THE BEST BOX SETS OF 2016-PART 2.

THE BEST BOX SETS OF 2016-PART 2.

Klaus Schulze-Dark Side Of The Moog Volumes 1-4.

When Klaus Schulze agreed to collaborate with Pete Namlook, little did he realise that this was the start of a partnership that lasted fourteen years. The first volume in the Dark Side Of The Moog series was released in 1994. Fourteen years later, the eleventh and final volume was released in 2008. Last year, the Dark Side Of The Moog series were recently reissued by MIG as three box sets.

The first box set featured The Dark Side Of The Moog Volumes 1-4. This included Part 1-Wish You Were There, which was released in 1994, which was a fusion of ambient, avant-garde, electronica and techno. This was a starting point for future volumes 

For Klaus Schulze, this was a stylistic departure and introduced his music to a much wider audience. This was the start of a long running and successful series.  A year later, Part 2-A Saucerful Of Ambience was released in 1995. Just like the first instalment in the series, this limited edition release soon sold out. It was a similar case when Part 3-Atom Heart Brother Part I-VI was released later in 1995. The Dark Side Of The Moog had become a successful series.

For the fourth instalment in the series, Klaus Schulze and Pete Namlook were joined by American musician, composer and producer Bill Laswell. He featured on the next three instalments. This included Part 4-Three Pipers At The Gates Of Dawn. Just like previous volumes, the mixture of fusion of ambient, electronica, modern classical and techno proved popular with fans old and new. That was no surprise.

Throughout his career, Klaus Schulze who continued to reinvent his music and release music that was innovative and relevant. That was the case when he began collaborating with Pete Namlook, on The Dark Side Of The Moog. A reminder of that is the Dark Side Of The Moog Volumes 1-4 box set, which features timeless music made my two and then three musical innovators.

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Klaus Schulze-Dark Side Of The Moog 2 Volumes 5-8.

As part of the ongoing Klaus Schulze reissue program, MIG released the eleven volumes of Dark Side Of The Moog in three box sets during 2016. Each came with a bonus disc of previously unreleased material. For fans of Klaus Schulze this was a veritable musical feast.This was the perfect way to celebrate Klaus Schulze’s fourteen year collaboration with Pete Namlook. It began in 1994 and continued until 2008.

Dark Side Of The Moog 2 Volumes 5-8 covers the period between 1996 and 1999. The first of the four volumes in the box set is Part 5-Psychedelic Brunch. Again, Klaus Schulze and Pete Namlook were again joined by Bill Laswell. He played an important part in another eclectic album. Everything from ambient, abstract and avant-garde rubbed shoulders with elements of the Berlin School, electronica, modern classical. It was another captivating combination, that resulted in another successful album.

It was a similar case with Part 6-The Final DAT when it was released in 1997. This time, abstract ambient and avant-garde were combined Berlin School, electronica and trance to create a successful cinematic and  genre-melting album. However, when Part 7-Obscured By Klaus was released late in 1998, it became apparent that Bill Laswell had less of an influence on the album. As a result, the album’s amy, ethereal and ruminative and understated was much more similar to the first three volumes in the Dark Side Of The Moog series.

When Part 8-Careful With The AKS, Peter was released in 1999, three had become two. Klaus Schulze and Pete Namlook had recorded Careful With The AKS live, and in the process, fused ambient with electronica and experimental with dub and drum ’n’ bass. Later, Pete Namlook edited the album prior to its release. When Part 8-Careful With The AKS was released later in 1998, the Dark Side Of The Moog success story continued.

Partly, this was because of their determination to reinvent the music that found its way onto the volumes of Dark Side Of The Moog. Never did Klaus Schulze and Pete Namlook remake the same album. Instead, they contented to reinvent their music to ensure it stayed relevant and proved successful. This they continued to do, as Side Of The Moog 2 Volumes 5-8 proves.

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Klaus Schulze-Dark Side Of The Moog 3 Volumes 9-11.

Hard on the heels of the Dark Side Of The Moog 2, MIG released Dark Side Of The Moog 3 as part of the Klaus Schulze reissue program. Just like the two previous box sets, Dark Side Of The Moog 3 came with a bonus disc of previously unreleased material. This veritable musical feast continued. 

Despite the continued success of Dark Side Of The Moog series, three years passed before Klaus Schulze and Pete Namlook returned in 2002, with Part 9-Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Mother. It was a six part suite of genre-melting music where elements of ambient music and avant-garde were combined with electronica and experimental music. Again, the music was understated, dreamy, ethereal and melancholy. Just like previous albums, Part 9-Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Mother had a a truly timeless sound. Despite three years away, The Dark Side Of The Moog’s music was still relevant.

