The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

12 April 2007

Five rules for a great box set

Courtesy of the Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons Enthusiasts and Historical Society of the United Kingdom:

  1. A great set should have all the hits.

  2. A great set should have value added for fans who have earlier collections.

  3. A great set should represent the full spectrum of a group's styles and the complete range of its experimentation.

  4. A great set should cover a group's entire career.

  5. A great set should have great liner notes.

Of the boxes I have, the one that hews closest to this particular line is Phil Spector's Back to Mono 1958-1969 box, issued by Abkco back in the Pleistocene era (okay, 1991) for an appalling $80 list and now widely available for about a quarter of that. (Disclosure: I paid $65 for mine.) Departures from perfection: the essays by David Hinckley and Tom Wolfe (yes!) are seriously readable, but while they capture Phil, they give the actual music semi-short shrift — and would it have been so hard to toss in just one of the infamous throwaway B-sides like "Tedesco and Pitman"?

Oh, and the sound is kinda fuzzy, and, as per the title, mono only. (Then again, Spector's bounce-and-keep-bouncing recording technique doesn't lend itself particularly well to stereo mixing, though most of the hits did appear somewhere in stereo at one time or another.) And yes, Spector made records throughout the Seventies, but they were either (1) remarkably unsuccessful for some reason or (2) done on behalf of various Beatles and therefore not available for a compilation.

Nominations for Great Box Sets will of course be happily accepted.

Posted at 6:44 PM to Listing to One Side , Tongue and Groove