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Top 6 classic rock box sets in 2012

Boxed up boogie

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Box sets are a great way to rediscover favored artists, often sounding even better than the originals after being remastered, and often containing tracks that haven't previously been released. And in many cases, there are extras like photos, commentary by the artist, posters, and other memorabilia. A half dozen of the best classic rock box sets released in 2012 are hereby submitted for your consideration.

1. The Beatles stereo vinyl box set

The Beatles Stereo Vinyl Box Set
Capitol Records

Everything about this box set is big. For one thing, it's LP vinyl, and it contains 16 albums. The concept is big, too -- The Beatles' 12 studio albums (UK versions) released between 1963 and 1970, plus Magical Mystery Tour and the 1988 compilation, Past Masters Vols. 1 and 2. The set contains the first stereo vinyl release in the U.S. of the first four Beatles albums (Please Please Me, With The Beatles, A Hard Day's Night, Beatles For Sale) and the first ever stereo vinyl release anywhere of Past Masters. And there's a 250-page hardbound book included for good measure. Also big is the price: $319 (but maybe not so big when you consider what you're getting.) The albums are also available individually, but what fun would that be?

2. Heart - 'Strange Euphoria'

Heart - Strange Euphoria box set
Sony Legacy

The Strange Euphoria box set contains four discs -- 61 songs, 19 of which are previously unreleased demo tracks covering a wide swatch of Heart's career. The set contains three CDs, plus a DVD featuring performances from a 1976 public TV documentary, The Second Ending featuring Heart. (An Amazon exclusive version replaces the DVD with a bonus CD on which Heart cover five Led Zeppelin songs.) Songs were selected by Ann and Nancy Wilson, arranged in chronological order, seamlessly blending the many musical styles in which they are fluent.

3. The Rolling Stones - 'Grrr!'

The Rolling Stones - Grrr!
ABKCO / Universal

GRRR! -- The Rolling Stones 50th anniversary 50-track box set is available in various iterations, including a three-CD version with booklet, three-CD deluxe version with hardback book and five post cards, four-CD (80 tracks) super deluxe edition with 7" vinyl, hardback book, poster and post cards, a five-LP 12" vinyl edition, and digital download. The set includes the band's first single, released in June 1963 -- a cover of Chuck Berry's "Come On" -- plus two new songs, "One More Shot" and "Doom and Gloom".

4. ZZ Top - 'Original Album Series'

ZZ Top - Original Album Series box set
Rhino Records

Sometimes, all you want is the music. That's the theory behind Rhino Records' Original Album Series, which they describe as "no frills just great music." For the ZZ Top entry in the series, that means five albums -- Rio Grande Mud, Tres Hombres, Fandango, Deguello, Eliminator -- in simple sleeves in a simple slipcase. No books, no posters, no memorabilia. Just the music, without the additional production expense, and a very reasonable ($16.99) price for five of ZZT's best albums.

5. Tommy Bolin - 'Teaser: The Definitive Collectors Edition'

Tommy Bolin - Teaser: The Definitive Collection
429 Records

The five discs in the Teaser: The Definitive Collectors Edition box contain 36 tracks of axe master Tommy Bolin's work, including the ex-Deep Purple and James Gang guitarist's 1975 debut solo album, Teaser and Great Gypsy Soul, on which a roster of fellow guitar gods perform a collection of Bolin songs. The cast includes Peter Frampton, Warren Haynes, Nels Cline, Steve Lukather, Steve Morse, Brad Whitford, Joe Bonamassa, John Scofield, Derek Trucks, Glenn Hughes and Myles Kennedy.

6. Judas Priest - 'The Complete Albums Collection'

Judas Priest -The Complete Albums Collection
Sony Legacy

Heavy metal anyone? It takes a pretty big box to house all of the album releases of a band whose recording career began in 1974. Thus, there are 17 discs in Judas Priest's The Complete Albums Collection, including newly remastered versions of their debut album, Rocka Rolla and their second release, 1975's Sad Wings of Destiny. Each CD comes in a sleeve with the album's original cover art. The set also includes a 40-page booklet of photos, liner notes and album credits. The set was released at the end of a yearlong world tour.

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