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Previewing new albums from Oasis, Bow Wow, Green Day, and more.

Chemical Reaction

Oasis"It's far and away the best record since 'Definitely Maybe,'" declares a confident Noel Gallagher of Oasis' fifth album, "Heathen Chemistry" (Big Brother/Epic). "I'd probably say the whole thing will be an eight out of 10." There are few, if any, releases in the U.K. that generate the level of hype and anticipation afforded to a new Oasis record, and Gallagher is as bullish as ever.

"It's a f***ing great time for guitar music," he says. "I love the Hives. I love Soundtrack Of Our Lives and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. The Doves' record is a special record, and there are not many of them that come along. There are maybe half a dozen special records every 10 years. Our first album was special." But eight years on from the release of "Definitely Maybe," the question is whether the band's new set can put it back on both commercial and critical track.

The first cut off the new album, "The Hindu Times," entered the U.K. sales chart at No. 1, while "Stop Crying Your Heart Out" recently debuted at No. 2. "The main difference is we produced it -- just us and an engineer," Gallagher says. "Not having somebody justifying their $100,000 salary helps. Not that I think anybody who's co-produced in the past has not been worth that; it's just that sometimes they don't know when to leave it alone." The band tours Europe through early August; North American dates kick off Aug. 2 in Pompano Beach, Fla.

Not So Lil'

WoofThe soundtrack to the forthcoming basketball film "Like Mike" features no less than four appearances by the film's star, Lil Bow Wow. The teenage rapper -- who has been working to drop the "Lil" from his moniker, but is billed as such in the film and on the soundtrack -- is joined on one cut by Jermaine Dupri, Fabolous, and Fundisha, helps out Young Steff on another, and punches out two tracks on his own on the 10-track set, due this week from So So Def/Sony Music Soundtrax.

Appropriately, Bow Wow opens the album with "Basketball." Dupri produced and appears (along with Fabolous and Fundisha) on the contemporary update of the 1984 Kurtis Blow track that now namechecks National Basketball Association stars Michael Jordan, Allen Iverson, and Vince Carter instead of Rick Barry, Dr. J, and Wilt Chamberlain.

Bow Wow also offers "Take Ya Home" and "Playin' the Game," and appears on the Young Steff track "Can I Holla." Rounding out the "Like Mike" soundtrack are songs by R.O.C., TQ with Jagged Edge, Mario, Solange featuring B2K, Nas featuring Amerie, and TCP. Opening in U.S. theaters Wednesday (July 3), "Like Mike" stars Bow Wow as an orphan who finds a pair of sneakers thought to have once belonged to Jordan. When he wears the shoes, his character magically is transformed into a talented basketball player and becomes the youngest to ever go pro.

Up To No Good

Green DayGreen Day offers a treat to fans and completists this week with the Reprise rarities album "Shenanigans." The 15-track set compiles lesser-heard recordings from the post-"Dookie" phase of the California punk trio's career. The album follows on the heels of last year's greatest-hits set "International Superhits" and includes the unreleased tunes "DUI" and "Ha Ha You're Dead."

B-sides such as "Rotting," "Don't Wanna Fall in Love," "You Lied," and "Scumbag" are joined by "Espionage," which graced the 1999 Warner Bros. soundtrack to "Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me." Also on "Shenanigans" will be covers of songs by the Kinks ("Tired of Waiting for You") and the Ramones ("Outsider"). The latter cut will appear on a Rob Zombie-organized Ramones tribute due this summer from Columbia.

Green Day will be on tour in Europe through late July, after which the band plans to begin work on its next studio album.

Only The Best

BoyzBeach Boys mastermind Brian Wilson has overseen the track selection of the new Beach Boys hits compilation, due this week from Capitol. The disc will be highlighted by a new recording of "California Feelin'" -- a "lost" Beach Boys track dating from the '70s that has never been officially released. "Beach Boys Classics: Selected by Brian Wilson," will also include standard Beach Boys hits such as "Surfer Girl," "Good Vibrations," and "California Girls" alongside lesser-known fan favorites such as "Wonderful," "Busy Doin' Nothin," and "'Til I Die."

The 20-track set covers the Beach Boys' career more broadly than previous compilations, as it includes the group's early string of hits on Capitol. But it also reaches back to the mid-'70s Brother Records period, with cuts from albums such as "Surf's Up" (the title track, "'Til I Die"), "Holland" ("Sail on Sailor"), and "Carl and the Passions/So Tough" ("Marcella"). Also featured is "We're Together Again," an outtake from 1968 whose only previous appearance was on Capitol's 1990 double rerelease of the "Friends" and "20/20" albums.

The primary draw for collectors and fans, however, is sure to be "California Feelin'," which has only been available on bootlegs until now. Lyrics and information about the song are available on some Beach Boys fan Web sites, whose reports suggest that Wilson's late brother and former bandmate Carl Wilson originally sung lead vocals on the track. Brian rerecorded the song for inclusion on "Classics."

Additional titles hitting stores this week include:

-- Latin vocalist Luis Fonsi's "Fight the Feeling" (Universal Latino), with English versions of a number of tracks sung in Spanish on his recent "Amor Secreto" album.

-- Danny Elfman's score to "Men in Black II" (Columbia), featuring the Will Smith single "Black Suits Comin' (Nod Ya Head)" featuring Tra-Knox.

-- An acoustic album from former Jam/Style Council frontman Paul Weller, "Days of Speed" (Epic).

-- A hits collection from veteran U.K. modern rock outfit the Jesus And Mary Chain, "21 Singles" (Rhino).

-- Reissues of U.K. modern rock act The The's "Soul Mining" and "Infected" (Legacy).

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