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Old 04-13-2008, 05:37 PM   #1
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Favorite box sets

I'm currently listening to Tom Waits's Orphans: Brawlers, Bawlers, and Bastards and I'm always amazed at how good this set is. So I was thinking about other box sets that I own and enjoy. I don't exactly have a wealth of them, but here are a few of my favorites.

Tom Waits - Orphans: Brawlers, Bawlers, and Bastards
This is essential Tom Waits, which is amazing considering that it's a collection of outtakes. Or at least it began that way. Apparently Tom recorded 30 of the tracks just for this collection. Each disc has some pretty amazing highlights though. "LowDown," "Fish in the Jailhouse," "Bottom of the World," "Lucinda," "Road to Peace," "Long Way Home," "Little Drop of Poison," "Down There by the Train," "Fannin Street," "Goodnight Irene," "Altar Boy," and even "What Keeps Mankind Alive?" from Threepenney Opera are all top notch songs.

Johnny Cash - The Legend
This is a damn near definitive set. It contains pretty much everything of note that Johnny recorded before the American Recordings album, and perhaps more importantly, the discs all flow pretty well. The only disc that I don't love is the final disc, comprised of collaborations. But the first three discs are the perfect summary of Johnny Cash's career. Mandatory.

Johnny Cash - Unearthed
The outtakes from Johnny Cash's American Recordings series are often better than the actual albums. The first two albums are indisputably great, and III and IV had their moments, but the outtakes from those sessions here surpass the more obvious and recognizable tracks that made it. The gospel disc is fabulous and the compilation is unnecessary, but the other three discs hold the most surprises. Favorite tracks - "Devil's Right Hand," "Bird on a Wire (live with Orchestra)," "Chatanooga Sugar Babe." "You Are My Sunshine," "Redemption Song" (w/ Joe Strummer), "Cindy" (w/ Nick Cave), "Salty Dog," "Fourth Man in the Fire"

Led Zeppelin - The Complete Studio Recordings
Okay, so this isn't a traditional box set, but I got it used in high school and it was a great value. Not much to say about this, other than pretty much anything from Zep I to Physical Graffiti approaches aural bliss and there are a few transcendent moments even after that.

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band - Live 1975-1985
One of my favorite live collections. Not surprisingly, many of these tracks are superior to the studio counterparts. The tracklisting is clever, as well, sequencing newer performances of older songs in with the later material to maintain a setlist feel. "Spirit in the Night" is sublime, and it's vital ownage for the inclusion of "Because the Night" and "Jersey Girl."

Prince - The Hits/B-Sides
A collection of pop bliss. Not a bad song here, except maybe some clunkers on the b-sides disc. That said, while the songs are great, the sequencing is seriously lacking. It seems very "ipod-on-shuffle." Either way, it's a great way to introduce someone to Prince, though it lacks a few staples. No "Darling Nikki?" Still, even if you have all the albums, get it for tracks like "Scarlet Pussy" and "Erotic City."

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds - B-Sides and Rarities
This one took me a while to get into, as did most of the Bad Seeds' material. But after really getting into the band's catalogue, I really enjoy it. The acoustic versions of "Deanna" and "Jack the Ripper" are pretty swell, and occasionally funny. The soundtrack material like "Till the End of the World" is nice to have, as are the covers/collaborations with Shane MacGowan. "What a Wonderful World" is just kind of evil with those two singing, but in a pleasant way. "Opium Tea" and a few others on disc three are worth a listen. A great collection, not the most accessible, but that's just the nature of Nick Cave.
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Old 04-13-2008, 05:44 PM   #2
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I'm fond of the Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers boxset entitled 'Playback'
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Old 04-13-2008, 05:52 PM   #3
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Re: Favorite box sets

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Originally posted by UnforgettableLemon
Johnny Cash - The Legend
This is a damn near definitive set. It contains pretty much everything of note that Johnny recorded before the American Recordings album, and perhaps more importantly, the discs all flow pretty well. The only disc that I don't love is the final disc, comprise of collaborations. But the first three discs are the perfect summary of Johnny Cash's career. Mandatory.
Got this one too. Love it too, also the 4th disc with all the duets.

Quote:
Johnny Cash - Unearthed
The outtakes from Johnny Cash's American Recordings series are often better than the actual albums. The first two albums are indisputably great, and III and IV had their moments, but the outtakes from those sessions here surpass the more obvious and recognizable tracks that made it. The gospel disc is fabulous and the compilation is unnecessary, but the other three discs hold the most surprises. Favorite tracks - "Devil's Right Hand," "Bird on a Wire (live with Orchestra)," "Chatanooga Sugar Babe." "You Are My Sunshine," "Redemption Song" (w/ Joe Strummer), "Cindy" (w/ Nick Cave), "Salty Dog," "Fourth Man in the Fire"
Don't have it. Still want it. His American Recordings phase was just as good as the 40 years before.

