Trance 100 - Best Of The Best - The Collection (1997 - 2000)
The year is 1997. Arcade, a Dutch run label, decides to release a new compilations. This compilation would be called 'Trance 100' initially, but soon would get the added title of 'Best Of The Best', and the compilation would run between 1997 and 2000, to be slowly taken of the market for unknown reasons. It was one of those compilations that emerged out of nowhere, and just left without any announcements. It came and went, and left an impact on yours truly. Not sure if this series was ever released outside of The Netherlands, and I couldn't find any information on Discogs. If you never seen this before, you've missed out on an amazing collection!
I started with the second instalment. For whatever reason, I never purchase the first CD in a series. Always the second or third. Maybe it's because I'm a tad afraid, and rather await the feedback from other music lovers. But once the first CD was out and the second one was released, I had to give it a go. And would I be disappointed? Not yet. Later down the line the series turned a bit 'meh' to me personally, but certainly the first few were absolutely smashing CDs.
I was a huge Arcade fan. I always thought (wrongly of course) that they stood for quality music. To give them some credit, they have given us memorable CDs. Was it truly quality or more focussed on the quantity? The latter, I suppose. The more, the merrier, the more guilders (as this was the currency before the Millennium).
Arcade released many fantastic compilations over the years, like Turn Up The Bass, House Party. Thunderdome, Techno Trance, Mega Dance, Serious Clubhits, Yabba-Dabba-Dance, Gigadance, Factor 9, Heroes Of Hardcore, Club X, Real Hardcore, Clubtrance, 538 Dance Smash Hits, and the list goes on and on. Of course they had some proper stinkers. Don't need to remind the raving community of those fake Happy Hardcore/Gabber albums, focussed on just cashing in on a trend.
But to me, Arcade was everything. Most of my collection (roughly 80-85%) was a CD released on their label. And around 1998/1999 I was a tad lost. Hardcore was going down the drain, and I had to get hooked on something else. Trance became my fix. And it was a well needed style. After purchasing a few CDs, I was terribly in love with Trance music, and this top 100 collection would suit me extremely well.
The quantity was again the focus, instead of the quality. Some tunes were only played for a handful of seconds, sometimes mixed together in a horrible way, or even some tracks weren't even considered Trance songs. But the good and bad thing would be that those songs were played for long, so the next song would appear quickly. To me these songs were more like teasers: if you wanted to hear the track a tad longer, you would had to buy them on vinyl or single.
The CDs did contain some memorable tunes, and some forgettable ones. But it was the late 90s and this was Arcade's business model: cheap, with a lot of songs crammed on each CD. Each CD in this compilation came with 4 discs per each number, so you would get 25 songs on a 70 minute long song. Not enough time for you to enjoy the songs to the fullest extend, but teasers..
So what would be on each CD? Well, it's hard to find these CDs online. Can't find a location where you can listen to them online, like a streaming service. Thankfully I've ripped them from the discs onto a hard drive many years ago, so I can consider myself lucky. But here are 8 out of the 9 tracklists from this glorious compilation:
The question I've got for you Trance lovers and if you are Dutch too: did you buy any of these 9 CDs? Were you like me, and bought nearly all of them? Or if you haven't, do you remember seeing them in the Arcade music stand in your local CD store? It was hard for me to find an image of this 'Arcade Bak', but thankfully after scrolling through a few booklets on Discogs, I have found exactly what I'm referring to:
And the funny thing is, this picture actually contains one of the Trance 100 CDs on the top row! But all you Dutchies out there, do you remember seeing this whenever you walked into your local CD store back in the 90s? Mostly found in the Free Record Shop. Or Van Leest, which was a local store to me in Heerlen and surrounding areas. But do you remember them? You were always greeted when walking in. You would see the latest releases on Arcade's label. Nostalgia!
But let's go back to this Trance 100 compilation. It was greatly summed by someone on Discogs (it was focussed on Arcade in general, but does apply to this series too): they had great compilations, on most of them you would have 3 killer tracks, and 17 fillers. And sadly that's true. This compilation has got so many great songs, but over 100 songs, only a handful would be heard in the clubs near you. Don't get me wrong, there are some seriously underestimated songs on there, which should be played in clubs right NOW, but the majority are just so-so songs. Fillers, not killers.
They did their best to cram as much as they could on these CDs, just to keep the fans of Trance music entertained, but were they of high quality? Nope. But from a nostalgic point of view it did introduce us to more than just 15 Trance songs. It was 100 songs in one go! You would be engulfed with music. And that's what I liked about this compilations. Hence why I've always been a fan of megamixes: the more songs, the merrier.
It did show Trance music in its widest form; not just Dutch Trance music, but from all over the world. Arcade has done some good to most of us Dutch people. It was a stable force during the 90s, but they were active way before the 90s. And even after the 90s they tried to stay afloat, but their business approach wasn't suitable anymore, and for whatever reason they were taken over and quickly turned into an underground label, to be then forgotten about. Which is a shame. Whenever I think of my music collection of the 90s, I always think of Arcade. And whenever I think of Trance music in the 90s, I always go back to this collection.
Was it great? No. Far from it. But was it worth every penny spent on it? Yes. The series only spanned 3 years, but I'm still talking about these CDs, 25 years later.
Funny side note: I never got them all. It took me a couple of years to have 7 out of the 9. Found the 8th one back in 2016 in my local CD store for 10 euros. Still haven't got the 7th edition of this instalment, but hell will freeze over before I can add that one to my collection,
And the one song from all these CDs that I remembered the most has to be Celvin Rotane's 'Bienvenue'. The best Trance anthem of ALL TIME!
Wish they would be put online somewhere on a streaming service. I do miss this kind of compilations. As good as bad as they were, they were still what made me love music even more. And for that I give it the following score:
Side note: if anyone owns the rights to Arcade, can you pretty please upload those forgotten albums? For 'old time sake'? Fuck me, I miss the 90s.
Side note 2: I'm not going to type all the details down, product numbers, length CDs etc. Way too long, and no point to do that; you won't be able to find these CDs anywhere ... Maybe in your local CD store. They might have some in a corner, for a few quid. Grab them.