THE 33 BEST BOX SETS OF 2105-PART THREE.

THE 33 BEST BOX SETS OF 2105-PART THREE.

MILES DAVIS-BITCHES BREW 40TH ANNIVERSARY COLLECTORS EDITION.

Miles Davis’ recording career began in 1951, when he released his debut album The New Sounds. Soon, Miles Davis was establishing a reputation as a prolific, and innovative musician. He released a further forty-three albums between 1951 and 1969. This included classics like 1957s Round About Midnight and 1959s Kind Of Blue. While both of these albums would become classic albums, neither sold in huge quantities. Certainly not enough to result in a gold or platinum disc. That was all about change when Miles Davis released his forty-fifth album, Bitches Brew; which has just been reissued as a four disc 40th Anniversary Collectors Edition.

Ever since the release of Bitches Brew, it has been recognised as a landmark album. This musical tour de force is now perceived as one of the most important albums in the history of jazz. Bitches Brew was a game-changer. Suddenly, jazz’s rhythmic rules were rewritten. Anything was possible. Rhythm sections grew in size. Suddenly, two drummers, bassists or pianists were acceptable.  The use of effects were embraced, transforming the recording studio into an extra instrument. Similarly, editing was used as part of the creative process. Here, Miles drew inspiration from the musique concrète composers of the fifties and sixties. This was just another piece in the musical jigsaw that was Bitches Brew. It rejuvenated interest in jazz.

By 1970, many critics and record buyers regarded jazz as yesterday’s music. It was the music their parents and grandparents listened to. That was until Miles Davis released Bitches Brew, the second of his electric albums. Bitches Brew was a game-changer. Fusion as the genre became known, proved to be happy a marriage between jazz and rock. Before long, fusion was the most popular genre of jazz. A generation of jazz and rock musicians collaborated, resulting in jazz that was commercially successful and critically acclaimed. It’s also music that’s stood the test of time. A copy of the Bitches Brew 40th Anniversary Collectors Edition deserves to find a place in the record collection of anyone interested in rock or jazz, as it’s the definitive way to discover this groundbreaking classic. 

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MOGWAI-CENTRAL BELTERS.

2015 finds post rock pioneers Mogwai celebrating their twentieth anniversary. A lot has happened in that twenty year period. Mogwai have released eight studio albums and three soundtracks. These albums have been critical acclaimed and commercially successful not just in Britain, but in America. That’s why nowadays, Mogwai are regarded as Scottish music’s elder statesmen. So it was fitting when Mogwai released a three disc retrospective box set, Central Belters, on Rock Action Records. Central Belters tells the story of twenty years of Mogwai.

For the last twenty years, Mogwai’s music has been ambitious, bold, challenging, influential and innovative music. It’s full of nuances, subtleties and surprises as Mogwai seamlessly combine musical genres. They fuse ambient, avant garde, classic rock, electronica, experimental, indie rock, psychedelia and Krautrock, to create their unique post rock sound. All the time, Mogwai continue to push musical boundaries to their limits and even sometimes, way beyond. Mogwai have never been willing to stand still. The Mogwai Young Team’s music has continued to evolve, and doubtless will continue to do so.

Glasgow’s famous five are due a new musical adventure. It’s nearly two years since the release of Rave Tapes. Hopefully, Mogwai are hard at work in their Castle Of Doom studios on their next adventure. This isn’t the type of adventure Enid Blyton’s Famous Five once enjoyed. There’s no picnics, lemonade and bicycle trips. Instead, it’s a bit more edgy and gritty.That’s the case with Central Belters Mogwai’s career retrospective.

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ORNETTE COLEMAN-BEAUTY IS A RARE THING.

It was on June 11th 2015, that Ornette Coleman passed away, aged eighty-five. Music had lost a true legend, whose album Free Jazz: A Collective Improvisation lent its name to a musical genre, free jazz. It’s the genre that Ornette Coleman became synonymous with, and features on the six discs within the Beauty Is A Rare Thing box set. It features an one of jazz’s most innovative and inventive musicians and composers in the history of jazz. Bold, and unafraid to produce cutting-edge music, Ornette Coleman produced music that was challenging music, music that challenged musical norms. 

