Get ready for it! …. here’s 20 of our favourite classic trance anthems from the late 90s…
But first …
When did trance music start?
Whilst it wasn’t known as a dance genre until the early 1990s, trance music can be traced back to 1988, with the release of Klaus Schulze’s album ‘’En=Trance’’.
It originated in Germany from the techno & hardcore scenes and quickly flooded dancefloors throughout the rest of Europe in places like Belgium and the Netherlands.
Given its mostly instrumental nature, and characterized by its repeating melodic phrases, the genre was considered a more melodic variance of house and techno, with ‘uplifting trance’ lending much of its influence from classical music.
Recommended by The DJ Revolution:
Before we jump into the content, we thought we’d quickly showcase ‘Hypnotised: A Journey Through Trance Music (1990-2005)’.
The 322-page encyclopedia book spans a near-complete discography of essential albums, labels and releases, alongside exclusive photos and in-depth interviews with influential artists and label owners.
It’s also the first (and only) book to cover the global trance movement during its most prolific years!
How we’d define ‘’Classic Trance’’
Every standout genre has its golden age, which is nearly always during the initial years from when that genre was conceived.
Whilst the early ‘90s was the birth era of trance music—producing some of the best trance anthems that exist today—many would argue that the genre didn’t hit its top gear until later in the decade, which we’d mostly agree with!
As far as how long this ‘’golden age’’ lasted? We’d probably categorize ‘classic trance’ as running most of the way through the 2000s, until about 2007.
Before we jump in
This list has been hand-picked by our team here at The DJ Revolution, many of whom had these tracks in their vinyl collections as working DJs around the turn of the decade. It includes tracks from trance music legends such as Agnelli & Nelson, Paul Van Dyk, Mauro Picotto, William Orbit and Matt Darey to name just a few.
In case you wanted to purchase any of the selections, we did our best to include the appropriate ‘buy’ links for the digital and vinyl versions in the description for each track.
Make no mistake, these records were absolute bombs when they came out during the second half of the 90s – and were further popularized by clubbing brands such as Gatecrasher and Godskitchen in superclubs in the UK and Ibiza.
Here are 20 of the best classic trance anthems from the mid-to-late 90s!
1. Agnelli & Nelson – Everyday (Original Mix)
Let’s not mess about then. Starting with this one from Agnelli & Nelson: a Trance duo from Northern Ireland, who also produced massive club hits such as “El Niño” and “Holding On To Nothing.”
With its slow build-up and powerful euphoric peaks and troughs, there’s no doubt it deserves a place on this list. Like a lot of trance classics that came out during this magical era, another version was later released with female vocals added – although this original mix is definitely the go-to!
2. Solar Stone – Seven Cities (Solar Stone’s Atlantis Mix)
Taking the energy level down a notch, here’s another absolute classic from 1999 – this one from Rich Mowatt and Andy Bury (AKA Solar Stone). With its wonderful nostalgia-infused euphoric vibe, it’s considered a ‘Balearic trance classic’.
The track contains a vocal sample from ‘Adiemus – Tintinnabulum’ by Miriam Stockley, taken from the album ‘Adiemus – Songs Of Sanctuary’ on Venture Records from 1995.
3. Lost Witness – Happiness Happening (Lange Remix)
Lost Witness is a British trance project led by Simon Paul, who, in addition to Happiness Happening, also had the successful club hit “Red Sun Rising” – both of which entered the top 40 of the UK charts.
Happiness Happening has a powerful euphoric climax together with carefully rationed female vocals, with this ‘Lange Remix’ considered as the go-to!
4. Starparty – I’m In Love (Ferry Corsten Remix)
‘Starparty’ was an alias of Dutch DJ/producers Ferry Corsten & Robert Smit, with the track ‘I’m In Love’ first released on German label ‘Go For It’ back in 1997.
Ferry Corsten is of course the more well-known of the two, having produced countless classic trance tracks under his numerous aliases during the late 90s/early 2000s …think ‘System F’, ‘Moonman’, ‘Pulp Victim’ and ‘Gouryella’!
With its hypnotic female vocals and unmistakable progressive energy, we simply had to include this one in our list. You can grab the 12-inch vinyl version from Discogs or stream it over on SoundCloud.
