(Blues Explosion/Sanctuary Records)

From Pussy Galore to this. Jon Spencer now helms an act that has as much to do with feral Blues Explosions as a retired Elvis impersonator. The band's latest, Damage, required five producers, two guest stars, and a barrage of grunts, fronts, and howls to recreate what Spencer and crew (guitarist Judah Bauer and drummer Russell Simins) have basically been repackaging since before Plastic Fang. The trio--who've dropped the "Jon Spencer" from their moniker to show they're in this together--do offer a couple sharp edges in Damage's smooth blooze grooves, but then it's back to the same old swivel-hip grind. Even with big producer names like Dan the Automator and DJ Shadow taking the controls for a couple tracks, the Blues Explosion have folded into a cliché of their own formula--a blueprint so worn even Spencer aptly jokes on "Help These Blues," "Before I used to walk, now I only crawl." JENNIFER MAERZ

Blues Explosion play Crystal Ballroom Saturday, November 20

Poe Little Rich Girl

Damn, we've come a looong way since when MC Lyte, Queen Latifah, and Yo Yo mixed hardcore appeal with feminine sensibilities. Now, since Heather B went MIA and Lauryn Hill went crazy, with but a few exceptions (Jean Grae, Invincible, Bahamadia) the "femcee" blueprint dates no further back than 1996, when Lil' Kim and Fox Boogie Brown dropped their debuts. Though she's a better MC (or possessing better ghostwriters), image-wise Jacki-O is just a gullier version of Trina, herself hailed as a more hardcore Lil' Kim. I'm not gonna sit here and tell you Jacki's titillating freakier-than-thou narratives don't make for some entertaining listening--but the shtick wears thin simply because it's so fucking predictable. If you know better, then you've already got the best track on the album, the Ghostface-featured "Tooken Back," originally on his Pretty Toney Album from earlier this year. For that matter, "Tooken Back" is exactly what this CD might end up being--keep the receipt. LARRY MIZELL JR.

Gold Chains & Sue Cie
When the World Was Our Friend
(Kill Rock Stars)

When Gold Chains' Topher LaFata raps over wicked, clicky, two-step techno, he's engaging and funny. When he spits, he's a lyrical Chinese gymnast--grinnin' big with, like, 50 gold metals Mr. T'd around his neck. When he drops dance tracks with hockey game organ, he's ruling whatever party he wants to start. But when he and new collaborator Sue Cie sing about love over disco funk he sounds like he's phoning it in, running half ass where before he owned and flowed hyper-creative. Unfortunate thing is, When the World Was Our Friend is 95% love song disco funk phoner inners, and the great 5% gets buried. ADAM GNADE

Gold Chains play Berbati's Wednesday November 24

**** Ride the Lightning
*** Master of Puppets
** ...And Justice For All
* St. Anger, S&M, Reload, Load, etc...