Luxury Box Sets
With the recent renewed interest in vinyl, the record labels have started to sit up and take notice. As opposed to the interest in the early 90's which came from DJs, the recent interest seems to have come from a different market or markets.
People who buy for nostalgia reasons. They used to buy records and are returning to their youth.
Audiophiles. People who buy them for the excellent sound quality they offer.
Physical Appeal. With the onslaught of digital downloads there is a certain reaction and draw to the most obvious manifestation of music on physical media. People may download music some of these people also want to hold the most attractive format of this same music.
All of these markets therefore offer a certain incentive to the record companies to produce the highest quality releases of music on vinyl and in the most lavish packaging possible.
I'm just going to go through a couple of such box sets.
Warner has been one of the major protagonists here both with their main label and their specialist label Rhino.
Cream recently held a reunion concert in the Royal Albert Hall and released the recording of same on a luxury CD/DVD set. They decided to do the same for vinyl. The luxury embossed green box holds three high quality 180g records in their own unique picture sleeves, lovingly cared for by their inner plastic lined paper sleeves. WHile the recording was digital the music has been lovingly transferred to vinyl by Stan Ricker and sounds pretty damn good. Apparently this box now sellsfor 100s of US dollars. The box also kindly includes a print of the cover for you to presumably hang on your wall. Sadly no DVD is included. But there is some bubblewrap!
Warner also released the entire output of the Travelling Wilburys on another luxury box. This time through Rhino.
This really is beautiful presentation. Its actually a canvas covered box witha big sticker of the Wilbury's logo on the front. Inside the box we have three high quality 180g records pressed at RTI. These include the two original albums, Vol.s 1 & 3 and a third EP of unreleased tracks unique to this package. Honestly, there's nothing here that's essential. The music was digitally remastered for this box but doesn't sound noticeable inferior to the original albums which had that dry Jeff Lynne sound. Again the CD package came with a DVD which is not included here. You do however also get a poster, a glossy 12" soft booklet and a setof B&W postcards in their own envelope. This box set really is gorgeous. There's a also a large colour photo of the band inside the top cover.
Nick Drake – Fruit Tree
Island recently reissued the much in demand Fruit tree compilation of Nick Drake's three studio albums. At a very decent price this box set includes the three albums nicely presented in their original covers with a bonus DVD, all enclosed ina new version of the fruit tree artwork. Sadly the 180g pressings are from a digital master and on inferior vinyl from Eastern Europe. It also does not include the 4th LP of outtakes and unreleased recordings that was issued in later Fruit Tree boxes from the 80's, Time of no reply.
Unkle – War Stories
James Lavelle, half of Unkle and founder of legendary trip-hop label, Mo'Wax has alsways been a fan of vinyl and of lavish packaging. Early copies of the very reasonably priced War Stories came in stunning packaging. An outer heavy card slipcase encompasses the inner packaging which opens up like a book and indeed combines a picture book into the packaging. The records themselves are high quality pressings and are contained in an envelope within this inner packaging each in their own inner picture sleeve. There is a later less lavish pressing of this set also. If you can, seek out the original and buy it. The sound quality is also excellent, albeit digital.
Sigur Ros – A Frozen Sea
Sigur Ros albums on vinyl have been fetching silly prices on Ebay in recent years, up to an including the, itself lavishly packaged, Takk triple LP. No doubt sensing an opportunity they decide to release all their albums in a lavish book set with a bonus 12" thrown in. The resulyt was a Frozen Sea. A book style edition which included 7 12" records and a large picture book all with unique artwork. It looks gorgeous. However the vinyl pressings are not great. Despite being 180g they contain quite a lot of surface noise. The price for this is outrageous and teh overall quality does not feel that high, either for the choice of card and paper and the vinyl. Also at the price they really should have included the DVD available in another edition. Released on the strange 'Artists in Residence' imprint it really just feels like a cynical money making exercise.
Cristina Aquilera – Back to Basics
Surprising enough to have a vinyl copy of a Christina Aquilera album, even more surprising is the attention to detail that BMG offered on this release. It is simply gorgeous. Its styled like an old fashioned 'album' from teh 78rpm days. It opens up like a book with each of the three records contained in separate cardboard leaves of the book. Each record has a retro gold label and amongst the soft erotic photos of Christina are photos of her listening to records on an old Gramophone. The music itself has been mastered in such a way as to make it unlistenable. I guess this is what the kids want nowadays! 😉
That's it for now. I might add in more later on. If you have any you'd like to talk about why don't you tell us in the forum.