Happy 'boxing day'! Boxed sets for every music fan on your holiday shopping list

Craig Rosen
Writer

With the advent of streaming services, you may no longer feel the need to own physical albums. But there’s one thing that you can’t replace with a digital stream: the beauty, weight, and feel of a special, limited-edition package loaded with glossy photos and insightful liner notes, all wrapped up in a beautiful box. That’s why boxed sets still make great gifts for the music lovers on your shopping list — or for yourself! Here’s a handy holiday shopping guide to what’s new this year.

The 35th-anniversary collectors’ box includes three CDs, a DVD, and two vinyl LPs. The original album is expanded with bonus tracks as well as a disc of singer-songwriter Eric Woolfson’s songwriting diaries, a disc of previously unreleased bonus material, an album in surround sound, and stereo HD on the Blu-ray. It also includes a 60-page book with new essays, as well as a few other goodies. For hardcore fans only. (Photo: Arista)

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic, ‘Squeeze Box: The Complete Works of “Weird Al” Yankovic’

For those who can’t get enough of “Weird Al,” this hefty, accordion-shaped package contains a whopping 15 CDs — all 14 of the polka/comic genius’s studio albums, as well as a 15th disc of non-album tracks titled Medium Rarities. This set, also available on vinyl, features a 100-page book with rare photos and memorabilia. This is the ultimate box for fans of the premiere song parodist of our time. (Photo: Legacy Recordings)

Gorillaz, ‘Humanz’ Super Deluxe Box Set

Leave it to Damon Albarn and company to prove that a boxed set need not be limited to archival material. The cartoon band blows out its latest album, Humanz, as a Super Deluxe Box Set with a 14-disc colored-vinyl extravaganza boasting 14 bonus tracks as B-sides. Each 12-inch comes packaged in its own sleeve with individual artwork. It’s topped off with a 54-page, cloth-bound hardcover book featuring original artwork by the mastermind behind the band’s look, Jamie Hewlett. And if you don’t want to spin your vinyl, a download card is also included. This set will drive collectors ape, but note, it’s insanely pricey. For the hardest, hardcore fans only. $350. (Photo: Gorillaz.com)

The Sex Pistols, ‘Never Mind the Bollocks’ 40th Anniversary Deluxe Edition

The most famous punk album gets the deluxe reissue treatment again, as a three-CD, one-DVD set featuring the original album, a disc of outtakes, a disc of live material, and video of the band playing live at various locations, including their famed Silver Jubilee boat party on the River Thames. It’s packaged with a 48-page booklet with liner notes from journalist Pat Gilbert and photos by Bob Gruen and others. The Pistols didn’t release much material during their initial run, so fans will cherish the outtakes featured on this set. $51. (Photo: Warner Bros. Records)

Bob Dylan, ‘Trouble No More — The Bootleg Series Vol. 13 / 1979-1981’

An eight-CD, one DVD, or four-LP vinyl box, this latest installment of the Bootleg Series focuses on Dylan’s “born again” period when he wrote religious-themed songs on a trio of albums (1979’s Slow Train Coming, 1980’s Saved, and 1981’s Shot of Love). Aside from when he first plugged in and went electric at the Newport Folk Festival in 1965, this was the most controversial period in Dylan’s career. Not everyone found it praiseworthy at the time, but it’s well worth a second listen, even if you’re not religious. This set features 14 previously unreleased songs as well as a number of rare live performances. It’s packaged with a hardcover book, with liner notes by Penn Jillette and others, as well as Trouble No More: A Musical Film on the DVD, featuring unreleased footage from Dylan’s 1980 tour. (Photo: Columbia Records)

The Monkees, ‘More of the Monkees’ Super Deluxe Edition

A three-disc reissue of the made-for-TV band’s second, chart-topping 1967 album, this features 55 previously unreleased tracks, including some of the Monkees’ earliest live recordings. The limited-edition run of 4,500 copies, featuring stereo and mono mixes of the album, comes housed in a 7-by-7-inch box with a 7-inch vinyl single of “I’m a Believer” with a vocal-only mix of “(I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone” on the flip. If the Beatles are worthy of such expanded sets, then why not the Prefab Four? $60. (Photo: Rhino Entertainment)

Ramones, ‘Rocket to Russia’ 40th Anniversary Deluxe Edition

The bruthas’ third album is celebrated with this four-CD set that offers two different mixes — the original as well as a new mix by the album’s original engineer/mixer, Ed Stasium. Also included is a disc full of rough mixes, with alternate vocals and lyrics, an acoustic version of “Here Today, Gone Tomorrow,” a radio promo spot, and more. Another disc captures the Ramones live at a late-1977 show from the Apollo Centre in Glasgow, Scotland. Hardcore fans will dig this, but casual listeners are advised to stick with the original album or dig into a greatest-hits collection. $65. (Photo: Rhino/Warner Bros.)