Quote:
Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band - Live 1975-1985
One of my favorite live collections. Not surprisingly, many of these tracks are superior to the studio counterparts. The tracklisting is clever, as well, sequencing newer performances of older songs in with the later material to maintain a setlist feel. "Spirit in the Night" is sublime, and it's vital ownage for the inclusion of "Because the Night" and "Jersey Girl."

Prince - The Hits/B-Sides
A collection of pop bliss. Not a bad song here, except maybe some clunkers on the b-sides disc. That said, while the songs are great, the sequencing is seriously lacking. It seems very "ipod-on-shuffle." Either way, it's a great way to introduce someone to Prince, though it lacks a few staples. No "Darling Nikki?" Still, even if you have all the albums, get it for tracks like "Scarlet Pussy" and "Erotic City."
Got these two too. Again, amazing boxsets.
I have to say that on the Bruce Springsteen boxset, the sequencing was clearly based on the LP format, so it doesn't flow as good on CD. Especially the two arena tracks tacked at the end of disc 1 (which contains club/theatre performances otherwise). Some amazing live versions here (The River - War, all of disc 1 except the last 2 tracks). I even think that the edited Backstreets works better than the actual live version ( ).

As for the Prince set, I can agree on your opinion of the sequencing. Starting out with the division in a 'clean' and a 'naughty' disc, the tracklists do seem a bit random. That said, with so many killer tracks after another, what's there to complain.
(let's leave the Darling Nikki argument for another thread. )
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Old 04-13-2008, 05:54 PM   #4
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i really want the bruce springsteen one!
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Old 04-13-2008, 05:56 PM   #5
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Re: Re: Favorite box sets

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Originally posted by Popmartijn


I have to say that on the Bruce Springsteen boxset, the sequencing was clearly based on the LP format, so it doesn't flow as good on CD. Especially the two arena tracks tacked at the end of disc 1 (which contains club/theatre performances otherwise). Some amazing live versions here (The River - War, all of disc 1 except the last 2 tracks). I even think that the edited Backstreets works better than the actual live version ( ).
I just tend to listen to the whole thing uninterrupted, so the divisions don't really exist longer than my disc changer spinning.
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Old 04-13-2008, 06:22 PM   #6
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Let me also add some recommendations of my own:

Bob Dylan - The Bootleg Series, Volumes 1-3, Rare & Unreleased
A reviewer once summed it up as this: "If all we had of Bob Dylan was just this boxset, he would still be considered the most important lyricist of all times." 57 Outtakes (give or take a few demos/alternate versions and live tracks) of 30 years of recorded music. And there are a lot of gems here. The one most people will mention is Blind Willie McTell, a haunting balled recorded in 1982, inexplicably left off Infidels as it's one of Dylan's best songs, and it's the benchmark for judging outtake boxsets by other artists. As in "this tracks is this boxset's Blind Willie McTell." Essential listening (and with excellent liner notes too!)

Aretha Franklin - Queen Of Soul
The golden period of Aretha on four discs. From her first recordings for the Atlantic label until her creative fire went out about a decade later. The definition of soul. That voice! And killer tunes too. Too many to mention of course, but I Never Loved A Man, Respect, Say A Little Prayer, The House That Jack Built, Think and Giving Him Something He Can Feel are just a few that deserve a mention.

Atlantic Rhythm & Blues: 1947-1974
The Complete Stax/Volt Singles: 1959-1968
The Complete Stax/Volt Soul Singles Volume 2: 1968-1971

Three separate boxsets (and a total of 26 discs!), but I want to discuss them together. Whereas the Queen Of Soul boxset focused on 1 artist (Aretha Franklin), these boxsets give an amazing overview of the premier black music labels back then: Atlantic Records and Stax/Volt. While there is some overlap (Atlantic distributed most Stax/Volt singles from the early Sixties until 1967), there's plenty of unique stuff here. A selection of recordings by Ray Charles that gave birth to soul music, excellent singles by Otis Redding, Aretha Franklin, the Staple Singers, Sam & Dave, Wilson Pickett, Rufus Thomas, Johnnie Taylor, LaVern Baker and Ruth Brown. And that's just the start of it. If you want to know a bit more about soul music, you have to have these boxsets.

The Police - Message In A Box
In short, everything The Police recorded until 1986. Sure, die hard Police collectors can find some alternate (re)mix or solitaire live track here and there that isn't on the boxset, but those are straws. If you have this boxset, you have all The Police you need.

Bob Marley - Songs Of Freedom
While he came to superstardom in the mid-Seventies and sadly died in 1981, Bob Marley already had a whole recording history before the album that put him on the map: Catch A Fire. This boxset gives plenty of room to his carreer before that landmark reggae album and also on his work in the Seventies. From the first song he recorded (Judge Not) until his final concert (Redemption Song, live from Pittsburgh), this set gives you an excellent overview of Marley's work.
The only thing worth noting is that of many of the songs he's famous for, there are only alternate versions on this boxset (remixes, dubs, alternate mixes, live versions). While this might seem a drawback, it does mean that if you have his compilation Legend, you still won't have overlap with this boxset. The two are thus perfects companions.

