Favorite

Various Artists: Fac. Dance: Factory Records 12" Mixes and Rarities, 1980-1987 (Strut) 

Forgoing tracks by Factory Records' most-well-known acts (at least in the United States)—Joy Division and New Order—Fac. Dance provides a wealth of hard-to-find singles and compilation releases (24 tracks over two CDs), all dedicated to the dance side of the equation.

That's dance music Factory Records-style, mind you, which means a head-spinning array of post-punk, heavy bass-, synth- and processed-drums-driven numbers by largely (but not exclusively) British acts, most of them relatively unknown in the U.S. (outside of fans of esoteric '80s dance music, that is).

The most-familiar act stateside, A Certain Ratio, is represented by "Wild Party" and the nine-minute-plus "Knife Slits Water." A Certain Ratio drummer Donald Johnson and New Order's Bernard Sumner have their hands on half the tracks as producers, bringing a consistency of sound. Factory Records' in-house loon/genius, Martin Hannett, is present behind the board for two tracks by The Durutti Column and Section 25's classic "Dirty Disco." New York remix guru Arthur Baker shows up for 12-plus minutes of The Hood's "Salvation!"

But my favorites are two tracks by Quando Quango, "Atom Rock" and the expansive "Genius," showing what dance music can really be in the hands of visionaries. Jellybean Benitez's remix of "Cool as Ice" by 52nd Street is another classic, as is their "Looking From a Hilltop." X-O-Dus, Blurt, Shark Vegas, Swamp Children, Biting Tongues, Royal Family and the Poor, Streetlife, Marcel King, Minny Pops and Abecedarians are all well-represented. Essential.

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