As usual, when news of this box set broke, I filled my head with expectations about what could and should be on it. Then, I caught the track list weeks ago and it took a bit of the wind out of my sails. The Jeff Lynne years are treated as a "by the way..." era rather than half of the band's recorded LP career.
That leaves us with a new sense of what the bottom line is for this release: the box set is centered on Roy Wood's work with a rather nice tribute to Carl Wayne.
Bravo on the package: hardbound DVD sized fold-out. Poster, eh. Cards, ok. The liner notes/credits book: great! Well thought-out and amazingly desgined.
Now, to the content. Disc 1 is rock solid. Starting with the primitive gems, you coast through the early-period Move beautifully including a less refined version of Night of Fear. For me, the acoustic version; rough mix of Flowers In The Rain was the winner of disc 1.
Now to disc 2 when I start hitting a wall. I understand the value of these live recordings, but wouldn't having a separate Something Else from the Move release with bonus EP tracks be a better option instead of taking up more than an entire CD of a career anthology? The live material is enjoyable, but...
Disc 3 starts with two tracks we basically just heard from Disc 2 with some differences, then finally continues its journey through the Move catalog with a few more alternatives and rarities all marked with a red asterisk.
Then to disc 4 where the asterisks for all intents and purposes disappear. We get the nickel tour through the second half of the Move's recorded career. I mean, the set doesn't even touch Shazam until half way through disc 3. The Jeff Lynne era didn't stand a chance.
Overall, in terms of sound quality, I think they accomplished what they set out to do: restore the Move's recordings to top shelf quality so everyone can enjoy them again. In that sense, mission accomplished.
But then, there's some of the decisions I thought were a bit odd.
None of the discs run an hour. I thought the "... more than three hours of Move magnificence" was a typo. It's not.
I'm sorry, but I just can't get excited over shorter/edited/abridged versions of stuff we already have. Wouldn't edit versions work better for best-of's made for the masses?? If they like what they hear, they can pursue the full-length stuff. And wouldn't it give the dedicated fans more motivation to buy another "singles" collection?
A shortened Do Ya was favored over a shortened Feel Too Good?
One track from Message From The Country? One?!?
Never mind the lack of Jeff Lynne compositions here, there's not a single rarity or alternate from the Jeff Lynne era... period. Not one. Not a single new thing to hear.
That doesn't make this a bad box set as much as it makes it a really lopsided one.