Elton John, ‘Diamonds’

Here’s another greatest-hits set from the artist once known as Reginald Dwight. The single CD and two-CD sets are what you’d expect, but hardcore fans might want to splurge on the three-CD edition, which combines the 34 tracks from the two-CD version and adds 17 bonus tracks chosen by the man himself. It comes packaged with a 72-page hardcover book, featuring the stories behind the songs, as well as five illustrations of Elton on postcards. This is a good entry point for new fans, but the faithful may already own much of the material. $60. (Photo: Universal Music LLC)

David Bowie, ‘A New Career in a New Town’

A 13-LP vinyl or 11-CD package focusing on Bowie’s Berlin Trilogy, recorded with producers Tony Visconti and Brian Eno, this is the third box of Bowie works following the 2015 set focusing on his Ziggy period and a mid-’70s set that focused on Diamond Dogs, Young Americans, and Station to Station. This set includes Visconti’s remix of 1979’s Lodger and the Baal EP, released in full for the first time in CD. Along with the full albums, New Career includes Re:Call 3, featuring single versions, non-album singles and B-sides, and German and French versions of songs. This was one of Bowie’s most experimental and interesting periods, and its influence can be heard in a number of still-contemporary artists, including Nine Inch Nails and LCD Soundsystem. But take note: There have been some complaints about the sound quality, particularly with the “Heroes” disc. A note on DavidBowie.com says a new master will be created to replace the original. New versions of the vinyl and CD will be offered to those with proof of purchase. (Photo: Parlophone Music Denmark)

‘Saturday Night Fever’ 40th Anniversary Edition

The soundtrack that brought disco to the masses gets the 40th anniversary treatment with a two-CD, two-LP plus Blu-ray boxed set that includes the remastered original album with remixes, as well as the 4K-restored version of the film’s 40th Anniversary Director’s Cut. Those who sided with “rock” in the era of rock versus disco are advised to put down their guard and take a listen with fresh ears to realize the brilliance of the songs included here. (Photo: RSO Records)

The Verve, ‘Urban Hymns’ 20th Anniversary Super Deluxe Edition

For this five-CD, one-DVD box celebrating the British band’s breakthrough 1997 album, the original disc has been remastered and is paired with a compilation of B-sides, rarities, and a live recording of a 1998 show. The DVD includes the documentary The Video 96-98, as well as a live concert and music videos. The CD version comes with a 56-page hardcover book, a poster, and five postcards. The three-LP vinyl version comes with a 20-page book. This album captured the Verve at the height of their powers, so if you’re a fan, it’s worth investing in this set. (Photo: Universal)

Queen, ‘News of the World’ 40th Anniversary Edition

Possibly the British band’s greatest album, this 1977 effort kicks off with “We Will Rock You”/”We Are the Champions” and features several lesser-known gems, such as “Sheer Heart Attack” and “Get Down Make Love.” Along with the original album, this set features an album of revelatory alternative versions of the songs titled Raw Sessions as well as a disc of alternate versions of the NOTW tracks recorded live in concert and for radio shows. Packaged with the music is a one-hour documentary on DVD, Queen: The American Dream, filmed during the band’s 1977 “News of the World” tour. (Photo: Hollywood Records)

The Jam, ‘1977’ 40th Anniversary Boxed Set

This five-disc boxed set from the year that punk broke in the U.K. features remastered versions of the Mod trio’s first two albums, In the City and This Is the Modern World, as well as previously unreleased demos and live recordings. The DVD includes footage from TV shows, including Top of the Pops, as well as the band’s promo videos. The set also includes a 144-page book, featuring liner notes as well as photos and memorabilia. It’s hard to top the band’s energy in its early stage represented here, but the Jam did go on to create more interesting work on their follow-up releases. $39. (Photo: Universal)

Metallica, ‘Master of Puppets’ Remastered Expanded Edition

The band’s pivotal 1986 album expanded to a three-CD set featuring demos, rough mixes, live tracks, an interview with late bass player Cliff Burton, and a 28-page booklet. The live material was recorded at various locations, ranging from the Country Club in Reseda, Calif., to Grugahalle in Essen, West Germany. It’s also being offered in a Limited Edition Deluxe Box Set that includes a 108-page hardcover book with previously unpublished photos, outtakes, rare interviews, three LPs, 10 CDs, a cassette, two DVDs, a lithograph, a folder with handwritten lyrics, and a set of a half-dozen buttons. Phew! (Photo: Elektra Records)

