All the trim­mings

Pre­mium mu­sic box sets — with lux­ury pack­ag­ing and prices to match — may be the real saviours of the record in­dus­try.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - MUSIC - By Mark Beech

WHAT do Daft Punk, Bob Dy­lan, the Clash, Her­bie Han­cock and the Beach Boys have in com­mon?

They are all con­tenders in the an­nual bat­tle to see whose box set can out­weigh the other.

As hol­i­day shop­pers in­creas­ingly fo­cus on in­di­vid­ual song down­loads, and obit­u­ar­ies are writ­ten for the al­bum and CD for­mats, th­ese sets – with lux­ury pack­ag­ing and prices to match – may be the real saviours of the record in­dus­try, as well as of­fer­ing great gift ideas.

Some of th­ese boxes need ex­tra shelf sup­port or care­ful bud­get­ing. The good news is that the best aren’t al­ways the most ex­pen­sive, and they all still of­fer enough lis­ten­ing for well into the New Year. Be­cause many of th­ese sets are lim­ited edi­tions, prices are mov­ing and it pays to shop around.

Some­time close to Christ­mas there will be vinyl box sets of the com­plete oeu­vre for the Ger­man band Can and Scot­land’s the Je­sus and Mary Chain. There will be some rare tracks on both, though price tags, yet to be con­firmed, may sur­pass US$500 (RM1,608).

The Rise And Fall Of Para­mount Records is a six-LP box set put to­gether by mu­si­cian Jack White. The col­lec­tion cov­ers the 1920s black-mu­sic la­bel whose ros­ter fea­tured Jelly Roll Mor­ton, Blind Le­mon Jef­fer­son, Ma Rainey and Louis Arm­strong.

The 800-track dig­i­tal set was first is­sued through White’s Third Man Records at US$400 (RM1,286) – though prices are now soar­ing to US$480 (RM1,544) on other sites. That’s a lot, though the doc­u­ment of­ten rises above the his­tor­i­cal to be re­ally en­ter­tain­ing. This mu­sic was feared lost. Now we are hear­ing it again af­ter decades.

The New York Art Quar­tet was a free jazz group, end­lessly praised though not much heard. It only re­leased a cou­ple of LPs. Now Call It Art 1964-65 rad­i­cally ex­pands the out­put over five discs in a hand­some birch­wood case with a cloth­bound book. This has a se­ri­ous price, US$340 (RM1,093) or more, and best left for true avant- garde fans.

Daft Punk’s Ran­dom Ac­cess Mem­o­ries set is US$275 (RM885). For this you get one of the best al­bums of 2013, oth­er­wise avail­able for about US$9 (RM30), in a beau­ti­fully pre­sented box with a lot of hardly es­sen­tial ex­tras.

Per­haps the best item is a record pre­sent­ing the high­lights from a three-hour mono­logue by pro­ducer Gior­gio Moroder, later spliced down to form the nine-minute Gior­gio By Moroder. Apart from that, the sou­venir has vinyl al­bums, a hard­cover photo book, art prints, USB drives and 34 CDs span­ning 1972-1988 and fea­tur­ing a range of styles from Miles Davis jazz to funk and elec­tronic disco. For about US$180 (RM579), there’s The Bob Dy­lan Com­plete Al­bum Col­lec­tion Vol. One. The 47-disc col­lec­tion cov­ers 41 of­fi­cial al­bums, in­clud­ing 14 newly re­mas­tered ti­tles. Dy­lan is one of the great­est singer­song­writ­ers, so this is a fine set. En­thu­si­asts will buy it if only for a two-CD com­pi­la­tion of songs not in­cluded on the orig­i­nal al­bums and the first North Amer­i­can CD is­sue of the 1973 al­bum Dy­lan.

The soul box set of the year, at about US$125 (RM402), is Cooler Than Ice: Arc­tic Records And The Rise Of Philly Soul. The 121 cuts in­clude many not heard in decades, with ma­te­rial by Bar­bara Ma­son and Harold Melvin & the Bluenotes.

The Beach Boys’ six-CD set Made In Cal­i­for­nia mixes great­est hits, of­ten in un­usual forms, with out­takes – much the same for­mula as on Good Vi­bra­tions from 1993.

See it as the band’s tithe on fans: pay about US$100 (RM321) and get a load more rar­i­ties that shed fur­ther light on the con­vo­luted stu­dio process that led to Surf’s Up and more. — Bloomberg

Sound sea­son: The clash’s Sound Sys­tem has ex­cep­tional pack­ag­ing, look­ing like an old boom­box.

The new bob dy­lan box set com­pleteal­bum col­lec­tion,Vol.1 is the ul­ti­mate com­pre­hen­sive com­pen­dium of dy­lan’s stu­dio al­bums. Therise­andFal­lOfParamoun­trecords col­lec­tion cov­ers

the 1920s black-mu­sic la­bel whose ros­ter fea­tured Jelly roll mor­ton, blind Le­mon Jef­fer­son and Louis arm­strong.

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