84 of 94 people found the following review helpful
on July 27, 2002
Format: Audio CD
1986's "So" was Peter Gabriel's big commercial breakthrough, and it's not difficult to see (or hear) why: "So" has all of the power & passion of Gabriel's previous efforts, but it also has a great warmth to it's songs, as Gabriel's past albums may have sounded a little too dark and serious for the masses of record buyers. "So," however, with it's lighter mood, was welcomed by the public with open arms, and finally catapulted Gabriel out of cult status & into superstardom.Quite simply, every single song on "So" is a masterpiece. Gabriel's singing has never been better, his songwriting here is phenomenal, as is the production, and the marvelous playing of Gabriel and his supreme team of session players, including the reliable Tony Levin on bass and David Rhodes on guitar. Many of these songs are FM radio staples, and have been widely covered by other artists: the thunderous "Red Rain," the smash hit "Sledgehammer" (with Gabriel cutting loose with a big, brassy R&B throwdown), the gorgeous duet "Don't Give Up" (w/ Kate Bush), and the outstanding "In Your Eyes" & "Mercy Street." There's also the great pop-rockers "Big Time" (another big hit), and "That Voice Again," with Gabriel hitting a long high note that is guaranteed to send shivers down your spine. "This Is The Picture" is a terrific, light-groove collaboration with Laurie Anderson, combining singing with spoken word, and the funky guitar of Nile Rodgers. And finally, there's "We Do What Were Told," the song that sounds most like Gabriel's earlier, darker material. It's brief, lyrically simple, but very, very haunting.This new remastered version of "So" sounds sensational, bringing out new sonic textures to the album that I had never heard before, beautiful notes that were previously undetected. However, I am a bit puzzled by the decision to re-shuffle the song "In Your Eyes," so it's now the last song on the album, instead of "We Do What We're Told" (the old vinyl version) or "This Is The Picture" (the old CD & cassette versions). Personally, I think "We Do What We're Told" works better as an album closer, but no matter. "In Your Eyes" is an all-time favorite Gabriel tune, and I'm sure in time I'll get used to it as the new finale for "So."Peter Gabriel's "So" was rightfully nominated for the Grammy for Album Of The Year," but it lost to Paul Simon's "Graceland"---a very good album, granted, but it's not musically stronger than "So," nor has it's impact been as longlasting as "So." The Grammy commitee also goofed big time (excuse the pun) when they passed over Gabriel for Robert Palmer in the Best Male Pop Vocal category. Go figure. But these shocking Grammy injustices take nothing away from Gabriel's monumental achievement with this album. "So" is a classic, sparkling album from the first note to the last, and an important testament to the power of gifted, intelligent songwriting & performing, and as only Peter Gabriel can do it. "So" is so perfect. :-)
97 of 113 people found the following review helpful
on October 22, 2012
Format: Audio CD
Where are all the B-Sides and alternate mixes? Couldn't the live stuff be marketed separately? And finally, my biggest problem with this package is a familiar issue with many immersion sets of late, AND I finally have a solution! Here it goes:
It's called "Build Your Own Box". It would be a several step process on the artists' page of selecting the content you want AND on the media that you want it on, not unlike building your own PC at Dell. It's really quite simple; Do you want vinyl or CD? Do you prefer Blu-ray or DVD? The only redeeming quality here is that you are given a 24 bit download code for ALL of the audio in the box.
A lot of work went in to the DNA CD so props for that. Though it would have been nice for some full alternate takes or demos. I can't express my disappointment enough with the exclusion of B-Sides (Curtains, Walk Through The Fire, Across The River, Don't Break This Rhythm, Ga-Ga I Go Swimming) and alternate mixes, especially the special extended mix of In Your Eyes which to my knowledge has never been released on CD, only vinyl. They could have even included Out Out from the Gremlins soundtrack which came out around the same time.
Finally, live stuff is great but had this live stuff been sold separate (and on Blu-ray), it would have freed up more space for studio stuff which, I believe, the really hardcore fans wanted. Half the content here is live. It should have been called "So/Live 25".
As someone who has been a big fan of PG since my youth, I'd really love to hear what others think about this set. Are you as disappointed as I am?
