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Holiday Gift Guide | Boxed Sets

Soar With Sinatra and the Eagles

November 30, 2000|ROBERT HILBURN | TIMES POP MUSIC CRITIC

If Los Angeles ever gets around to erecting a shrine to its pop music history, Frank Sinatra, the Eagles and Los Lobos will be among its proudest figures. All three legacies are saluted in multi-disc boxed sets.

*

**** FRANK SINATRA, "Frank Sinatra Concepts," Capitol. (selling for $270 at one retail chain, but may be discounted even more elsewhere). In the 96-page booklet, Will Friedwald suggests that if forced to reduce Sinatra's entire Capitol catalog into the two sides of a 45 rpm single, he would nominate "I've Got You Under My Skin" and "It's a Lonesome Old Town." That bold declaration invites you to think of the many other possibilities, starting with "The Lady Is a Tramp" and "One for My Baby." That's when you realize it's just as hard to define Sinatra's exquisite taste and style even if you could narrow his output to two of the classic Capitol concept albums. This set eliminates any frustration by serving up all 16 of those albums--from the ache of "Frank Sinatra Sings Only for the Lonely" to the humor and zest of "Come Fly With Me."

*** 1/2 THE EAGLES, "Selected Works 1972-1999," Elektra. ($50). The Eagles' examination of '60s idealism grappling with '70s hedonism and greed defined the band's era with the insight and craft of F. Scott Fitzgerald's writings about an earlier age. The first three discs divide the hits and choice album tracks by themes (the early years, the ballads and the fast-lane rockers), and they are essential. The final disc--highlights from the group's Millennium concert at Staples Center--has its moments, but mostly feels like a stocking-stuffer and is the reason for the less-than-perfect rating.

**** LOS LOBOS, "El Cancionero Mas y Mas," Rhino/Warner Archives. ($60). Here's an extraordinary, beautifully designed four-disc set that traces the band from its Mexican folkloric roots though its emergence on the rock scene, the international success with the "La Bamba" soundtrack album and beyond.

Includes seven tracks from 1987's "By the Light of the Moon," one of the most culturally arresting and musically satisfying works by a Los Angeles-based band.

*** DAVID BOWIE, "Bowie at the Beeb," Virgin. ($22). A chance to explore some of the early, lesser-known music by one of rock's most striking figures. The two core discs are from performances taped for BBC radio between 1968 and 1972. The limited edition third disc, recorded in June, features reworked versions of Bowie tunes.

**** JOHNNY CASH, "Love God Murder," Columbia/American Legacy. ($35). A three-disc package that divides Cash's music into three themes, all selected by the country music legend. There are some of the hits, but lots of unfamiliar tracks that make the package seem fresh and vital.

*

Albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor), two stars (fair), three stars (good) and four stars (excellent).

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