up north, it gave the mature clubber a brighter and more beautiful outlook on what dance music ‘should be’.

 

Here is a review written on the 10th anniversary of the release of the legendary mix:

You would think it would be a lot easier to review a mix that you have heard hundreds of times over the last 10 years, but in this instance I can assure you it isn’t. Renaissance – The Mix Collection mixed and compiled by, at the time relatively upcoming DJ’s, Sasha & John Digweed must arguably go down as one of the greatest, if not the greatest, mix compilations of our time. Not only did it perfectly define the energy and growing stature of electronic music at its time, but it shaped the way mix compilations were put together for the forthcoming 10 years and one would assume another 10 at least.

It was bold and daring, attempting unique mixes and often pulling them off with memorable results. I’m sure many out there like myself will remember not only the tunes on the album, but the tune that went into it and mixed out. In this review, I do apologise if the word ‘classic’ is overused, but it simply can’t be done any other way.

Disc One is a perfect example of such daring mixes, with the opening three tracks of the album being remixes of the classic Leftfield hit, ‘Song For Life’, setting up a perfect platform for the multitude of styles and sounds that follows. The classic ‘For What You Dream Of’ by Bedrock appears early on, followed by highlight moments supplied by Disco Evangelists, Sunscreem, That Kid Chris and of course one of the greatest mash ups of vocals and music with Remake meeting Inner City, a Renaissance classic if I have ever heard one. The mix interestingly ends off with OMD’s ‘Stand Above Me’, a fitting replacement for the noticeable absence of M People.

The seductive baselines of Fluke open up disc two and continue with the even chunkier low end bounces of ‘Let’s Get This Party Started’ by Funk Machine. The Hypnotic vocal whirls of ‘Trust’ by Corrado will bring back spine tingles while Sasha performs probably his best remix to date of the very classic ‘Talk To Me’ by Hysterix. Two mixes of the memorable ‘Mismoplastico’ by Virtualmismo follow, two tracks that arguably represent the Renaissance sound like no other, or at least bring back memories like no other. What would a Renaissance release be like without a Perfecto remix of Grace’s hit ‘Not Over Yet’. ‘She Holds The Key’ by Secret Life is another vocal anthem from the album complete with great subtle strings, and speaking of vocal anthems, the disc concludes with ‘Was That All It Was’ by Kym Mazelle.

If I had the unfortunate task of having only to choose one disc to take with me on a deserted island, it would definitely have to be disc three. It is an absolute all-star lineup of classic records. The 10th anniversary edition begins with ‘I Can’t Forget You’ by Anthony White (of ‘Tonite’ fame) who comes off the bench to again replace M People and it fits in quite nicely it must be said. Each of the next 13 tracks is an absolute classic (I said it again didn’t I!). Where to start? Jaco haunts us with ‘Show some Love’ as does Moby with ‘Go’, and it is followed by the likes of Spooky, Havana, Unity 3 and the irresistible D:Ream mix of EMF. One of the all time finest follows in Solar Plexus, as well as the hypnotic Havana with ‘Ethnic Prayer’ and of course the very popular ‘Bombscare’ by 2 Bad Mice, and of course not to forget ‘Age of Love’ and the Watch Out For Stella mix. Early 90’s vocal house doesn’t come in better shape then ‘It’s My Pleasure’ by My Friend Sam and the strong vocals of Viola Wills. The album then concludes with some Underworld vibes in ‘Dirty’ by the then Lemon Interupt duo of Karl Hyde and Rick Smith.

There are no other mixes I know of that sound as good as the day they were made a good 10 years after release, but then again there are not many mixes that are anywhere near as defining as this mix. I’m not the only one whose life this mix changed I am certain, and although it may not have the same impact it had in the mid 90’s, I can honestly say that it never sounded this good either due to the mastering this re-release has been subjected too. It has never looked so good either with the New York based collective, Vault 49, revamping the case design. Not to mention the limited edition version coming out with a 40 page booklet that includes new sleeve notes, new interviews and photos of Sasha and John along with original sleeve images and info on every track on the album. Needless to say that it is a must purchase for those that never had a chance to get the rare original release or for those who have treasured the genre defining sounds that each of the 3 discs encompassed. – robbie y, Resident Advisor

A full recording of the mix:

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