Recently, when reviewing Salsoul 30th, I was comparing how record labels celebrate anniversaries. Often, the differences can be stark. Sometimes, record companies release lavish box sets like Harmless Records Philadelphia International Records-The 40th Anniversary Box Set, a mammoth ten disc box set, that was the perfect way to celebrate one of soul’s greatest and most influential labels. I compared this with the somewhat disappointing way Salsoul celebrated its thirtieth anniversary. Although a number of quality compilations and mix CDs were released, I felt whereas disco’s most important label deserved a much more comprehensive retrospective. Soon, this will be rectified, with Salsoul entering a partnership with dance label Ultra to digitally rerelease the label’s illustrious back-catalogue. Another example of how a to celebrate an anniversary is the way Ministry of Sound celebrated their 20th anniversary. This they did with the release of their Live and Remastered-20th Anniversary Box Set, a five-disc box set, featuring live recordings of mixes by Larry Levan, David Morales, Todd Terry, Kenny Carpenter and Justin Berkmann. These five legendary DJs had their mixes recorded live, warts and all. For anyone who loves house and US garage, then this box set will be of

The Ministry of Sound nightclub in London was opened on 21st September 1991. From the opening night onwards, the club became one of the biggest venues in London. It attracted both clubbers and DJs alike. Soon, some of the biggest DJs worldwide were playing at Ministry of Sound. Five DJs that played at Ministry of Sound were Larry Levan, David Morales, Todd Terry, Kenny Carpenter and Justin Berkmann. When they played their sets at Ministry of Sound, the decision was taken to record them. It’s these recordings that make up the five disc set that I’ll tell you about.

Disc One features a mix from the legendary Larry Levan. He’d been booked to play a set at Ministry of Sound, but proceeded to miss eight flights, arriving eight days late without something every DJ needs..records. Having borrowed a few records, Larry proceeds to dazzle the adoring audience with a twelve-song set. Among the records he spun were Pleasure Pump’s Fantasize Me, which opens the set, before taking in tracks like Ceybil’s Love So Special, Robert Owens’ I’ll Be Your Friend and Crystal Waters’ Makin’ Happy, which closes his set. Larry’s mixing is peerless, and this alone made buying Live and Remastered-20th Anniversary Box Set.

On Disc Two, David Morales has a hard act to follow after Larry Levan’s blistering set. He rises to challenge, weaving his way through fifteen tracks, with dub and remixes aplenty spicing up his set. Opening his set with Tony Humphries’ remix of Plant X’s Once Upon A Dancefloor, his set then takes in Richard Rogers’ All I Want, Lil Louis’ Club Lonely. From there he drops Phuture’s Rise From the Grave and inner City’s Pennies From Heaven, with Mission Control’s Outta Limits closing his set. Although David Morales had a hard act to follow in Larry Levan’s mix, he comes pretty close. He produces a stunnung set that’s akin to a trip down memory lane for clubbers, with a few remixes and dub versions of tracks spicing up his set.

For Disc Three, Todd Terry takes over the decks. During his fifteen track set he  spins seven tracks he produced himself. Among the other tracks, he spins Saint Etienne’s Only Love Can Break Your Heart, Lidell Townsell’s Nu Nu, plus two by The Untouchables, Take A Chance and Yeah C’Mon. This mix was recorded a few years after the previous two mixes and shows how house music was evolving. Although Todd’s mix is technically spot-on, with the music of the quality you’d expect of him, I prefer the other two discs.

Kenny Carpener’s mix on Disc Four is easily the most eclectic of the five discs. He gets the mix of to a storming start with World Series of Life’s Spread Love, before taking throwing a few curve balls that sit comfortably alongside some classic tracks. During his set, he mixes Bohannon’s Lets Start the Dance into a disco mix of Third World’s Now That We’ve Found Love, before following this with another classic, Little Louie and Marc Anthony’s Ride On the Rhythm. Closing his intriguing and eclectic set are Chaka Khan’s I Know You, I Love You and a the 1991 Club Mix of Natalie Cole’s This Will Be An Everlasting Love. This brings to an end a flawless set,  which along with mixes by Larry Levan and David Morales make this set well worth the money.

Justin Berkmann whose mix features on Disc Five, was the resident DJ at Ministry of Sound. He’s been the warmup DJ for every big-name DJ that played at the club. His 2011 mix has a slightly underground feel to it, as he mixes fourteen tracks. During jis set he drops tracks like Instrum’s Wine and Earth People’s Dance, before teeing up Barbara Tucker’s classic track I Get Lifted. From there Dee-Lite’s Pussycat Meow, Wall of Sound’s Critical (If Only You Knew) and Danell Dixon’s Dance Dance are dropped, before House Culture’s N-My Soul closes Justin’s set, proving that he’s much more than a warmup DJ.

The five discs mixes from Larry Levan, David Morales, Todd Terry, Kenny Carpenter and Justin Berkmann that makeup the Live and Remastered-20th Anniversary Box Set were recorded between 1991 and 2011. They’re a interesting document of the twenty years of the Ministry of Sound nightclub, and the type of music played there. That music would be played worldwide, so anyone who spent any time clubbing between 1991 and 2011 might be interested in this box set. It’s one of these box sets that you dip in and out of. Since I came across it, I’ve played Larry Levan, David Morales and Kenny Carpenter mixes most. They two me are the best of the five. Listening to Larry Levan’s mix, his mixing is peerless, and considering the chaos that surrounded his arrival. He missed eight flights and arrived eight days late, but played flawless and peerless set. The other four DJs play like the consummate professionals they are, and which sets you prefer will depend on your musical taste.  Another thing about the mixes that I liked is that each mix was recorded live. This means that any mistakes are there for everyone to hear, rather than any errors being corrected afterwards. All this adds to appeal of Live and Remastered-20th Anniversary Box Set, although the sleeve-notes could’ve been better. They’re not exactly in-depth or comprehensive. Mind you, given that Live and Remastered-20th Anniversary Box Set only cost less than £15 or $25 I suppose that can be forgiven. Instead Live and Remastered-20th Anniversary Box Set is a box set that not only will allow you to relive memories of the past twenty years, not just at Ministry of Sound, but any club, big or small, that played the same mixture of house and US Garage.


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