For a while, The Matrix had one of The Velvet Underground’s favourite venues on The West Coast. It seemed to bring out the best in The Velvet Underground. So there was no better place for The Velvet Underground to record a live album. These two nights at The Matrix featured The Velvet Underground at their very best. However, until very recently, only some of live at The Matrix album has been released by UMC as a four disc box set. 

The two nights at The Matrix, are documented on The Matrix Tapes box set. This four disc box set, features forty-two tracks. There’s Velvet Underground classics, and hidden gems like New Age on The Matrix Tapes. It’s regarded by many critics as as the definitive Velvet Underground live album. Especially now, that it’s available in it entirety.

That’s never been the case before. That’s despite The Matrix Tapes being recorded forty-six years ago. Since then, thirty-three of the tracks have found their way onto various Velvet Underground reissues. Somewhat belatedly, this legendary live album can be heard in its entirety, and features one of the most innovative and influential bands in the history of music, The Velvet Underground. They’re in full flight, reinventing classics and hidden gems on what’s considered a legendary live album The Matrix Tapes.


Too often, Tony Banks is referred to as “the keyboard player from Genesis.” This is doing the sixty-five year old a huge disservice. Tony Banks is a multi-instrumentalist, whose just as comfortable playing guitar as his playing piano, Hammond organ, synths or Mellotron. Seamlessly, Tony Banks could switch between musical instruments. That and his ability to innovate, played an important part in Genesis’ success. However, while Genesis dominated a large part of Tony Banks’ career, it’s just part of the story.

By the Genesis split-up in 1998, after thirty-one years together, Tony Banks was already an established solo artist. He released his debut album A Curious Feeling in 1979. After that, Tony Banks released another nine albums. They showed the different sides to Tony Banks. As well as solo albums, Tony Banks released soundtracks and orchestral albums. Then there’s the albums Tony recorded with his  Bankstatement and Strictly Inc. projects. These albums showed Tony Bank’s versatility and ability to innovate. Tracks from each of these ten albums feature on the Chord Too Far four disc box set.

A Chord Too Far is the perfect introduction to Tony Banks’ nine album career. It goes beyond Tony Banks’ solo career, looking at soundtracks and orchestral works. The forty-eight tracks feature some of the best music that Tony Banks has released. Other tracks, like the albums they’re taken from will divide opinion. This includes 1986s Soundtracks and 1995s Strictly Inc. Neither were Tony Banks most successful, nor according to critics, his finest hour. However, tracks from both albums were included, and allow the opportunity listeners to reappraise both albums. They’re part of the musical journey that is Tony Banks’ career. It’s documented and celebrated on A Chord Too Far. This four disc box set, celebrates the career of a pioneering musician, who continually, pushed musical boundaries and by his own admission, sometimes took things, A Chord Too Far.



In March 2015, Rhino released a four disc box set of Van Halen’s albums, Deluxe. It’s the perfect introduction to Van Halen. The first disc in Deluxe is their 1978 eponymous debut album. This was the album that launched one of the hardest rocking bands of the seventies and eighties. 

By 1984, Van Halen were one of the biggest bands on planet rock. They were about to become even bigger when they released 1984. It featured Van Halen were at their hard rocking best, unleashing classics like Jump, Panama and Hot For Teacher. It seemed that Van Halen could do no wrong. That proved to be the case. Right through to 1995,  enjoyed a glittering, multi-platinum career. That’s despite fall-outs, changes in lineup and a love of the rock ’n’ roll lifestyle. Somehow, Van Halen were still rocking in 2013, when they recorded the third album in the Deluxe box set, Tokyo Dome Live in Concert.  It’s a reminder of what Van Halen in full flight sounds like. For a newcomer to Van Halen, it’s the perfect addition to Van Halen and 1984. These three albums are the perfect primer to Van Halen, who have enjoyed an almost unrivalled longevity.


So that’s the story of the best box sets of 2015. There were plenty to choose from. I started with a long-list, and gradually, that long-list became the shortlist. Even then, a couple of box sets didn’t make the cut. The thirty-three that I’ve chosen, are the best thirty-three box sets of 2015. However, the winner by far had to be the Harmonia vinyl box set, Complete Works.

Complete Works was released by Berlin based Grönland Records in November 2015, is a luxurious and lovingly curated box set. It’s flawless, and stands head and shoulders above each and every box set released during 2015. This musical Magnus Opus set the bar for future box sets.


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