The Who, ‘Maximum As & Bs’ Boxed Set

The band’s singles and EPs — from 1964’s “Zoot Suit,” recorded when they were known as the High Numbers, to 2014’s “Be Lucky” — are compiled for the first time over five CDs. Accompanying the 86-track set — featuring, as the title states, both the A-sides and B-sides — is a 48-page booklet. This might be a good entry point for new fans and a worthwhile addition for completists. However, it should be noted that the Who quickly became better known for their albums than their singles. If you don’t already own them, picking up such classic albums as Quadrophenia, Tommy, and Who’s Next is a better way to go. (Photo: Universal)

Stone Temple Pilots, ‘Core’ 25th Anniversary Super Deluxe Edition

For this 25th-anniversary package featuring four CDs, a DVD, and an LP of the band’s breakthrough 1992 album, the original album has been remastered and packed with unreleased demos and live versions. The DVD features the album in surround sound along with music videos of the album’s singles. Upon the album’s original release, STP were written off by some as grunge wannabes, but history has proved them to be much more, so it’s worth giving their classic debut another spin. (Photo: Atlantic Records)

Hüsker Dü, ‘Savage Young Dü’

Particularly poignant following the death of drummer/vocalist Grant Hart earlier this year, this three-CD or four-LP boxed set captures the Bob Mould-led trio’s earliest days with a collection of rarities aimed at the band’s hardcore fans. Of the 69 tracks featured, 47 are previously unreleased. It comes packaged with a hardcover book featuring an in-depth essay, previously unpublished photos, and re-creations of gig flyers. For diehard fans only; newbies are better off starting with one of the band’s previously released studio albums. (Photo: The Numero Group)

The Smiths, ‘The Queen Is Dead’ Deluxe Edition

Possibly Morrissey and Johnny Marr’s finest hour, this 1986 album receives the deluxe treatment with a three-CD, one-DVD boxed set (there’s also a two-CD version and a five-LP box). The original album has been remastered and packaged with a disc full of demos and outtakes. The third disc captures the Smiths performing live in 1986, with a set featuring TQID material and more. As with the R.E.M. release, hardcore fans will enjoy the peek behind the curtain provided by the demos and appreciate the energy of the live album. (Photo: Rough Trade Records)

George Michael, ‘Listen Without Prejudice’ / ‘MTV Unplugged’ (Deluxe)

The late pop star, who died on Christmas last year, is celebrated with this three-CD, one-DVD set that combines his acclaimed 1990 album with a 1996 MTV Unplugged show, featuring songs originally recorded by Wham! as well as from his solo career. Also included is a CD of B-sides and alternate versions. The DVD includes the Listen Without Prejudice South Bank Show special documentary, as well as videos. A 32-page book rounds out the set, providing a nice overview of Michael’s career high point. (Photo: Columbia Records)

Alan Parsons Project, ‘Eye in the Sky’

The 35th-anniversary collectors’ box includes three CDs, a DVD, and two vinyl LPs. The original album is expanded with bonus tracks as well as a disc of singer-songwriter Eric Woolfson’s songwriting diaries, a disc of previously unreleased bonus material, an album in surround sound, and stereo HD on the Blu-ray. It also includes a 60-page book with new essays, as well as a few other goodies. For hardcore fans only. (Photo: Arista)

Johnny Cash, ‘Unearthed’ Vinyl Boxed Set

This is the vinyl version of the 2003 CD set released after Cash’s death. It features nine LPs with a coffee table book that comes in a cloth-lined slipcase. Vinyl is the perfect medium to enjoy these earthy recordings made by the country legend during his final years with producer Rick Rubin. (Photo: American Recordings)

Chris Bell, ‘The Complete Chris Bell’

Although Alex Chilton was better known, Chris Bell was also a major creative force behind the late, great Big Star. He only managed to release a single under his own name before his tragic death at the age of 27 in a 1978 car accident, but he recorded a treasure trove of material. Reissue specialists Omnivore have compiled it in a six-album boxed set that features Bell’s pre- and post-Big Star recordings, on the albums Looking Forward: The Roots of Big Star, Rock City’s See Seven States, and the previously released I Am the Cosmos. Also included is the two-disc Outtakes & Alternates. The set is completed with an interview disc exclusive to the vinyl boxed set and liner notes by album co-producer Alec Palao and Replacements biographer Bob Mehr, along with newly released photos. (Photo: Omnivore Recordings)

