Last-Minute Gift Alert: The Season In Music Box Sets

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Fans of Roxy Music will have a chance to hear the band's early records in unprecedented high fidelity, thanks to the release of a new collector's box.

They pop up every year and come out of the woodwork just before the holidays: those expansive and expensive collectors' packages that mine every corner of a musician's back catalog. The box set, says critic Tom Moon, is "a lavish production that's geared to the completist: someone who just has to have every last morsel of music from an artist." Here, Moon tells NPR's Melissa Block why three new collections are worth your attention.

Music Nerd Gift Alert: The Season In Box Sets

  • Roxy Music, 'The Complete Studio Recordings'

    Roxy Music: The Complete Studio Recordings
    EMI

    "[This set is] a chance to reappraise Roxy Music. They were never really loved in the U.S. the way they were in the rest of the world — and yet, very influential, one of the great art rock bands of all time. The early Roxy Music records, and they go back to the early '70s, were never properly transferred to compact disc — so, the initial Roxy Music CD issues were, in my opinion, terrible. They were gunky. They didn't have any of the sort of sonic flair that was so important to the band. [Roxy Music was] a pioneering band in terms of their sound, and we don't really hear that until this set."

  • Johnny Cash, 'The Complete Columbia Album Collection'

    Johnny Cash: The Complete Columbia Album Collection
    Legacy

    "[Johnny Cash was] incredibly prolific. Country music, at that time, was a cycle where you almost always had to have new products, so there were probably years where he recorded three or four records, and they all came out in the period of that year. But you see him do a lot of live records, there's a lot of gospel music in this collection, some of which is just sparkling."

  • Tito Puente, 'Quatro: The Definitive Collection'

    Tito Puente, 'Quatro: The Definitive Collection'
    Sony Latin

    "Where [with] Johnny Cash we get a long sweep of time, with Tito Puente it's very short. ... The creative heyday of his career, I think, starts in 1956 with a record called Cuban Carnival, and goes through to 1960. It's the period where his band becomes the leading dance band in Latin music, and he's also exploring big band ideas and orchestration stuff that takes his band out of the dance mode, and becomes more exploratory. The other thing that's amazing about this set is it sort of fleshes out the impression we have of him. Everyone knows him as a timbale player — he was a percussion master — but he also played wonderful vibraphone and made some of the great arrangements that are on these records."

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