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Fast reviews of recent releases

Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, 20th Century Masters - The Millennium Collection: The Best of Big Bad Voodoo Daddy (Interscope). It was an admirable concept (cheap but solid greatest-hits packages), but the 20th Century Masters series has officially jumped the shark with this release. Selecting only from Big Bad Voodoo Daddy's two Interscope albums -- seven songs from one and five from another -- the disc ends up sounding like someone's very first, tentative mix tape. Who's next? M/A/R/R/S? O-Town? -- Andrew Kremer

Degenerate Art Ensemble, The Bastress(Tellous). Seattle's underground garage orchestra probably would have earned a "degenerate" rating at Hitler's infamous 1937 Munich exhibit just for yawning. Here, in a cacophonous display of radical free jazz, tangled classical and indulgent agit-prop, DAE gives Stravinsky a run for his money -- proving that one era's sacrilege is another's archaeology. -- John La Briola

Paul Wall, The Peoples Champ (Swishahouse/Asylum/Atlantic). Whereas crunk slaps listeners upside the head, screw works on the brain like a bottle of schnapps. No wonder Champ, a stylistic primer by Houston's Wall, is better when it's swigged, not chugged. Swallowing the whole thing can be paralyzing, but musical gulps such as "Sittin' Sidewayz" produce an intoxicating buzz. -- Roberts

Various Artists, Children of Nuggets: Original Artyfacts From the Second Psychedelic Era 1976-1995 (Rhino). Instead of pulling together more underground songs from the '60s, Rhino has compiled songs by bands who were influenced by same. Very cool if you like '80s esoterica, musical history or peering under rocks. But will Nuggets fans follow the music forward, or will they consider this a collection of a hundred wannabes? -- Kremer

Various Artists, I Love Guitar WolfŠVery Much(Narnack). Paying mud-caked, fuse-blown homage to Japan's kings of rice-burner rock borders on novelty. But with Guitar Wolf sadly on perpetual hiatus (bassist Hideaki "Billy" Sekiguchi died of heart failure last March), the Hellsquad, Cato Salsa Experience, J. Mascis & the Fog and others tear up the road Kawasaki-style in loving tribute. Danger baby! -- La Briola

Various Artists, An All-Star Tribute to Luther Vandross (J Records). Since the late Luther Vandross wasn't a prolific composer, All-Star is dominated by interpretations of his interpretations. Fortunately, the versions offered by Alicia, Aretha, Beyoncé and other A-listers are usually worth hearing. (Big exception: Celine Dion.) As a result, the disc is more tolerable than the average homage, with heartfelt emotion usually trumping shmaltziness. -- Roberts

 
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