A SACK OF TRACKS Boxed Sets to Unwrap
IT will come as no surprise to aficionados that once again the best box sets of the year come from Rhino Records, now the foremost label for quality music reissues.Skip to next paragraph
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Among the company's outpouring of compact disc releases are three absolute standouts: The R&B Box is a massive, six-CD set tracing the evolution of rhythm and blues all the way from Louis Jordan in the 1940s to the Spinners in the 1970s. It contains 108 tracks from the greatest names in pop-music history, digitally remastered, representing dozens of record labels.
The Sun Records Collection contains 74 cuts from the most influential small label ever and documents the virtual birth of rock-and-roll. Among the artists represented are Elvis (of course), Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison, and many others. The Doo Wop Box is the definitive history of harmony singing, with four CDs containing 101 tracks spanning nearly every incarnation of this music style that is still making its influence felt today in such groups as Boyz II Men.
Rock releases abound. Syd Barrett: Crazy Diamond (Capitol) is devoted to the legendary founder of the group Pink Floyd, and features his two solo albums as well as a disc dedicated to rare and unreleased material. The Everly Brothers: Heartaches & Harmonies (Rhino) compiles 103 tracks by this great rock singing duo, from the first single to their recent recordings. Unlike other compilations of the pair's work, this covers their career through more than a half-dozen record labels.
The Moody Blues: Time Traveller (Polydor) contains 71 digitally remastered tracks of the band's trademark symphonic rock, with all its hits as well as rare and unreleased tracks, and a bonus disc of live recordings. Tina Turner, The Collected Recordings (Capitol) is the most comprehensive retrospective yet of this great singer, spanning her work from the 1960s with Ike to her phenomenally successful solo career. The Band: Across the Great Divide (Capitol) is a three-disc set devoted to the influential American group, including their hits, rarities, demos, unreleased recordings, and much live material.
The roots of rock are explored in three superb packages from EMI, all chronicling influential record labels that came and went. The Minit Records Story celebrates the New Orleans label known for its short, punchy R&B recordings, many of them under the artistic guidance of Allen Toussaint.
The Aladdin Records Story features great tracks by the likes of Illinois Jacquet, Amos Millburn, Billie Holiday, Shirley and Lee, the Five Keys, and many more. The Sue Records Story: The Sound of Soul collects 100 songs recorded from 1957-66 for this important black-owned label, including cuts by Inez Foxx, Ike & Tina Turner, Baby Washington, and Don Covay.
Sam Cooke is known as one of the greatest singers of all time, but he was also an extremely influential producer. Sam Cooke's Sar Records Story 1959-1965 (ABKCO) contains 56 recordings, many of them gospel, from the singer's own label, the first black-owned label in history.
The War Anthology 1970-1994 (Avenue) celebrates the 25th anniversary of the seminal funk-Latin band (``Why Can't We Be Friends,'' ``The Cisco Kid''). Carole King: The Ode Collection (Epic/Legacy) chronicles the singer's career from 1968-76, including the entire ``Tapestry'' album, and live and unreleased recordings.