Sunday, October 25, 2009

Well, Box My Ears And Feed Me Gruel!!

* denotes a future topic to be covered

I have about two dozen boxed sets in my vast collection of vinyl. There are some that I bought (Jethro Tull & Bob Dylan), and some that were given to me as presents (Dr. Demento & Bruce Springsteen). But for the bulk of them, I acquired them the old fashioned way: free.

Some of the free I acquired from people who were purging their collections and asked me to take them off their hands. And a couple of others came into my possession as barter. The bulk of the free ones, however, came to me through my late grandfather's record collection*.

Back in the day (1980's), Reader's Digest used to offer boxed sets on all kinds of middle of the road artists, and being the sucker that my grandfather was*, he bought all kinds of boxed sets of vinyl.

Now this list isn't quite definitive, but this well give me a chance to show off what kind of recall I possess (remember kids, I write the bulk of my posts by hand at work).

1} The Statler Brothers
2} Kenny Rogers
3} Marty Robbins
4} 101 Greatest Instrumentals
5} Greatest Original Hits of the 70's
6} Roger Whittaker
7} Those Were Our Years: The Early '40's
8} 101 Greatest Classical Songs
9} Nat "King" Cole

Like I stated in my first post, I actually listened to all of my boxed sets from beginning to end. The reasoning behind this was twofold. One, I needed music to listen to while I was painstakingly writing all the album/cassette/45 info down on index cards (cross-indexed as well). Two, it gave me the opportunity to pick out songs for a tape collection I wanted to create (got up to about thirty tapes before giving up).

I did enjoy most of the boxed sets, and the main reason that I did was simply because it allowed me to explore a particular artist's repertoire with a deepness that can only be found if you went out and purchased each and every single piece of music by the artist (which is why I loathe any and all Greatest Hits compilations). A box set really is the next best thing to actually doing what I suggested, simply because it's not a greatest hits collection (which I don't buy to begin with anyways).

I would like to finish up this post by giving you a brief overview and opinion on some of my boxed sets, so in case you wish to explore a particular artist, you can do so at your own leisure.

Please note that all of these sets were produced prior to 1990, and some may have been reissued on compact disc, or not at all.

Jethro Tull "Twenty Years of Jethro Tull": This is five disc set that not only contains the essential hits but touches on all aspects of the groups career. There is an excellent liner notes booklet with it as well. The only thing I can say about this set, is that it reissued on compact disc and the other problem is that there is a similar boxed set as well. Trivia note: they won the very first Grammy for heavy metal music for their song "Farm On The Freeway".

Bruce Springsteen 'Live '75-'85': If you like live Bruce, buy this boxed set. If you don't, it's like a greatest hits packaged. Came out when "Born In The U.S.A." was saturating the charts and the airwaves.

Bob Dylan "Biograph": Excellent overview of his career up to the mid-80's. Vintage cuts, along with B-sides and rarities. Much better (in my humble opinion) than his "Greatest Hits vol 1-3".

Dr. Demento "presents the Greatest Novelty Records of All Time": If you love novelty songs, then this boxed set is for you (currently out of print and as far as I know, not available on compact disc, but one never really knows). Covers the 1940's through the mid 80's, plus some selected Christmas novelty cuts.

The Statler Brothers: I enjoy classic country and this group was one of the ones I grew up listening to.

Marty Robbins: Same reason as the previous one.

And finally,

Kenny Rogers: I like Kenny Rogers for his music. Not for his acting or the other parts of his personal life.


  1. I have to admit to a fondness for Roger's "The Gambler," and wasn't he in the group that did, "I just dropped in to see what condition my condition was in?" LOve that song.

  2. BIOGRAPH has "Up to Me" which is one of the best Dylan songs ever. And I like "Romance in Durango".

  3. I'll bet that music from the early '40s has got some good big band music, huh?

  4. I was forced to go to a Bruce Springsteen concert once because my partner loved his music, and all I can remember was him doing the worst ever version of Elvis's "Can't Help Falling In Love with You".

