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As music becomes digested in smaller and smaller bites, more than a few artists have claimed during the past year that they're abandoning the album format altogether. Among the reasons cited: Albums take too long to make, they're too expensive to produce, the public only wants a few songs at a time, and other various and sundry ways of saying, "What's the point?"
So then, could the end of the album be at hand? For some musicians, it's already here. But many still cling to the notion and the dream of a sustained piece of work, with a beginning, middle and end. For them - and us, the listeners - this could result in shorter albums with an emphasis on quality over quantity. (And if you really want those leftover tracks, many artists make them available for free on their websites.)
But hey, it's Christmas, so let us now give praise to the boxset, that thing of beauty that exemplifies everything big, bursting and overstuffed, custom-built with the superfan in mind. Gloriously packaged reissues or compilations that come complete with spiffed-up sound, DVDs, documentaries, previously unreleased tracks, alternate versions, and just about everything else you can fit into a kitchen sink - there's nothing like opening up that giant package of discs with all the trimmings and getting intimate with your favorite band.
"Super Deluxe" seemed to be the favored term applied to boxsets this year, and when you consider the completist nature of many of the offerings, it's entirely apropos. So let's take a look at 10 of the more notable boxsets that were released this year. Hopefully, you'll see one under your tree very shortly.