2012 box sets | Album review

Box sets from Madlib, Joni Mitchell, the Rolling Stones, Philadelphia International Records, Tompkins Square and Bill Withers.

MadlibMadlib Medicine Show: The Brick (Madlib Invazion)Basics13 discs with 13 booklets pull together the prolific underground producer�s 2010-11 series of mind-expanding beats and borderless mix-tapes.HookThe Brick collects both original productions and source material, culled from more than �4 tons� of vinyl, a must for fans of the Beat Konducta.BonusTaking a tour through this trove of jazz, Brazilian and African sounds is a lot easier (and cheaper) than trying to locate the original LPs.
Joni MitchellThe Studio Albums 1968-1979 (Rhino)BasicsTen of the iconic folkie�s classic albums get the remaster treatment.HookThis set focuses on the golden era of Mitchell�s career, including Blue, Ladies of the Canyon and Mingus, tracing her path from arty finger-picker to jazzy experimentalist.BonusEach disc features the original LP artwork including the gatefold text�reading glasses not included.
The Rolling StonesGRRR! (ABKCO/Interscope/UMe)BasicsThere are four versions, the most elaborate of which is the Super Deluxe Edition Box Set, packing 80 tracks into four CDs.HookThe Stones� 50th birthday is the latest excuse for, er, rolling out yet another greatest-hits collection. Two new songs��Doom and Gloom� and �One More Shot� ensure that completists will snatch it up.BonusA bonus disc and 7" vinyl accompany the Super Deluxe set along with a hardback book, poster and postcards, even. Mick and Keef have pulled out all the stops. Again.
Various artistsPhiladelphia International Records: The 40th Anniversary Box Set (Harmless)BasicsThe Gamble & Huff legacy distilled into ten discs that capture the sound of Philadelphia, strings and allHookTeddy Pendergrass, the O�Jays, the Stylistics, Patti LaBelle� The names alone make it, capturing these artists at their �70s peak.BonusA 60-page booklet with copious notes by Ralph Tee, who compiled the set, plus vintage photos and classic album artwork that could lead to another outbreak of disco fever
Various artistsWork Hard, Play Hard, Pray Hard : Hard Time, Good Time & End Time Music 1923-1936 (Tompkins Square)BasicsThree CDs or LPs worth of deeper-than-deep cuts from a time that would set the template for country musicHookFolklorist and producer Nathan Salsburg stumbled upon an extremely rare collection of hillbilly 78s documenting hardscrabble rural areas and a mood that ranges from devout to debauched.BonusEssays from Sarah Bryan, Amanda Petrusich and John Jeremiah Sullivan will learn you good, plus 19 ditties that have never been heard.
Bill WithersThe Complete Sussex and Columbia Albums (Columbia/Legacy)BasicsNine CDs from the retired songman�s brief but brilliant career that recast folk, blues, gospel and soul into modest, workingman�s musicHookYou know these songs: �Ain�t No Sunshine,� �Use Me,� �Lovely Day.� Here they are remastered, with plenty of alt-takes for superfans to geek out over.BonusA 39-page booklet includes a message from Withers plus an essay by noted academic Michael Eric Dyson, plus photos and recording deets that enhance the picture, in case the 2009 doc Still Bill left you wanting more.