U2: The Unforgettable Fire (25th Anniversary Edition)
U2's atmospheric 1984 album celebrates its silver anniversary with a three-disc set that adds a CD of leftovers and a DVD filled with videos and live footage. It's aged well. Once seen as a moody and pretentious misstep, Fire — which includes "Pride (In the Name of Love)" and "Bad" — today sounds like the band's bridge to world domination.
This three-CD, two-DVD box gathers a bunch of live and studio rarities that span the veteran rockers' entire career. The "Family Jewels Disc 3" DVD — which includes a bunch of videos and in-concert songs — is cool, but it's the outtakes that will have fans shaking all night long. Best are songs from the original Australian albums with Bon Scott that were left off U.S. releases.
Fela: The Best of the Black President
Over the next year and a half, nearly four dozen albums by the Afrobeat star will be released as part of a new reissue campaign. That's a lotta Fela. This two-disc, 13-track intro pulls some of the most essential cuts from those records. Best of all, it includes a DVD featuring fiery live performances by the politically active Nigerian (who died in 1997). You'll eventually want to dig deeper.
David Bowie: Space Oddity (40th Anniversary Special Edition)
Bowie's 1969 freak-out is the first of many albums where he would adopt a persona. Here it's a psychedelic folkie who sat through Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey way too many times. To celebrate the record's 40th anniversary, this two-disc reissue adds 15 songs, including demos and BBC performances. The legend begins here.
Genesis Live 1973-2007
This 11-disc box mixes live albums from both the Peter Gabriel and Phil Collins eras, indulging in the band's storied stage history. Even though they transformed into a pop machine after Gabriel left, Genesis remained a prog-rock powerhouse in concert. The box includes fan faves like Seconds Out and Three Sides Live plus previously unreleased bonus tracks.
Dolly Parton: Dolly
This four-disc box gathers nearly 100 songs from Parton's long career, going all the way back to a single she recorded in 1957. But it's her evolution during the '70s — from country-music hitmaker to Top 40 superstar — that gets to the heart of this great set. Classics like "Coat of Many Colors" and "Jolene" continue to influence.
Nirvana: Bleach (Deluxe Edition)
Nirvana's debut celebrates its 20th anniversary with an expanded reissue that tags on a complete 1990 live show from Oregon, where they cover and own the Vaselines' "Molly's Lips." You can hear traces of the band that would revolutionize music a couple years later on the best of Bleach's messy punk ramblings, like "Blew" and "About a Girl."
Get Yer Ya-Ya's Out! The Rolling Stones in Concert — 40th Anniversary Deluxe Box Set
The Stones' 1969 Madison Square Garden concerts (which were released on record a year later) celebrate their 40th anniversary with a four-disc set that includes previously unreleased performances by the band plus a live DVD. There's also a CD featuring music by B.B. King and Ike & Tina Turner, who opened the shows. The Stones never made a better live album.
The Rod Stewart Sessions 1971-1998
Before he started making music for your grandma, Stewart was one of the planet's greatest rock singers, which he proves repeatedly on this four-disc box. There's plenty of previously unreleased material from his peak '70s period. Best: early and alternate versions of "Maggie May," "You Wear It Well" and "The First Cut Is the Deepest."
Where the Action Is! Los Angeles Nuggets 1965-1968
The fourth Nuggets box zeroes in on L.A., spotlighting a bunch of bands freaking out on the garage- and psych-rock scenes. There are tons of groups you probably never heard of (Penny Arkade? London Phogg?), and many you should know (like the Standells, Love and the Bobby Fuller Four). The Byrds, Buffalo Springfield and the Doors also show up.