Clamshell and “lid-and-tray” boxes, super deluxe editions, anniversary releases, 180g vinyl, bonus 7” records, brand new liner notes, remastered editions, multiple CD album collections, hardcover books and replica paraphernalia.
To the casual music fan, that sort of record-collecting lingo might be all Greek. But to avid collectors it’s that time of the year again to shop for the best box set deals in town.
The gift of music for Christmas – yes, physical format – is as traditional as putting up a plastic tree at home in these parts.
Hefty vinyl boxes – the Queen 18LP set at RM1,845, or Bob Marley 12LP box set for RM908.90 – wouldn’t even fit into Santa’s sack. But they are all part of this year’s box set season. It just depends how deep your pockets can go.
Add major vinyl boxes from David Bowie, The Band, Led Zeppelin super deluxe boxes right to the upcoming Pantera and Amy Winehouse LP boxes to the list. Box set season, arguably, isn’t confined to just vinyl here.
CD-loving fans still have some choice releases to think about – the Flaming Lips Heady Nuggs 20 Years After Clouds Taste Metallic 1994-1997 3CD, The Staple Singers’ limited edition 4CD Faith and Grace: A Family Journey 1953-1976 box, The Jam’s Fire And Skill six-CD live set and Aretha Franklin’s 19CD The Atlantic Albums Collection, come to mind.
We managed to track down a couple of packages – big and small – at local record stores to take home. Happy hunting!
1. The Beatles – 1+ (CD/2 Blu-ray audio and video)
What else can you possibly need if you already own The Beatles’ stereo and mono boxes – on LP and CD formats? Well, with the Fab Four there is definitely no shortage of shiny releases to tuck under the Christmas tree every festive season. The Fab Four’s 1+ – originally released as 1 nearly 15 years ago – gets a deluxe facelift with this brand new two Blu-ray/1CD package. This whopper features 27 promo videos on Blu-ray, and a drool-worthy stash of alternate versions, as well as rarely seen and newly restored films and videos (like the “fish and chips” version of I Feel Fine and two promo version of Lady Madonna). Top up the deal with a 124-page illustrated hardcover book set, and new stereo and 5.1 Dolby Digital and DTS HD surround audio mixes by Giles Martin and Sam Okell.
Impress: The hardnut Beatles fan who hasn’t heard – or seen – the Fab Four this lucidly.
2. John Coltrane – A Love Supreme: The Complete Masters (3CDs)
How many times has this jazz classic been reissued? Who cares? The 50th anniversary of John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme is bound to attract the faithful and newbies (looking to upgrade from MP3/FLAC to CD). The Complete Masters version includes unreleased session reels, overdubs and alternative versions from Coltrane’s home collection, and every bit of album music recorded over two days at the Van Gelder Studio, New Jersey, in December 1964. The 3CD super deluxe version is the recommended pick here – with a 32-page book featuring an essay by Ashley Khan, unpublished studio photographs, as well as notes and musical sketches by Coltrane. Also in this set is a live recording of A Love Supreme performed at the Festival Mondial du Jazz Antibes in July 1965, and brief liner notes from Carlos Santana (he did vamp up Coltrane’s Acknowledgement in 1973).
Impress: The sophisticated jazzhead in the family.
3. A-ha – Hunting High And Low: 30th Anniversary Super Deluxe Edition (4CDs/DVD)
Morten Harket, now 56, will still stop most women in their tracks. Think about how massive he was at 26 in 1985. We’re here to revisit Harket and gang’s career-defining debut album Hunting High And Low – 30 years on.
You could say A-ha, coming straight out of Norway, gave new wave synth pop a Scandinavian twist. From the highs of Take On Me through the melancholy of Hunting High And Low, and right down to the curious And You Tell, this album still stands out as a classic 1980s pop record. If you’re crazy for extras – and we mean extras! – this set boasts four CDs and one DVD, plus a 60-page hardback book packed with rare photos and stories about the making of the album.
Time to replace that old scrapbook, then. The groundbreaking Take On Me video is also featured in two versions here – such a bonus.
Impress: The retro-loving lady bosses in the office.
4. Cream – The Singles 1967-1970 (10LP singles box)
This is the Cream story told through 10 seven inch singles. How ironic! Eric Clapton, Ginger Baker and the late Jack Bruce were really known as an album-type group. But we’re chuffed to have these wicked pieces of wax back in print. It’s also back to mono versions with this cute and colourful – yet no less bruising – package from the world’s original power trio. Just imagine cranking up Sunshine Of Your Love, White Room (the full edit, no less) and Strange Brew all over again. The tracks and vinyl labels were also replicated from Reaction, Atco and Polydor. Housed in a rigid “lid-and-tray” psychedelic tease of a box, this one is a Cream collector’s wet dream come true.
Impress: Your Black Keys-loving hipster neighbour who needs to know where it all began.
5. Neil Young – Bluenote Cafe: Performance Series (4LP box)
The late 1980s, by no exaggeration, was an important time in Neil Young’s career resurgence. Not much can be said of his indifferent Geffen recordings in the early and mid 1980s.
That leads us to this 4LP Bluenote Cafe box which offers up a prime slice of one of Young’s most groovy and soulful periods.
The concert material was recorded during his 1988 tour when he was promoting his This Note’s For You album. Bluenote Cafe, if anything, is aimed at hardcore fans, especially with seven unreleased songs on board: Soul Of A Woman, Bad News Comes To Town, Ain’t It The Truth, I’m Goin’, Crime Of The Heart, Doghouse, Fool For Your Love, and an epic version (19mins!) of Tonight’s The Night from The Pier in New York.
Later on, Young recorded Freedom and Ragged Glory, two albums that paved the way for grunge. For Young rocking with a funky bone, Bluenote Cafe is the answer.
Impress: The grumpy old man at home who swears by his Sansui vinyl player.