Presley, Dylan, Stones Top Last-Minute List for Christmas Boxes

Tap for Slideshow
Source: Sony Legacy via Bloomberg

The cover of "The Complete Elvis Presley Masters." It has more than 814 recordings including 103 rarities on 30 CDs over 35 hours with a 240 page book and a price tag of about $749.

Close
Source: Sony Legacy via Bloomberg

The cover of "The Complete Elvis Presley Masters." It has more than 814 recordings including 103 rarities on 30 CDs over 35 hours with a 240 page book and a price tag of about $749. Close

The cover of "The Complete Elvis Presley Masters." It has more than 814 recordings including 103 rarities on 30 CDs... Read More

Source: Columbia via Bloomberg

The cover of "Bob Dylan: The Original Mono Recordings" presents Dylan's first eight albums on CD in their pristine form. Close

The cover of "Bob Dylan: The Original Mono Recordings" presents Dylan's first eight albums on CD in their pristine form.

Source: Shorefire/Columbia Records via Bloomberg

The cover art of "The Promise: The Darkness on the Edge of Town Story" box set by Bruce Springsteen comes in a spiral-bound notebook. Close

The cover art of "The Promise: The Darkness on the Edge of Town Story" box set by Bruce Springsteen comes in a spiral-bound notebook.

Source: Sony Legacy via Bloomberg

"The Genius of Miles Davis'' box set. The limited-edition set has 43 CDs, trumpet mouthpiece and T-shirt housed in an actual trumpet case. The box contains Columbia studio recordings as well as others for ``In a Silent Way,'' ``Bitches Brew,'' ``Jack Johnson'' and ``On the Corner.'' Close

"The Genius of Miles Davis'' box set. The limited-edition set has 43 CDs, trumpet mouthpiece and T-shirt housed in an... Read More

Source: Sony Legacy via Bloomberg

The cover of "Michael Jackson's Vision," a 3-DVD box set. The cover has hologram pictures from the star's videos, and is the first complete collection of all the short films produced by Jackson. Close

The cover of "Michael Jackson's Vision," a 3-DVD box set. The cover has hologram pictures from the star's videos, and... Read More

Source: EMI Music via Bloomberg

The "John Lennon Signature Box." The set contains 11 CDs covering the singer-songwriter's solo career, released to mark what would have been his 70th birthday. The $151.99 collection contains an art print and essays by Yoko Ono, Sean and Julian Lennon. Close

The "John Lennon Signature Box." The set contains 11 CDs covering the singer-songwriter's solo career, released to... Read More

Source: Sony Legacy via Bloomberg

Elvis Presley's "The Complete Elvis Presley Masters'' runs more than 35 hours and is suitably king-size. Close

Elvis Presley's "The Complete Elvis Presley Masters'' runs more than 35 hours and is suitably king-size.

Source: Sony Legacy/Columbia Records via Bloomberg

Bob Dylan's “The Original Mono Recordings” costs $130. Close

Bob Dylan's “The Original Mono Recordings” costs $130.

Source: Sony Legacy via Bloomberg

Trumpeter Miles Davis. Close

Trumpeter Miles Davis.

Photographer: Frank Stefanko/ Shorefire Media via Bloomberg

Bruce Springsteen poses with a Corvette sports car. The photo was taken when Springsteen was working on a follow up to "Born to Run." Springsteen's 2010 album "The Promise" contains tracks recorded in 1977-78. Close

Bruce Springsteen poses with a Corvette sports car. The photo was taken when Springsteen was working on a follow up... Read More

Photographer: Brian Duffy/St. James Gallery via Bloomberg

John Lennon. The former Beatle was shot dead in 1980, at age 40. Close

John Lennon. The former Beatle was shot dead in 1980, at age 40.