64 of 77 people found the following review helpful
Format: Audio CD
For a long time Peter Gabriel and the idea of a commerical breakthrough seemed polar opposites. With So Gabriel suddenly demonstrated that there was a market (again) for intelligent and well crafted songwriting. Although not necessarily PG's best, SO functions as a snapshot of the artist in top form.This edition of SO differs a bit from the original US release. The songs differ both from the original album, cassette and CD releases with In Your Eyes as the final track. On vinyl the last song was We Do What We're Told which made sense both artistically and musically. The CD release duplicated the line up of the cassette release featuring Gabriel's collaboration with Laurie Anderson This Is The Picture (Excellent Birds)as the final track. Reportedly, the track order here was the way the original album was intended to be released. Due to the limitations of vinyl sonics, Gabriel rearranged the line up to the traditional previously released version. The album's original smooth continuity suffers on the remastered edition. The final track (In Your Eyes) is a classic to be sure but putting the chilling We Do What We're Told in its new position robs that powerful track of much of its power. I certainly appreciate the fact that SO is now as its maker intended but there was really nothing wrong with it to begin with.The sound quality is stunning with considerably more depth, clarity and definition. This is particularly noticable on the album opener Red Rain and the two outstanding ballads of the album Don't Give Up and Mercy Street. The latter which is probably one of PG's greatest ballads has more warmth in the sound than ever heard before. SO stands (along with Melting Face aka Peter Gabriel 3) as PG's most compelling and powerful collection of songs. While slicker than Melting Face, it also has a humanity and warmth missing from that dark masterpiece. The two form curious bookends to Gabriel's style and, listened back to back, they each illuminate the other album in unique and powerful ways.The limited edition US digipak is inferior to the traditional vinyl like sleeves issued in Japan. It's something of a bastard child; half vinly artwork/half CD. Really, it doesn't make anyone happy. If the spindle that holds the CD breaks (which, by the way, was the case with half the reissues I purchased), there's no way to replace it. Sadly there are no bonus tracks. Demos, outtakes and b sides would have been welcome. One can understand why Gabriel would want to stick with the original album and not tack on extras; most of the b sides (save the minor classic Don't Break This Rhythm) really would sound of place here. Still, one could argue for the inclusion of the various alternate mixes for Sledgehammer, Big Time and Don't Give Up. I suppose they're saving it for a boxed set so they can fleece the public one more time.The booklet now comes with a number of rare and new pictures. Unfortunately, there's no essay about the making of the album and the credits are standard issue as well. The original song lyrics are included as well but, again, some thoughts on the making of the album would have been interesting.A great album mishandled in its reissue, SO still deserves a place in any CD collection. Gabriel's sweeping stylistic jumps and arrangements finally sound as great (if not, dare I say it, better than) as they did on vinyl. A pity they couldn't have gotten the packaging right.
24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
on April 2, 2001
Format: Audio CD
There is a fan website called "The Church of Peter Gabriel", a rather tongue-in-cheek venture claiming Gabriel as a diety. His prodigious career, spanning over 20 years from its start with Genesis (forgive the unseeming pun...), to his innovative solo work and various side projects concerning human rights, visual art and performances, to his devoted following and, well, the sheer magnitude of his work...maybe that website isn't too far off with its claims.
This album was created in 1986, and as is typical with Gabriel, was a hallmark of the times as well as a surpassant. It is rostered with some of the finest musicians such as bassist extraoridinare Tony Levin, Stewart Copeland of Police fame, etheral songstress Kate Bush and funky art singer Laurie Anderson, superb percussionist Manu Katche, and guitarist David Rhodes. L. Shankar, a premier violinist with unmatched expressive style, also makes his appearance. The album was a stepping point for many of his newer fans, and also a forward stage of evolution for his theatrical style.
The album is famous for it's breakthrough hits, Red Rain and Big Time. The video for Big Time set a precedent when it first appeared, garnering award after award for its mind-blowing animation. Sledgehammer, another hit, was a take-off on British motown style. That Voice Again, an absolute gem, is about the sometimes off again-on again nature of relationships, a familiar theme of Gabriel's. The song itself showcases Tony Levin's impeccable and understated bass playing, and Manu Katche's flawless percussion.
