Pink Floyd Tops Nirvana, Grateful Dead, U2 for Christmas Boxes

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Source: Legacy via Bloomberg.

"Take A Look: Aretha Franklin Complete on Columbia" is a 11-CD, 1-DVD set priced at about $130. The collection covers soul, gospel and blues songS.

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Source: Legacy via Bloomberg.

"Take A Look: Aretha Franklin Complete on Columbia" is a 11-CD, 1-DVD set priced at about $130. The collection covers soul, gospel and blues songS. Close

"Take A Look: Aretha Franklin Complete on Columbia" is a 11-CD, 1-DVD set priced at about $130. The collection covers... Read More

Source: Legacy via Bloomberg

"The Complete Columbia Albums Collection" by Leonard Cohen. The set has 18 discs and sells for about $140. It contains CDs such as "Songs From a Room," "Songs of Love and Hate" and "The Future." Close

"The Complete Columbia Albums Collection" by Leonard Cohen. The set has 18 discs and sells for about $140. It... Read More

Source: Columbia/RPM Records via Bloomberg

"The Complete Collection" by Tony Bennett, a 73-CD, 3-DVD set. The box is available from Bennett's own website or Barnes & Noble for about $400 and marks the star's 85th birthday. Close

"The Complete Collection" by Tony Bennett, a 73-CD, 3-DVD set. The box is available from Bennett's own website or... Read More

Source: Legacy via Bloomberg

"The Philles Album Collection" by Phil Spector. The set collects for the first time the individual records made by the producer's artists during the 1960s. "He's A Rebel," "Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah," "Da Doo Ron Ron" and "Baby I Love You" are all included. Close

"The Philles Album Collection" by Phil Spector. The set collects for the first time the individual records made by... Read More

Source: EMI via Bloomberg

The "Immersion" box set of "Dark Side of the Moon" by Pink Floyd. The set, selling for about $110, includes six discs, a book, a scarf, marbles, coasters and art prints. Close

The "Immersion" box set of "Dark Side of the Moon" by Pink Floyd. The set, selling for about $110, includes six... Read More

Source: RMP via Bloomberg

The "Achtung Baby" Super Deluxe Edition. The set, selling for $130, has 10 discs including "Zooropa," B-sides, demos, videos, a hardback book and 16 art prints. Close

The "Achtung Baby" Super Deluxe Edition. The set, selling for $130, has 10 discs including "Zooropa," B-sides, demos,... Read More

Source: Geffen via Bloomberg

The cover of the 20th anniversary edition of "Nevermind" by Nirvana. The grunge CD has been remastered and now comes in versions with extra tracks and a live performance. Close

The cover of the 20th anniversary edition of "Nevermind" by Nirvana. The grunge CD has been remastered and now comes... Read More

Source: Atlantic via Bloomberg

"Some Girls," a 1978 LP by U.K. band the Rolling Stones, was reissued in 2011 in a new form with 12 bonus tracks and a DVD. The album, starting with "Miss You," came as punk took over rock and is now seen by some critics as one of the group's best from the 1970s. Close

"Some Girls," a 1978 LP by U.K. band the Rolling Stones, was reissued in 2011 in a new form with 12 bonus tracks and... Read More

Source: EMI via Bloomberg.

The "Smile" box set by the Beach Boys. The band's "long lost" 1967 album was part heard on the "Good Vibrations" box set, LPs such as "Surf's Up" and "Smiley Smile" and Brian Wilson's own re-recording from 2004. Now the group's mastertapes have been assembled into a finished collection for the first time. Close

The "Smile" box set by the Beach Boys. The band's "long lost" 1967 album was part heard on the "Good Vibrations" box... Read More

Source: Sony Music Entertainment/Legacy via Bloomberg

"Winterland" by the Jimi Hendrix Experience. The CD, available in a standard or box-set form, expands on the previous "Live at Winterland" release from 1987 and documents San Francisco concerts in October 1968. Close

"Winterland" by the Jimi Hendrix Experience. The CD, available in a standard or box-set form, expands on the previous... Read More

Source: Sony via Bloomberg.

The cover of ``Faith,'' a remastered CD by U.K. singer-songwriter George Michael. The album was originally released in 1987 and is now available in an expanded form with a second disc of rare recordings. Close

The cover of ``Faith,'' a remastered CD by U.K. singer-songwriter George Michael. The album was originally released... Read More

Source: Sony via Bloomberg

The cover of "The Monument Singles Collection (1960-1964)" by Roy Orbison. The U.S. singer's greatest hits are combined with rare songs, in the 2011 box set. Close

The cover of "The Monument Singles Collection (1960-1964)" by Roy Orbison. The U.S. singer's greatest hits are... Read More

Source: RCA Legacy via Bloomberg

The contents of the CD box set "Young Man With the Big Beat." It is a five-disc box containing all of Elvis's 1956 material, with live shows, interviews, outtakes and singles. Close

The contents of the CD box set "Young Man With the Big Beat." It is a five-disc box containing all of Elvis's 1956... Read More

Pink Floyd, U2, Nirvana, the Rolling Stones and Tony Bennett have the ideal Christmas box for fans.