Source: EMI Music via Bloomberg

The cover art of "Power to the People: the Hits" by John Lennon. The CD is a new greatest-hits collection by John Lennon, and contains many of the former Beatle's best-known solo songs. Close

The cover art of "Power to the People: the Hits" by John Lennon. The CD is a new greatest-hits collection by John... Read More

Source: Columbia Records via Bloomberg

``The Promise,'' an album by Bruce Springsteen, shows its creator with a $2,000 Ford he bought for a 1970s tour. The CD, released in Nov. 2010, has 21 tracks recorded between his albums ``Born to Run'' and ``Darkness on the Edge of Town.'' Close

``The Promise,'' an album by Bruce Springsteen, shows its creator with a $2,000 Ford he bought for a 1970s tour. The... Read More

Source: Sony Legacy via Bloomberg

"The Complete Elvis Presley Masters." has more than 814 recordings, including 103 rarities on 30 CDs over 35 hours, with a 240 page book and a price tag of about $749. Close

"The Complete Elvis Presley Masters." has more than 814 recordings, including 103 rarities on 30 CDs over 35 hours,... Read More

Fans of Elvis Presley, Miles Davis, Bob Dylan, John Lennon and the Rolling Stones know what to put at the top of their wish lists this Christmas.

Multidisc box sets from each of the stars will provide hours of listening through the holiday season, if not into the New Year. For those who are disappointed by Santa’s presents, there’s consolation in that some of the wallet-busting prices will drop in the post-Christmas sales.

“The Complete Elvis Presley Masters” (RCA/Legacy) runs to more than 35 hours and is suitably king-size (after a few turkey and peanut butter sandwiches maybe). On the plus side, it has more than 800 tracks, including some of the finest in rock, and 100 rarities, making it a must for Elvis completists. On the negative side, it contains dross (“Froggy Went A Courtin’, Rehearsal Jam”). More songs are being found each year as albums are released in new editions, so it won’t be comprehensive for long. Rating: ***. The first edition, at $749, is getting hard to find, though a second edition is in the works for January 2011. There are shorter Presley box sets such as the four-CD “Elvis 75” (Sony) $40, which cherry-picks well. Rating ****.

“The Genius of Miles Davis” 43-CD set (Columbia/Legacy) also costs $749. This pulls together eight earlier box sets, now getting tough to find, covering Davis’s best Columbia period. The plus point is the exceptional package in a trumpet case, with a T-shirt and a replica of Miles’s mouthpiece. Rating: ***. There are better and cheaper sets available, such as last year’s 70-CD “The Complete Columbia Album Collection” (Sony), which some online retailers now price at about $240. Rating: ****.

“The Original Mono Recordings” by Dylan (Columbia/Sony Legacy) costs $130 and does what it says in the prosaic title. The set presents his first eight albums on CD in their pristine form. Without the fake stereo effects, the words shine, much as they did on “The Beatles in Mono” set in 2009. Rating: ****.

“The Rolling Stones 1964-1969” and “The Rolling Stones 1971-2005” (Universal) are the equally unimaginatively titled box sets of the better Stones albums -- all presented in their original vinyl form. Expect to pay about $310 and $419, respectively, and get in return 23 studio LPs, two “Big Hits” collections and two rare EPs. Rating: ***.

“Signature Box” (EMI) is the Lennon contribution to the box-set melee: 11 CDs priced about $150. The set has everything from bleak masterpieces such as “Isolation,” not recommended at Christmas, to “Happy Xmas (War is Over),” which is only bearable at this time of year. Rating: ***½.

Apple Records Box Set” (Capitol) is $330 or less: a replica fruit crate containing 17 discs by artists chosen by the Beatles for the band’s record label. James Taylor’s eponymous LP and classical composer John Tavener have big potential, while some of the rest (Billy Preston, Badfinger, Mary Hopkin) simply cast light on the Fab Four’s passing enthusiasms. Rating: **.

Sandy Denny Deluxe Box Set” (Universal, $350) pulls together recordings by the British folk-rock singer, whose sweet voice boosted Fairport Convention and Fotheringay. “Who Knows Where the Time Goes” is one of the best songs of its era, though seven versions will be too much for some. Rating: **½.

Also recommended: Bruce Springsteen: “The Promise: The Darkness on the Edge of Town Story” (Columbia, $100, rating ***½); “Michael Jackson’s Vision” (Epic/Legacy, $40, rating ***½); Jimi Hendrix, “West Coast Seattle Boy” (Experience Hendrix/Legacy, $70, rating ***.)

What the Stars Mean:
****       Excellent
***        Good
**         Average
*          Poor
(No stars) Worthless

(Mark Beech writes for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. The opinions expressed are his own.)

To contact the writer on the story: Mark Beech in London at mbeech@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Manuela Hoelterhoff at mhoelterhoff@bloomberg.net.

Bloomberg reserves the right to remove comments but is under no obligation to do so, or to explain individual moderation decisions.

Please enable JavaScript to view the comments powered by Disqus.