The approach of the holiday season yes, it's coming always means a deluge of new CD box sets. This year's batch, though, is a bit different. For one thing, they're huge, some running dozens of discs and costing hundreds of dollars. For another, they're dizzyingly comprehensive, sometimes above and beyond the call of duty. (If the one thing missing from your life is a seven-disc retrospective of '80s Scottish postpunk band Orange Juice, this'll be a great year for you.)
There's an obvious rationale at work here: with fewer people paying for new CDs these days, record companies are falling back on the hard-core fans willing to shell out big bucks for a whole lot of beautifully packaged old music. But which of these megaboxes actually deliver? Here's a look.