The holiday season is always full of awesome box sets for fans of classic rock, and 2013 is no different. Our friends at Universal Music have a number of strong sets up for sale, so I’m cherry-picking two for you today.
The first comes The Who, one of the leading British invasion bands of the 60s, but a group that never quite mastered the art of the album until 1969 and the release of their classic double record, Tommy. A concept album about a deaf, dumb and blind pinball wizard, Tommy managed to combine an interesting story with strong songs and powerful playing. The album has been reissued multiple times over the course of the past two decades, but the newest collection is likely the definitive word.
Four discs are included in this set – the original album, a disc of mainly unreleased Pete Townshend demos, a disc of live versions, and the album in a 5.1 Surround Sound mix. The discs are housed in a large, hardcover book that essentially tells the story of Tommy very nicely. When it comes to The Who, there are four albums you need in your collection, with Tommy topping the list (for the record, the others, imho, are Live At Leeds, Who’s Next and Quadrophenia, which has already received the deluxe treatment). If you know a casual fan, there’s a two disc version you can grab them, but for the die-hard Who fan in your life, their eyes will pop out of their heads if they find the deluxe edition underneath the tree this year.
Another must-have this holiday season is The Band: Live At The Academy of Music, which expands and improves upon the group’s seminal 1972 live album, Rock of Ages. The four cd/1 DVD collection features versions of every song the group recorded during their 1971 run in NYC the last week of 1971; the first two discs feature a Bob Clearmountain mix of songs from various nights, while the third and fourth discs capture a “soundboard” style recording of the New Year’s Eve 1971 show, complete with encores featuring Bob Dylan. The DVD features a few rare videos from the shows, along with the majority of the New Year’s Eve gig in surround sound. One of the great groups of any era, Live At The Academy of Music stands as an amazing testament to the legacy of the band. While there is some repetition between the discs, the sound and vibe between the various discs offer great rewards upon repeat listening.