Recommended New Box Sets

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Bob Dylan – Basement Tapes Complete
Sometimes he sounds like a man who thought the guy who shouted “Judas!” might have had a point after all, returning to the kind of songs he would have sung in folk clubs six years previously as if hoping to tunnel his way out of the mid-60s and back to a less chaotic, complicated time: Nine Hundred Miles, Young But Daily Growing, Johnny Todd (the latter, distractingly for the British listener of a certain age, set to the same tune as the theme from Z Cars).. Sometimes he sounds shattered and rueful, like a man reeling from the experience of being Bob Dylan. The most beautiful songs here are shot through with an affecting world-weariness: Too Much of Nothing, Edge of the Ocean (a gorgeous ballad that previously escaped the bootleggers), the astonishing I’m Not There (1956), a song as good as anything Dylan ever wrote. Read the full review on The Guardian

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Joni Mitchell – Love has Many Faces
Mitchell went so far as to rearrange the 53 songs into “thematic acts” like that of a ballet. Likening the process of reorganizing and repurposing her catalog to that of a film editor, she noted, “I had 40 years of footage to review. Then, suddenly, scenes began to hook up. Then series began to form.” She added, “Instead of it being an emotional roller coaster ride as it was before — crammed into one disc — themes began to develop. Moods sustained. I was getting there…When this long editorial process (two years) finally came to rest, I had four ballets or a four-act ballet — a quartet. I also had a box set.” Read the full review on Consequence of Sound

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Miles Davis – Live at the Fillmore Box
Miles at the Fillmore, the latest entry in Columbia’s revelatory bootleg series collecting unreleased Miles Davis live material, finds the trumpeter departing one musical world and entering a new one. In the previous five years, he’d taken the music of the Second Great Quintet (Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter, and Tony Williams) as far as it could go; hearing new music in his head, music that had never been made before, Miles fully embraced electric instruments on the dual landmarks In a Silent Way and, a year later, in April 1970, Bitches Brew; most of this set was recorded in June of that year. Read the full review on Pitchfork

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Wilco – Alpha Mike Foxtrox
You can follow various threads through Alpha Mike Foxtrot and find a different story. You can see the evolution of a rock band and a live act, the growth of a songwriter, the journey to find the next set of right players, the cohesion and expansion of a band’s sound. And yet, the box set never gives you a sense of completion. There’s not a sense, as the cover of Nick Lowe’s “I Love My Label” ends the collection, that this is a story that has reached its end. Alpha Mike Foxtrot is a fascinating, and remarkably consistent, look at how Wilco has refused to define itself. Read the full review on Pop Matters