Seattle Times music critics recommend box-set music gifts, from Otis Redding to The Boss.

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Box sets of CDs always make a great holiday gift and, as always, the music industry is happy to oblige with newones this year. Here are a few suggestions from our music writers.


The Beatles, “1+”

(Apple Corps. Ltd./UMG, 1 CD, 2 DVDs, $50.98)

This is the DVD set Beatles fans have been waiting for, featuring all of their landmark promo films (forerunners of music videos), alongside TV appearances and live performances. There’s the occasional sleight of hand: A clip for “Eight Days a Week” is cobbled together from concert footage, even though the band never played the song live and the band members (especially John) clearly weren’t big fans of lip-syncing. But it’s fun watching the group progress from the evident nervousness of “Love Me Do” to supreme confidence when casually performing “All You Need Is Love” in a worldwide broadcast. The “1+” set also includes a new mix of the greatest-hits “1” CD. Also available on Blu-ray.

Gillian G. Gaar, Special to The Seattle Times


Queen, “A Night at the Odeon”

(Hollywood Records, super deluxe box set: 1 CD, 1 DVD, 1 Blu-ray, $149.99)

In 1975, British rock act Queen released its international smash “Bohemian Rhapsody,” so there was much to celebrate at year’s end. The hit song is the centerpiece of this Christmas Eve show at London’s Hammersmith Odeon, with the band in peak form. Freddie Mercury proves to be one of rock’s most charismatic lead singers, with an array of costume changes (white satin, black satin and tight satin shorts) and campy bravado — who else would think of putting together a medley of “Big Spender” (from the musical “Sweet Charity”) and “Jailhouse Rock”? The “super deluxe” set has the show on CD, DVD and Blu-ray, along with a book of rare photos, facsimile program and other memorabilia.



Bruce Springsteen, “The Ties That Bind: The River Collection”

(Columbia, 4 CDs, 3 DVDs, $92.19)

The best album Bruce Springsteen ever made wasn’t officially released until December 2015. It was called “The Ties That Bind” and had 10 tight pop songs. Springsteen chucked most of them and instead put out the “The River.” This set collects the official album and 22 outtakes from the planned “Ties” record, plus three bonus DVDs. It’s the perfect gift for a Springsteen fan. The accompanying video helps provide context for why Springsteen chose the larger narrative arc of the double album, leaving those pop songs in the can until now. Springsteen also just announced he’s doing a “Ties That Bind” tour — but the stop closest to the Northwest, unfortunately, is Oakland.

Charles R. Cross, Special to The Seattle Times


Weather Report, “The Legendary Live Tapes: 1978-1981”

(Legacy, 4 CDs, $43.79)

Bootleg cassettes have circulated, but here is a mind-blowing, bristling, curated compilation of concert tapes, selected by none other than Weather Report drummer Peter Erskine himself, of one of the greatest jazz bands of all time — at its peak. The sheer variety of ensemble sounds; the dancing, driving interplay between bassist Jaco Pastorius and keyboard genius Joe Zawinul; the oblique imagination of reedman Wayne Shorter — it’s all here, with the frisson of a live show. Taken mostly from 1978 and 1980 Japanese tours, and an exhilarating 1980 night in London, the 28 tracks include “Birdland,” natch, but also “Brown Street,” “Bada/Boogie Waltz,” “A Remark You Made,” “Black Market,” “Madagascar” and many, many others.

Paul de Barros, Seattle Times music critic


Otis Redding, “Soul Manifesto: 1964-1970”

(Rhino, 12 CDs, $51.58)

Otis Redding died in a plane crash in 1967 and never enjoyed the fame and success “The Dock of the Bay” brought his legacy. Most people introduced to him by that song or the film of the Monterey Pop Festival probably have no idea that he recorded covers like “Stand By Me” and “Louie Louie” (yes) as well as a disc with the great Carla Thomas before the more familiar “Dock” and “The Immortal Otis Redding.” But here it is, all of it, the only unforgivable drawback being that there’s no booklet, which means you’ll just have to guess when these songs were recorded and who played them.