Back in 1991, Pete Tong’s BBC Radio One show Essential Selection introduced a nation of fresh-eared kids to new DJs and different styles of house music. Ravers found an institution at 7:30pm every Friday night, as they pulled on their dungarees and floppy hats ready for a night/weekend of dancing.
Twenty-six years on and the groundbreaking British DJ is offering a completely unique and magical combination of classical orchestral instruments and iconic dance tracks spanning the last 30 years, on Pete Tong Ibiza Classics. The 65-piece orchestra transforms the album’s opening instrumental track, Rob Dougan’s 1995 Clubbed To Death, originally featured in The Matrix movie; soft strings force a surge of emotion as your eyes inadvertently close and your hands gently begin to wave as if you were conductor Jules Buckley.
Listening to classical instruments pump out the heavily electronic Galvanize is exhausting – you can only imagine how fast the musician’s bows and fingers are moving to keep up with the repetitive, machine-made beats of The Chemical Brothers.
As with all 15 compositions, Adamski’s Killer (featuring Seal) has you constantly guessing which instruments are being used to imitate the song’s original electronic sound… the sound that was initially created to mimic the instrument (“we’ve gone full circle, guys”) – tuba or trombone? Cello or viola?
The range of dance anthems is vast, with a cover of Booka Shade’s Body Language (recently sampled in You Don’t Know Me by Jax Jones) and old classics like Joe Smooth’s Promised Land which dates back to 1988 – around the time when a few DJs and club promoters from England (Paul Oakenfold, Danny Rampling, Trevor Fung et al) first visited Ibiza for a boozy holiday. The lads had such a powerful experience with the Balearic Island – specifically the club Amnesia and the drug ecstasy – that they returned with mates and music, initiating a hedonistic house music uprising that Ibiza is now consumed by and famous for.
The album’s final masterpiece, You’ve Got The Love, is a stunning and emotional finisher, featuring vocals from 77-year-old Candi Stanton – the original artist from the 1986 single that was remixed by The Source and re-released in 1991 for ravers. A perfect end to this nostalgic, impressive and educational journey.
Pete Tong Ibiza Classics is spellbinding – if you like dance music, classical music, or any damn music, this album will sweep you off your toe-tapping feet and fill your ears with delight.
Pete Tong Ibiza Classics is out December 1 via Universal.
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