My copy of The Art Box, a 6-CD box set of Art Bears material (their three original albums released in 1978-9 as well as three full CD’s of remixes and reworkings by various high-profile avant-prog figures), came in today. Let’s see. I own a fair number of box sets. I recently got Miles Davis‘ The Complete In a Silent Way Sessions and The Complete Bitches Brew Sessions, both of which are beautiful works of art in terms of the packaging. But this box nearly takes the cake. While it can’t quite compete with the metal Bitches Brew package, The Art Box is one of the most beautiful CD packages I’ve ever laid eyes on. The box itself is tastefully simplistic, each CD comes digipacked separately, the CD artwork appears to be new, and the original album art is preserved. The original albums are remastered by Bob Drake, and I’ve only just begun to listen to them, but they sound fantastic.
Perfectly timed for the band’s 25th anniversary, this box is a fitting tribute to one of the great early avant-rock pioneers. It remains to be seen whether the three discs of reworkings will make it worth shelling out $70 for the box if you already own the three original albums - but I would say any big-time fan of this group should be drooling over it.