Realising musical rules were there to be broken, Ornette Coleman set about breaking these rules. However, Ornette Coleman knew when to break the rules. By breaking these rules, Ornette Coleman created some of the most inventive, influential and innovative music in the history of jazz. This was music that fused various musical genres and influences. Bebop, free-jazz, blues, avant-garde and experimental music all influenced Ornette Coleman’s music. These genres and influences were thrown into the melting pot of one of the most creative and inventive musicians of the twentieth century. A reminder of this, us Beauty Is A Rare Thing, which was released by Rhino, and features the best music of Ornette Coleman’s long and illustrious career.

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SLY AND THE FAMILY STONE-LIVE AT THE FILLMORE EAST-OCTOBER 4TH AND 5TH 1968. 

For whatever reason, Bill Graham didn’t see what other people saw in Sly and The Family Stone. Initially he wasn’t won over by their unique brand of dance music. As a result, he was reluctant to book Sly Stone and his band. Eventually, though, Bill Graham was persuade to go and see Sly and The Family Stone live. Having seen Sly and The Family Stone in full flight this changed his mind. 

So much so, that Bill Graham booked Sly and The Family Stone to open for Eric Burdon and The Animals at four concerts and the Fillmore East in October 1968. These four concerts were recorded, but never released. That’s until  Live At The Fillmore East-October 4th and 5th 1968 was released by Sony Music as a four disc box set during 2015. It’s a reminder of what Sly and The Family Stone once were.

They were one of the most successful bands of their generation, releasing five albums, which sold over ten million copies. This run of commercial success and critical acclaim began with Stand, which was certified platinum, and ended with Small Talk, which was certified gold. In between, Sly and The Family Stone were one of the most groundbreaking groups of the late sixties and early seventies. Their music influenced several generations of musicians, and much of it is timeless.

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SPOOKY TOOTH-THE ISLAND YEARS. 

Spooky Tooth are one of many bands that never got the  credit they deserve.  Their career was documented on the nine disc Spooky Tooth box set, The Island Years which was released by Universal Music Group. The Island Years features Art’s album Supernatural Fairy Tales and Spooky Tooth’s seven studio albums. Then on the ninth and final disc, there’s a live recording, Live In Oldenburg 1973. This recording has never been released before, and makes its debut on The Island Years, which documents the seven year career of Spooky Tooth.

Unlike many box sets, The Island Years is crammed full of bonus tracks. Every album has numerous bonus tracks tacked onto the end. This makes The Island Years the most comprehensive retrospective of Spooky Tooth’s career. Especially since it features Art’s one and only album Supernatural Fairy Tales. Along with Spooky Tooth’s seven studio albums and the previously unreleased live recording, Live In Oldenburg 1973, The Island Years is the most comprehensive overview of Spooky Tooth’s sometimes turbulent seven year career. Despite the changes in lineup and breakups, Spooky Tooth managed to make some of the best, most memorable rock music of the late-sixties and early-seventies.

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THE COMPLETE HISTORY OF THE BLUES 1920-1962. 

The Complete History Of The Blues 1920-1962 is a four disc box set, featuring 100 tracks. For a newcomer to the blues, it’s the perfect introduction to what is, without doubt, one of the most important musical genres ever. Its the foundation which popular music was built in. Without the Kings and Queens of the blues on The Complete History Of The Blues 1920-1962, modern music would be very different.

Any students of modern music will tell you that. Blues styles, forms, melodies and the blues scale have influenced numerous musical genres. This includes jazz and rock ’n’ roll. Then there’s call and response, which is prominent in many musical styles, including soul music. Finally, there’s the use of the blue note, whose expressive, worried sound is at the heart of the blues. It would then go on to influence jazz, and then many major musical genres. These are just a few of the reasons that the blues is the foundation of modern music. That’s why we should never forget blues music, and its legacy. 

Part of the blues’ legacy is the music on The Complete History Of The Blues 1920-1962. This box set, features four discs, featuring twenty-five tracks. Each disc has a theme and features what can only be described as the great and good of blues music. For either the newcomer to blues, or a veteran of blues’ compilations The Complete History Of The Blues 1920-1962 is essential listening.

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THE DOOBIE BROTHERS-THE WARNER BROS. YEARS 1971-1983.

Between 1972 and 1980, The Doobie Brothers could do no wrong. They had released eight albums, which sold in excess of ten million copies. During this period, Tom Johnson had been replaced by Michael McDonald, and sadly, The Doobie Brothers became a blue-eyed soul band. This was very different to the Tom Johnston. Both the Tom Johnston and Michael McDonald years feature on ten disc box set The Warner Bros. Years 1971-1983, along with their 1983 live album Farewell Tour.  

