When I was first getting into music, I was a fan of WKTU out of New York, and it led me to explore a number of dance compilations. A big name at the time was the “Dance Mix USA” series from Quality and Radikal Records. At their peak in the mid-90s, they were the go-to collection of dance hits, well mixed and put together, with a lot of great tracks that I recognized from the radio.
Thanks to the magic of YouTube, some of the commercials for the series (which gave the “As Seen on TV” badge on the CDs credibility) can be found. As you can see, the series pulled together some fantastic tracks of the era and document an interesting moment in time.
My favorite of them, probably because it was the one I discovered the series by, was the 4th volume, which came out in 1996. It was one of the first CDs I bought, and I listened to it endlessly.
The series would be usurped (both as the record label that produced them faded and as other anthologies took hold for awhile); Cold Front’s “Club Mix” series was a good contender, as was Arista’s “Ultimate Dance Party.” Eventually, other dance-focused labels like Robbins Entertainment’s “Dance Party (like it’s)” series and “Ultra Dance” would be the modern torch carriers (although the former is now discontinued). The “MTV Party to Go” series from Tommy Boy was another contender of the era; some of the volumes were particularly good.
Of course compilations are less compelling nowadays thanks to the track-driven nature of download services like iTunes, and streaming services like Spotify. That said, the “Now That’s What I Call Music” series is still alive and popular, so it’s not a hard or fast rule.