    Bob Dylan started his career as Bobby Vee's pianist. Vee said "All I can say was he played okay in the key of C". That was in the days when he was called Robert Zimmerman.

  5. Charles: That would be the group "First Edition" (or at the time, it was called "Kenny Rogers & First Edition").

    I liked most of Kenny Roger's music because it great stuff to sing to (I got a little bit of country/rock voice).

    David: Thanks for making a stop today, hope things are going well for you.

    One of my faves on the set that doesn't get played much is "Tangled Up In Blue". The song has a nice bluesy feel to it.

    The box itself has a good eclectic mix to it. I do find that the original version of "Quinn the Eskimo" to be a bit on the funky side with guitar and harmonica.

    Lynn: I'm one of those rare people who got a decent exposure to big band music while growing up, so in spite of the corruption done by the Warner Bros. cartoons, I actually do like some of the big band music that was played back then.

    Joe: The sacrifices we make for the people we love can be harrowing indeed.

    One year I took my wife to see David Hasselhoff play at the Big E. It made me golden for the rest of the year, but man, it was two hours too much.

    Anyways, It's taken me a long time to even listen to Bruce nowadays, because most of his stuff is just too formulaic.

    As for Bob Dylan, he should just not perform anymore. He really needs to do something else besides play, like produce or something.

  6. You write your posts at work?????

    Wish I had that much time on my hands at the gimcrack....

  7. I like Bruce and will check it out. Thanks for the interesting post!

  8. Nurse Myra: Yeah, due to the nature of my job (busy for three and a half days and dead for the other six and a half), I frequently have enough time to write out my posts on pen and paper. I still have several left from this past summer that should be up by the end of November or so.

    R.K.: It's a pretty decent box set. If you like live Bruce, then this set is for you.

  9. I agree that you don't get to know an artist from a greatest hits collection like you would with a boxed set or owning all their albums. But the vast majority of artists I want one album of: the greatest hits. Because, despite liking some of their songs, I don't want every INXS or Duran Duran album that's been produced. Some artists, sure. I own every Sting album, but he's the only artist I have plunked down cash for all of them. (But I have the Police's greatest hits album, lol.)

  10. Writtenwyrd: I used to be like that in my younger days, as I would only buy greatest hits collections from a particular artist because I couldn't be bothered to buy all of their stuff in a timely matter.

    But after listening to commercial radio for the past thiry odd years, I'm now at the point where I would perfer to explore an artist one album/cd at a time.

    As for the Police, I think the only way one can truly explore them is one album/cd at a time.

    If you like the Police, you should check out Andy Summers excellent autobiography.

  11. I'm not sure if it's still the case, but didn't artists' albums used to tell a complete story, or abstract message of some sort, through the entire album? There was a purpose to each song in the scope of the album, which seems a better reflection of the musician's craft than a greatest hits disc. I like the idea of the boxed sets for that reason, it seems to give a greater perspective.

  12. I love me some Nat King Cole. And now instead of him running through my head, I have Kenny Roger's "The Gambler" - lol!

    I agree - to really know what an artist has accomplished you need to listen to all their work. It can be quite fun to discover the stuff that never made it onto the radio is superior.

  13. Joanne: I believe so, but I never really appreciated that fact until about ten years ago or so.

    What I do now, and have been doing for the past twenty years, is buy the album (or c.d.) for what current hit is being overkiled on the radio, then explore the album (or c.d.) while listening to it at home.

    Talon: Besides the box set of Nat "King" Cole, I have a couple of 45 EP's that came out in the mid to late 50's. I got quite a few of those EP bad boys floating around in my house.

    And yes, it's a ton of fun exploring an artist's body of work. I've found quite a bit of interesting songs while doing that from time to time.

  14. I always said if I was a singer I want to make an album called "B Side" it would be filled with one hit wonders other songs in their collection.

  15. That sounds like a good idea. I've listened to a few B-sides from one hit wonders, and for the most part, they were pretty decent.

  16. I remember Mitch Miller band tunes from my Mom's collection. My brother took all the good ones tho- Mine are all so buried now-
    Thanks for the memories

  17. You're more than welcome for the trip down memory lane.


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