THE 33 BEST BOX SETS OF 2105-PART TWO.

THE 33 BEST BOX SETS OF 2105-PART TWO.

HAWKWIND-THIS IS YOUR CAPTAIN SPEAKING…YOUR CAPTAIN IS DEAD.

Since 1969, the various lineups of Hawkwind have released twenty-seven studio albums, ten live albums and fifteen compilations. That’s not forgetting the recently released eleven disc box set, This Is Your Captain Speaking…Your Captain Is Dead. It was recently released by PLG, and features Hawkwind’s first four studio albums, three live albums and a singles compilation. Mainly, This Is Your Captain Speaking…Your Captain Is Dead documents the period between 1969 and 1974.

Howkwind were musical trailblazers who inspired several generations of bands with albums like X In Search of Space and Hall of the Mountain Grill. Then there’s Hawkwind’s 1970 eponymous debut album and their third album Doremi Fasol Latido. Both are underrated, and deserve to be reappraised. The This Is Your Captain Speaking…Your Captain Is Dead box set allows music fans to do so. They’ll also be able to discover Hawkwind’s performance at the Greasy Truckers Party, and what was one their most ambitious live albums, The Space Ritual Alive. That’s not the end of the story.

As an added bonus, The 1999 Party (Live At The Chicago Auditorium) and the Time and Stars: The Singles have been included on the This Is Your Captain Speaking…Your Captain Is Dead box set. It’s the perfect introduction to what many people regard as the Hawkwind’s glory days.

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HOLGER CZUKAY-ELEVEN YEARS INNERSPACE.

On Record Store Day, suddenly, everyone heads for their local record store, where there’s lots of goodies available. This year, this included Holger Czukay’s Eleven Years Innerspace  which was  released by Grönland Records. 

Eleven Years Innerspace features six songs Holger Czukay recorded eleven years ago, when he began work at the legendary Innerspace Studios. The songs on Innerspace are reworking of songs Holger recorded earlier on, in his long and illustrious career. These tracks are reinvented by Holger, who takes something old, and transforms it into something new. In the process, he  redefines and reimagines the music. The result is something new and innovative. It’s as if Holger dawns the role of a sculptor, taking a piece of music and reshapes it, moulding it into something that he never originally imagined. Gradually, it takes on new form and meaning, as Holger takes the music and reshapes it.

Eventually, it becomes the music on Eleven Years Innerspace. It’s a reminder of a true musical visionary, who is responsible for some of the most ambitious, innovative and inspirational music in the history of music, Holger Czukay musical alchemist.

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IRMIN SCHMIDT-ELECTRO VIOLET.

Since Can disbanded in 1979,  Irmin Schmidt has established a reputation as the most prolific former member of Can.  Irmin has written the scores for over 100 films and television programs. Some of this music features in the recently released Irmin Schmidt box set Electro Violet.

This twelve disc box set, which was released by Mute, features not just the five volumes of the Film Musik Anthology, but a previously unreleased sixth volume. Then there’s Irmin Schmidt’s first four solo albums, 1981s Toy Planet, 1987s Musk At Dusk and 1991s Impossible Holidays. Then there’s Irmin Schmidt’s two collaborations with Kumo, 2001s Master Of Confusion and 2008s Axolotl Eyes. The final disc in the Electro Violet box set is opera Gormenghast, which was released in 2000, and was based on Mervyn Peake’s classic novel. Gormenghast shows the versatility of Irmin Schmidt, the classically trained musician who become part of Can, one of the most successful bands of the twentieth century, and then embarked upon a successful solo career.

The Electro Violet box set is a celebration of the first five decades in Irmin Schmidt’s post can career. Throughout what has been a long and illustrious career, Irmin Schmidt has released music that’s ambitious, innovative, inspiring and influential. Irmin Schmidt is a musical visionary, who as a member of Can, and as a solo artist, has released groundbreaking music that was often, way ahead of the curve. A reminder of this is the music in the twelve disc Electro Violet box set, which like the music of Can, will forever influence and inspire further generations of musicians.

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JETHRO TULL-MINSTREL IN THE GALLERY-40TH ANNIVERSARY: LA GRANDE EDITION.

