Kris Kristofferson- Van Morrison- Human League Box Sets

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The holiday gift giving season is a great time for fans of box sets and other multidisc sets as this is when artists and labels like to come forward with some of the most tempting releases of the year. This year's bunch is a good one, and as usual many of the sets feature previously-unreleased material or works that have been all but impossible to find until now. Here are our picks for the cream of the crop!

Kris Kristofferson
The Complete Monument & Columbia Albums Collection

Legacy Records

This 16-CD box set contains all of Kristofferson's studio albums from his 1970 self-titled debut through the 1981 title To the Bone, so all the big hits and famous cuts like "Me and Bobby McGee," "Help Me Make it Through the Night," "For the Good Times" and "Sunday Mornin' Comin' Down" are here in their original form. The Live at the Philharmonic album is included too, but it may be the other live material included here that is of most interest to Kristofferson completists as it has rarely been heard. Live at the Big Sur Folk Festival, recorded in 1970, has eight tracks (of 10 total) that are previously-unreleased, including stripped-down takes on "To Beat the Devil," the amusing "If You Don't Like Hank Williams" and a version of "The Law is For Protection of the People" that Kris introduces by remarking, "Well, this one ought to get us busted!" The Live at RCA Studios 1972 album has never been released before; it's a mix of hits and cuts like "Duvalier's Dream," "Billy Dee" and "Casey's Last Ride." Also included is the 23-cut Extras collection featuring an assortment of B-sides, bonus tracks and album cuts from the mid '80s and featuring guests like Joan Baez, Brenda Lee, Dolly Parton and Willie Nelson. Topping off the collection is a 16-track set of demos, all previously-unreleased, so fans can hear the nascent versions of tunes like "Hitting Close to Home," "A Stitch in the Hand" and "The Hurricane and the Helicopter." The enclosed booklet includes an introduction by producer Don Was and an essay from music journalist Mikal Gilmore. Click on cover to get your copy:

Van Morrison
..It's Too Late to Stop Now…Volumes II, III, IV & DVD

Legacy Records

This four-disc set comprises three live shows that were recorded in 1973 and a 50-minute film from the same tour, and the collection will likely thrill Morrison fans with its sets filled with performances of deep album cuts as well as most of the hits. As to the hits, there is little repetition from show-to-show; "Domino," "Into the Mystic" and "Caravan" are performed during two of the shows but biggies like "Wild Night," "Gloria," "Brown Eyed Girl" and "Wild Night" appear only once each across the three CDs. That leaves lots of room for Morrison to stretch out with tracks like "Snow in San Anselmo," "Hard Nose the Highway," "Cypress Avenue," "Purple Heather" and covers like a jazzy blue-eyed soul interpretation of Willie Dixon's "I Just Want to Make Love to You" and a jump blues version of the Hank Williams standard "Hey Good Lookin'." The DVD was shot over two nights at The Rainbow in London and it features nine tracks about evenly split between hits and favorite album tracks. Click on cover to get your copy:

The Human League
A Very British Synthesizer Group

Virgin Records

Here's a very pleasing compilation from the English hit makers who were radio and MTV darlings in the 1980s. Big hits "Don't You Want Me" and "Mirror Man" are presented in their original forms as released as singles, but other familiar cuts like "(Keep Feeling) Fascination" and "The Lebanon" are here in previously-unreleased alternate versions. Then there are seven cuts, including "Tell Me When," "Life on Your Own," "All I Ever Wanted" and "Soundtrack to a Generation" that are presented in versions that are seeing their first commercial release ever. Throw in an extended version of "Human," a William Orbit remix of "Heart like a Wheel" and an instrumental version of "The Sound of the Crowd" and this 30-track set is a surefire winner. Available as a 2CD set or as a 3LP box set; A Very British Synthesizer Group drops Nov. 18. Click on cover to get your copy:


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