Here are the most notable box sets of the season in rock and pop:
Earth Wind & Fire, “The Columbia Masters” (Columbia/Legacy, $160): Though they had a string of hits in the ‘70s, this horn-powered R&B group remains underrated against the more celebrated legacies of funk contemporaries such as Parliament-Funkadelic and
Pink Floyd, “Discovery” (EMI, $179): Remastered versions of all 14 Floyd studio albums. For every masterwork (the Syd Barrett-led “The Piper at the Gates of Dawn,” “The Dark Side of the Moon,” “Wish You Were Here”) there are clinkers (
U2, “Achtung Baby” Super Deluxe Edition (Mercury Records, $136): It wasn’t until the tour that followed the 1991 release of “Achtung Baby” where the album fully began to make sense to diehard fans. Some never forgave the Irish quartet for abandoning the anthemic guitar roar of its ‘80s hits, but countless more came on board – thrilled by what is still the finest arena tour of the last two decades. Part of the enhanced appeal was the visuals, the way the band integrated media with music to deepen meaning and context. So it makes sense that “Achtung Baby” would get the sensory overload of a box set loaded with four CDs of outtakes and remixes, four DVDs (including a complete 1993 concert with countless rapturous moments, including a virtual duet with a decaying video of
Various artists, “City Sounds: Step 1 – Berlin” (Naïve, $64): A must for new-music buffs, this box presents a recent musical history of a city that both breeds and attracts innovators. It divides their accomplishments into six discrete, well-sequenced CDs, from the ‘70s electronic glide of Harmonia and the ‘80s new wave of
Various artists, "Boddie Recording Company: Cleveland, Ohio" (Numero Group, $50): When it comes to documenting the hidden corners of American music, nobody does it better than Chicago-based Numero Group. This three-CD set is another beautifully packaged example of scholarship and curation, making the case that Cleveland's legacy of soul and gospel at least belongs in the conversation with its better-known Midwestern neighbors in Chicago and Detroit. None of these artists ever became famous -- "a Who's Who of 'who's that?' " as the liner notes aptly declare -- and Boddie went out of business nearly two decades ago, barely a blip in the city's musical lore. But many of these eccentric shots in the wilderness and determined, give-their-all one-offs sound astonishingly vital.
The Who, “Quadrophenia” Director’s Cut (Polydor, $126): The 1973 rock opera is repackaged yet again, the double-album supplemented by two discs of