Six or seven years ago there was a buzz on the 40th Anniversary of Roxy Music’s debut album. There was no shortage of leaky tales of Boxed Sets Of God™ being prepared for it’s 40th “birthday.” It would be a multi disc set with a DVD-A with a Steven Wilson 5.1 mix of the album as well as the original mix in 24/96! We know that it happened because Steven Wilson squawked about it online! At that point the NDA was tabled, presumably. It would have the A/B-sides, the BBC Sessions, and Who Knows What Else. As one of the most significant albums in my Record Cell, I was more than ready for this to happen. It was suggested that each of the eight Roxy Music albums would get this treatment in turn. And then, in 2012, we began to see new shapes emerge.
There would be a boxed set of all of the albums along with B-sides/single mixes/5.1 of each album on DVD-As. Then… crickets. I dug up something different six months later. Yes, the mega box of albums on CD was back, but the 5.1 was out of the picture. Along with the eight discrete albums, there were a pair of CDs with all of the non-LP A/B-sides/single mixes in a very thorough package. This hit the wilds in late 2012 and I saw it with my own eyes in stores, but didn’t bite. I was waiting for the 3-4xCD +DVD box of each album to appear months later, on schedule. I could have bought it for about $60 online but thought that it would be rendered obsolete by the DLX RMs of each album in boxed set form a little further down the line.
<insert five year wait>
In the ensuing five years, I still ignored the 10xCD “Complete” box. I was certain that there would be a BSOG for each album with everything and more. Steven Wilson did the remixing in 5.1. He said as much. They can’t just sit on it for years…can they?
It was late last year when I caught wind of the by now 45th Anniversary Super Deluxe Boxed Set for “Roxy Music;” the 1972 debut album that still casts a very long shadow today as the flashpoint of post-modernism in rock. As expected there would [finally] be a hyper deluxe BSOG of that amazing debut album. Here’s what it contains:
Disc 1 – The UK AlbumRoxy Music: Roxy Music US CD 
- If There Is Something
- Virginia Plain
- 2 H.B.
- The Bob (Medley)
- Chance Meeting
- Would You Believe?
- Sea Breezes
- Bitters End
Disc 2 – Demos & Out-Takes
Roxy Music: Demos + Out-Takes UK CD 
- Ladytron [demo]
- 2 HB [demo]
- Chance Meeting [demo]
- The Bob (Medley) [demo]
- If There Is Something
- 2 H.B.
- The Bob (Medley)
- Chance Meeting
- Sea Breezes
- Bitters End
- Virginia Plain
Disc 3 – The BBC Sessions
Roxy Music: The BBC Sessions UK CD 
1. If There Is Something
2. The Bob (Medley)
3. Would You Believe?
4. Sea Breezes
6. 2 HB
8. Chance Meeting
9. Virginia Plain
10. If There Is Something
BBC IN CONCERT 3/8/72
11. The Bob (Medley)
12. Sea Breezes
13. Virginia Plain
14. Chance Meeting
Disc 4 – DVD
Roxy Music: DVD 
The full album remixed in 5.1 by Steven Wilson plus UK/French TV performances:
- Re-Make/Re-Model / The Royal College Of Art, 6/6/72
- Ladytron / The Old Grey Whistle Test, 20/6/72
- Virginia Plain / Top Of The Pops, 24/8/72
- Re-Make/Re-Model / Full House, 25/11/72
- Ladytron / Full House, 25/11/72
- Would You Believe / French TV, Bataclan, Paris, 26/11/72
- If There Is Something / French TV, Bataclan, Paris, 26/11/72
- Sea Breezes / French TV, Bataclan, Paris, 26/11/72
- Virginia Plain / French TV, Bataclan, Paris, 26/11/72
This was most of what I had been waiting for. As I have many Roxy Music bootlegs of the amazing BBC performances, the thought of getting these in top quality has been a goal for decades. If you’ve not heard the 12 minute version of “If There Is Something” with Davy O’List on lead guitar you’ve been getting shortchanged! I would absolutely demand that such a box contain those incredibly vital radio sessions. I also see they went with the US track listing for the album proper with “Virginia Plain” slotted in as track five. Truthfully, most pressings everywhere after 1972 followed suit.
