MILES DAVIS; "The Complete 'On the Corner' Sessions" (Columbia/Legacy) *** 1/2
In 1972, jazz great Davis released "On the Corner," a decidedly more funk-oriented album than his usual fare. With such session players as Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, Dave Lebman, Sonny Fortune, Michael Henderson and Al Foster, Davis experimented with his trumpet, grooves and tape loops. Gleaned from 6 1/2 hours of studio work this six-CD set includes two hours of previously unreleased material, and uncut and unedited masters, featuring "One and One," "Rated X" and the album's title track. The doodles and meanderings will attract fans and jazz enthusiasts, but some of the music flows into the tedious. Scott Iwasaki
DONALD FAGEN; "Nightly Trilogy" (Reprise) ***
One-half of Steely Dan, Fagen has released three albums in the course of 30 years 1982's "The Nightfly," 1993's Grammy-nominated "The Kamakiriad" and 2006's Grammy-nominated "Morph the Cat." These three albums have been remastered and re-released for this box set, but this is a MVI box set video and interactive. In addition to the audio CDs, MVIs can play on any DVD player. Bonus tracks, digital liner notes, photos and videos of Fagen during the making of these albums can be heard, viewed and read. Plus the CD "Trilogy: 10 Extras," with live versions of "Hank's Pad" and "Viva Viva Rock 'N' Roll" and other hard-to-find tracks. S.I.
ARETHA FRANKLIN; "Rare & Unreleased Recordings From the Golden Reign of the Queen of Soul" (Rhino) ***
This two-disc collection isn't actually a box set, but it does feature the kind of recordings that box sets traditionally contain demos, outtakes, second takes, single B-sides, etc. Franklin fans will love hearing her unique renditions of "Suzanne," "My Way," "My Cup Runneth Over" and an alternate mix of "Rock Steady," among others. Chris Hicks
GENESIS; "1983-1998" (Atlantic/Rhino)** 1/2
This is not a complete Genesis set but zeroes in on the band's most popular "power-trio" albums, with accompanying DVDs, and an extra CD/DVD collection of bonus material. "Genesis," "Invisible Touch," "We Can't Dance" (with Phil Collins on vocals) and "Calling All Stations" (Ray Wilson on vocals), along with MTV-aired videos, photo galleries and recent interviews. S.I.
MERLE HAGGARD; "The Original Outlaw" (Time Life) ***
Haggard (the "Okie From Muskogee") has numerous compilations under his belt. This one is yet another box set, but it's unique thanks to songs culled from every major record label in his 40-plus-year career. The track list doesn't waste any space and gives the listener a heavy dose of Haggard's best-loved songs. S.I.
EMMYLOU HARRIS; "Songbird: Rare Tracks & Forgotten Gems" (Rhino) ****
With four CDs and one DVD, this is the ultimate Harris collection, with all of her best-known songs, along with a number of duos and trios. There's also a fabulous 200-page book, with an introduction by Harris, a track-by-track commentary and tons of photos. C.H.
BILLIE HOLIDAY; "Lady Day: The Master Takes and Singles" (ESP-Disk) *** 1/2; BILLIE HOLIDAY; "Rare Live Recordings: 1934-59" (Legacy/Columbia) ****
The four-disc "Lady Day" set is composed of first-rate remasters but misses some songs that are not in Columbia's catalog. Still, fans will enjoy. But the "Rare Live Recordings" set is just that, and as such provides a fabulous trek through Holiday's career via a variety of performance venues in performance halls, and on radio and television, from 1935-59. "Rare Live" is a must-have for fans. C.H.
SLY & THE FAMILY STONE; "The Collection" (Epic/Legacy) ****
Each Sly & the Family Stone album from the uncharted 1967 debut "A Whole New Thing" to 1974's "Small Talk" are here. Stone's solo outing "High on You" and the last Family Stone release "Back on the Right Track" (1979, Warner Bros.) are missing, but what is in this box set is undeniably the cream of the group's career. A '70s music treasure chest. S.I.
THE STANLEY BROTHERS; 'The Definitive Collection (1947-1966)" (Time Life) ****
Carter and Ralph Stanley stand tall in the world of bluegrass. With their harmonies and musicality, the two were together for nearly 20 years. This three-CD box set is the "only official" career retrospective, with and without the Clinch Mountain Boys. Sixty songs, including "Blue Moon of Kentucky," "Man of Constant Sorrow," "Theme & Cotton-Eyed Joe" and "Orange Blossom Special," demonstrate the duo's finesse. S.I.
