You can tell it’s getting close to the holidays each year when all the vinyl and CD boxed sets start showing up at the record store. It can get a little overwhelming and even over saturated at times with all the reissues and repackaging of the same demos and outtakes of the same classic records, so we strive to track down the cream of the crop…the releases we actually listen to and rave about. This year is particularly strong with some of the most interesting releases we’ve seen in the three and half year life of the record store. We’ve compiled a list here of a few of the highlights, and we’ve included a few that came out last year but we feel are still just as cool. Enjoy.
1.) Numero Group’s Ork Records Story
In August of 1975, the world’s first punk record label was born. Ork Records: New York, New York is a tale of Terry Ork, a film-obsessed fugitive of Warhol’s Factory set. Ork’s impresario ear would pull damaged, literate new rock music from the pregnant Bowery grime of CBGB, resulting in debut 45s by Television and Richard Hell, as well as landmark recordings by the Feelies and Lester Bangs. It’s a tale of Charles Ball, who’d steer Ork Records through solo exploits by Big Star’s Alex Chilton and the dBs’ Chris Stamey. And it’s a tale told across 2 CD or 4 LPs s in scorching sides by Richard Lloyd, Marbles, Prix, Mick Farren, Cheetah Chrome, the Idols, the Erasers, the Revelons, Student Teachers, and more. Our deluxe 190-page hardback book features evocative, unseen imagery, a portal opened by on-the-scene photojournalists as crucial to documenting punk’s conception in the squalid Lower East Side as the walls of CBGB itself. Ork Records: New York, New York is a visionary glimpse of punk and new wave as invented, nurtured, feted, and forgotten by the street-level artisans who attended the genres’ arrival.
2.) Bob Dylan’s Bootleg Series Vol. 12: The Cutting Edge
It wouldn’t be the holidays without a new Dylan release, and this one is top notch! Between 1965 and 1966 Bob Dylan recorded three albums that many believe changed the course of modern music: Bringing It All back Home, Highway 61 Revisited and Blonde on Blonde.
The Cutting Edge 1965-1966: The Bootleg Series Volume 12 takes you inside the studio during the recording of those three albums. With a staggering wealth of unreleased songs, outtakes, rehearsals and alternate versions – The Cutting Edge provides a unique insight into a legendary icon’s creative process.
3.) The Magnetic Fields 69 Love Songs
Due to overwhelming popular demand, Merge Records has reissued The Magnetic Fields’ epic 69 Love Songs on vinyl. The limited-edition 10-inch box set includes six records housed in a sturdy slipcase along with a full-size, 24-page color booklet featuring liner notes written by author Daniel Handler, a.k.a. Lemony Snicket. We have the super-limited, colored vinyl version.
4.) The National A Lot of Sorrow (seriously…a lot of “Sorrow”)
Must be seen to understand this packaging! A true piece of art.
ON 05 MAY 2013 THE NATIONAL PLAYED THE SONG ‘SORROW’ FOR 6 HOURS AT THE MOMA PS1 VW DOME IN A COLLABORATIVE PERFORMANCE WITH THE ARTIST RAGNAR KJARTANSSON. THIS PERFORMANCE IS NOW BEING RELEASED AS A LIMITED EDITION 9 LP BOX SET. ALL PROFITS WILL BE DONATED TO PARTNERS IN HEALTH, AN ORGANIZATION DEDICATED TO IMPROVE THE HEALTH OF IMPOVERISHED PEOPLE WORLDWIDE.
5.) David Bowie Five Years 1969-1973 (pictured below is the CD version, but we have the vinyl version which is massive)
13-LP vinyl set ($249.98), and digital download each feature all of the material officially released by Bowie during the nascent stage of his career from 1969 to 1973. The boxed set’s accompanying book,84 pages in the vinyl set, will feature rarely seen photos as well as technical notes about each album from producers Tony Visconti and Ken Scott, an original press review for each album, and a short foreword by legendary Kinks front man Ray Davies.
6.) Goodbye Babylon (the amazing CD set from Dust-to-Digital remains always on our list of best boxed sets ever made!)
Compiled by Lance Ledbetter, Goodbye, Babylon was Dust-to-Digital’s first release. The five CDs feature 135 Songs (1902-1960) and one CD featuring 25 Sermons (1926-1941). Accompanying the CDs is a 200 page book with Bible verses, complete lyric transcriptions, and notes for each recording.
“I recently got a gift from Bob Dylan, a good old friend of mine. He gave me a gospel collection of great old American music and early country roots from old 78s. It’s the original wealth of our recorded music; it’s the cream of the crop and has the history of each recording. It’s a great old set called Goodbye, Babylon, and it’s incredible. It’s in a wooden box and everything, and it’s just so beautiful.” — Neil Young on Weekend Edition
7.) Charley Patton Screamin’ and Hollerin’ the Blues: The Worlds of Charley Patton (this is a used item as this set is long out of print from John Fahey’s Revenant Records)
A 7-CD primer on Mississippi Delta blues with Charley Patton as the central, generative figure, this set features 5 CDs with all issued and unissued recordings by Patton and sessionmates Son House, Willie Brown, Louise Johnson, Henry ‘Son’ Sims, Bertha Lee, Delta Big Four, Buddy Boy Hawkins, Edith North Johnson, and even talent scout HC Speir; a 6th CD of artists in Charley’s “orbit” like Ma Rainey, Howlin’ Wolf, Poor Boy Lofton, Kid Bailey, Walter Rhodes, Rube Lacy, Blind Joe Reynolds (newly discovered track!), Tommy Johnson and Pops Staples; and a 7th CD of interviews with Patton associates Staples, Wolf, Speir and Patton protégé Booker Miller. All tracks are fully remastered and pitch-corrected from the best possible sources, resulting in the definitive versions of this material.
“If I made records for my own pleasure, I would only record Charley Patton songs.” – Bob Dylan
“Best Box Sets of 2001: a museum calibre set.” – New Yorker
8.) The Replacements Twin Tone Years (this poster sums it up…)
9.) Fela Kuti vinyl box curated by Brian Eno
Of Fela Kuti’s discography, the early 1970s was when Fela’s Afrobeat went through its most dramatic changes musically and politically. Eno’s selection presents four from this period Shakara, Fela’s London Scene, Afrodisiac and Gentleman. Also included is late 197’s Zombie, a vicious skewering of the Nigerian military and Fela’s biggest hit record to date, and finally 1980’s classic ITT. It was on these albums, Fela began to compile Afrobeat’s signature rhythmic patterns and interlocking twin guitars. Says Eno himself “The sheer force and drive of this wild Nigerian stuff blew my mind”
Stay tuned for our holiday gift guide coming in a few weeks…it’ll have a lot more than just boxed sets on it!