By the time Jethro Tull began work on their eighth album Minstrel In The Gallery, they were one of the biggest selling groups of the seventies. Especially in America. Five of their albums had been certified gold, while 1971s Aqualung was certified triple-platinum. In America alone, Jethro Tull had sold 5.5 million albums by 1974. Jethro Tull were also enjoying a glittering career in Britain and Germany. However, when the reviews of Minstrel In The Gallery were published, it looked as if Jethro Tull had taken a wrong turning. 

Rolling Stone called the album “instantly forgettable.” Despite that, Minstrel In The Gallery sold 500,000 in America and was certified gold. Since its release in 1975, Minstrel In The Gallery has been reappraised. Belatedly, Jethro Tull are receiving the credit they deserve for Minstrel In The Gallery. It’s far from the derivative album that some critics accused Jethro Tull of producing. Instead, it’s another groundbreaking album of genre-defying music. Minstrel In The Gallery saw Jethro Tull continue to create music that was cerebral, cinematic, dramatic and ethereal. Elements of classic rock, classical, folk, jazz are combined by Jethro Tull on Minstrel In The Gallery. Together, they play their part in what’s Jethro Tull’s oft-overlooked, prog rock classic Minstrel In The Gallery. 

Chrysalis released Minstrel In The Gallery-40th Anniversary-La Grande Edition in 2015. It’s a fitting celebration of what’s now regarded as one of Jethro Tull’s finest albums. Disc one features Steven Wilson stereo mix of Minstrel In The Gallery, while disc two features a live show recorded in Paris, in July 1975. Then there’s two DVD’s of 5.1 DTS and AC3 Dolby Digital mixes. That’s not forgetting the lavish eighty page book. However, back in 1975, very few critics thoughtMinstrel In The Gallery was worthy of a celebration. This poses a question, who did the critics get things so wrong? 

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JETHRO TULL-TOO OLD TO ROCK ’N’ ROLL: TO YOUNG TO DIE! 

After the the Minstrels In The Gallery tour ended, Jethro Tull set about recording their ninth album, Too Old To Rock ’N’ Roll: To Young To Die, which was recently released as a box set by PLG.  Too Old To Rock ’N’ Roll: To Young To Die was another concept album, where Jethro Tull told the story of an ageing rock star, who found fame when musical tastes changed. The ten tracks on Too Old To Rock ’N’ Roll: To Young To Die had been written by Ian Anderson. For Jethro Tull Too Old To Rock ’N’ Roll: To Young To Die proved the end of an era.

Too Old To Rock ‘n’ Roll: Too Young to Die was the last concept album Jethro Tull released. By then, they were masters of the concept album. That’s why, in 1976, Jethro Tull were one of the biggest progressive rock bands in the world. However, Too Old To Rock ‘n’ Roll: Too Young to Die had failed to sell in the same quantities as their previous albums. That’s despite the undoubtable quality of music on Too Old To Rock ‘n’ Roll: Too Young to Die. It’s one of the most underrated albums in Jethro Tull’s illustrious back-catalogue. However, Too Old To Rock ‘n’ Roll: Too Young to Die had the misfortune to be released just as punk was born. 

Following Too Old To Rock ‘n’ Roll: Too Young to Die, Jethro Tull’s fortunes improved. There was a reason for this.  Jethro Tull reinvented themselves musically. They had always been musical pioneers, and weren’t content to stand still. Instead, they experimented musically, and pushed musical boundaries to their limit over the next few years. This just happened to coincide with an upturn in Jethro Tull’s fortunes. It seemed the  new breed of gunslinger critics were wrong, and Jethro Tull had a glittering future ahead of them. However, Too Old To Rock ‘n’ Roll: Too Young to Die is a reminder of their glory years, when progressive rock was king. 

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JOHN COLTRANE-A LOVE SUPREME-THE COMPLETE MASTERS BOX SET.

On December 9th 1964, four musicians made their war to the Van Gelder Studio, on 445 Sylvan Avenue, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey. They were scheduled to record an album with renowned jazz producer Rudy Van Gelder. He was a veteran of countless recordings, and had worked with some of the biggest names in jazz. This included John Coltrane, who was about scheduled to record a new album, which would became a classic jazz album, A Love Supreme. It was reissued by Decca, as a three disc box set, to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the release of A Love Supreme.