In Your Eyes, another song to become a hit, is one of the most joyful love songs created, as many who have played it at their wedding can attest. Senegaly vocalist Youssou N'dour, an artist in his own right, lends his distinctive vocals to this popular song.
Gabriel is known for his wonderful and image provoking lyrics. Mercy Street, a haunting and dreamlike ballad contains the following: "Looking down on empty streets, all she can see are the dreams all made solid are the dreams made real. All of the buildings, all of those cars were once just a dream in somebody's head. She pictures the broken glass, she pictures the steam, she pictures a soul with no leak at the seam...". This song remains one of my favorites not only for the poetic lyrics, but because they ring a strong personal note for me.
Other songs include We Do What We're Told, an eerie song about the obedience experiments conducted by Stanley Milgram in the 60's. The last song, a quirky duet with Laurie Anderson, is vintage Gabriel in all of his experimental glory, and recalls the music of his earlier years.
Fans of Gabriels' music already have this album firmly ensconced within their collections. If you appreciate popular music that defies labels or genres, I advise you to give this one a try. Gabriel is an artist of vast scope and vision coupled with formidable talent who dares to take risks artistically and musically. He's an artist in the truest sense of the word, and also a man who deserves respect not only for his musical productions, but his other accomplishments as well. His is a music rare...in depth of expression and virtuosity. As he gets older one can only expect him to get still better.
Also try Shaking the Tree: 16 Golden Greats, and US. For the more adventurous, delve into Gabriel's earlier work such as Peter Gabriel I, II and III, and Security. Don't miss his live taped performance Secret World Live...a stupendous production featuring Paula Cole and other guest artists.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on December 7, 2012
Format: Audio CD
I purchased the stand-alone 24-bit/48 kHz download elsewhere, but even after a coupon code that product was the same price as this box. So, as long as the download coupon for the 24-bit version is included with this product, it seems like a good deal. My comments will only be about the quality of the 2012 remastering, since I don't find any good information about that elsewhere. I have owned the following versions of this album for points of comparison:
1986 Geffin cassette - not worth mentioning, EXCEPT for one funny thing. When I finally replaced my cassette with the CD version, the goal was to get rid of some muddiness and an almost tape-dragging sound, especially evident on "Red Rain." Guess what? That subjective slight dragginess is in the mastering, not the cassette: it's a feature, not a bug. It initially results from choices about a "watery" keyboard effect used on the album (we know it, we love it); combined with Tony Levin's frettless bass, which is just higher in pitch than I expect from a bass and so that sliding around hits the same register as the keyboards; the digital "kapow" effect at the beginning, which I take to be a slow-motion backwards drum-hit; and the overall layering of many instruments. It's just an overall effect of lack of clarity , still present in the 24-bit 2012 mastering. It probably never was a problem with my cassette, but it primed me to hear my tape as dragging as that watery keyboard and growly vocal styling continued throughout side A. I mention it in case this is happening to you on your CD copy: don't expect it to change, because it's just the way "Red Rain" is.
1980s CD - The 2012 engineer says the goal of the 2012 remaster was to get back to the original, but with slightly better equipment. That's what has happened. I definitely hear more detail than on the original CD. Both the 2002 and 2012 versions sound generationally better than the original CD. If you've ever had the chance to hear masterings from two different generations of source tapes (e.g., first-gen tapes compiled in the studio versus the production master they make by copying that studio master), you know what I'm talking about. The mastering is ok: it's airy, good sound stage, and all the instruments are clear. But that's all. The bass is "there," perfectly listenable, but there's no punch anywhere. It's a bit flat. The original CD has the full dynamic range, but is a little puny by comparison to the newer masterings. This CD, btw, was the last time "In Your Eyes" would be at track 5 (aka side B, track 1). The original CD and the 2012 CD should be similar in dynamics but with more heft on the new version as noted below.
2002 remastered CD - It's good. I tend to prefer it to the original CD. In 2002, as now, one goal of typical remasterings was to make the music sound "better" meaning "louder" on lower-end systems owned by most people, like I-pods or all-in-one stereos or jam boxes. This involves compressing the audio (reducing the dynamic range between loud and soft) so that all the instruments can all push the loudness envelope. They also added more trebble and bass to the original master. The result on this album isn't over the top (many more recent remasters or new releases give me a head ache, they're so compressed and boomy). The result makes the music a little darker and in fact subjectively narrows the sound stage slightly because the mid-ranges responsible for that airy breadth are lowered in service to more bass and trebble. Tony Levin's bass is louder, but not more defined because the added umph is courtesy of EQ. Honestly, though, if you have this CD, don't expect a significantly different experience from the 2012 version unless you're on a seriously good sound system. Finally, the 2002 CD is much louder than either the 1986 or 2012 versions, for the reasons noted above.
