The Mary Jane Girls

20th Century Masters: The Millennium Collection: Best of the Mary Jane Girls

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The Mary Jane Girls were always known as Rick James' protégées, because that's what they were. The superfreak dressed 'em up in skimpy outfits and provocative costumes, and had them sing songs very reminiscent of James -- actually, it's probably more accurate to say that the sound was closer to Prince or one of his protégés, because there was a heavily Minneapolis vibe to his songs and productions for the Mary Jane Girls. They hit a home run once, with the spectacular "In My House," one of the great urban funk songs of the mid-'80s. They never got that good again, although they almost hit the Top 40 with "Wild and Crazy Love" and "Walk Like a Man." Those three songs, along with a bunch of other singles, R&B hits, and album tracks are on 20th Century Masters, as good a retrospective as could be assembled on the Girls. It's not totally comprehensive, but it does have anything that anybody would want to hear, and while it won't make a case for the girls or James as a Svengali, it's pretty enjoyable for those that want to hear songs like "In My House," only not as memorable.

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