Each offers hours of music -- at a heavy holiday price.

Some artists are releasing their entire oeuvre in one box.

Leonard Cohen anthologizes excellently on “The Complete Columbia Albums Collection” (18 discs, $140, Sony), a nostalgic treat for those who haven’t heard those LPs in years. Check the nicely downbeat titles: “Songs From a Room,” “Recent Songs.”

Boxes of Robert Johnson (17 discs, $350, Columbia) and Aretha Franklin (12 discs, $130, Legacy) capture some of the most emotional blues, gospel and soul of all time.

“The Complete Smiths” (eight discs, about $200, Rhino) is remastered from original tapes of the U.K. band. While this set misses some single medleys and mixes, it’s still exceptional.

Billy Joel’s “Complete Albums Collection” (15 discs for $199, Columbia) is spotty. He’s better served by the Legacy reissue of the classic “Piano Man.”

Only a Tony Bennett maniac would want him warbling 1,000 songs for a solid three days, including some dreadful Las Vegas casino numbers. “The Complete Collection” ($400, or $500 signed, RPM Legacy) is at least good value for each of its 76 discs.

Bennett’s life-work set comes at age 85; Wynton Marsalis’s likeable “Swinging Into the 21st” (11 discs, $80, Columbia) comes at 50; Sting’s excellent “25 Years” (four discs, $120, A&M) was released at age 60.

Rufus Wainwright, at 38, couldn’t wait that long for his “House of Rufus” (19 discs, $360, 101 Distribution), which shows he’s talented, prolific and needs a good editor.

The Grateful Dead’s “Europe ‘72: The Complete Recordings” (73 discs, about $800, Rhino) will leave rich Deadheads in seventh heaven. Me, I’d prefer “Live Dead” or “Grayfolded,” which restrict the band’s best concert showing to two discs.

Some of Phil Spector’s finest “little symphonies for kids” are on “The Philles Album Collection” (seven discs, $70, Legacy). The originals by the Crystals, Ronettes and Bob B. Soxx & the Blue Jeans are 1960s pop gold, though overshadowed by the “Back to Mono” set and Spector’s 2009 murder conviction. “The Essential Phil Spector” is a snappy, cheaper alternative.

Pink Floyd’s heavyweight contender is “The Discovery Box Set” (16 CDs, $180, EMI). Those wanting more can spend another $120 apiece on the “Immersion” editions of “Wish You Were Here” and “The Dark Side of the Moon,” which come with pointless Floyd marbles and scarves. Much neater are the two-CD “Experience” versions for $20 each.

The biggest version of U2’s “Achtung Baby” has a copy of Bono’s Fly sunglasses and spreads the 20-year-old LP over 14 discs, with outtakes, rehearsals, videos and the follow-up “Zooropa” for $440. The slimmed-down 10-disc set is $130 and highly recommended. There’s a two-CD version too.

Nirvana’s 20th-anniversary edition of “Nevermind” (five discs, $120, Geffen) and “Some Girls” by the Rolling Stones (three discs, $143, Hip-O) will be too much for the average listener. Nirvana’s CD changed the course of rock, though the rehearsals and outtakes are ragged; the Stones LP, which includes “Miss You,” works fine as a slim, two-CD version.

Studio geeks will love the Beach Boys’ “Smile” (nine discs, $140, Capitol); their families will be driven crazy over Christmas with more than 30 takes of “Good Vibrations.” Primal Scream’s “Screamadelica” 20th-anniversary set (seven discs, $190, Sony U.K.) has more variety. Buy it for the 14 remixes, not the limited edition T-shirt. Two-CD versions are available.

Elvis Costello’s “The Return of the Spectacular Spinning Songbook” (three discs and book, $250, Hip-O) commemorates his lively Los Angeles concerts this year. The contrarian star has been telling fans not to buy it and instead try Louis Armstrong’s “Ambassador of Jazz” (10 discs, $150, Universal). He might add “Live in Europe 1967” by Miles Davis (four discs, $35, Legacy) or Jimi Hendrix’s “Winterland” (four discs, $50, Experience Hendrix), which both feature instrumental virtuosity.

This year had a bumper crop of deluxe versions of many rock classics -- all about $20, a fraction of the price of their weighty box-set brothers.

The best include “Songs in A Minor: 10th Anniversary” by Alicia Keys, “Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs” by Derek and the Dominos, George Michael’s “Faith,” the Jesus and Mary Chain’s “Psychocandy,” Pearl Jam’s “vs. and Vitalogy,” and Suede’s albums. Reissues of Queen’s output and the Who’s “Quadrophenia” were triumphs of packaging over inconsistent music varying from the peerless to pretentious.

Many box sets are manufactured in limited quantities, so prices are approximate and vary among retailers and online sellers. Download prices also differ across services.

(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 or http://twitter.com/Mark_Beech.

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

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