5 Faves: Best Box Sets To Wrap Up This Holiday

Posted December 2, 2010 by J Matthew Cobb in Features

Before you wrap those gift boxes this holiday, here’s five delicious box sets certain to have you rockin’ around the Christmas tree

Box sets are usually for the ultimate purist, the music geek, the librarian of collectors, the vinyl hoar. But let’s be serious here for a second. Anyone who owns a super mammoth record set, focusing on an artists’ entire discography or a specific priceless remnant chronicling a historical moment, deserves to be crowned king of the block. Not because the price tag usually costs more than an Xbox, but because it turns an two-bedroom apartment into a neighborhood museum. This holiday, add the spice of life to the serious music lover with these highly sought-out box sets. Only if you’re able to.


Bruce Springsteen
The Promise: The Darkness on the Edge of Town Story

The just-as-important album that followed Born to Run gets the much-needed remastered, touched-up re-issue experience. And then it turns into an once-in-a-lifetime event. The deluxe package includes Darkness on the Edge of Town, along with previously unreleased bonus material taken from those sessions (“Someday (We’ll Be Together),” “Candy’s Boy,” “Gotta Get That Feeling”) including the ballad “The Promise.” An 80-page notebook revealing doodles, lyric sheets and Springsteen’s brainstorming is tucked inside, along with rare bootleg concert footage from a Houston 1978 gig, a making-of documentary and a run-through of ‘Darkness’ from the Boss’s current band. You get 3 CD/3 DVD or Blu-Ray. Amazing, ain’t it. ($119.98)


Michael Jackson
Michael Jackson’s Vision

Seems like everyone, young and old, wants a piece of MJ. There’s the Michael Jackson video game coming out, and then there’s Michael’s first posthumous project fastly approaching its release date this December. Why not add to the experience with Michael Jackson’s Vision. All of the King of Pop’s music videos – including the thirteen-minute version of “Thriller” and the long versions of the “Bad” videos in the form of his epic film ‘Moonwalker’ are stored on 3 whopping DVDs or Blu-Rays for your convenience. Only thing missing is ‘Disney’s Captain EO.’ Still, this box set is designed for the authentic MJ fan looking to get the ultimate visual experience of their fallen star. ($39.98)


Daryl Hall & John Oates
Do What You Want, Be What You Are: The Music of Daryl Hall & John Oates

The official box set on one of the greatest songwriting teams and music duos. Do What You Want… celebrates H&O in a very big way, including three CDs including all of their top hits, favorite album gems and hours of rarities including live performances, extended 12″ versions and unreleased material. Plus a rare look at some of their Atlantic catalog and overlooked gems from their early recordings, along with track-by-track commentary from Hall & Oates, drawn from interviews by Ken Sharp. 4 CDs and 74 songs in all. ($49.98)


Miles Davis
The Genius of Miles Davis

A treasure box – designed as a Martin trumpet case – containing eight deluxe box sets covering the avant-garde’s entire musical career spanning his Columbia Records between 1955 and 1985. The King of Cool gets the elaborate deluxe treatment with one of the biggest box sets ever designed for a single artist. Besides the music, you also get an unpublished fine art lithograph of one of Miles’ paintings, a replica of the “Gustat” Heim 2 mouthpiece used by Miles and a special bonus custom-designed T-shirt sporting Miles in his trademark shades playing his infamous Martin trumpet. The super 43-CD box set documenting every move from Davis was originally priced at a whopping $1,199.99, but has been cut to $749.00 for retail. Just in time for the holiday shopping rush. ($1,199.99)


The Beatles
The Beatles in Mono

Before they invaded iTunes, they invaded CD. Well, we know they also invaded LPs too, but the remastered mono recordings of the Fab Four on CD is a wonderful addition to any Beatle collector’s library. Not only are you hearing remastered versions of how the originals were meant to sound. Hardcore fans gravitate to mono recording usually because of nostalgic reasons. Stereo mixes were usually done weeks after the original mono mix was released, and usually gathered up different takes when the engineers worked on overdubs. With the Mono Set, you’re getting the originals in all of their fame and glory. The Beatles collection includes the first ten albums from the Beatles – pakaged as mini LP replicas with replica artwork, sleeves and even gatefolds – and a double album of singles and Eps called “Mono Masters.” Although the Beatles also have a Stereo Box Set (packaged with all of their albums), the Mono Set is for the serious collector. ($298.98)

The Rolling Stones
The Rolling Stones 1964-69 or 1971-2005 [Vinyl]

For those looking to build up their vinyl library with some British Invasion, there’s no better way to start it up than with the Rolling Stones’ recently-remastered, heavyweight 180 gram vinyl box sets, 1964-1969 and 1971-2005. The first in the linage includes thirteen discs converted from the UK releases (remember US recordings, like the Beatles, featured different track listing and order), from The Rolling Stones (EP) up to Let It Bleed and Metamorphosis. The second in the series features 14 LPs and features first-time conversions for some of their releases. Any Stones fanatic would consider these box sets as important that their 401K. ($389.99, $419.99)

About the Author

J Matthew Cobb

Managing editor of HiFi Magazine

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