Wednesday, November 25, 2009


Well, other people call them "box sets," to me they're like crack. I'm a big fan of box sets! And tomorrow on The Morning Jolt with Larry Flick on OutQ, I'll be doing a "Black Friday" special, discussing some cool box sets that are out now and make great gifts. (by the way, I have always hated the term "Black Friday," but everyone knows that it refers to the day after Thanksgiving, a big shopping day). I have already talked about The Beatles' box sets, so I'm not discussing them tomorrow. And I am not going to get into the new DVD box set of highlights from Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremonies that recently came out. Here's the skinny on what I will be discussing:

Dolly Parton: Dolly
  • The Deal: A box set in the classic sense, it is four CDs of hits, album tracks and rarities like "Puppy Love," Dolly's first recording from 1959. The lame thing about it is it doesn't have any of her music from her recent indie label albums. But it comes from Sony Legacy, who do some of the greatest box sets. I'll admit here that I am friends with some of the Sony Legacy folks, and they hooked me up with a copy, but I definitely don't write about stuff they send me just because they send it to me.
  • Who Is It For? Longtime fans will dig it, but it is also good for "beginners," because it has all the big hits.
  • If You Want To Spend Less $: Get the 2-CD set, The Essential Dolly Parton, which came out in 2005, and actually has some more recent material.

Hall & Oates: Do What You Want, Be What You Are
  • The Deal: Like Dolly, a box set in the classic sense: four CDs of hits, album tracks and rarities, including two tracks by Daryl Hall's pre-Hall & Oates band The Temptones and John Oates' former band The Masters. Also from Sony Legacy.
  • Who Is It For? Also good for longtime fans, but also good for beginners, it really covers all the hits. I wish it had some recordings from their 1992 summer acoustic tour, which I saw. So many of their songs sound great stripped of their studio sheen (which is great anyway).
  • If You Want To Spend Less $: Again like Dolly, there is a 2005 2-CD collection The Essential Daryl Hall & John Oates that is really good.

The Rolling Stones: Get Your Ya-Ya's Out (expanded edition)

  • The Deal: This is a expanded version of the band's live album that was recorded at Madison Square Garden in 1969, when they were in full swagger (this was during the era that Mick Taylor was in the band). The box set contains five tracks that weren't on the original album, as well as the full sets by opening acts Ike & Tina Turner and B.B. King. And a DVD of performances and backstage footage. There's a "super-deluxe" version that also includes all the music on vinyl as well.
  • Who Is It For? Obviously Rolling Stones freaks will want this: so will B.B. and Tina's fans. But I don't think it would be alienating for new fans. The band played lots of hits, but it also introduces new fans to some of the band's influences: both the openers, and via some of the covers: Chuck Berry's "Carol" and Robert Johnson's "Love In Vain." The Stones' reissues have been pretty boring thus far, this is actually something that will excite the fans.
  • If You Want To Spend Less $: You can get the single CD version of Get Yer Ya-Ya's Out. Another good choice for new Stones fans is the 2-CD best-of 40 Licks, that covers their entire career except their great 2005 album A Bigger Bang.

Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers: The Live Anthology

  • The Deal: It is four CDs, spanning the band's entire career. It's all live material, not the studio hits. But most of the hits are represented, as well as lesser-known songs and lots of covers. There is a deluxe version only available at Best Buy, which has a fifth CD, a DVD doc called 400 Days, shot during the recording of Wildflowers (my favorite album by Tom) and the subsequent tour. Another DVD with a live concert filmed on New Year's Eve 1978. A blue-ray disc with all the songs from all five discs, a vinyl live EP and a huge booklet. Guess which one I bought?
  • Who Is It For? I don't know that it would alienate new fans, but it isn't what I would get them first. Instead, I might recommend he 1995 6-CD box set Playback covers Petty's MCA career, (meaning it ends after Into The Great Wide Open and before Wildflowers). It has all the hits from that era (which is most of his hits), and lots of other great rare stuff, and some early Mudcrutch recordings.
  • If You Want To Spend Less $: Well, the 4-CD version of The Live Anthology is just $20. But 2000's Anthology: Through The Years, is a 2-CD best of, but also only covers the MCA years. Live Anthology is the only Petty collection that has stuff from MCA and Warner Brothers.

AC/DC: Backtracks

  • The Deal: It is two CDs of rarities and a DVD of videos from 1993 through today (basically updating the Family Jewels DVD from a few years back). A deluxe version not in stores has three CDs, two DVDs and a vinyl record, and the box itself is an actual amplifier that you can play your electric guitar through. Really. I have the regular version.
  • Who Is It For? This is for the hard core fans. The deluxe version is for the super-hardcore fans.
  • If You Want To Spend Less $: Oddly, AC/DC have no greatest hits of any kind, other than the soundtrack to the 1986 Stephen King film Maximum Overdrive. The album is called Who Made Who, and features some hits, the title track was new, and AC/DC recorded some instrumental music for the film. I would just recommend for beginners any of the albums with Bon Scott, or from Brian Johnson's era, Back In Black or Live! If You Want To Spend More $, go for the 1997 box set, Bonfire, which is mostly live and unreleased stuff from Bon's era, plus it includes Back In Black.

Next year, I'm looking forward to, so far, the expanded box set versions of Bruce Springsteen's Darkness On The Edge Of Town and The Rolling Stones' Exile On Main Street.

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