Boxed set CD heaven - Sabbath, Garcia, Depeche
Hard-core fans love boxed sets. Generally, they include more material than fans could ever get just buying the band's albums. Following are three gems for complete fans of Black Sabbath, Jerry Garcia and Depeche Mode.
Fans of the original Black Sabbath lineup, featuring Ozzy Osbourne, who have never converted their early vinyl copies of the band's albums to CD, can now get a nice Warner Bros. and Rhino Records package that puts the band's first eight albums all together in The Black Box: the Complete Original Black Sabbath 1970 to 1978. The nicely packaged tall boxed set includes two smaller boxes that each hold four cardboard-cased albums, as well as a velvet-covered book outlining the band's early history, and including the album lyrics.
The book also includes a five-song DVD recording of the band performing live versions of "Black Sabbath," "Paranoid," "Iron Man" and "Blue Suede Shoes." Aside from one extra — the 1970 non-studio LP track "Evil Woman" — the albums are presented without bonus tracks. Included are Black Sabbath, Paranoid, Master of Reality, Vol. 4, Sabbath Bloody Sabbath, Sabotage, Technical Ecstasy and Never Say Die!
Grateful Dead fans can fulfill their completist Jerry Garcia craving with All Good Things: Jerry Garcia Studio Sessions.
The six-CD box includes his solo studio albums Garcia, Garcia [Compliments], Reflections, Cats Under the Stars, Run for the Roses, and a disc of Outtakes, Jams & Alternates (which includes covers of the Rolling Stones' "Let's Spend the Night Together" and Warren Zevon's "Accidentally Like a Martyr," among other things).
Each of the regular albums includes a plethora of bonus tracks. The set also includes a thick booklet of color pictures and historical notes on the late Grateful Dead leader's career.
Who can pass up a boxed set collection containing 36 CDs?
Well, fans of Depeche Mode shouldn't. Reprise/Mute Records has reissued all of the band's singles, from 1981 to 2001, in six tidy, consecutively labeled boxes each containing (do the math) six thin CD singles, seven numbered, from 1-36.
The first three boxes, containing singles one1 to 18, were previously released in 1991, and include the band's formative, seminal material. Box one includes the singles from the band's first two albums, Speak and Spell and A Broken Frame, starting with the band's early spartan techno pop experiments masterminded by Vince Clarke (who would go on to form Yaz and Erasure).
The electronic mood of Depeche Mode changed slightly in 1982 with single No. 4, when synthesist Martin Gore took control of the writing and Clarke moved on to form Yaz.
The band began to catch some attention with its third album, Construction Time Again in 1983 and its No. 8 single, "Everything Counts." But it was with its darker-toned fourth album and 10th single that the band finally caught fire.
Box No. 3 covers the albums Singles 8185, Black Celebration and Music For The Masses, including the singles "Shake The Disease," "It's Called a Heart" and "A Question of Lust." But it was with the Music For the Masses singles collected in Boxed Set #4 that returned Depeche Mode to the pop charts in 1987 with "Strangelove" and "Never Let Me Down Again."
Both of these singles found the band with an evolved "big" sound in place (occasionally sounding a bit like peers Tears For Fears), a far cry from the bleeping tones of their early work. This fully developed layered mix of synthesizers, pianos and guitar would propel them to their biggest hits on their next studio album, Violator in 1990. "Personal Jesus" and "Enjoy The Silence," two of the biggest singles of the band's career round out Box #4.
Box #5 continues through the band's mega-hit period with the singles "Policy of Truth," "World In My Eyes," "I Feel You," "Walking in My Shoes," "Condemnation," and "In Your Room."
The final box in the series offers four singles from 1997's Ultra, "Barrel of a Gun," "It's No Good," "Home," and "Useless," a single from their hit collection Singles 8698 and "Dream On," the single from their last studio album, 2001's Exciter.
Because the singles are all in small jewelcases, they do not reproduce the back cover art of the original singles, but they do include the front cover art reproductions. The running order of songs is also not always the same, though all of the original single material is included.
For fans who still have many of the early singles on vinyl only, this set is a treasure trove.