5. Veracocha – Carte Blanche (Original Mix)
‘Veracocha’ is another Ferry Corsten project, this time in collaboration with fellow Dutchman and trance music producer Vincent De Moor.
‘Carte Blanche’ was originally released on UK label Manifesto in 1998 and then on Positiva among others the following year in 1999 – reaching number 22 in the UK Singles Chart.
6. Vincent De Moor – Flowtation
Following on nicely with a track from the Dutch trance artist we just mentioned – Vincent De Moor. ‘Flowtation’ was first released on a few different labels in 1996 and later reached No. 54 in the UK Singles Chart in August 97.
Several versions of the track were created, which included a 2002 remix with vocals, although the original is definitely the best in our estimation!
7. Paul Van Dyk – For An Angel (E-Werk Club Mix)
‘For An Angel’ enjoyed meteoric success in clubland and commercially after its release in 1998 …technically it was first released in 1994 as a track on his first studio album ‘45 RPM’.
Paul Van Dyk is of course the German trance DJ & producer, who began his DJ career in 1991 playing at the Berlin clubs ‘Tresor’ and ‘Turbine’. Van Dyk’s studio albums around this era included ‘Seven Ways’ in 1996, ‘Out There and Back’ in 2000, and ‘Reflections’ in 2003.
Considering the song was criminally overplayed for many years after its release, boy did it hold up for a very long time! Get the vinyl EP via Discogs or check out different digital versions on JunoDownload.
8. Agnelli & Nelson – El Nino (Original Mix)
Originally released in 1998, ‘El Nino’ is once again the work of Northern Irish duo Agnelli & Nelson, with Marcella Woods helping out on the vocals for this one.
Considered a Balearic trance classic, this was another massive hit in Ibiza. After reaching No.21 in the UK charts, it subsequently appeared on countless trance compilations for years to come.
9. Art of Trance – Madagascar (Ferry Corsten Remix)
The track ‘Madagascar’ was first released in 1999 on popular UK trance label ‘Platipus’, and reached number one on the UK Dance Singles Chart.
‘Art of Trance’ was just one of the aliases used by British trance producer Simon Berry. Berry’s music has been remixed by artists including Ferry Corsten (as with this one), Cygnus X, Perfect Stranger, Michael Woods and others.
10. William Orbit – Barbers Adagio For Strings (Ferry Corsten Remix)
Edging on the darker side of euphoric trance now, with this well-known 1999 classic from English dance music producer, William Orbit.
‘Barbers Adagio For Strings’ is a reworking of the 1936 orchestral piece from Samuel Barber, entitled ‘Adagio for Strings’, which is undoubtedly one of the most recognizable pieces of classical music in the world.
You can grab the original version together with this Ferry Corsten Remix on vinyl from Discogs. If you want a digital copy, you’ll have to go digging yourself.
11. Signum – What Ya Got 4 Me
This next banger is by Dutch producer Signum, AKA Ron Hagen (and formally Pascal Minnaard). ‘What Ya Got 4 Me’ originally came out on a few different labels in 1998, including popular UK hard house & trance label, Tidy Trax.
With the kind of resume that most trance producers could only dream of—in addition to their long list of original productions—Signum has remixed tracks for the likes of Armin Van Buuren, Tiesto, ATB, Oceanlab and many others.
12. Bedrock – Heaven Scent (original mix)
Bedrock is the UK electronic music/progressive trance outfit comprising of John Digweed and Nick Muir. Before this track, the pair got their big break with “For What You Dream Of” which was used in the film Trainspotting in 1996.
Heaven Scent is yet another classic from 1999, with this ‘Original Mix’ going on for more than 10 minutes. An interesting fact: Two years later, in 2001, DJ Mag voted Digweed the No.1 DJ in the world.
13. Binary Finary 1998 (Gouryella Remix)
Sure, it might be an obvious one, but the track ‘1998’ from Binary Finary definitely deserves its spot when we’re talking about classic trance anthems!
The UK act (who now live in Sydney, Australia) shot to fame after the track became the first Trance tune to enter the UK Top 30. It would also become one of the most remixed trance tracks ever made, with the ‘1999’ version beating the original in the UK charts, reaching number 11!
14. BT – Flaming June (Paul Van Dyk Remix)
Flaming June has a wonderful melody and piano elements …certainly one of the best instrumental trance tunes ever made!
