House mix by Joel Lai and Derald Reynolds
'I remember house when it was pure emotion . . . when it was just one house,' proclaims Blaze as the velvet curtain parts to usher in drop IN's opening track. Well, quite. The original middle-of-the-road 4/4 house beat runs undeviating through this mix, pulsing white stripes of a clubland autobahn.
It's not quite 'one house' - garage, tribal, even Chicago get a look-in - but it's straight up and down, and about as accessible - perversely - as drop itself is mythologised for not being.
What's 'drop'? Shame on you. You haven't been to the super-sassy, super-small bar/club off Hollywood Road in Central, infamous for its (increasingly patchy) 'no losers' door policy? If you haven't, chances are the name Joel Lai may not be too familiar, either. Hong Kong's uncontested heavyweight champion DJ, Lai has almost single-handedly managed to pencil the city into the margins of the global clubbing address book. He is as big as this city gets, he co-owns and DJs at drop, and drop IN is his personal selection of house favourites, mixed with help from the club's co-resident DJ Gruv.
In this post-9/11 world that eschews triviality and flim-flam, marketing drop IN as a tribute to the club's two years in existence might seem slightly gauche, but then welcome to Hong Kong. Of more relevance is that Lai's celebrity is bankable, and sure enough, the CD is nudging the top spot in HMV's dance chart - despite only being on sale at HMV, GOD and drop.
The secret lies in the Lai signature and the rub-off effect of having a tiny bit of drop's cool at home in the CD rack. Although there are some unexpected treasures, such as the trumpets on the Groove Junkies' Gonna Get By and Gadgo's funky Latino strings and keyboards on Besame Mucho, this is not, of course, a CD to listen to at home; it only makes you ache for the warm, fuzzy buzz of a dance floor. The message is clear: better drop by drop if you want the real thing.