The year's best box sets and reissues

We’re giving thanks this year for these swanky new archival sets and deluxe editions

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Tis the season when musicians, bands and record companies open up the gates to their deep archives, drawing out lost treasures or just spiffing up favorite albums that you thought you already knew. As we do every year at this time, the TONY Music team has rounded up a favorite apiece for your consideration—just in time for you to add them to your shopping list for that certain music-loving someone, even if it's yourself.


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  • Interpol
    Turn on the Bright Lights (Matador)

    For the past year, Interpol has been combing the archives, compiling this remastered reissue of its career-defining debut, and the boys have done a great job. This tenth-anniversary edition includes B-sides, unseen live footage and an excellent radio session from their first trip to the U.K., plus a handsome hardback filled with candid snaps of the austere New Yorkers looking decidedly baby-faced. Early demos laid down when singer Paul Banks was just 21 reveal compositions already awash in taut interplay between nimble basslines and chiming guitars—facets that explain why TOTBL sounds fresh even now. It’s also proof that Interpol hit its stride straight out of the gate.—KTB

  • Charles Mingus
    The Jazz Workshop Concerts 1964–65 (Mosaic)

    No true jazz lover needs to be convinced that Mosaic Records is responsible for some of the most desirable archival box sets available. But this new collection devoted to maverick bassist and bandleader Charles Mingus at a peak in his career shows the lengths to which this imprint will go to serve its clientele. Meant to celebrate what would have been Mingus’s 90th birthday, a six-CD collection of live material from a freewheeling 1964–65 tour was good to go in July…at which point Mosaic learned of additional obscure sources that filled crucial holes. The result is an expansive overview of a fiery band constantly in flux, and by extension, a brilliant snapshot of Mingus’s idiosyncratic methodology. (Available at mosaicrecords.com.)—SS

  • Photograph: Courtesy Legacy

    Rage Against the Machine
    Rage Against the Machine—XX (Sony Legacy)

    Rage Against the Machine made headlines recently when guitarist Tom Morello slammed Paul Ryan (remember him?) for giving misguided props to the staunchly antiestablishment quartet. This 20th-anniversary CD-DVD-vinyl reissue of the rap-metal exemplars’ debut—filled out with demos and riveting live footage—happily drowns out the controversy. A fresh listen to colossally grooving classics like “Freedom” and “Take the Power Back” serves as a reminder that politics were only half of Rage’s story; the band’s real coup was soldering together Funkadelic strut and Zeppelin stomp, turning protest songs into butt-moving (slam-) dance anthems.—HS

  • Sufjan Stevens
    Silver & Gold: Songs for Christmas (Asthmatic Kitty)

    Detroit indie-rocker Sufjan Stevens’s Christmas-themed vinyl box set, Silver & Gold, an extension of his 2006 box set, Songs for Christmas, is both quirky and undeniably mesmerizing. From the various holiday-themed knickknacks—stickers, tattoos, hallucinogenic photographs, an apocalyptic pullout poster and even a Christmas coloring book—to a 59-track compilation of various yuletide classics, this beautifully ornamented treasure chest proves once and for all that Christmas can never really come too early—or too often.—RJS

Interpol
Turn on the Bright Lights (Matador)

For the past year, Interpol has been combing the archives, compiling this remastered reissue of its career-defining debut, and the boys have done a great job. This tenth-anniversary edition includes B-sides, unseen live footage and an excellent radio session from their first trip to the U.K., plus a handsome hardback filled with candid snaps of the austere New Yorkers looking decidedly baby-faced. Early demos laid down when singer Paul Banks was just 21 reveal compositions already awash in taut interplay between nimble basslines and chiming guitars—facets that explain why TOTBL sounds fresh even now. It’s also proof that Interpol hit its stride straight out of the gate.—KTB


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