IKE AND TINA TURNER; "The Ike & Tina Turner Story: 1960-1975" (Time Life) ****
Amazingly, this is Ike and Tina Turner's first box set. It was a triumph for Tina to break away from the terribly abusive relationship, but there was no denying the brilliance of the music the two made together, collected in this three-CD set. From the duo's first hit "A Fool in Love" to trademark remakes "Come Together," "I Want to Take You Higher" and, of course, "Proud Mary." In all, 49 tracks. S.I.
FRANKIE VALLI & THE 4 SEASONS; "Jersey Beat, the Music of Frankie Valli & the 4 Seasons" (Rhino) ***
Who can forget those falsetto vocals on "Big Girls Don't Cry," "Rag Doll" and "Stay"? Valli and his group have been honored with their own three-CD, one-DVD set. From those early hits to Valli's solo works "Can't Take My Eyes Off You," "My Eyes Adored You," "Grease" this set examines the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer's career. The DVD features performance clips from "The Steve Allen Show," "Hullabaloo" and more. S.I.
LUTHER VANDROSS; "Love Luther" (Epic/J Records/Legacy) ***
Soul singer Vandross passed away July 1, 2005, after years of health problems. The Grammy winner is now remembered with this four-CD collection, packed with 56 songs that show why he had a loyal following. Previously unreleased tracks rehearsal sessions, live performances, demos make this the ultimate collection. S.I.
VARIOUS ARTISTS; "The Brit Box: UK Indie, Shoegaze and Brit-Pop Gems of the Last Millennium" (Rhino) ****
The rise of college radio took place after the mid-'80s and went through the mid-'90s. During this time, such seminal pop bands as The Cure, Echo & the Bunnymen and the Smiths found audiences from the punk and new-wave scenes. Those groups cleared the way for My Bloody Valentine and Lush, who are considered "Shoegazer" bands because they rarely looked out into the audience when they played. From there, it opened up to such Brit-pop groups as Suede, Elastica, Supergrass and The Catherine Wheel. All are in this four-CD box set that took years to compile. S.I.
VARIOUS ARTISTS; "The British Beat: Best of the '60s" (Shout! Factory) ***
While Rhino Records put together the "Brit Box," Shout! has compiled the cream of the crop from the first British Invasion during the 1960s. Three CDs with 67 tracks such as the Troggs' "Wild Thing," Los Bravos' "Black Is Black," Lulu's "To Sir with Love" and Small Faces' "Itchycoo Park" took America by storm after the Beatles' success. Donovan's "Mellow Yellow," Petula Clark's "Downtown," Procol Harum's "White Shade of Pale," Sandie Shaw's "(There's) Always Something There to Remind Me" and more send out waves of go-go boots and mod fashion. S.I.
VARIOUS ARTISTS; "Chasing the Sun" (Time Life) *** 1/2
The surprise of this three-CD, one-DVD set is that it's not just '60s surf songs, but the greatest songs of summer along side Dick Dale's "Miserlou" and the Beach Boys' "Surfin' U.S.A." are the Ramones' "Rockaway Beach" and the Platters' "With This Ring." There are some nice surprises here. S.I.
VARIOUS ARTISTS; "Classic Bluegrass Collection" (Time Life) *** 1/2
Roots music laid the foundation of folk, jazz, country and rock 'n' roll. This three-CD set chronicles bluegrass history through songs and a liner-note booklet. Bill Monroe and His Blue Grass Boys kick it off with "It's Mighty Dark to Travel" and another legend, Ralph Stanley & the Clinch Mountain Boys, wrap it up with "O Death." In between are Eric Weissberg and Steve Mandell's trademark "Dueling Banjos," Flatt & Skrugg's "Ballad of Jed Clampett," Soggy Bottom Boys' remake of "I Am A Man of Constant Sorrow," etc. S.I.