There was a whole CD of unreleased studio outtakes and demos. Also, instead of useless vinyl LPs of any of this music, the space in the box instead went to a luxurious 136 page hard cover book inside of the box. Nice! A whole coffee table book dedicated to just this album? Yesssir. Still, I had the nagging thought that wasn’t there something missing here? How about the B-side to “Virginia Plain,” “The Numberer?” So this BSOG was less than thoroughly canonical; lovely as it was. It painted a picture that revealed that any further album boxes would undoubtedly follow suit. Well, at any rate, I could always buy the “Complete” box set for the B-sides and single mixes. How much were they asking for this bad boy, anyway? $80? $100? No. Try $150 smackers!!! Add shipping, and it could get very pricey, indeed. Yow! It was at that point that I reconsidered my commitment to buying BSOGs of each of the Roxy Music albums stuffed with such goodness.
Fortunately, saner heads offered the next best thing a better price point with a hardbook 2xCD with discs one and three for as little as $22.00 at my local emporium. Well, at least I would get that BBC material in the best quality possible. So I would be up for the 2xCD version of this. I would not begetting the album in 5.1 but how often can I listen to that, anyway? And then I could buy the “Complete Studio Recordings” 10xCD box for the two discs of non-LP B-sides and mixes which will obviously be omitted from all future boxed sets for around $50. Great! I’ll price one out right now.
Except that the going rate on that box in the horrorshow world of 2018 is now $150-$350.
– 30 –
I have to approach this Boxed Set with a bit of a yawn. It is perhaps completist, but I am kind of over the whole “Steve Wilson 5.1 Album Remix” event. What bothers me most about it is that he has been brought in to work on many bands I care about – Roxy, XTC, Tears For Fears and as much I would enjoy hearing these audio remixes, there is a level of pretension attached to buying these albums again for that remix that I can’t get past.
But I guess if attaching Steve Wilson’s name to an artist reissue gains some new interest because he is involved, it’s a good thing for the artist being reissued.
Echorich – I noted the Wilson remix, not so much because I cherish his work, but because it gave credence to the tales of the DLX box eventually happening. I almost never listen to music in 5.1. I have a 5.1 setup in my living room but never sit in the “sweet spot” necessary to hear music in that fashion. No time for that. Music may play on the stereo while I am doing housework. That’s as far as that goes. I only have <10 albums in 5.1 anyway. Some of these are in DTS which my new DVD player doesn't decode! What's up with that???
I echo Rich’s sentiment on this. A SDE box set is not very worthwhile if your fans are unable to afford it. This one, in my opinion, contains too much of the same thing with not enough difference to make me go “YES!”
Agreed on the not enough differences to warrant a purchase. I will admit that I gave it some thought tonight as I held both the 2CD version and the box set. Pretty hefty box but CAD$199!!
I put those back and bought the recent China Crisis double reissues for CAD$13.999 and the triple for CAD$16.99. A wise choice in my opinion although I’d love to look through the book.
KeithC – I can’t fault you for your choice, but as someone who has shady bootlegs of the material on the 2xCD, you should make the time and money for that one day. As for CAD$200, I can only say I’m proud you didn’t go Simon Le Bon right there in the store. If there are such boxes of each Roxy album, they had better rethink their price point. As much as I love the canon, I don’t love it $1200.00 worth.
I was so close to going full Simon Le Bon on their sale table of crap but then was stupefied by the Weird Al accordion box set and its CAD$600 price. 15 discs but …… wow!
That’s a SDE that I would actually plunk the money down for…
KeithC – Someone’s going to win a Best Package Design Grammy®… I wonder who? Which store were you in, by the way? I’m trying to remember which stores big enough to stock “Squeeze Box” are still left in Canada now that Sam The Record Man [and Tower] are long gone.
Sunrise Records from Eastern Canada took over about 80% of the HMV stores (and most of the Calgary locations). Pricing is usually very good; so much so that I only order about half of what I used to as Amazon is $3-$6 more expensive for new releases. Although Sunrise tends not to have the deluxe editions you sometimes get lucky as I did with the new Waterboys 3CD and the new Marc Almond release. As for Weird Al, I did check Amazon.ca and the accordion set there is only CAD$399.
Agree on the book, a Roxy Music coffee table book would be a great thing, not just about the first album but all of them.
Tim – I want a Roxy Music coffee table book heavy enough to use as a weapon. And I don’t want to spend more than $75 for it!! So Gene$i$ Publications, take a hike!! I don’t want your elite hands touching such a product.
They could do a whole damn book just on the cover photography for all of the albums (well, except for Avalon which is kind of a boring cover).
Tim – I like the reserved elegance and classicism [minus cheesecake] of “Avalon.” And the outtakes from that cover shoot are fascinating. I do have Nick DeVille’s album cover book, simply called “Album.” Of course Roxy figure in there.
