Box Sets For Music Lovers

Woodstock—Back to the Garden: 50th Anniversary Experience
Woodstock—Back to the Garden: 50th Anniversary Experience

Woodstock—Back to the Garden: 50th Anniversary Experience. A 38-disc box set, released last August to mark the golden anniversary of rock’s most famous festival, let buyers experience nearly all of it except the traffic jams and mud. That limited edition of 1,969 copies (get it?) has already sold out, but you can still grab this 10-disc version, which embraces many of the highlights and is the only other collection to feature every act from the festival. Among them: Janis Joplin, the Who, Jimi Hendrix, Jefferson Airplane, the Band, Santana, Sly and the Family Stone, and Creedence Clearwater Revival.

The Rolling Thunder Revue: The 1975 Live Recordings, Bob Dylan
The Rolling Thunder Revue: The 1975 Live Recordings, Bob Dylan

The Rolling Thunder Revue: The 1975 Live Recordings, Bob Dylan. A two-CD 2002 set delivered the cream from Dylan’s landmark 1975 tour, but serious fans will welcome this much expanded look at the concert series, which began shortly after the release of the classic Blood on the Tracks and the recording of its follow-up, Desire. Fourteen CDs preserve rehearsal tapes, five full shows, rarities, and a radio ad touting a gig’s $8.50 admission price. Singing and playing along are such Dylan pals as Joan Baez, the Byrds’ Roger McGuinn, and the Band’s Robbie Robertson.

The Social Power of Music
The Social Power of Music

The Social Power of Music. This four-CD box, which collects 83 songs from Smithsonian Folkways’s vast archives, explores how music “brings together communities in the United States and beyond in protest, worship, and celebration.” It includes political classics like “We Shall Overcome” and “Joe Hill,” Buddhist chants, Western swing, polka, bluegrass, and more. The bulk of these tracks will likely be new to you; and even when you recognize songs, artists, or composers, creative programming assures that you’ll be in for interesting surprises. For example, “Blowing in the Wind” here is neither Bob Dylan’s original nor Peter, Paul and Mary’s famous cover; it’s the version by the little-known New World Singers, who had the distinction of recording it first.

Abbey Road: Anniversary Super Deluxe Edition, the Beatles
Abbey Road: Anniversary Super Deluxe Edition, the Beatles

Abbey Road: Anniversary Super Deluxe Edition, The Beatles. Giles Martin—son of Beatles producer George Martin and the overseer of impressive 50th anniversary boxes for Sgt. Pepper and the White Album—delivers a similarly souped-up edition of the Fab Four’s last great studio set. Besides three CDs containing a remaster of the original LP plus demos and outtakes, it includes a hardcover book and a surround-sound audio Blu-ray that underscores how far sonic technology has progressed since 1969.

Losing Touch with My Mind: Psychedelia in Britain 1986–1990
Losing Touch with My Mind: Psychedelia in Britain 1986–1990

Losing Touch with My Mind: Psychedelia in Britain 1986–1990. The 1960s had of course been over for some time by the late 1980s, but apparently nobody notified the British musicians featured here of that fact. This anachronistic three-CD anthology—the companion to an earlier one that focuses on tracks from the first half of the 1980s—includes titles like “You Can Be My LSD” and “Exploding Your Mind,” from groups with such names as Primal Scream, Legendary Pink Dots, and Revolving Paint Dream. The material, which recalls 1960s work from outfits like the Seeds, the Move, and especially Pink Floyd, is mostly as laudable as it is obscure.

Live 1969, Elvis Presley
Live 1969, Elvis Presley

Live 1969, Elvis Presley. By the late 1960s, Elvis was tired of making movies and eager to return to live performing. He had much to prove after nearly a decade away from the stage—a time when artists like Dylan and the Beatles reinvented pop—but prove it he did. This 11-CD box, which captures an equal number of shows, finds Presley mixing early hits like “Love Me Tender” and “Heartbreak Hotel” with more contemporary material such as the Beatles’ “Hey Jude” and his own “In the Ghetto.” Presley wasn’t known for significantly varying his set lists or arrangements or even his onstage monologues, so this collection delivers 11 very similar shows. That may be a bit much for all but rabid fans; still, this is Presley in his prime and consistently excellent.

The Bakersfield Sound 1940–1974
The Bakersfield Sound 1940–1974

The Bakersfield Sound 1940–1974. The country music that burgeoned around Bakersfield, California, transformed the genre, offering material that—while typically less commercial than what emanated from Nashville—often seemed more authentic and emotive. This comprehensive 10-CD, 299-song survey features Merle Haggard and Buck Owens, the region’s most renowned exports, plus stars like Jean Shepard and Ferlin Husky.

Cadillac Baby’s Bea & Baby Records: The Definitive Collection
Cadillac Baby’s Bea & Baby Records: The Definitive Collection

Cadillac Baby's Bea & Baby Records: The Definitive Collection. Songwriter/producer/record label owner Narvel Eatmon (aka Cadillac Baby) knew great music when he heard it. The evidence is in this four-disc set, which houses a ton of stupendous albeit largely obscure blues, doowop, R&B, gospel, and soul, most of it recorded between 1959 and 1969. It would make a great holiday gift even if it didn’t include a song called “Santa Came Home Drunk.”

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