Tougher Than Tough: The Story Of Jamaican Music
Bob Marley wasn't the only artist from Jamaica. In fact, Jamaica has an amazingly vibrant music scene. They might even release more singles each year than any other country. This boxset gives an overview of Jamaican music from the Fifties (Oh Carolina by The Folkes Brothers) until the early Nineties (Oh Carolina by Shaggy). Many songs that were later made famous by others (like Police & Thieves by Junior Murvin, later covered by The Clash) and templates of what later would become rap. And of the almost 100 tracks, there are only 2 Bob Marley songs (and 2 covers of his songs), so there's plenty of other stuff to discover.
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Old 04-13-2008, 06:25 PM   #7
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I have to go now. So many boxsets still to discuss. I'm a sucker for these things.
So, could someone please take over and do a write-up of these ones:
ABBA - Thank You For The Music
James Brown - Star Time
Ray Charles - The Birth Of Soul
Eric Clapton - Crossroads
Bob Dylan - Biograph
The Jimi Hendrix Experience - The Jimi Hendrix Experience
Lou Reed - Between Thought And Expression
Bruce Springsteen - Tracks
The Supremes - The Supremes
V/A - Lee Perry: I Am The Upsetter
V/A - Phil Spector: Back To Mono

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Old 04-13-2008, 06:39 PM   #8
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Re: Re: Re: Favorite box sets

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Originally posted by UnforgettableLemon
I just tend to listen to the whole thing uninterrupted, so the divisions don't really exist longer than my disc changer spinning.
For me, it's not about the division between the discs, but within the discs. Raise Your Hand was a perfect closer to the Seventies tracks (as Bruce also used it to close some of his shows). Adding two more songs on that disc interrupts the flow, especially if you hear they're recorded in a bigger building (arena instead of a club/theatre).
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Old 04-13-2008, 06:43 PM   #9
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I suppose I'm just not as attentive. I'm really not as sophisticated as I used to be when it comes to music appreciation. My record player was destroyed in a flood around the same time I bought an iPod. It's kind of ruined me.
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Old 04-13-2008, 09:04 PM   #10
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Peel Slowly and See is the only boxed set for which I've ever not regretted having paid full price. Nearly every song is a gem, and even the precious few which aren't are of titanic importance, in terms of contemporary music history. Genius. The Velvets were the greatest.
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Old 04-13-2008, 09:30 PM   #11
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Second the mention of the first Bob Dylan Bootleg Series release. Blind Willie McTell isn't the only gem. There are several other songs from the Infidels sessions that also should have made the album cut. Really great stuff on there, including a version of If You See Her Say Hello that blows the version on Blood On The Tracks out of the water.

I'd have to single out Prince's Crystal Ball, which is probably one of my prized musical possessions, and is to Prince what the Bootleg Series 1-3 is to Dylan.

Most of the stuff on here wasn't necessarily not good enough to make it onto proper albums, but at times because Prince didn't feel the public was "ready" to hear it. You gotta love arrogant genius. Nowhere is this more evident than on the title track, which is one of the greatest things I've ever heard.

This three disc set also (at least when I bought it) came with a brand new album's worth of material called The Truth, which features some of Prince's most stripped down music, with a lot of acoustic guitar. A shame it wasn't released properly as it's actually one of my favorite Prince albums.

Cool liner notes, too.

This may be out of print, but there are definitely used copies floating around.

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Old 04-14-2008, 12:13 AM   #12
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Of my collection, these are the favorite box sets:



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Old 04-14-2008, 01:24 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally posted by Popmartijn

V/A - Phil Spector: Back To Mono
might well be the best present i ever got!

I'd also have to recommend The Beach Boys' Good Vibration box
and Lee Perry's Arkology

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Old 04-14-2008, 01:51 PM   #14
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Of my collection, these are the favorite box sets:




who is this? Surely Ride do not have a box set.
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Old 04-14-2008, 01:57 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally posted by Dalton



who is this? Surely Ride do not have a box set.
Why wouldn't they?

The ultimate turn on for the serious Ride collector. The Ride box-set comprises the '0X4 Best Of' plus 'Firing Blanks' & 'Ride Live'. 'Firing Blanks Unreleased recordings 1988-95' includes 15 previously unheard tracks from the band's Oxford archives. 'Ride Live - Reading Festival 1992' captures the band at the height of their incendiary powers with an unforgettable live show, originally recorded for Japanese TV. 2001.

http://www.amazon.com/Ride/dp/B00005...8195730&sr=1-1

Essentially, it was the version of the Best Of they made for the fans.
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