Disc one of A Love Supreme-The Complete Masters features the original album, plus original mono reference masters of Pursuance and Psalm. Then on disc two, there’s eleven bonus tracks. They’re a mixture of alternate takes, including a version of Acknowledgment with a false start, and versions of two other takes of Acknowledgment with vocal overdubs. Essentially, these tracks offer the listener to see how the track evolved, right through to what it ultimately became on disc one. However, for many John Coltrane completists, disc three is musical gold. It features the John Coltrane quartet playing A Love Supreme in its entirety, live in Juan-les-Pins, France. This performance has entered jazz folklore, and is a very welcome addition to A Love Supreme-The Complete Masters. Sadly, just two years after this legendary performance, John Coltrane died.

It’s forty-eight years since John Coltrane died. He was in the prime of his musical life, and could’ve and should’ve gone on to be at the forefront of jazz, as the genre continued to reinvent itself. John Coltrane at spent his career as a pioneer of jazz, ensuring the genre neither stood still, nor became irrelevant. There was no chance that jazz was going to go the way of the blues. Not with musical pioneers like John Coltrane, Miles Davis and Ornette Coleman producing groundbreaking music. Sadly, John Coltrane never got the opportunity to embrace the change in jazz that took place during the late-sixties and early seventies. However, Joh Coltrane left behind a rich musical legacy, including A Love Supreme.  

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KEITH ROWE/JOHN TILBURY-ENOUGH STILL NOT TO KNOW.

There aren’t many collaborations that have lasted five decades. However, Keith Rowe and John Tilbury’s has. They first began working together in the mid-sixties, when they were members of AMM and then The Scratch Orchestra. Since then, Keith Rowe and John Tilbury have formed an uncanny musical bond. They’re like a musical yin and yang. One seems to know just what the other is thinking, and about to do. They anticipate each other’s next move. What follows is like a game of musical chess, except there’s no winner. That’s been the case with these two legends of experimental music. They’ve pioneered experimental music, with their unique brand of improvised music. It features on their latest project Enough Still Not To Know. It’s a four disc box set which was released on Sofa Music in October 2015. This is the soundtrack to a captivating project.

Enough Still Not To Know features just Keith Rowe and JohTilbury. However, Enough Still Not To Know was produced by visual artist Kjell Bjørgeengen. That’s not surprising. The music on Enough Still Not To Know’s four discs will provide the soundtrack to one of Kjell Bjørgeengen’s video installations. That music was recorded at City University’s Music Studios between the 17th and 18th July 2014. That’s where four lengthy soundscapes were recorded. The four discs, entitled Part One, Part Two, Part Three and Part Four total three-and-a-half hours. During that period, the music drifts in and out. Keith and John aren’t afraid to leave sometimes lengthy periods of silence. They allow for reflection and contemplation. This works away from the video installation, and allows the listener to reflect and contemplate on the travails of life. 

Sometimes the music on Enough Still Not To Know is understated and ethereal. Other times it reaches a crescendo and dissipates, leaving behind a mere memory of what’s gone before. Then there’s silence. This would frighten most musicians. They feel the need to fill every second. Not Keith and John. This pregnant pause allows the listener’s brain to reboot, before further waves of cinematic music ebb and flow. All the time, music washes over the listener. They absorb and immerse themselves in the music. However, it’s also possible for Enough Still Not To Know to become the backdrop to daily life, and drop in and out when possible. As you do, distant bells chime, surprises are sprung and Keith and John take the listener on a voyage of discovery. Sounds gently implode and explode. There’s twists and turns aplenty. Constantly, there’s atonal changes. Similarly, there’s constant changes in the musical landscape. It seems to be constantly evolving. The music veers between ambient, beautiful, ethereal and understated, to captivating, cinematic and even intriguing and intense. Sometimes, there’s an element of suspense, as Keith and John spring a surprise with their rich musical palette. They continually tease and tantalise the listener on this epic musical journey. 

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LED ZEPPELIN-CODA.

After the death of drummer John Bonham, the remaining members of Led Zeppelin wanted to cal time on the band. They didn’t want to go on without their fallen comrade. There was a problem though, 

Led Zeppelin still owed Atlantic Records an album. This dated back to when Led Zeppelin formed their Swan Song label in 1974. However, this wasn’t the official reason.

