Reviews

Great British Albums / 20 disc box

Great British Albums box setHere in the UK, this summer has been one of celebration, with The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in June, followed swiftly by the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics.

On the back of this wave of patriotism, Sony Music have taken the opportunity to release a box set containing “20 of the most iconic British albums from the past 50 years”.

The Great British Albums box set is pleasingly presented, with a slightly grungy Union Jack design on a sturdy lift-off lid box. The 20 albums within, come in individual card wallets with bespoke designed discs. It’s a fairly minimal approach, but at least this set provides a 24-page booklet with songwriting credits, track listings and performer details for the albums within.

Of course, it’s something of a mug’s game trying to come up with a definitive list of the great British albums, and Sony are naturally limited to music they have the rights to issue, via labels such as RCA, Epic and Columbia. But the selection of “genre defining” records is less predictable than you might expect, and the box does succeed in offering a wide range of different musical styles across the decades.

Great British Albums box set

20 albums within this nicely presented set

Fleetwood Mac kicks things off with some blues, via their second album Mr. Wonderful and the prog rock box is ticked by the inclusion of Emerson, Lake & Palmer‘s Tarkus from 1971. The Only Ones‘ eponymous debut and The Clash‘s London Calling move us through the late seventies in suitably punky fashion.

Eyebrows will be raised at Adam & The Ants‘ Kings Of The Wild Frontier rubbing shoulders with bona fide classics such as Prefab Sprout‘s Steve McQueen, but the inclusion of Screamadelica by Primal Scream and The Stone Roses’ first album is hard to argue with.

That said, it is seriously debatable whether Mark Ronson‘s Version will stand the test of time, and its inclusion feels a little zeitgest-friendly. Nevertheless, given the wide variety in the box (few people will own all the albums) there really is something for everyone and it is an effective whistle-stop tour of musical movements through the decades.

Great British Albums box set

Bespoke designs on the discs

This box is effectively a tasting menu of British music. If you don’t like something (prog rock?) simply push it to the side of your plate and move on to something you might find more palatable (punk or new wave..?). At around £35 for the box, each album costs less than £2, so this set is excellent value.

Possibly a box set to fill the gaps in your record collection, or one for parents to buy the teenage kids to teach them about ‘proper music’!

ORDER Great British Albums box set here.

Albums in the box:

  • 1. Fleetwood Mac / Mr. Wonderful
  • 2. Emerson, Lake & Palmer / Tarkus
  • 3. Mott The Hoople / All The Young Dudes
  • 4. Jeff Beck / Blow By Blow
  • 5. The Only Ones / The Only Ones
  • 6. The Clash / London Calling
  • 7. John Cooper Clarke / Snap, Crackle & Bop
  • 8. Psychedelic Furs / The Psychedelic Furs
  • 9. Judas Priest / British Steel
  • 10. Adam & The Ants / Kings Of The Wild Frontier
  • 11. Big Audio Dynamite / This Is Big Audio Dynamite
  • 12. Prefab Sprout / Steve McQueen
  • 13. Deacon Blue / Raintown
  • 14. The Stone Roses / The Stone Roses
  • 15. Primal Scream / Screamadelica
  • 16. Manic Street Preachers / Everything Must Go
  • 17. Faithless / No Roots
  • 18. Kasabian / Empire
  • 19. Mark Ronson / Version
  • 20. The Vaccines / What Did You Expect From The Vaccines?

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22 responses to Great British Albums / 20 disc box

  1. Steve says:

    No blur? No Oasis? No Police? There are plenty of other albums most people would have chosen….
    And I’d have used Faithless’ Sunday 8pm or Reverence…

  2. Kiwwy says:

    I’m not really familiar with any of these albums. Hmm…

  3. suedehead says:

    No Blur, no The Smiths, no Suede, no Pulp? Nice box but it should be 50 disc box no only:)

  4. Carty says:

    It’s sad that Sony have used the 2004 remaster sleeve for the Ants’ “Kings Of The Wild Frontier” as opposed to the original with the red text. Seeing as Sony in Japan managed it a few years back. Nevertheless, I am surprised to see it included. Ordered.

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      It’s got the five demos and the ‘alternative mix’ of Antmusic which is quite good for one of these sets, not just the basic album!