VARIOUS ARTISTS; "Flower Power: the Music of the Love Generation" (Time Life) *** 1/2
With this 10-CD box set, it is possible to feel like your radio dial is set back to the years between 1965 and 1973. This set, which is being hawked on TV by Peter Fonda, covers the soundtrack from the Age of Aquarius to the early stages of singer/songwriters. Donovan ("Sunshine Superman"), Steppenwolf ("Born to Be Wild"), the Byrds ("Mr. Tambourine Man"), the Peanut Butter Conspiracy ("It's a Happening Thing"), etc. A great gift for baby boomers and audiophiles S.I.
VARIOUS ARTISTS; "Forever Changing: The Golden Age of Elektra Records: 1963-1973" (Elektra/Rhino) ***
Back in the day, the label's roster included Judy Collins, Tom Rush, The Doors, Tim Buckley, Bread and Carly Simon, to name a few. This five-CD set covers that era, some 12 years before Metallica signed with Elektra. The song list is impressive and includes The Stooges' "Down on the Street," Phil Ochs' "Changes," the Lovin' Spoonful's "Good Time Music" and Eric Clapton's "Crossroads." A booklet documents the label's history and impact on popular music. S.I.
VARIOUS ARTISTS; "Four Decades of Folk Rock" (Time Life) ***
The surprise of this four-CD set is the inclusion of semi-obsolete tracks. Sure there's Buffalo Springfield's "For What It's Worth," Crosby Stills & Nash's "Wooden Ships" and Suzanne Vega's "Luka," but also Barry McGuire's "Eve of Destruction," Traffic's "John Barleycorn," Thin Lizzy's "Whiskey in a Jar," Dexy's Midnight Runner's "Come on Eileen" and much more. S.I.
VARIOUS ARTISTS; "The Heavy Metal Box Set" (Rhino) *** 1/2
Headbangers rejoice! This set is packed into an amplifier-shaped box with a volume control that goes to 11! from the early heavy rock of Blue Cheer ("Summertime Blues") to the punk/metal thrash of Motorhead ("Queen of Spades") and the New Wave of British Heavy Metal bands. It even has Spinal Tap's "Big Bottom." S.I.
VARIOUS ARTISTS; "Love Is the Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets: 1965-1970" (Rhino) ***
This four-disc set comes in an oversize hardback book loaded with photos from the title era and locale. And the book is almost as much of a treat as the hit songs collected here, which feature We Five, the Beau Brummels, Country Joe & the Fish, The Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, Janis Joplin, Santana and many more. Comprehensive? No. Fun? Yes. If you remember the '60s, you probably weren't there but this set might bring some of it back. A baby-boomer special. C.H.
VARIOUS ARTISTS; "Song of America" (Split Rock/31 Tigers) *** 1/2
With three CDs, titled "Red," "White" and "Blue," this set was conceived by former U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno and alt-country, punk Ed Pettersen to collect songs that paint a portrait of America. From Joni Harms' version of "Home on the Range," showing deep U.S. support to Ben Taylor's version of Neil Young's "Ohio," which goes on the attack. Also, Old Crow Medicine Show ("Deportee"), Janis Ian ("Johnny I Hardly Knew Ye"), John Mellencamp ("This Land Is Your Land"). A well-balanced collection exploring both sides of the American dream. S.I.
VARIOUS ARTISTS; "Sound of the City: New York Area Doo-Wop (1956-1966)" (Time Life) *** 1/2
The Four Seasons, The Tokens, The Durpees, The Belmonts and The Earls were doo-wop royalty during the '50s and '60s. Pop music-pioneering songs such as "Sherry," "The Lion Sleeps Tonight," "Teenager in Love" and "Have You Heard" were catchy and went straight to the radio, and malt shop jukeboxes. Some are better than others, but as a collection, it demonstrates the importance of the scene. S.I.
VARIOUS ARTISTS; "The War" (PBS/Legacy/Sony) ****
With the success of Ken Burns' World War II film "The War," there has been an interest in the music of the era. A soundtrack and a collection of classical music were released earlier this year, and on its heels came this four-CD set including the soundtrack and the classical CD, as well as discs titled "Sentimental Journey: Hits from the Second World War" and "I'm Beginning to See the Light: Dance Hits from the Second World War." Mixing WWII-era artists such as Benny Goodman with contemporary performers like Norah Jones, this is a well-rounded musical journey of the era. A booklet tells the story of the songs and World War II. S.I.