If you’re a hardcore music fanatic, few things will elicit more of a reaction from your music-lovin’ ears than news of an impending box set of a favorite artist. From the 1970s on the box set has been the parlance of music completists who must have every blessed studio cut, outtake, alternate version, false start, studio chatter, interview, live concert and radio jingle that they can get their grubby little mitts on. I know of whence I speak; from about the age of fourteen on I nursed a serious musical crush on rock and roll icon Buddy Holly. What began as a simple purchase of a Holly cassette tape quickly spiraled out of any sort of reasonable control to include biographies, documentaries, fanzines and photographs, finally culminating in the mama-jahamba of all my purchases, the 1978 MCA Records 6 disc vinyl box set, The Complete Buddy Holly. I snagged my copy from a hole in the wall record shop in downtown Syracuse, New York when I was seventeen years old and quickly learned what other more seasoned record hounds already knew: Namely that by virtue of the fact that you had endeavored to seek out a Holy Grail of a particular recording star in the form of an exhaustive collection of their discography instantly delineated you from the more casual fan who might just be content with one of those dreaded Greatest Hits packages. In other words, you had not arrived as a serious fan until you plunked down your hard-earned greenbacks for those slick and thick box sets that whispered promises of musical nirvana.
The box set as it existed during its Golden Age has taken a few rough licks since the advent of the so-called digital age, with more and more people opting out of purchasing any physical media featuring their favorite artist and instead going full-tilt boogie for digital downloads. Most big labels don’t even go near a box set release in this day and age, which has left the field wide open for such boutique record labels as Bear Family and Rollercoaster Records to step in with that oddball Bobby Bare or Clyde McPhatter box set that diehard fans always fiend for.
A nice exception to the above fast and loose rule came earlier today when it was announced that Capitol/Ume would be dropping a brand new John Lennon box set on October 9, 2020 – the legendary musician’s 80th birthday. Titled Gimme Some Truth. The Ultimate Mixes, this new release features a whopping 36 Lennon solo tracks and has the added bragging rights of having Yoko Ono and Sean Lennon as curators and executive producers.
Other than the aforementioned 36 tracks, the box set can also boast a masterful mix by Paul Hicks with an assist by Sam Gannon. The final mixes of the tracks were accomplished by using actual vintage analog equipment courtesy of the Los Angles based Henson Recording Studio. To ensure the new set passes the smell-test, the tracks were then mastered in analog at the chief recording studio for John Lennon during his tenure with The Beatles, the legendary Abbey Road Studios. Undertaking this last leg of prepping the songs for release was Alex Wharton. Gimme Some Truth is available on digital and – thank the rock and roll Golden Gods – vinyl and CD. Another great staple of the classic box set – a companion book/booklet – will also be made available with the deluxe edition physical release and will be a virtual cornucopia of interviews, letters, lyric sheets, tape boxes and never before seen photos. Yes Dear Readers, my mouth is already watering at the prospect of adding this to my already sagging bookshelf which houses my various box sets. Does this mean I’m an incurable box set collector? That’s a notch above almost everything else in this day and age, so I’ll wear that title proudly.
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Gimme Some Truth. The Ultimate Mixes can be yours this October 9. Tell ‘em Vents sent you!