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GAP BAND
The Best of Gap Band: 20th Century Masters: The Millennium Collection (Mercury)
Bootsy’s cousins and Leon Russell’s protégés, the three brothers Wilson were as bland as the two Brothers Johnson until an accidental 1980 P-Funk rip we’ll call ‘‘Oops Upside Your Head’’ transformed them into a great funk band for a handful of silly singles. No champs at hands-on bass and drums, they power-tooled a futuristic electrofunk out of keyboards, sound effects, and overdubbed trackmastery—think ‘‘Burn Rubber,’’ ‘‘You Dropped a Bomb on Me’’—well before Bowie’s ‘‘Let’s Dance’’ or Clinton’s ‘‘Last Dance.’’ I miss ‘‘Beep a Freak,’’ which used a beeper as a rhythm instrument (eep!), and the payday throwaway they wrote for Keenan Ivory Wayans one night. But mainly I wish they’d escaped the African American superstition that ballads are old-age insurance. Two too many show up here—which is seven or eight fewer than on the new Ultimate Collection, which to squeeze them in eviscerates the classics down to radio lengths. A MINUS

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JERRY BUTLER
The Best of Jerry Butler: 20th Century Masters: The Millennium Collection (Mercury)
Before Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff revved into urban-contemporary grandiloquence, their run with this former gospel singer/Impressions cofounder and future songwriting mentor/Chicago alderman defined a style of soul whose cool would never be duplicated. Butler had plenty of voice, but he knew showing it off was tantamount to admitting he had something to prove. So as he matured he turned conversational, talking his songs out of discretion rather than necessity. Thus he established his suitability for that ‘‘One Night Affair’’ he hopes you have in mind. He could certainly sustain the illusion for longer than 11 tracks, but not for the 40-plus you get when you supersize him. Anyway, why overdo it? Right, Jerry? A MINUS

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