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Box set

Collection offers a whole lotta Zeppelin

Led Zeppelin Led Zeppelin (Reuters/Neil Zlozower/Rhino Records/Handout)
By Steve Greenlee
Globe Staff / November 26, 2008
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It's been 28 years since Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones, and John Bonham played their final concert together, and still Led Zeppelin remains the greatest hard rock band of all time. With a gorgeous new box set from Rhino that collects every one of their albums, the band can be appreciated in a new light.

It's not entirely clear what this set is called, because not a single word appears on the box and there is no long-winded set of liner notes to be found inside. The name that seems to be going around on the Internet is the unwieldy "Led Zeppelin Definitive Collection Mini LP Replica." In reality, it is the US release (finally!) of a 2003 Japanese box set that Rhino has imported. That much is clear from the cellophane wrap that encloses each CD, complete with Japanese translations of the song titles.

The audio quality is outstanding. There's no hiss, and the sound is full and robust, probably as close as possible to the bass-versus-treble perfection of vinyl, from the groundbreaking blues rock of "Good Times Bad Times" to the bonus material that concludes "Coda." You may have heard "Black Dog" and "Stairway to Heaven" a thousand times, but you'll swear you hear new things in the nooks and crannies when you crank the volume. The set doesn't come cheap - the list price is $199, though you can find it as low as $135 - but match these 10 albums up against 100 albums by any of today's artists. This isn't just Led Zeppelin's definitive collection - this is the definitive collection of rock.

ELTON JOHN,

"THE RED PIANO"

Cheaper than a ticket to Las Vegas, where John has performed "The Red Piano" since 2004 at Caesars Palace, this Best Buy exclusive features four discs: a DVD of the show, a backstage documentary, and two CDs of live songs. Let the "Bennie and the Jets" sing-along begin.

THE JESUS AND MARY CHAIN, "THE POWER OF NEGATIVE THINKING:

B-SIDES & RARITIES"

OK, so these Scottish post-punk gods aren't exactly the festive sound of the season, but this four-disc box set is a treasure trove for the casual fan. It has lavish liner notes with interviews and a handy timeline of the band's evolution.

THE POLICE, "CERTIFIABLE: LIVE IN BUENOS AIRES"

Whether you couldn't scrounge the scratch for the reunion tour or just want to relive the experience, everything you need is on this two CD/two DVD Best Buy-exclusive. The booklet is skimpy, but the (surround) sound and (widescreen) picture quality are not. Also included is a highly entertaining behind-the-scenes doc.

CHEAP TRICK, "BUDOKAN!"

After 30 years they still want you to want them. And if you've ever wanted to see one of the original concerts from the power popsters' breakthrough tour, check out this three-CD deluxe edition, which also includes, for the first time, a complete video of a show, culled from a Japanese TV broadcast on DVD and, old-school alert, a poster.

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