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Various Artists

Judging by these discs, the video-game industry is currently a lot healthier than the music business. Whereas songs were once used to attract video-game buyers, record execs are now using video games as bait in the hopes of selling CDs.

The three-disc Grand Theft Auto package features an introductory DVD of the game, but the real draw is its canny blend of vintage funk (James Brown, the Ohio Players) and hard-hitting hip-hop (Compton's Most Wanted, Slick Rick). Despite a few missteps -- what the hell is Eddie Money's "Two Tickets to Paradise" doing here? -- the collection is nasty enough to justify its existence. Best of Video Game Music, a tie-in with the Video Game Awards sponsored by Spike TV, is more uneven. Tracks by acts as disparate as Blink-182, Mystikal and Elvis Presley are here not because they fit together, but because they turned up on the likes of Madden 2005.

The marketing strategy behind these offerings seems dubious, since anyone who purchases the games in question already owns high-fidelity versions of the tunes they contain. But if label honchos were smart, their sales figures wouldn't be in the sewer. Score another one for the gamers.

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts