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20th Century Masters: The Millennium Collection ()

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Like any record company worth their salt, MCA knows a good gimmick when they see it, and when the millennium came around -- well, the 20th Century Masters -- The Millennium Collection wasn't too far behind. Supposedly, the millennium is a momentous occasion, but it's hard to feel that way when it's used as another excuse to turn out a budget-line series. But apart from the presumptuous title, 20th Century Masters -- The Millennium Collection turns out to be a very good budget-line series. True, it's impossible for any of these brief collections to be definitive, but they're nevertheless solid samplers that don't feature a bad song in the bunch. For example, take Etta James' 20th Century volume -- it's an irresistible 11-song summary of her Chess years. There may be a couple of noteworthy songs missing, but many of her best-known songs for the label are here, including "At Last," "Something's Got a Hold on Me," "All I Could Do Was Cry," "Stop the Wedding," "Pushover," "Don't Cry Baby," "Trust in Me," "Tell Mama," "Almost Persuaded," and "I'd Rather Go Blind." Serious fans will want something more extensive, but this is an excellent introduction for neophytes and a great sampler for casual fans, considering its length and price. That doesn't erase the ridiculousness of the series title, but the silliness is excusable when the music and the collections are good. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine, Rovi Hide synopsis

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