2012 remaster - Reduce the amount of compression for a more natural overall sound and allow significantly more definition, thanks to newer transfer equipment. Note, I'm listening to the 24-bit version; however, in my experience bit depth is a much less important variable than mastering in determining the final sound. Let's start with the fact that Tony Levin is the solo instrumentalist on this album. The 2012 mastering gives him his full glory for the first time. My attention is attracted to details, both in the bass and elsewhere, I have never noticed before in 25 years of listening to the album. The bass solos are gripping. Consider that a very foregrounded bass will have to be taken back a bit during compression to level out other instruments; now, though, the bass is unrestrained and no other instruments suffer as a result. All the instruments have more weight than ever before, and are positioned very solidly in a nice wide sound stage. My second listen, combined with more comparisons with the other two CDs, made me much more impressed with this new mastering. Dynamic range is critical if you have a really good stereo (e.g., an integrated amp and the rest, an "audiophile" system). I don't know if it's as audible on lower-end systems, which really do benefit from the artificial punch of EQ and compression. Side-by-side, you can hear that the 2002 master has been artificially punched up. The 2012 master is more pleasant and involving. For example, the very quiet "don't give up" chant at the end of that track, which was boosted on the 2002 disc, here becomes very quiet yet perfectly clear underneath the front-and-center, decisive bass groove. But it's only in a side-by-side comparison that these differences stick out. The 2002 choices weren't bad ones.
So, if you have a very good system, you may here significant enhancements in the new remaster. If you have an average or economy sound system, or if you're not positively glued to your speakers/headphones listening to every nuance, the fact is that this album was done pretty well in both its earlier incarnations already. Although I was afraid I was being ripped off when I hit the button, I'm actually quite glad of the purchase.
24 of 29 people found the following review helpful
on April 21, 2000
Format: Audio CD
While it may not be Gabriel's best album (which I believe to be his third, self-titled album), it is definitely a better introduction to his music. It may be more pop-oriented than his other albums, but it's still one of the best albums of the 80's. "Red Rain," "Sledgehammer," "Mercy Street," "Don't Give Up," "Big Time," and "In Your Eyes" are all stand-outs, particularly "In Your Eyes," which is probably his best known song thanks to the film, "Say Anything." Gabriel combines elements of minimalism, world music, and for the first time, Memphis soul, to create some very compelling, very entertaining music. At times, like "Mercy Street," it floats, sounding very low-key and textured without descending into boring mood music, and other times, like "Big Time," it's a thumping, muscular sound that you can dance to.
Now, you can divide Gabriel's fans into two categories: those who love "Sledgehammer" and those who hate it. It may not be typical of his music, but the Memphis Horns play some nice charts, and the double-entendres are a rare display of humor. Regardless of whether you like it or not, there's something for everyone on this album, so even if you think "Sledgehammer" comes on too strong, you may enjoy something like "Don't Give Up," which is another great single, every bit as uplifting as "Solsbury Hill."
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on October 25, 2012
Format: Audio CDVerified Purchase
Anyone reading this review already knows this is one of Gabriel's best albums, so I won't be reviewing the music. What is outstanding is the remastering of the original album-definitely one of the best I've ever heard! Sonically, the music achieves an almost "wall of sound" affect that is especially impressive on a really good audio system. Instruments and vocals are much more defined than in the previous Geffen cd release of this album. Kate Bush almost seems to be in the room as she duets with Gabriel on "Don't Give Up"! And "Red Rain" sounds as if its possibly been slightly re-mixed in that I heard some instrumentation that didn't standout in the earlier vinyl and digital releases. I could be wrong in regards to any remixing but it sure sounds great nonetheless! All this, plus you have 2 additional cds of a live concert in Athens Greece. Bottom line, if you're an admirer of Peter Gabriel and SO in particular, this is the version to buy. Again, I'm referring to the just released 25th Anniversary edition since most of the reviews here refer to an earlier cd version. Amazon needs to differentiate between these product reviews!
