Old Is New Again: The Best Box Sets and Oddities of the Season

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As we crawl toward November and slowly begin to steel ourselves for the impending deluge of year-end lists and the accompanying arguments, there is, mercifully, a drop-off in the number of new releases hitting shelves—unless you count reissues, box sets, and other only-for-the-nerds oddities, in which case, we hope you’ve been saving up. Or that you are loved by generous gift-givers with really good taste in records. 

First, there’s The Cutting Edge 1965-1966, the 12th and most recent installment in Bob Dylan’s uneven but occasionally Very Important bootleg series. This collection—available as a $20 2-CD set, a totally silly $120 6-CD set, or the vastly superior $70 3-LP set—features outtakes, rehearsals, and alternate versions of songs from his miraculous three-album run: Bringing It All Back Home, Highway 61 Revisited, and Blonde on Blonde.

Devotees of 90s indie will be pleased to learn that Merge Records is reissuing Magnetic Fields’ landmark 69 Long Songs as a box-set consisting of six 10” records—two black, two red, and two clear. It’ll set you back 100 bucks, but it’ll look awesome on your shelf. For the more anglophilic among us, there’s also the 25th Anniversary edition of Nowhere, the debut album by Oxford-based shoe gazers Ride. That there was a 20th Anniversary edition just five years ago is beside the point… maybe.

Neko Case is getting in on the holiday box set game as well, with a career-spanning package that includes all eight of her albums, six of which had previously gone out of print, on 180-gram vinyl. Truckdriver, Gladiator, Mule, will also come with an 80-page photography book and a vinyl slipmat, both designed by Case.

And finally, for all the parents out there, consider This Record Belongs To _____, a brilliant collection of folk-leaning, children-friendly songs by artists like Van Dyke Parks, Harry Nilsson, Nina Simone, and Vashti Bunyan. Also Kermit the Frog. Anyway, divided into two parts—one full of upbeat stuff the kids might like to dance to, the other full of stuff meant to lull them to sleep—the album is a joint release between Light in the Attic and Third Man. An admirable first step toward giving your kids a better life than the one you had. 

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