It was another three years before The Dark Side Of The Moog X, which featured Astro Know Me Domina, a six part suite was released in 2005. As usual, ambient music was the starting point, and elements of Berlin School and electronica are added to an album of atmospheric soundscapes. They’re variously dark, dreamy, elegiac, melancholy moody and ruminative. Mostly though, the music is ambient on The Dark Side Of The Moog X. It marked the welcome return of what this long running collaboration. Sadly, it was almost at an end.

Another three years passed before The Dark Side Of The Moog XI was released. It featured a seven part musical suite, The Heart Of Our Nearest Star which was released as a double album, featuring stereo and surround sound versions of the album. Both versions feature in The Dark Side Of The Moog Volumes 9-11 box set. It’s another genre-melting album where elements of abstract and ambient combine with avant-garde, Berlin School and electronica as The Dark Side Of The Moog take the listener on their final journey. 

For part of the journey, the music is hypnotic. Meanwhile, the music veers between atmospheric to futuristic and dark and mesmeric. Later a glistening ambient sound begins to unfold. It’s variously dreamy, elegiac, thoughtful and wistful as the arrangement glides along; Later, the earlier sound returns before The Dark Side Of The Moog take their bow.

The Dark Side Of The Moog XI proved to be the final instalment in what had been a long-running and successful series. Four years later Pete Namlook passed away four years on 8th November 2012. That day, German music lost a true pioneer who played his part in a groundbreaking series, The Dark Side Of The Moog.

Over a fourteen year period, Klaus Schulze and Pete Namlook continually reinvented their music. While ambient music was usually the starting point, different ingredients were used throughout the series. This ranged from abstract and avant-garde to Berlin, electronica and experimental music. Other times, elements of drum ’n’ bass, psychedelia, rock and techno were added and combined by Klaus Schulze and Pete Namlook as they continued to push musical boundaries. That was the case throughout the series, and on the Dark Side Of The Moog 3 Volumes 9-11 box set. It features music that’s not only innovative, but influential and truly timeless.

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Motorpsycho-Angels and Daemons At Play.

During a career that’s spanned twenty-seven years, Motorpsycho have won an Edvardprisen and four Spellemannprisen Awards. This included a Spellemannprisen awards for their 1997 double album Angels and Daemons At Play. It was a landmark album for Motorpsycho, and marked their coming of age musically. This makes Angels and Daemons At Play one of the most important albums in Motorpsycho’s back-catalogue. That’s why it recently became the fourth instalment in Rune Grammofon’s luxury box set reissue program.    

Angels and Daemons was a groundbreaking, genre-melting, album, where Motorpsycho combined elements of alt rock, avant-garde, electronica and experimental music with Krautrock, post rock, psychedelia, space rock and stoner rock. All these genres can be heard on Angels and Daemons. Some are only glimpsed briefly, while others play a larger part in the sound and success of Angels and Daemons. It transformed Motorpsycho into one of Norway’s most successful bands.

Especially after Angels and Daemons reached number two in the Norwegian charts, and became the most successful album of Motorpsycho’s career. It also went on to win a Spellemannprisen awards in the hard rock category later in 1997. This was the third Spellemannprisen awards of Motorpsycho’s career so far. So it’s fitting that it was released as a lavish, luxurious and lovingly curated six CD box set. It’s a fitting way to celebrate Angels and Daemons which was Motorpsycho’s coming of age musically and nowadays, is regarded as one of their classic albums.

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Paul McCartney-Pure McCartney-Deluxe Box Set.

Pure McCartney is a celebration of Paul McCartney’s post-Beatles career. It features sixty-six songs from Paul McCartney’s solo career and his time with Wings. They’re an eclectic selection of songs that were released between 1970 and 2014. That’s a lot of music to choose from. So choosing just sixty-six songs can’t have been easy. Especially since Paul McCartney has released thirty-three albums since leaving The Beatles.  Quite simply, he was spoiled for choice. However,  after much contemplation, and has come up with an interesting and eclectic selection of songs. They’re  the perfect introduction to Paul McCartney’s post-Beatles’ career. 

