Boxed to the Nines
JOHNNY CASH The Legend: Limited Edition (Columbia/Legacy, 5 CDs and 1 DVD, $330) CHARLIE POOLE "You Ain't Talkin' to Me": Charlie Poole and the Roots of Country Music (Columbia/Legacy, 3 CDs, $40) With tracks from 1954 to 2002, the Cash set comes in a 12 x 16-inch hardcover book (with a lithograph). One CD documents his first radio performance; the DVD has selections from a 1980 TV special. (Also available: 4-CD version.) Spanning 1925 and 1931, the Poole set comes in a cigar box, resurrecting the banjo player and singer who founded both country and bluegrass.
DONOVAN Try for the Sun: The Journey of Donovan (Epic/Legacy, 3 CDs and 1 DVD, $60) The 1960s folkie, of course, but the journey goes all the way to 2004 and includes unissued studio and live tracks. The DVD is a never-released documentary with the 1970 Open Road band.
BILLY JOEL My Lives (Columbia/Legacy, 4 CDs and 1 DVD, $60) ... and many has he led, starting with the days of the Lost Souls, the Hassles, and even the metal band Attila - all here. Among the two dozen unreleased tracks are demos and alternate versions. And a complete, unissued concert from the River of Dreams tour is on the DVD.
A QUIET REVOLUTION 30 Years of Windham Hill (Windham Hill/Legacy, 4 CDs, $50) From Will Ackerman to Jim Brickman, this is the Who's Who of New Age, also encompassing Michael Hedges, Liz Story, and George Winston. With live rarities.
MILES DAVIS The Cellar Door Sessions 1970 (Columbia/Legacy, 6 CDs, $55)
TOMMY DORSEY The Sentimental Gentleman of Swing (Bluebird/Legacy, 3 CDs, $40)
PROGRESSIONS 100 Years of Jazz Guitar (Columbia/Legacy, 4 CDs, $50) The Davis set has five hours of unreleased music plus essays by every member of the Live-Evil band: Airto, Bartz, DeJohnette, Henderson, Jarrett, and McLaughlin. The Dorsey box marks his centennial with discs devoted to "The Sideman," "The Leader," and "The Air Checks." Progressions has 78 guitarists (from 33 record labels), beginning with Vess Ossman in 1906 and ending with Bill Frisell in 2001.
JEFF WAYNE The War of the Worlds: Collector's Edition (Columbia/Legacy, 2 SACDs, 4 CDs, and 1 DVD, $130) The 1978 "musical version," that is, with a surround mix and tons of extras, all in a 12 x 12-inch hardcover book.
RAY CHARLES Pure Genius: The Complete Atlantic Recordings, 1952-1959 (Atlantic/Rhino, 7 CDs and 1 DVD, $150) It's all here - nine hours worth, including an hour of unissued music, dialogue, and improvisations. Disc 7 is a 1953 rehearsal with Ahmet Ertegun, who also shows up on the DVD in a 2005 interview by Ray director Taylor Hackford. The DVD feature: live at the Newport Jazz Festival, 1960. The box itself is a carrying case that looks like a portable record player (see page 94).
CHICAGO Chicago at Carnegie Hall, Vols. I-IV (Rhino, 4 CDs, $45)
YES The Word Is Live (Atco/Elektra/Rhino, 3 CDs, $50) The bands may be worlds apart, but the word is "live," indeed - and "unreleased." The old Chicago LPs fit onto three CDs, so Disc 4 is actually a fifth volume taken from the same 1971 stand. And all but two of the Yes tracks are unissued, spanning the globe and the years 1970 and 1988.
RAMONES Weird Tales of the Ramones (Sire/Rhino, 3 CDs and 1 DVD, $65)
TALKING HEADS Talking Heads (Sire/Warner Bros./Rhino, 8 DualDiscs, $150)
JUST SAY SIRE The Sire Records Story (Sire/Rhino, 3 CDs and 1 DVD, $65) The Ramones get a career overview plus a DVD of all their videos and a comic book by 25 graphic artists. Talking Heads get a "brick": the entire studio catalog on DualDisc, with surround mixes by Jerry Harrison plus generous extras (see last month's feature). Both bands are on Just Say Sire, along with the likes of Madonna and the Pretenders; the DVD has 20 videos.ONE KISS CAN LEAD TO ANOTHER Girl Group Sounds, Lost & Found (Rhino, 4 CDs, $70)
CHILDREN OF NUGGETS Original Artyfacts from the Second Psychedelic Era, 1976-1996 (Rhino, 4 CDs, $65)
WHATEVER The '90s Pop & Culture Box (Rhino, 7 CDs, $106) The girls are from the '60s, of course - in a hatbox. And you get coffee beans with the '90s!