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Dylan, Prince, Hendrix, Bowie lead 2019’s Box Set Bonanza

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Santa’s gonna need a bigger sack. Fans of classic rock have a wealth of new material to wade through with this season’s explosion of exhaustive vault clearing box sets, either in stores now or on the docket for release over the next several weeks.

Among the sets already out: Sweeping multidisc collections from the Steve Miller Band (“Welcome to the Vault”), The Doors (“The Soft Parade 50th”), The Kinks (“Arthur”) and the latest edition of Bob Dylan’s ongoing “Bootleg Series,” with more to come through mid-December.

Bob Dylan“Travelin’ Thru: 1967-1969 (featuring Johnny Cash): Bootleg Series, Vol. 15” (Sony Legacy; Nov. 1)

Artists with enormous bodies of unreleased material looking for tips on managing a legacy should take a cue from Dylan’s bootleg series, established in 1991. The latest entry is a low-priced three-CD overview of Dylan’s late ‘60s adventures in Nashville, featuring unreleased sessions for three albums: “John Wesley Harding,” “Nashville Skyline” and “Self-Portrait.” Highlights include 25 cuts recorded with Johnny Cash and five with Earl Scruggs from a period when Dylan helped draft the blueprints of Americana.

Fats Domino“I’ve Been Around: The Complete Imperial and ABC Recordings” (Bear Family; Nov. 8)

German-based Bear Family Records have spent years building this Domino box that blows even their similarly designed 1993 collection out of the water. 12 lovingly curated CDs contain everything Fats laid down during his golden years, all presented at the original recorded speed for the first time (the original 50s and 60s releases were sped up to give the illusion of a younger man), plus a wealth of never heard sessions and tracks previously thought to be lost. Also included is a DVD containing PBS’s awesome Fats Domino documentary in both broadcast and director’s cut versions. Nobody does reissues like Bear Family.

David Bowie“Conversation Piece” (Rhino/Parlophone; Nov. 15)

The fifth Bowie box released since 2015 tracks David’s early explorations from 1968 and 1969 on five CDs, and includes a stunning 2019 remix of the complete “Space Oddity” album by original producer Tony Visconti. The collection packs in home demos, BBC Radio sessions, studio demos with guitarist John Hutchinson and Bowie’s early trio The Feathers. A 120-page hardbound book collects sleeve notes, unseen photos and assorted memorabilia. If you’d rather just score the “Space Oddity” remix, it will be issued separately on CD and vinyl.

The Band – “The Band: 50th Anniversary Super Deluxe” (Universal; Nov. 15)

Speaking of Americana roots, this comprehensive beast contains one of the genre’s most essential entries. The Band’s essential sophomore album receives a loving examination on two CDs, a Blu-ray audio disc, a double LP vinyl set, and a bonus 7-inch single. Overseen by Band leader Robbie Robertson, the box features new mixes in stereo and 5.1 surround – engineered by Bob Clearmountain – and a book containing an Anthony DeCurtis essay for context as well as previously unseen photos by Elliot Landy.

Jimi Hendrix“Songs For Groovy Children” (Sony/Experience Hendrix; November 22)

The most comprehensive release to date surrounding Jimi Hendrix’s historic and influential Band of Gypsys concerts is due later this month. Recorded at the Fillmore East in New York City on the last day of the ‘60s and the first day of the ‘70s, “Songs For Groovy Children” will offer a near-complete listen, in unedited newly mixed form, of the four concerts performed by Hendrix with new band-mates and old friends Billy Cox on bass and Buddy Miles on drums. When Hendrix handed six tracks from these shows to Capitol Records in 1970 to fulfill a contract he shouldn’t have signed four years earlier, he had no inkling of the impact the original “Band of Gypsys” album – the last to be released during his lifetime - would have on music in the decades to follow. Extraordinary and essential.

Prince“1999” (Super Deluxe) (Warner Bros.; Nov. 29)

The fifth album from Prince is about to be reissued in six formats, including a five-CD/10-LP version. The “super deluxe” sets contain 35 previously unissued tracks from the fruitful sessions and concerts surrounding his 1982 double LP. Promo mixes, B-sides, vault tracks and concert recordings from a November 30, 1982 show in Detroit round out the CDs and LPs, while a DVD contains 12 tracks from a multi-camera shoot filmed at the Houston Summit on December 29, 1982. If you’d rather cut to the main event, a pared down 2-CD version will give you the remastered album plus a disc of radio promo versions.

Last modified on Tuesday, 05 November 2019 07:30

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