Published on November 26th, 2014 | by Gerry Galipault


The box set: The ultimate holiday gift

What was the first box set ever released on CD?

Hard to tell. But I can tell you the first one I ever bought: Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band’s “Live/1975–85,” a three-CD, 40-song collection that debuted at No. 1 on Billboard’s album chart and was certified 13x platinum.

Other essential purchases would follow: Bob Dylan’s “Biograph” (1985), Eric Clapton’s “Crossroads” (1988), The Rolling Stones’ “Singles Collection: The London Years” (1989). Not to mention the irreplaceable gems from Rhino Records, like “Beg, Scream & Shout!: The Big Ol’ Box of ’60s Soul” (1997), “Have a Nice Decade: The ’70s Pop Culture Box” (1998), “Can You Dig It? The ’70s Soul Experience” (2001), “Like, Omigod! The ’80s Pop Culture Box (Totally)” (2002), “Whatever: The ’90s Pop & Culture Box” (2005).

They don’t make ’em like those anymore.

Still, 2014 has had its share of worthy boxed-up compilations. Here are 10 that are perfect for the gift-giving season.

1) Bruce Springsteen, “The Album Collection Vol. 1, 1973-1984” (Columbia / Legacy) – Eight complete albums, newly remastered by Bob Ludwig and Toby Scott, from “Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J.” to “Born in the U.S.A.” With a 60-page book containing rare photos, memorabilia and original press clippings.

2) Joni Mitchell, “Love Has Many Faces: A Quartet, A Ballet, Waiting To Be Danced” (Rhino) – The “real” Rhino doesn’t exist anymore, but Warner Bros.’ reissues people still do a decent job, like with this four-CD box set, featuring 53 newly remastered songs (curated by Mitchell herself).

3) Simon & Garfunkel, “The Complete Albums Collection” (Columbia / Legacy) – The 12-disc collection includes five studio albums, four live albums, “The Graduate” soundtrack and 1972’s 14x platinum-selling “Simon & Garfunkel’s Greatest Hits.”

4) Led Zeppelin, “Led Zeppelin,” “Led Zeppelin II,” “Led Zeppelin III,” “Led Zeppelin IV,” “Houses of the Holy” (Atlantic/Swan Song) – How can you go wrong with any of them? Each has outtakes, alternative takes and live versions, all remastered by guitarist Jimmy Page.

5) Tears For Fears, “Songs From the Big Chair” (Mercury / UMe) – This Super Deluxe Edition has it all: the newly remastered 1985 album, with additional CDs of remixes and rarities, a DVD and a Blu-ray Audio disc.

6) Wilco, “Alpha Mike Foxtrot: Rare Tracks 1994-2014” (Nonesuch) – Four CDs of rare studio and live recordings … 77 songs in all.

7) Various artists, “Uncompromising Expression: The Singles Collection” (Blue Note) – To celebrate the venerable jazz label’s 75th anniversary, here’s a box set of 75 singles from its past, from the label’s first signing, pianist Meade Lux Lewis, to relative newcomer Gregory Porter.

8) Wings, “Venus and Mars” (MPL / Hear Music) – The Deluxe Book edition of this 1975 classic includes bonus demos and unreleased tracks, a hardback book and a DVD containing filmed material from that same period.

9) Henry Mancini, “The Classic Soundtrack Collection” (RCA / Columbia / Legacy) – 18 original Mancini soundtrack albums on nine discs, with bonus tracks.

10) The Moody Blues, “The Polydor Years 1986-1992” (Polydor / UMe) – Six CDs and two DVDs, featuring 17 bonus tracks, 11 of them previously unreleased, and a 1991 BBC radio session.

About the Author

Gerry Galipault debuted Pause & Play online in October 1997. Since then, it has become the definitive place for CD-release dates — with a worldwide audience.

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