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ABBA, Bob Dylan, and the Largest CD Boxset
Recently I heard that legendary pop band, ABBA was releasing their first new album since 1981, Voyage. In support of the album, they already released two new singles, “I Still Have Faith in You” and “Don’t Shut Me Down,” and announced a tour. What will make this tour special is the use of the latest in motion capture technology.
As it turns out, this is not the first time that ABBA has been on the cutting edge of technology.
‘The Visitors’ on Compact Disc
The Compact Disc (CD) was developed jointly by Sony and Phillips in 1976. Throughout the seventies, news would spread of this upcoming format, and at the end of the decade the technology had come far enough that live demonstrations were becoming common. Still, no major commercial printing of an album had occurred
In November 1981, ABBA released their eighth studio album, The Visitors. It would turn out to be their final until this most recent announcement. ABBA was a powerhouse, and the timing of the release made complete sense for this album to be released on CD.
The Visitors would get the honor of being the first mass-manufactured CD of a pop act, but the release of that album on this new format wasn’t immediate.
This allowed Billy Joel and a re-release of his album, 52nd Street, to snag that honor when it was released in Japan on October 1, 1982. It was released with a slew of other albums in conjunction with Sony’s CD Player CDP-101.
The United States would have to wait a few years more to get a CD pressed. That honor would go to Bruce Springsteen’s Born in the USA, which was pressed in a production plant in Indiana in September 1984.
A year after Springsteen’s album rolled off the assembly line, another influential musician would make a splash, releasing what many consider the first modern music box set.
Bob Dylan’s ‘Biograph’ (1985)
In October 1985, Bob Dylan released the retrospective, Biograph. To many, this release is considered the first modern musical box set.
Artists before this had released greatest hits compilations, but Biograph did something different. In three CD, it not only included hits, but attempted to chart the first two decades of Dylan’s career. This meant not just playing some less commonly known songs, but also 18 previously unreleased tracks.
Those tracks were hard for fans to resist, and it set the template for many box sets that would follow for a long time.
Eventually, box sets became less conceptual and more completest, trying to compile all the works of an artist into one collection. This could lead to gigantic releases.
Herbert von Karajan
Right now, the largest musics set ranked by disc size is Herbert von Karajan Complete Recordings On Deutsche Grammophon And Decca.
Karajan, who passed away in 1989, was the conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic for 34 years. During that time he conducted countless recorded hours of music.
All of that music was compiled into a massive 256 disc set that includes 330 CDs, 24 DVDs, and 2 Blu-ray Audio discs. The set is currently going for about $4,000 on Amazon, so you better be a fan with deep pockets if you hope to pick one up.