Boxed-Set Spotlight: The Brit Box

Coming in November, The Brit Box isn't just any old English package. It's four CDs of U.K. Indie, Shoegaze, and Brit-Pop Gems of the Last Millennium - specifically, from 1984 to 1999. Not only that, the traditional phone booth depicted on the cover is, according to Rhino's press release, "illuminated with a battery-powered flickering light bulb!"

How many gems can you fit into a Brit booth? To illuminate the various strains of music that developed after the postpunk of the early '80s, Rhino crams in 78 tracks by 78 different U.K. acts. And although the three strains cited in the subtitle can often be heard to blend together, the box divides them neatly among the discs.

Accordingly, Disc 1 is indie (not just in record-label affiliation but in spirit), featuring the Smiths' "How Soon Is Now?" and the Stones Roses' "She Bangs the Drums." The shoe­gazing tracks on the next disc include Ride's "Vapour Trail," Lush's "For Love," and My Bloody Valentine's "Only Shallow." Disc 3 launches the parade of Britpop (no hyphen, methinks), led by Suede's "Metal Mickey," Pulp's "Common People," and of course, salvos from the battling Blur and Oasis (respectively, "Tracy Jacks" and "Live Forever"). But a single disc wasn't enough for that genre, so the fourth one has songs by Britpop-esque "latecomers," such as Super Furry Animals' "Something 4 the Weekend."

Besides track-by-track notes, the box's 80-page book offers essays, interviews, and photos to help you ring them tones and fill your weeks, from Happy Mondays to the Sundays.

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