Big Bad Voodoo Daddy was one the key figures of the swing revival of the '90s, not just because they were one of the first bands in L.A. to play the style, but because they had the good fortune to be featured in Doug Liman's 1996 film Swingers, which helped usher the fad into the mainstream and, along with it, BBVD. In the wake of the success of Swingers, the group signed to Interscope, where they released two albums -- 1998's eponymous major-label debut (their first indie album was also called Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, but it was a different record) and 1999's This Beautiful Life -- before they shuffled off to Vanguard Records sometime after the turn of the millennium. Since the band had one sound -- an ironic, party-hearty take on big-band swing, an amalgam of Cab Calloway jive and Rat Pack style -- the two Interscope records were pretty much interchangeable, with the first having the lion's share of the good songs, since it drew from their entire repertoire up to that point while the second suffered from sophomore slump syndrome in terms of material, but that stylistic similarity means they can be condensed to one disc pretty effectively, as their first compilation, 20th Century Masters: The Best of Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, proves. This concentrates just on the Interscope records, taking seven of the 12 songs from the debut, five of the 12 from This Beautiful Life, and the result is their most consistent album. True, it's still a bit samey -- not only do all the songs have the same mood, but they all sound like they're in the same key -- the songs aren't as distinctive as the songs they're mimicking, Scotty Morris' vocals are still flat, and ultimately the music is kitschy pastiche. But for those who are nostalgic for '90s nostalgia for the '20s, better to pick up this 20th Century Masters instead of a proper BBVD album, since it's more consistent and more fun than the full-length records.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine