I hate to speak ill of Australia's greatest living talent, so I'll get a couple of criticisms out of the way first. Namely, a handful of tracks sound like rejects from "Get Into You". The faux R'n'B ballads will only appeal to Dannii's hardcore fans and the entire album sounds brutally dated. The thing is - I love "Get Into You" and of course the production is rougher than Britney's voice without autotune. After all, this shit is nearly 15 years old! Now for the good news. The majority of the album is a treasure trove of trashy 90s dance anthems. Songs like "Free Your Love", "Crazy (For Your Love)" and the original version of "Everlasting Night" are classics that deserved to be loved and cherished by fans. More importantly, "The 95 Sessions" documents Dannii's transformation from white Janet into the holy patron of gay nightclubs. It was during this period that our beloved icon began to explore club beats in earnest and first worked with long time collaborators Ian Masterson and Terry Ronald. The results are a bit patchy but the potential for pop greatness is palpable. Here is my track by track review:
Free Your Love
Of all the unreleased trash clogging up Nathan's iPod, this is the song I've been most desperate to hear. The prospect of Dannii collaborating with the Rapino Brothers had me salivating and the track took on an almost mystical status among fans after Dannii performed it along with the original "Everlasting Night" at several Pride events in the mid-90s. I'm pleased to say "Free Your Love" more than lives up to the hype. This exquisite dance anthem blends 90s house beats with Eurodance elements to stunning effect. I love Dannii's vocals and the soaring chorus is sublime. It has to be said that "Free Your Love" is better than anything the Rapino Brothers ever produced for Kylie ("Difficult By Design", "Gotta Move On" and the trashtastic "Aston Martin").
I'm highly amused that the man behind @m8er's "Kill That Bitch" cut his teeth producing cheesy club anthems for Dannii. Ollie J certainly knows how to sniff out unique talent! The first of his two contributions to "The 95 Sessions" is a full blooded blast of 90s club goodness. The cheesy keyboards push all my buttons and the lyrics are typically inane dancefloor fodder. This reminds me of the early output of American divas like Kristine W and Ultra Nate. Not the best thing on the album but definitely worth checking out.
Love & Affection
Now this is cute. "Love & Affection" is a cheerful little pop tune with a catchy chorus and some of the album's crispest beats. It reminds me of an M People remix, which has to be a good thing.
Let Love Into Your Life
I feel like I'm repeating myself but "Let Love Into Your Life" is another unexpectedly accomplished dose of 90s dance music. This time around the sound is distinctly American - think Dannii meets C&C Music Factory - but it works brilliantly. The Queen of Club's unleashes one her strongest vocal performances and the backing vocalists add another layer to the song. The production is a little clumsy but this is a minor triumph.
Everlasting Night (Original Version)
"The 95 Sessions" is worth buying for the original "Everlasting Night" alone. The remake (a #42 smash hit in 1999) is a gay classic in Australia. I still remember the media furore over Dannii's lesbian kiss in the video and the song automatically evokes happy memories of Mardi Gras parties and clubbing adventures. However, as much as I love the 99 version, it pales in comparison to the original. I've had a demo of this (below) for years but hearing the song in high quality underlines its vast superority. I know the Droids will be out for blood when I say this but "Everlasting Night '95" strikes me as being very much a Kylie record. There's a vulnerability to Dannii's vocal delivery that I normally only associate with her sister. The song's melancholy/whimsical undertone - despite the perky lyrics and upbeat nature of the track - is also a Kylie trademark. I can't express how much I love this. It could have been Dannii's "Better The Devil You Know", making it almost as much of a missed opportunity as "Come & Get It".
The demo version of "Everlasting Night '95"Crazy (For Your Love)
"Crazy (For Your Love)" is another contribution from One World (the producers behind "Everlasting Night") and it's only slightly less fabulous. I love the splashes of disco amongst all the Hi-NRG goodness and even pick up a faint hint of Stock Aitken Waterman. My only complaint is that it sounds unfinished. The verses are a little underdone and the production isn't as tight as it could be. This is a treat nonetheless.
Take My Time Loving You
You can basically copy everything I wrote about "Crazy (For Your Love)" and paste it here. Only "Take My Time Loving You" is slightly more commercial and has an ever so subtle Motown flavour. Good, solid pop.
Love In Me
I was wondering if the Queen of Club's would flaunt her sexy side on this collection and, as it turns out, she does. There's something innately fabulous about Dannii singing sultry lyrics like "Baby, take control" and "I wanna get your love in me tonight". Not exactly subtle! As much as I like sleazy Dannii, I think this is slightly disappointing - particularly given the involvement of the Rapino Brothers. The production is woefully dated and the chorus fails to fire. One of the few tracks I've been skipping.
Ollie J's second contribution to "The 95 Sessions" is a perky urban club jam. I think @m8er should cover "Exclusively" for her album - it's cute and holds up remarkably well. It's a bit of a throwback to "Get Into You" but if you like urban Dannii, this is very much worth checking out.
Love Will Find A Way
Another "Get Into You" type mid-tempo pop song with a smooth R'n'B sheen. I personally love this sound but I know a lot of fans hate it and the song doesn't fit particularly well with the dance anthems. The highlight is definitely the beautiful vocal. Terry Ronald really knows how to bring the best out of Dannii's heavenly pipes.
Don't Wanna Leave You Now
The poor man's "I Don't Wanna Take This Pain". The production is lush and Dannii's voice shines but "Don't Wanna Leave You Now" sounds like it should be blasting from an elevator. Dull and boring.
Coconut (Original Version)
This mess is an insult to the 98 version. Avoid at all costs!
Free Your Love (Extended Mix)
Blissful, even better than the album version. Dig out a lime green t-shirt, polish your glowsticks and dance to this jam like it's 1995.
"The Dance Sessions" was released in the UK on the 7th of December. You can order the CD from Amazon, HMV and Play.