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Box Sets, Part 1 - Hendrix, ELO, Angel

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The holiday season is always overflowing with new box set releases and other special collections, and here are a few of our favorite recent releases from Angel, ELO and Jimi Hendrix.

Angel - The Casablanca Years - (7-CD box set)

Despite being pals with Gene Simmons of KISS, who got the band signed to Casablanca Records, Angel never really got past cult status. That doesn't mean they were a subpar band though; to the contrary their mid-to-late '70s output had a tight sound that nodded to the prog/glam/rock mélange so popular at the time with groups that were all over radio like Styx, Kansas and Supertramp. A big part of that sound came from keys man Gregg Guiffria, who would eventually leave the band to start Guiffria, and the vocals of Frank DiMino. DiMino's vocals are instantly recognizable whether rocking the glam pop of "Anyway You Want It" from Helluva Band, prog rocking in a Styx vein on Sinful's "Don't Take Your Love" or playing favorites like "Tower," "Rock & Rollers" and "20th Century Foxes" on live album Live Without a Net. This set contains the band's six Casablanca studio albums, the live record and a bonus disc featuring 17 alternate mixes, single edits and other rarities. Topping it all off is a very nice booklet featuring an essay from Dave Reynolds. Order here

ELO - The UK Singles Volume One 1972-1978 (16 7" 45-RPM singles)

Here's a must-have for ELO fans who are also into vinyl. This set reproduces all of the band's singles that were released in the UK over a seven year period in the '70s, most of which were smash hits. Released on different labels, some are small hole 45s and some have the larger hole, and all are packaged in the sleeves that they originally had. Original ELO member Roy Wood was still in the band when first single "10538 Overture" was released, but the creativity was all Jeff Lynne from there on with an incredible run of hits: Chuck Berry's "Roll Over Beethoven," "Showdown," "Ma-Ma-Ma Belle," "Can't Get it Out of My Head," "Evil Woman" and on and on. Fans will dig the B-sides too, which feature goodies like "Oh No Not Susan," "Bluebird is Dead," instrumental "In Old England Town," Wood's "First Movement (Jumping Biz)" and live takes on "Daybreaker," "Showdown" and "10538 Overture." The 16th single is actually an extended player, The ELO EP featuring "Can't Get it Out of My Head," "Strange Magic," "Ma-Ma-Ma Belle" and "Evil Woman." Appropriately, the "Mr. Blue Sky" single is pressed on blue vinyl (so is "Livin' Thing" b/w "Fire on High".) Packaged in an attractive and sturdy cardboard slipcase, this set is also exciting because its title indicates there is at least one more volume to come. Order here

The Jimi Hendrix Experience - Electric Ladyland: Deluxe Edition 50th Anniversary Edition - (3-CD + Blu-ray)

This is not just another repackaging of a classic Hendrix album; there's lots here for fans to dig into that has never been released before. Firstly there is the original album, featuring favorites like "Voodoo Chile," "Crosstown Traffic" and "All Along the Watchtower," remixed in 5.1 surround sound by famed Hendrix engineer Eddie Kramer. Then there's At Last…The Beginning: The Making of Electric Ladyland: The Early Takes that features previously-unreleased demos of cuts like "Little Miss Strange" with Buddy Miles and Stephen Stills and "Long Hot Summer Night" with Al Kooper (there are actually five versions of the song included.) There's also an early take on "Angel," which wouldn't see a finished release until The Cry of Love album. Perhaps the highlight of the set is Live at The Hollywood Bowl, a previously-unreleased concert from Sept. 14, 1968, just before Electric Ladyland was released. The only cut from Electric Ladyland played during this performance is "Voodoo Child (Slight Return);" instead Hendrix sticks to known material like "Hey Joe," "Fire," "Foxey Lady," "Little Wing," "Sunshine of Your Love," set closer "Purple Haze" and several others. A Blu-ray version of At Last…The Beginning rounds out the set and it includes interviews with Chas Chandler, Mitch Mitchell and Noel Redding. Housed in a book-style package, the set includes a bound-in booklet with rare photos, notes from Kramer, reproductions of Jimi's hand-written lyrics and more. The cover of the set is a photo taken by Linda Eastman that is the shot that Hendrix originally wanted to use for the album. Order here

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