Both his solo career and his time with Wings. They’re well represented on Pure McCartney. Songs like Band On The Run, Jet, Let ‘Em In, Live and Let Die, Silly Love Songs and With A Little Luck are a reminder of just how good a band Wings were on their day. Sadly, in Britain, Wings neither received the credit nor recognition their music deserved. Partly, that was because of the inevitable comparison with The Beatles. This must have been hugely frustrating for Paul McCartney. Especially when you realise just how good some of Wings’ contributions are.

It’s a similar case with Paul McCartney’s solo albums. He digs deep into his back-catalogues and chooses several songs from Ram, the only album credited to Paul and Linda  McCartney. This 1971 album is oft-overlooked, and well worth rediscovering. After hearing the tracks on Pure McCartney, many record buyers will be seeking out a copy of Ram. That is sure to be the case with many of  albums that Paul McCartney has chosen tracks from.

Most of the time, Paul McCartney has chosen well on Pure McCartney. Obviously, there’s a few debatable choices. This includes the dreadful We All Stand Together. It’s the lowest point of Paul McCartney’s solo career. Two other tracks that most people could live without are excruciating  collaborations. The first is Ebony and Ivory where Stevie Wonder joins Paul McCartney. Then he’s joined on Say, Say, Say by Michael Jackson. Neither track are worthy of inclusion. There’s many more tracks worthy of inclusion.

So much so, that Pure McCartney could easily have been a five, six or eight disc box set. After all, he had thirty-three albums to choose from. Narrowing this down to sixty-six songs meant that Paul McCartney must have  some difficult decisions to make.  However, there was nobody better qualified to make these decisions than the man who wrote, recorded and produced most of the music, Paul McCartney.  He began searching through his back-catalogue, and after much contemplation, eventually, he had compiled what’s without doubt, the definitive compilation of Paul McCartney’s post-Beatles carer, Pure McCartney. This lovingly complied sixty-song box set is what Paul McCartney believes represents the crème de la crème of his post-Beatles carer. 

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Rick Wakeman-5 Classic Albums

For anyone looking to discover the early years of Rick Wakeman’s solo career, Spectrum Music’s The 5 Classic Album Series is the perfect starting place. It begins with The Six Wives Of Henry VIII and continues through Journey To The Centre Of The Earth, The Myths and Legends Of King Arthur and The Knights Of The Round Table, No Earthly Connection and White Rock. These albums represent what were Rick Wakeman’s glory years, when he enjoyed commercial success on both sides of the Atlantic.

That had been the case since Rick Wakeman released his sophomore album, The Six Wives Of Henry VIII, The commercial success continued from Journey To The Centre Of The Earth, through The Myths and Legends Of King Arthur and The Knights Of The Round Table, No Earthly Connection and White Rock. These five albums feature on the Rick Wakeman 5 Classic Albums box set. It’s the perfect introduction to one of the pioneers of British progressive rock, Rick Wakeman.

While the box set is billed as 5 Classic Albums, only The Six Wives Of Henry VIII, Journey To The Centre Of The Earth and The Myths and Legends Of King Arthur and The Knights Of The Round Table deserved to be called classic albums. No Earthly Connection was a return to form from Rick Wakeman, and featured some innovative music. Especially the five part, twenty-eight minute epic Music Reincarnate. However, No Earthly Connection stops short of reaching classic status, but is still one of the highlights of Rick’s career. White Rock by comparison, is a disappointing album that’s best described as good, but not great. Having said that, the Rick Wakeman 5 Classic Albums box set is a reminder of Rick Wakeman in his seventies heyday.

Constantly, Rick Wakeman spent much of the seventies searching for perfection. For most musicians, that is unattainable. However, Rick Wakeman wasn’t most musicians. Just like so many musicians of the progressive rock era, he was a musical pioneer, who created cerebral, groundbreaking and innovative music. To do this, Rick Wakeman pushed musical boundaries in his pursuit of perfection. He came closest on The Six Wives Of Henry VIII, Journey To The Centre Of The Earth and The Myths and Legends Of King Arthur and The Knights Of The Round Table. These albums deserve to be called classics, and are a reminder of Rick Wakeman during his relentless pursuit of perfection. It’s documented on the Rick Wakeman 5 Classic Albums box set, which covers the period between 1972 and 1977. During this period, Rick Wakeman was at his creative zenith, and creating some of the best music of his long and illustrious career.

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Space Rock: An Interstellar Traveller’s Guide.

