As with most albums of this ilk, the tributee's own original recordings piss on even the best of covers from substantial heights. Willie pokes his ponytailed head in here twice to help the Supersuckers and the Reverend Horton Heat try to redeem this stinker. The results are pretty good, but I have the sneaking suspicion these tracks may have been hijacked from one of those zany duet albums Willie's so fond of.

Besides, the few good cuts on Twisted are easily eclipsed by the album's closer--Kris Kristofferson and Kelly Deal skeet shooting at "Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground." Any Willie Nelson fans brave enough to stick around to this point will probably yank this CD out of their players and huck it. Hello, walls! Kerrrang!!!!

How long, oh Lord, how long? And where's twisted Julio Iglesias when we could really use him?--Serene Dominic

Maze (featuring Frankie Beverly)
(The Right Stuff/EMI)

While late '70s/early '80s funkified R&B orchestras like Earth, Wind & Fire, and the Commodores made frequent appearances on the pop charts, Maze holds a special place in the hearts of R&B/soul nostalgiacs for staying exclusive to its fiercely loyal core audience: the many thousands of mostly adult, mostly black, mostly working-class fans who made each of the band's ten albums gold without the help of a hit. Soul fans who never got turned on to the San Francisco septet's medium-funk grooves and the thick, buttery Philly-style vocals of featured performer/band leader Frankie Beverly now have a chance to redeem their ears with this two-disc compilation.

Covering all of Maze's recordings for Capitol in chronological order--from 1977's self-titled debut to 1986's Live in Los Angeles--Anthology provides all the Maze anyone but a collector could ever want. Disc One is the better of the two, matching classic '70s soul ("While I'm Alone") with down-home funk ("Workin' Together") and gritty, deep-fried jams ("Southern Girl"). Disc Two features Maze's bigger R&B chart climbers, including the late-career highlight "Back in Stride," but is marred by overproduction. During the mid-'80s, Beverly's band turned most of its up-tempo material into synth-ridden pulp ("Love Is the Key") and its slower numbers into doctor-office slush ("Your Own Kind of Way").

Despite these shortcomings, Maze's Anthology is a good chance to discover a species of music that is sadly endangered intoday's new-jack, studio-processed R&Bworld. By all means, relive the sound of this full-scale, from-the-heart R&B act.--Roni Sarig

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