Once again, the season of giving is upon us and fans of classic rock music will have much to celebrate. This year was dominated by anniversary box sets from some of the biggest artists of all time. Leading the way of must have gifts is the 50th anniversary release of The Beatles iconic album, "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band." This new 4CD/DVD/Blu-Ray box set not only contains a new remix of the album, done by Giles Martin (son of George Martin), but the box set also comes with two full CDs of outtakes from the album sessions. The quality of these studio outtakes is amazing and Giles Martin does a stellar job breathing new life into this 50 year old masterpiece. Plus, along with the four discs of music, you get a hardcover book that talks about the sessions and what went into the creation of each song on the album. Many other pinnacle albums celebrated their 50th anniversary this year with box sets (The Doors, Rolling Stones), but none were more impressive than The Beatles' "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band."
While 1967 was a magical year in music, so was 1987 as two historic albums were released that year and each one received a 30th anniversary box set for fans to dive into. The band, U2 were still on the rise, when they released their breakthrough album "The Joshua Tree" in 1987. The album spawned six singles (two hitting #1 on the charts) and took U2 from performing in theaters to large venue arenas and stadiums. The band, along with Universal Music, released a 4CD or 7LP box set that included a remastered version of the album, an unreleased live show from that tour and two discs worth of outtakes, B-sides and rarities. Fans will also appreciate the wonderful book of photos that accompanies this box set.
Another major release that year was Def Leppard's album "Hysteria." The album would go on to sell over 12 million copies in the U.S. alone and distribute 7 hit singles that are still being played in concert 30 years later. A new 5CD/2DVD box set was released this past summer that simply made fans drool. A newly remastered version of the album was joined by a live, two disc set "In Your Face, In The Round," which was recorded in 1988 in Denver, CO. The final two discs in the set, collects all of released remixes and B-sides. The two DVDs include music videos, live shots and the VH1 documentary "Behind The Music."
One final box set that has become a yearly event is Bob Dylan's "Bootleg Series." This year marks volume 13 and focuses on his controversial Christianity period from 1979 to 1981. The new 9-disc (8CD/1DVD) set includes 100 previously unreleased live and studio recordings, including 14 unreleased songs. In that time period from 1979 to 1981, Bob Dylan released 3 albums that centered around his faith and the bible. This new eight-disc set features two discs of mixed live songs and two discs of rare, unreleased music from that period. The remaining discs contain two complete live shows from Toronto in 1980 and Earl's Court in London in 1981. A very special DVD is included and contains a newly created documentary titled "Trouble No More - A Musical Film," which follows Dylan on tour in 1980. Now, if these massive box sets are out of your price range this holiday season, don’t be upset, they also have 2CD and 3CD condensed versions for you to appreciate.
A new rising trend that has been happening is the release of more live albums. A few of the live albums that need to be on your Christmas list this year is David Gilmour's "Live At Pompeii,” Bob Marley's "Live!" and Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats “Live At Red Rock.” Last year, David Gilmour returned to Pompeii (he played there with Pink Floyd in 1971) to perform live in front of an audience. It was the first time that live performances in front of a crowd was permitted in almost 2,000 years. Gilmour knew this was a special occasion and captured the moment in high-definition on Blu-ray, DVD and on CD. As Gilmour mixes in Pink Floyd classics with songs from his latest studio album "Rattle That Lock" you will certainly fall in love with this timeless music all over again.
A newly released deluxe edition of Bob Marley And The Wailers "Live!" album features both shows from the band’s 1975 performance at the Lyceum Theatre. Originally this was released on vinyl in 1975 and now both shows are available for the first time on vinyl and on CD. If this isn’t enough Bob Marley for you, Voyageur Press recently published a new book titled "Bob Marley And The Wailers - The Ultimate Illustrated History." It features over 300 photos and follows the life of Bob Marley and The Wailers, including original Wailers Peter Tosh and Bunny Livingston. This is a great history lesson into how the world discovered reggae music through Bob Marley and The Wailers.
Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats have been riding the wave of success since the release of their 2015 self-titled studio album. Last year they cobbled together some outtake and live songs for the EP “A Little Something More From” and now this holiday season, the band will release their first live album, “Live From Red Rocks.” This single CD release will give fans insight into the band phenomenal live performance as they headlined their first tour in 2016. The highlight of the set is the band’s closing number, a rousing performance of Sam Cooke’s “Having A Party.”
The holiday season is also a time for greatest hits compilations and one of the top releases this year is Elton John's "Diamonds." It was released in a number of formats including a 3CD set, a 2CD set, a 1CD set and as a 2LP gatefold vinyl. The 2CD set contains 34 tracks from throughout Elton John's entire career right up to his last studio album "Wonderful Crazy Night." The limited edition 3CD boxset includes the same two discs as in the 2CD set along with a third disc of Elton's favorites and a 72-page hardcover book that contains stories about each song in the set. This will be a must have for any Elton John fan this Christmas season.
So this was just a quick run-down of some options for the music fan in your life. I hope that this was informative and please check out my music blog at jpsmusicblog.blogspot.com for album and concert reviews all year round.