  5. EgonRonay says:

    “Eyebrows will be raised at Adam & The Ants‘ Kings Of The Wild Frontier rubbing shoulders with bona fide classics such as Prefab Sprout‘s Steve McQueen”

    I’d have put it the other way round personally.

  6. foureyes says:

    Lots of white boys with guitars.

  7. AlanDistro says:

    I haven’t listened to a single one of those before. Might be an interesting purchase, especially given the price.

  8. rich says:

    haha that is such a lame product.

  9. Will says:

    Not familiar with 12 on down (and 11 doesn’t rank as a classic imo).

    But Adam & the Ants is one of the best UK exports since the Beatles, and is deservedly included. Classic. Not to mention pioneering with the Burundi drums, historical with the Malcolm McLaren influence/interference, and, lasting/timeless (unlike Big Audio Dynamite, to name one sound that had its time, and sounds of its time).

    • Brian Byrne says:

      This Is B.A.D was a ground-breaking album and still stands the test of time today. It continues to sell and was recently remastered and reissued. The band also reformed and toured last year. I was wondering if the version in this boxset is the new remastered edition with extra tracks or the original?

  10. Eric says:

    Some odd choices. Even allowing for the limited range of Sony group acts, there’s no room for Sade’s Diamond Life or Suede’s debut? Much as I love them, having both Raintown and Steve McQueen as the only late 80s selections is a little bit samey. Plus they’ve chosen the wrong Faithless and Kasabian albums. Still, can’t argue with the value for money etc.

    • Arco says:

      ” but the inclusion of Screamadelica by Primal Scream and The Stone Roses’ first album is hard to argue with. ”

      Why ?

  11. John says:

    Calling Prefab Sprout‘s Steve McQueen a “bona fide classic” in comparison to Kings of the Wild Frontier is the kinda thing pretentious critics say. Kings is one of the few CDs in this box that I actually own. Given the way “Antmusic for Sex People” took over Britain in the early 80’s, I’m not sure why anyone would consider its inclusion as “eyebrow raising.” Hell, a strong case couldn’t be made for Friend or Foe’s inclusion as well. Mick Jones made it twice.
    Doesn’t Sony own the rights to Paul McCartney’s work in the early 80’s? I can understand not including Tug of War as McCartney’s music is meant for greater things than this box, but there seems to be a lot of filler in this box. What about the Boomtown Rats? Dead or Alive? Paul Young?

  12. Eric says:

    The set’s clearly aimed at a certain, male-centric, guitar-centric, Q-magazine type of audience. Britpop, Dadpop, etc. That would explain no Sade, no Wham or George Michael, no Alison Moyet, no Paul Young, no Terence Trent D’Arby….all the massively-popular 80s acts on CBS/Epic.

  13. Mark Phillips says:

    It does include 20 great British albums. Not the 20 greatest by any means, but all are well worth a listen, and, who knows, there could be a 20 more great british albums follow up, and yes I agree that Paul Young, Suede, and many more should be included if they do a second bite of the carry.

    For those who haven’t heard of some (or indeed all) of the albums, it’s well worth a punt as you will likely discover some great new faves.

    Maybe we should have a thread for 20 more great British albums and see what we could come up with. I’d leave out Beatles, Stones for obvious reasons.

    I’d add

    Searching for the young soul rebels – Dexys midnight runners
    No Parlez -Paul Young
    If Music Be The Food Of Love – Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich
    Ogdens Nut Gone Flake – Small Faces
    How do you like it – Gerry And The Pacemakers
    Dusty In Memphis – Dusty Springfield
    Armed Forces – Elvis Costello

    For starters… What else guys and gals?

  14. Eric says:

    The The’s Infected? It’s a Sony-eligible title, too. If I’d been the original compiler, I’d have swapped either Prefab or Deacon Blue for Infected.

  15. Carty says:

    This arrived today! :)

    I really wish Sony had used the original cover to Kings Of The Wild Frontier instead of the rectangular image from the exterior cardboard cover from the 2006 edition of the 2004 remastered CD. It looks so awful amongst all the other great (and so far unplayed) classics.

    Love the actual box. The booklet could have had some extra album details though.

  16. Marco Pirroni says:

    The only album there worth inclusion is “Kings Of The Wild Frontier”. Seminal and ground-breaking.

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