Though more than 50 percent of music sales are digital now, record companies still happily comply every year with our keen holiday desire to rip open packages full of actual, tactile recordings under the tree — especially box sets. Here are some gift suggestions from our critics.
1. Lee Hazlewood, “There’s a Dream I’ve Been Saving 1961-1977”
(Light in the Attic, $180, $80).
This four-CD set, plus a DVD and 172-page book, trawls through the archives of cult country favorite Hazlewood — who gave the world, among other songs, “These Boots Are Made For Walkin’” — as well as that of the artists on his label, LHI; the deluxe edition offers the label’s entire catalog on three DVDs. — Gillian G. Gaar
2. Nirvana, “In Utero (Super Deluxe Box Set)”
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Nirvana’s best album gets the full rerelease anniversary treatment in a three-CD-plus-DVD (live from Seattle in 1993!) set. The unreleased songs and rare rehearsals are worth the price alone. — Charles R. Cross
3. “The Complete Chick Webb & Ella Fitzgerald Decca Sessions (1934-1941),”
You know Fitzgerald from the songbooks, but have you listened to early Ella, with Savoy Ballroom swing drummer Chick Webb, the band leader who kick-started her career in the 1930s with her first hit, “A-Tisket A-Tasket”? I thought not. Webb, with arrangers such as swing-era champ Edgar Sampson, thrill to the bone in this eight-CD set. — Paul de Barros
4. Creedence Clearwater Revival, “Creedence Clearwater Revival”
(Fantasy, Abbeville, $41.49).
This six-CD box set is the kind of expansive release that includes not just one, but three different versions of Creedence classics including “Bad Moon Rising” and “Proud Mary.” You can get all of Creedence in one fell swoop in this set, which has all of the groups’s studio albums, both of its live albums and a disc of “pre-Creedence” rarities. —- Gillian G. Gaar
5. Wings, “Wings Over America: Deluxe Edition,”
three CDs, DVD (Hear Music, $108.98); “Rockshow,” DVD (Eagle Vision, $29.98).
When Paul McCartney’s band Wings played the Kingdome on June 10, 1976, it was the largest indoor concert of its time. “Wings Over America” and “Rockshow” present audio and video, respectively, from that historic engagement, a thrilling performance from a time when McCartney’s set list wasn’t dominated by Beatles’ songs. — Gillian G. Gaar.