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on November 11, 2011
Format: Audio CD
Former Genesis frontman Peter Gabriel released his fifth studio solo rock album entitled So in May of 1986.
The year 1986 was the year of Genesis past and present. Whilst Peter released So, his former Genesis bandmate guitarist Steve Hackett released his hit collaboration with Yes guitarist Steve Howe calling themselves GTR and released its self-titled album. Also, Hackett and Gabriel's ex-colleages the rest of Genesis (singer/drummer Phil Collins, keyboard player Tony Banks and bass player/guitarist Mike Rutherford) released the hugely successful Invisible Touch (see review).
A month before Invisible Touch hit the streets, Gabriel released So which was a year in the making but was well worth the time it took to create this now classic to rock history. It was four years since his last proper solo album (1982's fourth self-titled album which was released with the title Security here in the US at the request of his US label Geffen).
This time, Gabriel and his supreme team of session players, including the reliable Tony Levin on bass and Chapman Stick plus David Rhodes on guitar are joined by Police drummer Stewart Copeland and drummers Manu Katche and Rick Marotta.
The thunderous "Red Rain" is a stellar opener to this album and is possibly one of his best solo tracks of the 1980s. Next is the smash hit "Sledgehammer" (with Gabriel going a bit funky on the R&B thing) and was rightfully a #1 hit. In a strange twist of fate, it KO-ed his ex-bandmembers' "Invisible Touch" single out of #1 in the US. Also this track's video was groundbreaking with its animation effects. Next is the excellent duet with British singer/songwriter Kate Bush called "Don't Give Up" which is a stellar song and one of the best duets I ever heard. We end the first half with the atmospheric sounding "That Voice Again" which was a rock radio hit in the US yet didn't get released to pop radio.
"Mercy Street" starts the second half off (it was "In Your Eyes" but Gabriel changed the CD tracklisting for the remaster) and is a nice piece. We follow with another big hit called "Big Time" which featured Stewart Copeland on drums and was also known for its classic video (similar to "Sledgehammer" with his effects and Claymation). The original vinyl album's closer "We Do What Were Told" is reminiscent of Gabriel's darker late 1970s material. It's brief, lyrically simple, but very, very haunting. The original CD and cassette closer "This Is The Picture" is a terrific, light-groove collaboration with avant-garde artist Laurie Anderson which combined singing with spoken word, and the funky guitar of Nile Rodgers. The original album's second half opener and now album closer "In Your Eyes" is the album's most well known hit. This track was a #1 on US rock radio and is a nice love song and featured the late Michael Been from The Call and Simple Minds frontman Jim Kerr on backing vocals plus African singer Y'oussor N'Dour helping out at the end.
So became Peter Gabriel's biggest selling solo album reaching #2 on the Billboard album charts and has sold FIVE million copies to date in the US alone. The album was nominated for the Grammy for Album Of The Year, but it lost to Paul Simon's arguable masterpiece Graceland. However, Gabriel did win the MTV Video Music Award Video of the Year for "Sledgehammer" which ironically beat his old Genesis mates' "Land of Confusion" video. Aside sales, So proved Peter Gabriel was a force to be reckoned with and 25 years on is still his best album as this remastered version attests.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on October 27, 2005
Format: Audio CD
Peter Gabriel took progressive rock to new levels when he was with the group Genesis. He was no less lucrative when he went solo during the latter half of the 70's His solo albums rewrote what pop music was and could extend to. His genius, however, wasn't fully put into effect untill he released his breakthrough album, "So", in 1986.
The album combines the ambitions and artistry of 70's progressive rock with the commercial and popularity attributes of 80's pop music. Gabriel's lyrical themes cover many aspects of life from love and romance to family vaules to career dreams to simple artistic beauty. Not once does he fall flat or fail to express himself completely and honestly.