R.E.M., ‘Automatic for the People’ 25th Anniversary Edition, Deluxe Edition

The Athens band’s landmark 1992 album gets the full reissue treatment as a three-CD plus Blu-ray set, featuring the original album, a disc of 20 previously unreleased demos, and the concert recording Live at the 40 Watt Club (Athens, Ga., Nov. 19, 1992) from the band’s only live show that year. The Blu-ray features the album remixed in Dolby Atmos, a new technology that gives the listener a multidimensional listening experience. The set, which is housed in a 12-by-12-inch package, is topped off with a 60-page book featuring previously unreleased photos by Anton Corbijn and Melodie McDaniel, as well as new liner notes by music journalist Tom Doyle. The demos and the live album are the real treats here, while the Dolby Atmos remix gives the original album a whole new listening experience. (Photo: Craft Records)

Garth Brooks, ‘The Anthology Part 1’ Limited Edition

This is being marketed as a 240-page hardcover book that examines the first five years of the country music king’s career, with plenty of previously unseen photos, but it’s packaged with five CDs of material released during that period, as well as loads of previously unreleased tunes. For the Garth faithful or those looking to dive into his career from the beginning. (Photo: Pearl Records)

INXS, ‘Kick’ 30th Anniversary Deluxe Edition

This DVD-sized package features the Australian band’s most popular album and arrives exactly 20 years after the death of frontman Michael Hutchence. Along with the original version of the album, B-sides, and alternate mixes, the entire album has been mixed in Dolby Atmos by Giles Martin (son of legendary Beatles producer George Martin and the man behind the recent 50th-anniversary remix of Sgt. Pepper’s) and Sam Okell at Abbey Road Studios. The Dolby Atmos mix, which promises an immersive, 3D-like listening experience, is featured on a Blu-ray disc along with the band’s videos. This set shows just how good the band and Hutchence were in their prime. It’s a shame it didn’t last. (Photo: Petrol Records)

Alan Parsons Project, ‘Eye in the Sky’

The 35th-anniversary collectors’ box includes three CDs, a DVD, and two vinyl LPs. The original album is expanded with bonus tracks as well as a disc of singer-songwriter Eric Woolfson’s songwriting diaries, a disc of previously unreleased bonus material, an album in surround sound, and stereo HD on the Blu-ray. It also includes a 60-page book with new essays, as well as a few other goodies. For hardcore fans only. (Photo: Arista)

The Moody Blues, ‘Days of Future Passed’

A two-CD plus DVD set is being released in honor of the album’s 50th anniversary. It includes a newly restored original stereo mix of the album along with performances recorded for the BBC. The DVD features the album in 5.1 surround sound as well as video of the band performing three of the album’s songs in 1968. The Moodies are often overlooked in conversations about the British rock of the ’60s; this set gives them their proper due. (Photo: Decca Studios)

Rush, ‘A Farewell to Kings’ Super Deluxe Edition

In honor of their 40th anniversary, the Canadian trio’s sixth album gets the super-deluxe edition treatment with three CDs and a Blu-ray disc. Accompanying the music is a King’s Ring, a neck chain, and a velvet pouch, as well as lithographs of original artwork by Hugh Syme, a reproduced version of a 1978 tour program, and a turntable mat with artwork by Syme. Also included is a live recording of a 1978 gig at Hammersmith Odeon with 34 minutes of never-officially released performances, including a drum solo and a full “2112” suite. For superfans only. Casual fans will do just fine with the original album. (Photo: Mercury Records)

‘Woody Guthrie: The Tribute Concerts’

Back in 1968 at Carnegie Hall and two years later at the Hollywood Bowl, a who’s-who of folk singers gathered for a pair of concerts to pay tribute to Woody Guthrie. Though Columbia and Warner Bros. Records released separate albums of those events in 1972, they were incomplete. Now, 50 years after Guthrie’s death, the Bear Family offers the most comprehensive version of those concerts in a three-CD boxed set. Featured are Guthrie’s greatest songs performed by Bob Dylan, Judy Collins, Arlo Guthrie, Joan Baez, Richie Havens, and others. The set is rounded out with two illustrated books containing liner notes, essays, and a Guthrie biography, as well as a reproduction of a concert program and more. A worthy document for those interested in the history of folk music. $118. (Photo: Bear Family Records)