According to Jimmy Page, the three members of Led Zeppelin had noticed how popular bootleg recordings were. They were selling in vast quantities. Given they were unauthorised releases, Led Zeppelin weren’t benefiting from the releases. So the remaining members of Led Zeppelin decided that they should reissue some of the unreleased material in the vaults. Led Zeppelin had been together for eleven years before John Bonham’s death, so there was plenty of unreleased material. There was more than enough for one album. That was apparent on Warner Bros’ recent reissue of Coda. 

Not only does Coda feature the eight tracks on the original version of Coda, but there’s eight tracks on disc two, and another seven tracks on disc three. Forty-three years later, and the Led Zeppelin vaults are the gift that keep on giving. Back in 1982, John Paul Jones saw the release of Coda as an opportunity for Led Zeppelin to showcase some of the hidden gems that lay unreleased in the vaults. While Coda was hardly Led Zeppelin’s finest hour; just like In Through The Out Door,  Coda featured fleeting moments of genius. This makes Coda a worthy addition to any record collection, and a reminder of one of the rock’s unholy trinity’s hell raising days and classic years. 

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MAGMA-KOHNZERT ZUND.

The Köhnzert Zünd box set is a welcome reissue for fans of Magma, and is the perfect companion to the Studio Zund twelve disc box set. When Studio Zund was released in 2009, Magma fans wondered why there was no live material in the box set? Now they know. Even back then, it looks like plans were afoot to release the definitive box set of Magma’s live material. So, what can be found in the the twelve-disc Köhnzert Zünd box set?

One can’t help be impressed by the sculptural quality of the Köhnzert Zünd box set. It’s akin to a mini work of art. A great deal of time and effort was put into the design of Köhnzert Zünd. It puts many of the cheaply made box sets to shame. Jazz Village deserve to be congratulated on the design of Köhnzert Zünd box set. Without doubt, Köhnzert Zünd features Magma’s best live albums, and a bit more. However, copies of Köhnzert Zünd are limited

Fans of Magma will have to be quick.The Köhnzert Zünd box set is a limited edition release. Only 5,000 copies are available of the definitive retrospective of Magma’s live career. Köhnzert Zünd  is the perfect companion to the Studio Zund box set, and shows why after forty-six years, twelve studio albums and countless changes in lineup, that Magma are still one of France’s progressive rock Kings.

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MILES DAVIS AT NEWPORT 1955-1975-THE BOOTLEG SERIES VOLUME 4. 

Miles Davis’ hard bop era had finished in 1954, and 1955 was the start of a new era. It featured Miles Davis’ first great quintet. As Miles played trumpet, the rhythm section featured drummer Philly Joe Jones and bassist Paul Chambers. They were augmented by pianist Red Garland and tenor saxophonist John Coltrane. This all-star lineup was would become part of jazz history. However, this wasn’t the band that took to the stage at the second Newport Jazz Festival on 17th July 1955.  Excerpts from this performance feature on Miles Davis At Newport 1955-1975-The Bootleg Series Volume 4, which was released as a four disc set by Sony Music in 2015. It documents the first twenty years of Miles Davis thirty year association with the famous festival. 

Miles Davis was associated with the Newport Jazz Festival until 1985. Their relationship had lasted thirty years, and during that period, Miles Davis continued to reinvent his music. Continually, he innovated and pushes musical boundaries. That was the case right up until his death in 1991. His career had spanned five decades, during which Miles Davis released forty-eight studio albums. This include classic albums like 1957s Birth Of The Cool and ’Round About Midnight, 1959s, Kind Of Blue  and 1970s Bitches Brew. Tracks from each of these albums feature on Miles Davis Live At Newport 1955-1975-The Bootleg Series Volume 4, which document and celebrates the first twenty years of Miles Davis association with the Newport Jazz Festival.

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2 Comments

  1. When I win the lottery I’ll have all of these bar ‘Too Old’. Sigh.

    • Hi there,

      When I was compiling the list, I was looking to see how much the box sets cost. If you shop around, there’s some really good bargains. For example, the John Coltrane and Ornette Coleman box sets can be found for £7 each. Other box sets seem to have had their prices cut.If you look on Ebay, Discogs and Amazon.com, you’ll be surprised at the bargains to be had. You’ll not need a lottery win, but it would be nice anyway.

      Regards,
      Derek.

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