Alright, let's get the negatives out of the way right off the bat. There are only two small ones. The packaging is more about looking really awesome than it is about being efficient. Sure having the cd's in little slits behind a fold out mural looks better than any other method, but it makes it a pain in the ass to get the cd's in and out. Collections like this will have the cd's pulled in and out so often that it will make the quality of the package deteriorate quickly. Collectors who would buy this would rather have something that holds up better. Plastic isn't "eco friendly", but this isn't something that will end up in a landfill is it? A mixture of the standard plastic case and the cardboard "digipack" would have been better. Of course the solution to that would be to pull them out once to rip them, and listen to the music in digital form only. Pull them out again only when you need to re-rip them when a hard drive fails (which is one of the best reason to always buy a physical form of your music). The problem is that the discs have zero meta-data on them! You have to type that all in by hand. LAME!
Now those two very minor and nit picky things mentioned above are really overshadowed by all the great things about this collection. Although this collection does not have every hit, it does have most of them. For the hardcore fans of HEART, this collection would be a must have. Some collections are made for the casual fan with nothing but pristine studio versions of nothing but the biggest hits. This however has previously unreleased recordings, demo versions of the songs we love, and live recordings scattered throughout. Maybe sometime later the band will release a collection with just the studio versions of the biggest hits for you casual fans. This is for the HEART fan who wants to dig a little deeper.
Although there are plenty of their hit songs in all forms, there are also songs by The Lovemongers, solo songs by Ann Wilson and Nancy Wilson, a recording from the pre-HEART group Ann Wilson & The Daybreaks, an appearance by John Paul Jones, and so much more. If you buy the box set from Amazon you even get a bonus CD containing covers of five Led Zeppelin songs, entitled Heart Zeppish! But I will get more into the music later as this review will be more about the packaging.
The collection comes with a 56 page book. This is not the standard box set book though. Instead of just a bunch of photos that you will look at once and never open again, this book works as almost a reference manual for HEART fans. This book will bring you back to the day when you had to read every word of the liner notes on the first listen of that new cd you waited in line to buy on the same day of release. With each song Ann and Nancy will guide the listener through the history of the band and what inspired the song to be created. This book gives you the basic story behind the songs that you have loved. The entire collection is protected by a decorative sleeve with a heart that shows a photo of the infamous sisters. I love that both the fold out mural that holds the discs and the book that holds the written history of the music slides out with ease, but never falls out on accident. It took some good planing to make this set so that it fits nicely on any book shelf so you're not hunting for a place to keep it all safe from dust, sun, pets, or any other damaging elements that have destroyed so many box sets before. Using the flaps of the fold out cd holder and mural as a place to showcase the history of the bands logo was pretty cool too. Lastly, the collage/mural was a really nice touch as well.
This is a very worthwhile boxset. Amazon has it for under $35. With the 3 audio discs and the live concert dvd that makes it less than $10 for each cd. If you actually buy it from Amazon it is less than $7 per disc! So I would recommend this to any fan of HEART. Notice how this review was mostly about the packaging? Tomorrow I start digging into the actual music! Stay tuned!
For Part 2 where I review disc 1 go to:
For part 3 where I talk about disc 2 go to :