Outside the box 

Need a gift for a music lover? Try one of 2006's best collections

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When it comes to box sets, 2006 will be remembered as a prolific and stylistically varied year. Shoppers will have plenty of choices if box sets are high on their gift-giving lists. Here's a look at some of the year's best:

Various Artists

Rockin' Bones: 1950s Punk & Rockabilly

Rhino Records


This four-disc set includes a handful of famous songs from legends like Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Eddie Cochran and Elvis Presley. But the real strength of this box is the dozens of long-forgotten artists included here, ranging from Commonwealth Jones to Larry Dowd to Vince Taylor.

Various Artists

Legends of Country: Classic Hits of the '50s, '60s & '70s

Shout Factory Records


One might fuss that with three discs, this set is a little thin only one hit from legends like Hank Williams and Loretta Lynn are included. Still, enough classic hits are included to make this a good representation of country music's pre-crossover era.

Various Artists

Doctors, Professors, Kings & Queens: The Big Ol' Box of New Orleans

Shout Factory Records


One good thing that came from the devastating tragedy of Hurricane Katrina: the renewed appreciation for the music of New Orleans. This four-CD box is a good introduction to the mix of jazz, blues, funk, rock, zydeco and Cajun music that defines the Crescent City and Louisiana.

Various Artists

That's Entertainment: The Ultimate Anthology of MGM Musicals

Turner Classic Movies/Rhino Records


This whopping six-CD set an updated version of a 1995 box set features the songs that served as the soundtrack to the trilogy of That's Entertainment films, and also includes a full disc of previously unreleased material, all culled from the vaults of the premier studio for movie musicals, MGM.

The Clash

The Singles

Sony/BMG Records

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The Clash vaults were well-plundered with the box set Clash on Broadway, but The Singles is still a cool package. Each single, with its accompanying B-sides, is housed individually with its original sleeve artwork.

The Byrds

There is a Season

Columbia/Legacy Records


This set replaces four-disc Byrds box from 1990 and offers enough different material particularly from the band's later more country-centric lineups to make it worth owning, even for those who have the original set.

The Pretenders

Pirate Radio

Warner Bros./Sire/Rhino Records


The Pretenders remain one of modern rock's most enduring bands, and this four-CD/one-DVD package showcases the considerable talent that singer-guitarist Chrissie Hynde has shown for writing tuneful rockers, graceful ballads and snappy pop.

John Lee Hooker


Shout Factory Records


With 83 tracks covering his entire career, Hooker does justice to this master of raw, primal blues. Fans will find all the key tracks here, from signature songs like "Boogie Chillen" and "Boom Boom" to later collaborations with artists like Bonnie Raitt, Van Morrison and Robert Cray.

Buddy Guy

Can't Quit the Blues

Silvertone/Legacy Records


A little more of Guy's early material would have been welcome here, but this three-CD/one-DVD set provides a good overview of Guy's turbo-charged approach to blues, as well as his staggering skill as a guitarist.

Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys

Legends of Country Music

Columbia/Legacy Records


Though known as the pioneer of Western swing, Wills had a sound that went well beyond country to embrace jazz, blues and Tin Pan Alley pop. With 105 tracks on four CDs, the full range of Willis' artistry is showcased here, and it makes for a highly entertaining, consistently satisfying musical journey.


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