It’s by ‘BT’ (AKA Brian Transeau) – an American DJ/producer that’s been active on the scene since the early 90s.
The track was first released on Paul Oakenfold’s Perfecto label back in 1997, with this ‘PVD Remix’ considered the original version. Get it on vinyl at Discogs, or grab a digital copy from Traxsource.
15. Matt Darey – Liberation (Temptation – Fly Like An Angel)
With a long list of trance credentials, Matt Darey is an English DJ, producer & remixer from Leicester. To give you an idea of his influence, Darey has sold over two million albums and singles, with numerous top 10 chart hits!
Definitely considered as an uplifting trance classic, ‘Liberation’ was first released in 1999 on a handful of labels, with Marcella Woods providing the awesome vocals.
16. Mauro Picotto – Lizard
This one was originally released in 1997 – and it absolutely bangs! Mauro Picotto is of course the Italian DJ/producer, famous for other successful tracks including “Komodo (Save a Soul)”, “Pulsar” and “Iguana”.
Picotto has released over 600 productions & remixes – selling over six million copies worldwide during his well-decorated production career!
Lizard is perhaps a slightly different take on a trance classic, but we think it deserves a spot! Either grab the 12-inch vinyl version from Discogs or get a digital copy (released in 2014) from Beatport.
17. Cascade – Transcend (Moonman Remix)
Up next, the track ‘Transcend’ was first released on white label in 1997, although it wasn’t until 1998 when it was signed to prominent trance labels ‘Hook Recordings’ in the UK and ‘Initial’ in Germany.
Strangely enough, we’re not that keen on the Original Mix for this one, but don’t worry, the ‘Moonman Remix’ is an absolute beauty!
Cascade were a Scottish trance act comprised of brothers Dave and Brendan Webster, active between 1997 & 2001. Get this (dare we say it) ‘’slightly alternative’’ uplifting trance classic on vinyl at Discogs or digitally via Beatport.
18. Energy 52 – Cafe Del Mar (Three ‘N One Mix)
Café Del Mar was one of the most remixed trance tracks ever made, appearing on hundreds of dance/trance compilations in the years following its release.
Whilst the very first promo came out in 1993, this original ‘Three ‘N One Mix’ didn’t surface until 1998. If you want to buy it, either grab the 12-inch vinyl version on Hooj Choons via Discogs, or get a digital copy on Beatport.
Energy 52 was a German trance music project comprising of Paul Schmitz-Moormann and Harald Blüchel.
19. Gouryella – Gouryella
Another trance classic from Dutch maestro Ferry Corsten under one of his many aliases, ‘Gouryella’ – this time in collaboration with DJ Tiesto. It looks like the white label first surfaced in 1998, although the track is mostly credited to 1999.
Interesting fact: The word ‘’Gouryella’’ apparently means “heaven” in the Australian aboriginal language.
20. Sasha – Xpander
Let’s finish with this absolute weapon from legendary Welsh DJ/producer Sasha! Xpander was released in 1999 on Deconstruction Records and won “Best Techno/Trance 12-inch’’ at the ‘International Dance Music Awards’ in the same year.
In addition to his solo productions and live performances, Sasha is also famously known for his collaborations with British DJ John Digweed, and most notably, he was also voted the world’s No. 1 DJ by DJ Mag the following year in 2000.
You can get the iconic Xpander EP, which includes 3 other tracks, over on Discogs. We couldn’t easily find a digital copy of the full-length original version …so happy digging!
More classic trance anthems from the late 90s
21. Nalin & Kane – Beachball (1997)
22. Chicane – Offshore (1996 Original)
23. System F – Out of The Blue (1998)
24. Moonman – Don’t Be Afraid (1996)
25. Greece 2000 – Three Drives (Original Mix)
26. The Thrillseekers – Synaesthesia (1999)
27. Johnny Shaker – Pearl River (Original 1997 Club Mix)
28. Marc Et Claude – La (Moonman’s Flashover Mix – 1997)
What an incredible time it was to be around the club scene during the late ‘90s for this magical nostalgic era of classic trance…
If we’re talking about escapism in the music, this period matches up against the best of them — yes, we said it!
Just when clubbers thought that trance music couldn’t sustain this level of quality heading into the new Millennium … well … they couldn’t have been more wrong.
Related: 20 Best Electronic Music Books
Related: The History of Electronic Dance Music.