Vinyl records are packaged as a boxed set for two main reasons. In the first instance, the box is simply an elaborate container for multiple LPs, such as George Harrison’s “All Things Must Pass,” a three-LP classic released in 1970 in the wake of the breakup of the Beatles. Led Zeppelin’s four-LP “The Song Remains the Same” from 1976 was essentially a boxed soundtrack of the concert film of the same name, which captured the band live in 1973 at Madison Square Garden.
More recently, artists have created boxes for their music simply because there’s no other practical way to contain it, as with the seven-LP “Orphans” opus from Tom Waits in 2006. But the historical practice of boxing multiple vinyl records is perhaps most common to classical recordings by composers from Bach to Vivaldi. And if the box has a plate by Wassily Kandinsky on its cover, as a late-1970s French release of Bach violin suites has, so much the better.
The other reason to create a box is when a record company or artist wants to re-release individual discs. Parlophone did this for the Beatles in the U.K. in 1981 when it brought together 14 Beatles EPs in their original picture sleeves. In 2008, Mosaic Records issued a four-LP boxed set of jazz pianist Thelonious Monk performing in 1964 at the It Club in Los Angeles. These recordings had previously been available on vinyl and CD, but never as a start-to-finish collection of Monk’s two nights at the legendary L.A. venue.
In 2009, Sundazed records released a boxed set of seven, seven-inch 45s recorded by the Velvet Underground from 1966 to 1969. Another highly collected boxed set from 2009 is the eight-LP limited-edition collection of Oasis albums. And in 2010, Columbia released its original eight mono Bob Dylan records as a nine-LP boxed set, although the 10-LP bootleg called “Ten of Swords” from 1985 on Tarantula Records is tougher to find.