Variety’s Top Best Music Boxed Sets of 2018

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The Beatles, Springsteen, Rolling Stones,  Bowie, Petty, Dylan, Bobbie Gentry, Liz Phair and Roxy Music all got their due in superior “super deluxe” editions this past year.

Here are 10 super-deluxes from the past year we can’t imagine living through 2019 without: (Variety)

1. The Beatles, “The Beatles (White Album)— Super Deluxe” (Apple/Universal)

There’s a way in which a boxed set of the White Album could almost seem superfluous: The original double-LP was so jam-packed with disparate sounds and ideas, it felt like the seminal “super deluxe” set all by itself. So getting all the demos, alternate takes, abandoned original songs and silly covers that come as bonuses in this 7-disc set is gorging and gluttony of the highest order.

The White album was released in England the 22nd November 1968. At the end of May, 1968 the Beatles meet up at Kinfauns, George Harrison’s bungalow in Esher. Just back from India, gearing up to go hit Abbey Road and start their next album, the lads bang out some rough acoustic tunes into George’s newfangled Ampex reel-to-reel tape deck.

CD 1: The BEATLES (‘White Album’) 2018 Stereo Mix

2. Bob Dylan, “More Blood, More Tracks — The Bootleg Series, Volume 14” (Columbia/Legacy)

The six-CD set finds him exploring most of the “Blood” tracks in four distinct musical settings: solo acoustic; with a makeshift band in New York that didn’t work; a different makeshift NYC band that worked miracles; and the final Minneapolis re-recordings of half the album after Dylan was dissatisfied with a premature acetate.

The Kinks, “The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society (Super Deluxe Edition)” (Sanctuary/BMG)

Speaking of societies, the cult that believes “Village Green” is the Kinks’ masterpiece is and always has been a sizable one. But there might have been a couple of good reasons not to join. For one, didn’t their 1968 album more or less introduce the whole concept of “twee” into rock ‘n’ roll — not quite as great a legacy as all those barnstorming rockers they did before and after? For another, how great an album could it be if Ray Davies left off “Days,” one of the best rock ballads ever written, at the last minute? But anyone who takes the time to dive into this 11-disc

Tom Petty, “An American Treasure” (Reprise)

He was… an American world. Petty took on so many personas, from sly dog to sweet cat, while never seeming unduly chameleonic, and they’re all captured in this 60-track celebration. The track list is predominantly unheard studio compositions or live tracks, interspersed with some lesser-remembered deep album cuts.

 David Bowie, “Loving the Alien (1983-1988)” (Parlophone)david

The annual collections of Bowie material that have been coming out have usually had cleverly appropriate titles drawn from his lyrics. This is the first time I think one of the titles misses the mark, because “Loving the Alien” captures the period when Bowie was at his least alien. As producer Nile Rodgers writes in an absorbing booklet essay about the making of “Let’s Dance”: “He says, ‘I want you to make a hit.’ I was like, ‘A hit? You just did “Scary Monsters,” bro.’” Fans have been known to break down Bowie’s catalog into trilogies — there was the Berlin trilogy of the late ‘70s, of course — and you could pretty much consider the trio of albums that make up the core of this set Bowie’s unabashedly commercial trilogy. Even the non-album tracks collected in the bonus discs, like the Jagger duet

This collector’s item features the 15 studio albums that have been released since 1971, all of which are cut at half speed, ensuring they are among the highest quality vinyl pressings that these classic records will have ever received.

Sourced from the original master tapes, each album has been remastered and cut at half-speed by engineers at Abbey Road Studios for the collection, which will be spread across 20 LPs. Each album also contains a numbered certificate of authentication, with detailed artwork reproductions for each LP – with a few extra surprises thrown in, too.
‘The Studio Albums Vinyl Collection 1971-2016’

Sticky Fingers (1971)
Exile On Main St (1972) (2LP)
Goats Head Soup (1973)
It’s Only Rock’n’Roll (1974)
Black And Blue (1976)
Some Girls (1978)
Emotional Rescue (1980)
Tattoo You (1981)
Undercover (1983)
Dirty Work (1986)
Steel Wheels (1989)
Voodoo Lounge (1994) (2LP)
Bridges To Babylon (1997) (2LP)
A Bigger Bang (2005) (2LP)
Blue & Lonesome (2016) (2LP)

Bruce Springsteen: The Album Collection Vol. 2, 1987-1996, a limited-edition, numbered 

The boxed set comprised of material recorded and released by Springsteen for Columbia Records during that period. The boxed set is available for pre-order now here.

The long out-of-print LPs are available remastered for the first time on vinyl. In addition to Springsteen’s four studio albums from the era, the boxed set includes a special 12” of 1988’s live EP Chimes of Freedom, Springsteen’s 1993 two-LP MTV Plugged special, and the first-ever vinyl release of the 1996 Blood Brothers EP for a total of 10 discs.

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