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Remembering The Box Set Friday, November 14, 2008

#1 User is offline   Chefelf Icon

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Posted 14 November 2008 - 01:42 PM

Remembering The Box Set

I was looking through some various discographies the other day and something struck me as rather amusing: The CD Box Set. I was never much of a fan of the Box Set. Certainly they were quite popular 10-15 years ago but I always found them annoying. I always liked to preserve albums in the original way the artist intended. I generally didn't like Greatest Hits albums for the same reason. As we move well into the MP3 Age it doesn't really seem to matter anymore except that if you have any box sets in your playlist it can crowd your music with duplicate songs and a messy chronology. "I didn't know that Led Zeppelin's Dyer Maker was released in 1991!"

As I chuckled to myself about box sets yesterday. CDs alone are a tremendous waste of material and space that do nothing but clutter up one's life. Of course that's easy for me to say because it's my parents that have the unlucky honor of storing my CDs for me. I'll grab them one day when I get my own house and then I'll have the privilege of storing them even though I'm never going to use them ever again since I have mp3s of all of them.

Box sets take material and space waste to absurd new levels. After the success of early box sets everyone began jumping on the bandwagon until we had entire box set sections at every CD retailer. The wall was filled giant boxes, some containing as few as two CDs with a tiny four page book with some concert photos. Bands that had no business having a box set popped up having box sets which contained more CDs than albums the band had ever released.

While this wild excess proceeded through much of the 1990's there were still some acts who went for economy and practicality over unnecessary packaging. Take Vanilla Ice and MC Hammer, for example. They were both smart enough to know that the didn't have enough hits to fill their own greatest hits CD so they shared one. I think that may be one of the most beautiful moments in all of music history for both its conservation of resources and its pure comic value.

While having a discussion with my friend/nemesis, K1NGWARREN, yesterday about this very subject (box sets, not the Vanilla ICE/MC Hammer CD) I came across something that shocked my soul. It wasThe Definitive Box Set Collection on Amazon.com.

Retailing at $2,836.98, and boasting 51 CDs (clearly wrong, that would be $55.63 per CD, they must mean 51 box sets) the Definitive Box Set Collection is the epitome of box set insanity. My obvious first reaction was that it must be a joke, however, it's right there. Sure, it's out of stock, but it even has an Amazon sales rank. Apparently only1,238,569 things are currently selling better than this item in the music category.

With the holidays coming up, this is really the best gift for the true music lover. What are the odds that there is anyone who wouldn't love each of those 51 box sets? How is it possible that there would be even one of those sets that one would not be interested in enough to own? It's inconceivable that someone wouldn't simultaneously want box sets from John Denver, Ozzy Osborune, and Duke Ellington.

I'm thinking of moving into a two bedroom apartment so that I can purchase this set and house it in my spare room. Our guests will still have to sleep on the floor in the living room but they'll also have the luxury of being able to read the booklet from Barry Manilow's The Complete Collection while listening to Motorhead's Stone Deaf Forever!


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#2 User is offline   Heccubus Icon

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Posted 15 November 2008 - 09:24 PM

Okay, here's what I love about the "Definitive Box Set Collection". It's the description:
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Whether you're a devoted fan or just discovering these seminal artists, this impressively comprehensive multi-disc collection draws upon the career highlights of musical legends. These retrospectives include rare photographs, chronological histories, previously un-released and/or re-mastered tracks in vibrant packaging.

Okay, no... If you're just discovering these "seminal artists" then get a greatest hits album. Not five of them crammed into one box. And why, for the love of God, did they include three Elvis box sets? Do we really need separate box sets for Elvis and GOSPEL ELVIS? Not to mention three Miles Davis sets, two Neil Diamond sets, three Bob Dylan sets, two Billy Joel sets, or two Springsteen collections? What about T. Rex's "20th Century Boy" boxed set? Led Zeppelin's? Robert Johnson and Leadbelly both have boxed sets, I believe.... Looking at that list, I get the impression that it's just bundling together a bunch of box sets they can't sell off in a desperate bid to clear out their warehouse.
Also, there really isn't any definitive "discovering Pink Floyd" album. Different people like different versions of Pink Floyd. I like the Syd Barrett stuff, a lot of people I know don't. A lot of people go for "Dark Side", a lot go for "The Wall" and some sad individuals are really keen on their later output (ie: the horror that is "The Division Bell"). Just saying "This live box set serves as a suitable introduction to Pink Floyd" is absurd. I've always told people "Just get a few albums and see what ones you like. Everyone who likes Floyd has different tastes in their favourite material by them".

Erg...I'm just rambling out of tiredness. If none of that made sense, I apologize.

This post has been edited by Heccubus: 15 November 2008 - 09:32 PM

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#3 User is offline   J m HofMarN Icon

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Posted 16 November 2008 - 11:47 PM

3000 dollars for a random mix of music and propaganda? I can get my friend to burn me a cd of random shite if I was down for that. Hell, Heccubus offered to do that even. I would like it if this were done in the style of Russian dolls, wherein the boxed set boxed set lets out little boxed sets, and each boxed set has a box of something in it, like poison.

I think we should just start putting our cds in lp covers again so bands can do cool art on them and fit in an extra cd or two if need be.

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#4 User is offline   arien Icon

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Posted 18 November 2008 - 03:36 PM

QUOTE (Chefelf @ Nov 14 2008, 01:42 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
CDs alone are a tremendous waste of material and space that do nothing but clutter up one's life.

They aren't for me, but that's because my car only has a CD player. Other than that, I never use CDs, and they're probably going to stop being made ever since the age of .mp3s.

But I still wish they made more vinyl than they do now.
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Posted 20 November 2008 - 01:47 AM

*gasps*

My Father in law would like that "Definitive Boxed Set" But I highly doubt he'd be willing to pay $3000 on the damn thing.

Now..if it were Beatles...you bet your britches he'd be forking out the cash
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Posted 20 November 2008 - 02:20 AM

The Beatles are a band that's worth just owning all the albums from though, not some "career-spanning" box set. All of the Beatles "best of" collections have been faulted in that they always leave out great singles and album tracks for little to no reason in favour of middling "alternate takes" or unreleased songs like "Free As A Bird" that fall well below the standard set by their available catalog.
If your father-in-law were that gung-ho on the Beatles, I really doubt that he doesn't already own just about everything they've released. Hell, I'm pretty close myself and I'm only 23.

I guess I can admit that some sets DO come with very nice inserts that are enjoyable to flip through. I was given the Ramones Hey Ho! Let's Go! set one year as a gift from someone who knew I owned all of their stuff, but thought I'd appreciate the rather lovely little book that it came with. And while I'm quick to slap 5 stars on it and call it great (I really, really love the Ramones), it's still missing a ton of material that I feel should've been included, such as their comical, stupid-yet-awesomely-fun take on the Spider-man theme song.

This post has been edited by Heccubus: 20 November 2008 - 02:25 AM

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