FIRST PICTURES: Suzanne Vega / Close-Up Series box set


Suzanne Vega’s new Close-Up Series “box set” is out next week and we’ve had an early look (and listen!).

For the uninitiated, since 2008 Vega has been re-recording her back catalogue and creating volumes of ‘themed’ collections. Artistically speaking, this has allowed her to revisit and rework her material (stripping the ‘eighties’ production out of many songs) as well as having the unspoken financial attraction of meaning she owns the master recordings for all these songs.

This six-disc set gathers together all four Close-Up releases; Vol 1, Love Songs; Vol 2, People & Places; Vol 3, States of Being and Vol 4, Songs of Family.

It is certainly attractively presented and bigger than expected (it’s just slightly smaller than an seven-inch single). The cover is made from thick uncoated card with embossed typography and a blue linen quarter-binding.

Inside, the style and design are consistent with how the individual Close-Up releases were presented, and each disc is housed within an extra thick card leaf within the 40-page book. Herein lies one of the main issues with this set – it is not easy to flick through the book and enjoy the contents (photos, text, lyrics) because the pages with the CDs are so thick that you can not push them down flat for fear of breaking the binding.

So while the ‘hand-made’ feel is certainly attractive, it has to be said this set doesn’t feel particularly robust and you do wonder how well it will cope with regular usage.

Perhaps putting all the discs at the rear of the package may have made more sense, leaving the listener to browse the book with ease, without the rigid, hard leaves to contend with. A minor criticism perhaps, but it’s surprisingly annoying.

What isn’t annoying is the content. Vega’s four volumes of Close-Up are nicely done (if mastered a little on the loud side) and a fifth bonus CD mopping up all the various digital bonus tracks is a unique attraction. The other bonus item is a DVD, Live and Backstage at City Winery. This is a charming 50-minute long film with Vega talking on camera about the Close-Up Series and her career and she makes some amusing observations about how some fans she comes across expect her to be travelling everywhere by limo, even though she’s only had ‘two hits’ (her words). The interviews are punctuated with rehearsal footage and nine tracks performed at the event. I’d recommend watching the DVD first before diving into the music, it really gets you into the mood!

The single card sleeve packaging for the individual Close-Up releases always felt rather ‘budget’ so despite some concerns over the formatting of this deluxe set, it’s a great way to own the music. If you already have the individual releases and are feeling grumpy about being ‘forced’ to buy this set, the good news is that a limited quantity of the DVD and the CD with bonus tracks are being made available separately from Suzanne Vega’s online store.

If you pre-ordered early you should have booked this set for just over £30. It’s more than that now, but we get the impression that not too many of these are being produced so if you’re interested you should get one while you can.

The Close-Up Series set is released on 11 August 2014

Track listing:

CD 1- Close-Up Vol 1, Love Songs

  • 1 Small Blue Thing
  • 2 Caramel
  • 3 If You Were In My Movie
  • 4 Gypsy
  • 5 Marlene On the Wall
  • 6 (I’ll Never Be) Your Maggie May
  • 7 Harbor Song
  • 8 Headshots
  • 9 Songs In Red and Gray
  • 10 Stockings
  • 11 Some Journey
  • 12 Bound

CD 2- Close-Up Vol 2, People & Places

  • Luka
  • Zephyr & I
  • New York Is a Woman
  • In Liverpool
  • Calypso
  • Fat Man and Dancing Girl
  • The Queen and the Soldier
  • Rock In This Pocket (Song of David)
  • Angel’s Doorway
  • Ironbound/Fancy Poultry
  • Neighborhood Girls
  • Tom’s Diner
  • Man Who Played God

CD 3- Close-Up, Vol 3, States of Being

  • 50-50 CHANCE

CD 4 – Close-Up Vol 4, Songs of Family


CD 5 (bonus tracks)

  • 99.9
  • It Makes Me Wonder
  • Freeze Tag
  • Knight Moves
  • Luka (Spanish)
  • Frank and Ava
  • Wodden Horse (Caspar Hauser’s Song)
  • Song Of Sand
  • Room Off the Street
  • Priscilla
  • Anniversary
  • Language

DVD – Close-Up Live and Backstage at City Winery

  • Introduction from Suzanne
  • Tom’s Diner
  • Interview
  • Rock In This Pocket
  • Interview
  • Gypsy
  • Interview
  • Solitude Standing
  • Interview
  • Room Off The Street
  • Interview
  • Silver Lady
  • Interview
  • Daddy Is White
  • Interview
  • Penitent
  • Interview
  • Luka

14 responses to FIRST PICTURES: Suzanne Vega / Close-Up Series box set

  1. Pingback:Out This Week / 18 August 2014 | superdeluxeedition

  2. F van der Scheer says:

    Let’s hope Amazon will send this box well packaged. Multiple times I had to return a (digipak) cd after it was damaged because their envelopes didn’t protect the stuff adequately.

  3. Ronnie says:

    Suzanne is probably not to blame for the high shippinh. Shipping prices from US Post to foreign countries are ridiculously high since a couple of years. Seems like they don’t want the business :-)

  4. Steve Ferguson says:

    I emailed her website and complained. I’ll let you know if I get a response.

    • C Feeney says:

      I e-mailed on 28th July and have had no response so far. I have the albums on vinyl, so may yet buy the book set, I’m a sucker for nice packaging!

      • C Feeney says:

        Today have it for $43, with expedited shipping and duty deposit it comes to £39.19 – a very generous 60p per $1.

        I’ m very ,very tempted.

  5. Eric says:

    I exited the order process when those shipping prices were quoted too!

    If you pre-ordered from an amazon in your own country, then you may have got yourself a very nice deal.

    Maybe I was confused by the previous announcements over this set, but I thought there was going to be an option to buy the book version, but with just the two bonus discs included. Not either the complete set, or a couple of card discs for the bonus content. That still leaves a lot of fans tempted to re-purchase the 4 albums all over again, to get the deluxe packaging.

  6. Adam says:

    I decided to get the whole box set. Normally I would support the artist directly, but $15+ to ship inside the US is ridiculous. It was not only cheaper to buy at, but cheaper to ship to the US, too. (Plus, I assume Paul gets an affiliate payment from Amazon, so that’s cool.)

    I’m sure Ms. Vega has no idea about the shipping costs, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to pay them.

  7. Chris.L. says:

    Yes Steve, I had a similar problem trying to order a $10 live cd from the Vega website. The postage to the UK was $14. Outrageous! Cancelled the order. I wonder if Suzanne Vega has any idea of the stupid shipping prices that’ re charged on her website?

    • Mike Anderson says:

      The price of shipping from the US to the UK is expensive — it went up over a year ago or so. Previously, it used to cost about $6 or $7 USD to ship one CD to the UK. Now it costs around $12 or $13 depending on the weight.

      The prices that she’s charging to ship to the UK are fair. You can’t blame her for her stupid shipping prices…

  8. Steve Ferguson says:

    I just tried to order the bonus CD/DVD package for $20 from her website and was stunned to have the shipping cost to Canada set at $14. I’ll pass.

  9. Simon Long says:

    It was originally rumoured to be a limited release of 5000 – no idea if that is still the case.

  10. Geert De Wilde says: just pushed it back to 25 August …
    (I placed my order on 24 March …)

    • Richie says:

      Well Geert I`m the same as you, it`s seems I ordered it before it was recorded it was so long ago! But we will have got it for just over £32 which is a bargain.

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