EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


December 22, 2013

Music ... Inside the Box

You’d think by now the vaults would be empty.

But in fact, 2013 has produced a bumper crop of quality musical boxed sets, as the capsule reviews of pop, roots, classical and jazz collections below reveal. True, much of the reissued music has been reissued before, but the devaluation of music has also challenged labels to be creative.

In addition to what’s detailed below, lots of other boxed sets came out in 2013. Among the notables: Duane Allman’s “Skydog”; Sly & the Family Stone’s “Higher”; Steve Earle’s “The Warner Bros. Years”; “The Complete Chick Webb & Ella Fitzgerald Decca Sessions”; and Elvis Presley’s “Elvis at Stax.”


THE ANIMALS, “The Mickie Most Years and More,” ABKCO/Real Gone Music, 3 1/2 stars; 5 CDs, $84.98

Of the first wave of British Invasion bands, none was more rabidly intense about American blues and R&B than the Animals. This set presents the band’s first four U.S. albums, as well as their debut EP, on CD for the first time, with a bit of bonus material. (Mickie Most was the producer.)

Fronted by commanding singer Eric Burdon, the Animals brought a blistering new vitality to the American music the members worshiped. Most of the selections come from that source, including their breakout No. 1 hit, a devastating reinterpretation of the traditional “House of the Rising Sun.” Also here are later new-music singles such as “We Gotta Get Out of This Place” and “It’s My Life,” whose class-conscious defiance and desperation were big influences on Bruce Springsteen, for one.

— Nick Cristiano

THE BAND, “Live at the Academy of Music, 1971,” Capitol, 2 1/2 stars; 4 CDs, 1 DVD, $61.35)

That’s the Academy of Music in New York, not Philadelphia. The Band’s concerts there on the last four nights of 1971 were originally documented on the 1972 live album “Rock of Ages,” already reissued with bonus tracks in 2001.

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