The Big Issue : Edition 448
SELECT what's happeningin the arts, fIlm, MUSIC, BOOKS AND DVDS THE BIG ISSUE 26 DEC 2013 – 9 JAN 2014 37 LIVE ALBUMS, BEST OFs AND BOX SETS ARE YOU A completist when it comes to certain music? Maybe you just have to own every Beach Boys vocal take ever recorded, or every alternative version of a Bob Dylan song ever bootlegged? Well, that’s what box sets are for – catering to that nagging part of us that needs to own everything of something. As usual, the end of the year brings a rush of archival releases aimed at such completists, plus a slew of Best Ofs (The Killers, Sunnyboys, The Lucksmiths); Greatest Hits (Catherine Britt, Dido); and live albums (Mastodon, Neil Young, Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds) for the more casual fans. The appeal is obvious: if you love an artist, you’ll love hearing them in a different context. Then there are teases: a little taste of something you have never heard before. The Killers’ collection Direct Hits includes two new tracks, produced by Stuart Price (Madonna) and Anthony Gonzalez (M83). Britt’s The Hillbilly Pickin’ Ramblin’ Girl So Far opens with the new song ‘Who Cares’, and Nick Cave’s Live from KCRW radio session boasts two unaired tracks on the vinyl edition. Those aren’t just there to get us to pony up hard-earned dough, or to present themselves as ideal gifts – although obviously that’s key. It’s to remind us that even if we own 98% of an artist’s catalogue, we’re still missing that 2%. Even as streaming services gain traction and new generations are less fussed about the idea of actually owning something, archival releases have a tangible quality favoured for both gift- giving and personal hoarding. Not only can you hold them, you can also pore over the complex packaging and soak up page after page of liner notes. New box sets this year include the Paul Simon retrospective Over the Bridge of Time, spanning 1964 to 2011, and the exhaustive Bob Dylan set Complete Album Collection Vol. One, encompassing 35 studio albums and much more. Australian legend Archie Roach has thrown his hat into the ring with Creation, a remastered round- up of his first four albums with bonus tracks plus commentary from his friend and collaborator, Paul Kelly. There will always be musical ephemera to collect, no matter what the format. If you don’t want to lug around all those Dylan albums, you can hold them all in your palm as a harmonica-shaped USB stick. Just be sure not to misplace it. by Doug Wallen » Doug is The Big Issue’s Music Editor.