The Warner Bros. Years 1971-1983 documents The Doobie Brothers’ glory years. This will means different things to different people. That will depend if you prefer the guitar driven boogie of the Tom Johnston years, or the blue-eyed soul of the Michael McDonald years. Both feature on The Doobie Brothers’ ten disc box set, The Warner Bros. Years 1971-1983, which is the definitive collection of The Doobie Brothers.

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THE JIMI HENDRIX EXPERIENCE BOX SET. 

The word legend is one of the overused in music, and should be reserved for the creme de la creme of music. That would definitely include Jimi Hendrix, who achieved more in twenty-seven short years than many musical journey achieve in seventy years. Otherworldly describes Jimi Hendrix. It was as if he’d descended down from another world, and was during his short time on planet music, was determined to reinvent how to play the guitar. For the next few years, Jimi Hendrix took music by storm. The world was awestruck as this musical visionary, and shaman took the guitar to another level. A reminder of that is the four disc The Jimi Hendrix Experience box set.

The Jimi Hendrix Experience box set features music recorded between 1966 and the 18th September 1970. During that period, Jimi Hendrix’s star was in the ascendancy. He was the opposite of tired, staid musicians like B.B. King, who built a career on the same sound. Right up until earlier in 2015, B.B. King was phoning in performances of the same tired and predictable songs. Jimi Hendrix would never have done that. 

Instead, Jimi Hendrix was an innovator who if he’d lived, would’ve been at the forefront of music, constantly moving his sound forward. Sadly, Jimi Hendrix’s career was cut tragically short, and music was robbed of his genius when he was just twenty-seven. At least Jimi Hendrix never grew old, bloated and predictable. Forever Jimi Hendrix be twenty-seven, and the  a flamboyant, maverick musician whose genius had audiences spellbound when he was with The Jimi Hendrix Experience.

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THE JIMI HENDRIX EXPERIENCE-FREEDOM: ATLANTA POP FESTIVAL.

On the 4th of July 1970, Jimi Hendrix journeyed 100 miles south of Atlanta. His destination was the second Atlanta International Pop Festival. It was being billed as the second Woodstock, and the Jimi Hendrix Experience were about play a starring role.

When the Jimi Hendrix Experience arrived at the Atlanta International Pop Festival, they were greeted by a crowd estimated to be between 300,000-400,000. What is now remembered as the “last great rock festival” was an unlikely event for Jimi Hendrix to appear at. Byron, in Atlanta was in the heart of old the Deep South. This was Klan country. Racial tensions were always threatening to bubble over. The organisers of the 1970 Atlanta Pop Festival were well aware of this. So they made the conscious decision that the star of the show should be someone who appealed to everyone. This was Jimi Hendrix, whose performance that day, features on the Freedom: Atlanta Pop Festival box set.

That day, The Jimi Hendrix Experience wrote heir place into music history by playing a starring role in what’s now remembered as the “last great rock festival.” Jimi had united a region that had been divided. His message of unity, universal love and Freedom had him friends on both sides of the racial divide can be heard on the Freedom: Atlanta Pop Festival box set. It features one of the most influential and innovative guitarists of his generation, Jimi Hendrix. 

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THE VELVET UNDERGROUND-LOADED BOX SET.

Having found themselves without a record company, The Velvet Underground’s luck changed when they signed to Atlantic Records. They were told to record an album: “loaded with hits.” The result was Loaded, the last Velvet Underground to feature Lou Reed, the group’s creative force. It was the end of era for The Velvet Underground. They essentially died on on 23rd August 1970, when Lou Reed left. 

The Velvet Underground were like a rudderless ship floundering in choppy musical waters. Loaded was resequenced and Lou Reed alleged, some of the song had been edited, Despite that, Loaded, like 1967 with The Velvet Underground and Nico, 1968s White Light/White Heat, 1969s The Velvet Underground are all classic albums. That’s why it’s fitting that Loaded was reissued by Rhino as a four disc box set to celebrate the forty-fifth anniversary of this classic album’s release.

Despite failing commercially in 1970, Loaded is nowadays, regarded as a classic album; and The Velvet Underground are remembered as one of the most important, influential and innovative bands in the history of music. Their musical legacy is one of the richest in music.

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