When it came to the great boxed sets of the year, you never really had to work your way out of the P’s: the Tom Petty and Prince releases alone could have covered all your archival needs for 2020. Each artist’s estate opened up the vaults to celebrate a single classic album — “Wildflowers” in Petty’s case; “Sign O’ the Times” in Prince’s — with an expansive set that included at least an additional album’s worth of wonderful, unreleased, original compositions from the same time frame and a live album that also would have stood up in its own right. Reveling in the phenomenal live and studio material these two somehow never saw fit to release before we parted is the sweetest sorrow.
But there was plenty more to feast on. And that was even with some of the artists we could usually count on for an annual commemorative boxed set, like the Beatles and David Bowie, sitting this year out. Buried treasure was offered up from the still-living likes of Joni Mitchell, Elvis Costello, Elton John, the Rolling Stones and the Replacements, in a year when many of us had a little more time to take stock and offer thanksgiving for the cornucopia of musical greatness the 20th century gave us, even as the 21st got put on pause.
Consider this a self-gifting guide, since it may be hard to convince the loved ones in your life how much you really need to have anywhere from $40 to $200 spent on you to make life worth living. Here, Variety colleague Jem Aswad and I recollect the year in super-deluxe self-care.
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