Music » Culture Jamming

The week's best releases from the pop-culture universe:

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DVD -- The Nashville Sound: Not only did this 1969 documentary serve as inspiration for Robert Altman's Nashville, it also captured a semihistoric event: the 44th anniversary of the Grand Ole Opry. The concert venue hosted a who's who of country-music stars, including Johnny Cash, Loretta Lynn, and Dolly Parton. It's a time capsule of an era when Woodstock hippies were making their own not altogether different music and the U.S. was on the brink of a cultural uprising.

CD -- The Belle Album: Expanded Edition: Al Green's 1977 record was his first not co-piloted by Willie Mitchell, the Memphis producer who helped sculpt and define the singer's smooth, sexy soul. Green produced himself, and the results are pretty much like Mitchell's records, but with more guitar (Green played much of it and highlighted his fret work in the mix). Three previously unreleased songs from the sessions round out this remastered Belle, Green's last great album before he gave his soul to God.

CD -- Like This: The dB's long-out-of-print third album stands as the '80s power-poppers' most focused work. Co-founder Chris Stamey split before the recording, and de facto leader Peter Holsapple jingle-jangled his way through a set of super-hooky songs about love, Elvis, and heaven-bound locomotives. This sparkling new reissue includes a pair of bonus tracks, including, of all things, a dance remix of "A Spy in the House of Love."

VIDEOGAME -- NBA Ballers: Phenom: We never thought the story would be the most intriguing part of a sports game. In this sequel to the 2004 hoops hit (for PlayStation 2 and Xbox), players bring their game to the streets of Los Angeles. Along the way, roundball skills impress scouts, who may sign your baller to an NBA contract. From there, the sky's the limit, with record companies, clothing lines, and houses (built from the ground up, in one of the addictive side games) up for grabs. If you're truly lucky, your guy will be beating the crap out of mouthy fans in no time.

TV -- Ray Charles: The Genius of Soul: This American Masters outing (airing at 9 p.m. Wednesday on PBS) will be familiar to anyone who saw Ray. Charles' tragic childhood, the drugs and women that competed for his free time, the groundbreaking gospel-soul he pioneered -- they're all covered. The real thrill comes from watching the vintage clips of the Genius onstage. He's so soulful, you'll be singing, "Hit the Road, Jamie."

DVD -- The Wedding Singer: Totally Awesome Edition: Adam Sandler's best movie (dubious distinction, we know) gets a power-up just as a musical based on the 1998 film opens on Broadway. Growing up in the '80s certainly helps the Rubik's Cube references and Billy Idol jokes go down easier, but it's hard to resist a never-cuter Drew Barrymore and the terrific soundtrack. And Steve Buscemi's uncredited cameo ranks as one of the all-time best.

COURTESY FLUSH, PLEASE -- Beatmania: We like the idea of bringing mad turntable skills to PlayStation 2. But this monotonous videogame lacks the thing we want most when we're manning the decks: freestylin' action! The folks behind the insanely popular Dance Dance Revolution came up with Beatmania (which comes with its own turntable controller), but they forgot to bring the fun. Instead, we're left mashing buttons in a futile effort to keep up with blah beats that even Master P would dismiss.

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