Box Set Go

The box set has got a bit more out of control this year (and somewhere there is a pedant waiting to point out it’s boxed set). Box sets are nice, expensive, official product, beautifully put together, and designed to appeal to the obsessive collector. People like me I suppose.

David Bowie’s Station To Station, released this year in a deluxe edition with five cds (full album, full live show, different mixes, versions etc), a lovely booklet, and with all kinds of memorabilia (facsimile back stage passes, tickets, badges and whatnot). Does anyone need five cds of Station To Station? Will anyone ever play the whole thing?

Neu! released a box this year with all three studio albums, some stuff they did in the 80s, a lovely booklet, and a Neu! stencil. For stencilling the Neu! logo wherever you might want to.

Screamadelica, soon to be released, with five cds (full album, all the remixes, live show, Dixie narco e.p., dvd of The Making Of…, T-shirt, and Screamadelica slipmat. For a penny under one hundred quid. Initial quantities signed by the band. Actually I quite fancy a Screamadelica slipmat. And the dvd will have interviews with Weatherall, with moving pictures and everything. But every remix has been released before, there’s no new ones, and no new material. (While I’m here, I have a memory of being in a nightclub and hearing Moving On Up played but with Denise Johnson singing not Bobby. Does this version exist or was it my slightly addled 3am brain?)

Orange Juice’s Coals To Newcastle- contains pretty much everything they did across five cds and dvd of tv shows. Lovely.

I’m sure there’s loads of others I haven’t mentioned. I’m sure they’re all lovely too. I love the attention to detail. I like nice booklets and photos and interviews. I like the gimmicks- the slipmat, the stencil. I’m looking forward to the Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds action figures and New Order playmobil set. I like the having-everything-in-one-place feeling. But we are being suckered here. They know we want it. They know some people (middle aged men mainly) will part with increasing sums of money for this stuff, despite already owning most or all of the material, and having ‘upgraded’ before, lp to cd, single cd to ‘legacy’ edition. Are we being catered for or exploited? I suppose it depends how much you want the slipmat, the t-shirt, the booklet, the photos, the remastered album (and why wasn’t the original album mastered very well then?).

This is Fuer Immer off Neu!2, the opening track, ten minutes of aural bliss that doesn’t change very much but leaves you feeling better than when it started. I’m off to covet box sets on the internet.

Fuer Immer (forever).mp3

The Stooges ‘Down On The Street (Take 2) (False Start)

One of the few joys of cds overtaking vinyl in the late 80s/early 90s was the box set, and even this was a mixed blessing. The whole box thing was good, lovely booklets and packaging, essays, photos, facsimiles of ephemera (badges, tickets, tour laminates, press cuttings), personal accounts and the sense of having everything in one place. The Clash On Broadway and the Joy Division box set are both good examples. Some of them are a bit frustrating- New Order’s missed off Love Vigilante’s and Age Of Consent in exchange for a whole live disc. There was also the overfaced feeling of ‘Christ, now I have to listen to all of this’. But generally, a good thing, if obviously aimed at middle aged completists. Not people like me obviously.

The Stooges The Complete Funhouse Sessions set a benchmark unlikely to be equalled. Take an absolute stone-cold killer album and include everything recorded during the whole time they were in the studio- chat, out-takes, false starts, tracks finishing abruptly, the lot. As wiki says ‘it contains every note, word and sound’. As such the ordinary consumer might feel that over twenty versions of Loose might be overdoing it a bit, especially when every version is almost identical. Fifteen takes of Down On The Street. Fourteen takes of TV Eye. Has anyone ever listened to any of the discs all the way through? Furthermore, the band picked the right take for the album every time. The extras are all superfluous. It’s completism gone mad, but I love it. I don’t own it by the way. Amazon has a used copy for $999.99, but there are places you can find it on the net. So here you go, Down On The Street, killer track, Stooges tight as you like, Iggy in charge, false start.