Over the last few years, there’s been a huge resurgence in popularity in space rock. This has fuelled by the formation of new generation of space rock bands. Groups like Sons Of Hippies, Electric Orange, Yuri Gagarin, The Spacelords, Aqua Nebula Oscillator, Magic Wands, Vibration Eater and Nexatras have introduced space rock to a new generation of music fans. After hearing these bands, many music fans have decided to investigate the origins of space rock.

What would’ve made this voyage of discovery much easier, was if newcomers to space rock could buy a box set featuring some of the genre’s finest exponents. Now they can. Cleopatra Records released six disc box set Space Rock: An Interstellar Traveler’s Guide. This is the perfect starting place for newcomers to space rock. It allows newcomers to space rock to discover the delights  of some of the most popular space rock groups. This includes Hawkwind, Gong, Nik Turner, Ozric Tentacles and Omega. They’re joined by Gilli Smith, Daevid Allen Weird Quartet and even William Shatner and Alice Cooper. The new generation of space rockers are also well represented, with Aqua Nebula Oscillator, Electric Orange, Magic Wands, Nexatras, Sons Of Hippies, The Spacelords, Vibration Eater and Yuri Gagarin all making a welcome appearance. So do a number of  groups whose space rock credentials are sure to be challenged.

Among the bands on Space Rock: An Interstellar Traveler’s Guide are a number of Krautrock groups. This is a is regarded by some as a catch-all category where a wide variety of groups are brought under the one musical umbrella. Some of these bands aren’t Krautrock bands in the true sense of the word. However, Can, Tangerine Dream, Faust, Popol Vuh, Guru Guru, Amon Düül II and  Nektar have all been previously categorised as Krautrock bands. Other music fans may well disagree, and define their music differently, including space rock. 

Similarly, some of the music on Space Rock: An Interstellar Traveler’s Guide may be perceived as progressive rock. Others can be defined as avant-garde, Berlin School, electronica, experimental or psychedelia. That may well be the case. Despite that, there’s an element of space rock on each of the seventy-three tracks on Space Rock: An Interstellar Traveler’s Guide. 

Many of the bands in the box set combine several different genres. This includes everything from avant-garde, Berlin School, doom metal, electronica, experimental, free jazz, Krautrock, progressive rock,  psychedelia and of course space rock. With several musical genres being combined by bands on the one song, many music fans will struggle to define the musical genre that they’re listening to. Some may even disagree with the use of words space rock on some of the tracks. However, on nearly every track, there’s at least a hint of space rock. That’s the case throughout Space Rock: An Interstellar Traveler’s Guide.

For newcomers to space rock, then Cleopatra Records’ six CD box set, Space Rock: An Interstellar Traveler’s Guide is good starting point. It might result in a voyage of discovery through the history of space rock. Similiarly, Space Rock: An Interstellar Traveler’s Guide could be the start of lifelong love affair with space rock. Espeically, for those yet to discover the delights of space rock. For them, Space Rock: An Interstellar Traveler’s Guide box set is everything you wanted to know about space rock, but were too afraid to ask.

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The Krautrock and Progressive Box Set

Looking back with the benefit of hindsight, the late-sixties was the start of a golden age for music. It continued right through the seventies. During this period, some of the most important music ever recorded was released. This included countless classic albums. These classic albums ranged from classic rock, psychedelia, heavy rock, pop and even soul. That’s not forgetting two often misunderstood genres, progressive rock and Krautrock. 

Despite being somewhat misunderstood, progressive rock was one of the most popular genres from the late-sixties through to the end of the seventies. That was the case in North America, Europe and especially in Britain. No wonder. Many of the best  and most successful progressive rock bands were British. This included some of the giants of British progressive rock, Yes, King Crimson, Genesis, Jethro Tull and Emerson Lake and Palmer. Meanwhile, in Germany another misunderstood musical movement was blossoming, Krautrock.

Across Germany, this new musical movement was producing some of the most inventive and innovative music of the seventies. Despite this, much of this music failed to find an audience. This wasn’t helped by many within the music press failing to understand never mind cover the music properly. As a result,  groups like Can, Neu!, Kraftwerk, Tangerine Dream, Amon Düül II, Cluster and Harmonia was largely unknown outside of a small coterie of discerning record buyers.

It was only much later, that Krautrock began to find the audience it so richly deserves. Since then, it’s grown in popularity. Still, though, most people know very little about Krautrock, and can only name a few bands. It’s a similar case with progressive rock, with many people able to name some of the genre’s giants. After that, they start to struggle. What they need is an introduction to progressive rock and Krautrock. That’s what the Music Brokers label released last year. The Krautrock and Progressive Rock Box Set was  a mammoth six CD set that features fifty-nine tracks. This includes  many well known names. However, don’t expect to find the aforementioned giants of Krautrock or progressive rock.

