Really trying to resist the obvious ‘Virgin’ pun

The Complete Motown Singles series is genuinely spectacular. Such a well thought-out product that really does have the sensibilities of record collectors as a priority. Cynical or not, the result is quite beautiful. For those that aren’t aware, the ‘boxsets’ (an inadequate term, as you’ll soon realise) are covering every one of the Motown single releases, in chronological order. While the first set covered a number of years, in the early stages of the label, subsequent editions have taken one year each.
1967 was released this week, and I took a few moments to fondle it in a Virgin Megastore yesterday. Why fondle a boxset? Well, firstly, I’m not sure that there’s an answer on earth that is actually socially acceptable, but what can you do. Anyway, they’re packaged as 7″x7″ size hardback books. There’s a detailed guide to all of the music, and then the CDs slip into card pockets in the back pages of the book, just as 78s would have gone into albums back in the day (which, incidentally, is where we get the name ‘album’ from for a collection of songs.) Just to add a little more icing onto the several tonnes of icing already on this particularly soulful cake (enough with the metaphor?), there’s a repressing of one of the 7″s featured on each collection housed in the front cover of the book. See the accompanying pictures for further ogling potential.
Anyway, the music is, naturally, peerless and just as sublime as a huge pile of Motown can be expected to sound. Sure, the constant desire to do things other than just straight soul results in all kind of weird sounds being tried across two sides of a piece of vinyl at various points in their back catalogue, but even the oddities are captivating.
The packaging issue is the constant problem I have with boxsets. You inevitably pay a lot for these things, but they don’t always have a user-friendly outlook. Now, hi-fi bods will argue that CDs that go in and out of card sleeves are going to get ruined quickly, which is the greatest over-reaction since David Cameron sellotaped a wind-turbine onto the side of his house because somebody told him being green wins votes. It’s balls, unless you have fingers the width of country lanes and the co-ordination of Amy Winehouse, but then you’ll damage anything. However, the packaging issues extend further. As I have said previously on this site – I am often lured in way too easily by nice, shiny packaging. I have all but one of the metal spine Miles Davis boxsets. I don’t play them all that often, but they look fucking fabulous. Likewise, the ‘Girl Group Sounds‘ boxset that got a post all to itself some time back. Still, would I be writing a blog about music if I wasn’t obsessed enough to buy lots of boxsets? I think I just have to accept that the two things will always go hand in hand.
Oh, did I tell you about a bargain I got the other week on the vinyl box of John Coltrane‘s ‘Heavyweight Champion‘? Well, it was the most blah blah blah

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