Interview on the making of the set.
Tim – Nice one. I learned a few things there. Especially about Davy O’List and his short tenure in the group!
Odd that they’d go to this much trouble and not include “The Numberer” (and who knows what else … oh wait … the Post-Punk Monk knows!
I saw this at the mentioned price and thought “I’ll just pick up a copy a few years from now …” especially having recently seen a pristine Stiff Records Box for $10 in a US emporium (I already own one, but it is falling apart with use and age — but like an idiot, I forgot to get the “new” one! Doh!).
However, this SDE has now been ordered for reasons explained in the follow-up post …
I love RM but seriously this is crazy price wise. I know lower prices have and will follow, but I think I will stay with the 10 cd box or maybe pick up the 2 cd at some point. What’s extra annoying is that we don’t have the interest of a new remaster (which true, may not have been an improvement anyway) but instead the 1999 remaster again. Part of me respects them for this, I think I read that Bryan liked that one, but still.
I don’t have 5.1 so that is no use to me.
The book does look gorgeous though. In the end I can’t justify the money or the space I’d need to find to store it. For Your Pleasure may be a different story…who knows!
SimonH – Who knows with these things? I balked at the 2xCD+DVD+book “Immersion Edition” of “Olympia” for $100, but six months later picked it up from an Amazon dealer for a very tidy $20. I respect the usage of the 1999 master by Bob Ludwig in the new box. I’m sure its a quantum leap from the 1984 1st mastering I have on the first German pressings, but I’m not certain that mastering technology has significantly moved on from that time. Mastering techniques certainly have not! According to a Manzanera interview I read, I think part of the holdup was the book Ferry was working on for such a long time. I have to say I’m looking forward to it. The book in the “The Thrill Of It All” 4xCD box was such a tease! I’ve been thirsting for a serious Roxy coffee table book ever since obtaining Ferry tour books which are always tantalizing glimpses into his astonishing visual archives. I think that if each album/box gets a 100+ page hardcover book, that will be the ultimate expression of this idea.
Listening to this box set today. Here’s a PSA for PPM readers: there is some material missing from the Peel sessions:
The Peel session from May 23, 1972 contained a version of Bitters End that is not on the 3CD box.
The version of 2HB from May 23, 1972 is edited in the 3CD box by about 45 seconds compared to the original broadcast.
Ferry’s web site lists the date as May 25, but the liner notes list it as May 23.
As noted above, the July 18, 1972 Peel session from which Virginia Plain is pulled also included a 12+ minute version of If There Is Something (twice as long as the January, 1972 version contained on the 3CD box).
Ferry’s web site lists the track as being included, but nope, it’s not on the disc:
The August 03, 1972 BBC In Concert broadcast also contained six songs. Only five are presented on the 3CD box: Grey Lagoons is missing.
The main album as presented here is the 1999 master, not the 2012 master. Discs 2 and 3 are newer masters.
JT – I’m told that Ferry prefers the 1999 master. I only had the GER Polydor 1984 master, previously. I am all too aware of the brain boggling 12 min version of “If there Is Something” being missing from the megabox. Damnit. It’s what I was buying it for since I only had it on a dodgy ITL boot CD. Good thing I still do, though. You had better believe that I will compare and contrast with my bootleg BBC sessions discs [which are surprisingly legion – I have primarily have boot merch only for this band] once I get around to reviewing this product.
We might have the same 2CD Peel/BBC boot. Aside from what I wrote above, the new 3CD DLXRM contains all of the contents of the 2CD Peel/BBC boot set, except a 1973 Peel session that we’ll likely see on a DLXRM of For Your Pleasure (Pyjamarama, Editions of You, etc). The mastering on the new 3CD DLXRM is a bit darker than on that the boot, and/or the boot is a bit brighter. Brightness can fool the ear into erroneously perceiving clarity or a “cleaner” sound, so I think after I get used to the darker (and probably more natural, ultimately) 3CD DLXRM versions of the Peel/BBC material, I’ll prefer them over the hyped high end of the boot set.
As of now, the boot set only has eight tracks not made redundant by the 3CD DLXRM: the four I mentioned i my post from earlier today above, and the four from the 1973 session.
JT – I was aware that some of the BBC sessions might be earmarked for the no doubt inevitable “For Your Pleasure” box. If Ferry hadn’t taken so long on the book, I had been expecting DLX boxes on the 40th anniversary of each of the albums. Hopefully we’ll all still be alive by the time of the “Avalon” SDE at the rate they seem to be happening at.