Instead, progressive rock are represented by Steve Hackett, Atomic Rooster, GTR, Gong, Van Der Graaf Generator, Third Ear Band, Anthony Philips, Blonde On Blonde and Hawkwind. Krautrock is represented by Annexus Quam, Birth Control, Cosmic Jokers Hölderlin, Embryo, Mythos and Sergius Golowin. They were part of the burgeoning Krautrock movement, and far too often, their music is often overlooked. That wasn’t the case on The Krautrock and Progressive Rock Box Set.

It show a very different side to the Krautrock of Can, Cluster, Harmonia, Kraftwerk and Neu! These are the groups that most people are familiar with. That’s no surprise, as they’re Krautrock royalty. This is just the tip of the Krautrock iceberg. There’s much more to discover. It’s a similar case with progressive rock. Most music fans know Yes, King Crimson, Genesis, Jethro Tull and Emerson Lake and Palmer. However, they may not have heard of many of the bands on The Krautrock and Progressive Rock Box Set. They’ve been missing out on a huge amount of groundbreaking music. Now is the perfect opportunity to discover or rediscover this music. Especially for newcomers who want an introduction to Krautrock and progressive. The perfect place to start is  The Krautrock and Progressive Rock Box Set.

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Yes-Tales From Topographic Oceans.

Little did Jon Anderson realise when he started reading Paramahansa Yogananda’s Autobiography Of A Yogi that it would inspire Yes’ next album. That was until he came across  a lengthy footnote that described four bodies of Hindu texts, which collectively, were known as shastras. Soon, Jon Anderson was fascinated by these compressive treatises. They dealt with all aspect of religious and social life, plus subjects like law, medicine, architecture and art.  Having read about the four shastras, Jon Anderson began to contemplate a four part album based on the four shastras. This became Topographic Oceans,  Yes’ sixth album. It was released on December 7th 1973. Just over forty-three years later, Tales From Topographic Oceans was reissued by Panegyric as two CD and two DVD set. 

Steven Wilson remixed Tales From Topographic Oceans on the two CDs. The DVDs are mixed in 5.1 Lossless Surround with extra track mixed from original multi-track sources. There’s also the new 2016 Album mix and a flat transfer of the original version of Tales From Topographic Oceans. Both mixes are in high resolution stereo. As an added bonus, there’s alternate version of Tales From Topographic Oceans, single edits and exclusive audio extras. Quite simply, this is one of the most comprehensive releases of Tales From Topographic Oceans.

The reissue of Tales From Topographic Oceans is a reminder of a true classic album.Tales From Topographic Oceans was a groundbreaking album that was way of ahead of its time. It was only later that people began to understand and cherish what was a ambitious, complex and innovative album. Yes took as their starting point progressive rock, but added elements of avant-garde, folk-rock, jazz and psychedelia. This was the start of what was a captivating musical adventure. 

It comprises four lengthy suites that are complex and multilayered. Genres melt into one during these musical soundscapes. They feature a myriad of  Eastern themes and sounds. The music is cerebral, ruminative and sometimes, atmospheric, beautiful and dramatic as the arrangements ebb and flow. Seamlessly, there’s changes in time signature as the one part of the suite gives way to the next. Constantly, nuances, subtitles and surprises unfold as the rich musical landscape changes, and a classic album unfolds. It’s testament to the vision and imagination of Jon Anderson and also Steve Howe. 

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That’s the story of the best box sets of 2016.  These box sets range from lovingly curated, luxurious, limited editions to budget box sets. There’s something for everyone and every budget. Similarly, just about every genre is represented in the list of best box sets of 2016 list. Everything from classic rock, Nordic Wave, pop progressive rock to Berlin School, jazz, Krautrock and space rock can be found on the list. They’re an eclectic selection of box sets.

Sone of the box sets on the list are hidden gems, and have been overlooked. Especially Space Rock: An Interstellar Traveler’s Guide and The Krautrock and Progressive Rock Box Set. Both are crammed full of groundbreaking music, and would be a welcome addition to any music collection. The same can be said about every box set on the list. The features many a musical pioneer who pushed musical boundaries to their limited, and in the process, wrote their way into musical history. Their music deserves to finds its way onto the list of the best box sets of 2016.

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