The album opens with the track, "Red Rain", a haunting pop tune about the terror and destruction of mankind's wars and selfishness. Red rain is the blood of those innocent lives that were destroyed because of it. The next track is, "Sledgehammer", one of the more brighter songs that Gabriel has done. The song is basically just Gabriel having fun with its nonsense lyrics and catchy pop melody. The video to this song is a classic with its flashy special effects and timeless stop-motion animation. Track three is one of the most heartbreaking song ever written by Gabriel or just about anyone else. A duet with Kate Bush, the song is about one of the most important aspects of human life, family. Gabriel tells how he failed his friends and family while Bush tells him that's its alright and not to give up on them. The next track is the only other song about romance other than the closing track. A simple tune about how his lover's voice is the only thing that keeps him going.
"Mercy Street", is about a girl named Anne who apparently lost everything and now dreams of how she can once again find mercy in her father's arms. "Big Time", is about the dream of making it big in the city and becoming famous. "We Do What Were're Told", is a very short and simple tune about a nation who thinks with one mind and has one goal (possibly about communism). "This Is The Picture" is another simple number about finding artistic beauty in simple things like flying birds and falling snow. The album end with one of the more intelligent love ballads to come out in recent years. The song is about how complete and honored Gabriel is to be in his lovers eyes. The song with its unfogettable bass line and world beat drums and chants has became an instant classic.
I cannot think of any progressive-rock albums that have come out since this one did in 86. Sadly this very well may have marked the end of one of the most influential rock styles to ever appear on the music scene. This is another album you cannot go wrong with. If you like intelligent lyrics and artistic melodies you will love this album.
17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
Format: Audio CDVerified Purchase
First, I'd like to say that I agree with the view expressed by many fans, who are disappointed by the absence of the related B-sides, 12" mixes & CD/cassette single tracks. As for what we are getting in this box set, I can report the following:
CD 1: the original "So" album, remastered, but no bonus tracks.
CD 2: "So DNA". 9 selections(one representing each original album track) in which we get a well-compiled composite following each song from songwriting tapes to rough band demos to more polished attempts. Much of the material is of an acceptable, but fairly low-fidelity nature.
CD 3: Live in Athens(Part 1)
CD 4: Live in Athens(Part 2)
(The audio only from the video program.Oddly, in this large box set, the running order differs slightly from the Athens CD's included in the 3-disc version, though all the same songs are here. In some ways, the audio-only version of the concert is preferable, because when watching the video version, you'll find yourself watching to figure out when you're hearing Peter Gabriel's live performance, and when you're watching a re-recorded performance dubbed in at a recording studio, something that Peter Gabriel has often had a compulsion to do.
DVD 1: The "Classic Albums" documentary. This documentary, with extensive interviews with Peter Gabriel Manu Katche. Tony Levin and producer Daniel Lanois, is facinating to watch once, but it is unlikely that you'll ever watch it again. Still, it shows that even the album's more commercial songs were constructed by very complex and experimental methods.
DVD 2: The "Live in Athens" video. This is more than just a replacement for the old "P.O.V." video. This time, a complete composite(taken from several shows) set has been assembled, so it is much longer than "P.O.V." with 4 more songs. This newly restored version is, at least visually, much closer to what audiences saw at the shows, and less gimicky than "P.O.V."
L.P. 1: The "So" album
L.P. 2: An alternate, previously unreleased mix/version of the Peter Gabriel/Kate Bush duet "Don't Give Up", and two previously unreleased songs "Courage" & "Sagrada"
You also get an attractive and informative 12" x 12" hardcover book. The CD's, DVD's, book & L.P.'s are housed in a sturdy, fabric-covered box.
Now the bad news: the first production run of this box set shows shoddy quality control in manufacturing, problems similar to those that affected the first production run of the "Pink Floyd-The Dark Side of The Moon" Immersion box, and the 71-disc "Miles Davis-The Complete Columbia Albums" box. For those two box sets, the record companies did the ethical thing and replaced the damaged discs for consumers. It remains to be seen whether the record company that released this Peter Gabriel box will put things right for consumers. For a few days, Amazon.com suspended the sale of this box set, but apparently, they didn't take consumer complaints seriously, and they've now resumed selling it. Simply put, don't expect the four CD's to be in good condition. They'll be scratched, pitted or marred by glue stains. These glue stains are stubbornly stuck. You could dislodge some of them with your fingernail, but that will create new(mild) scratches. I recommend rinsing the playback side under running water, then gently wiping dry with a slightly damp towel.(then repeat this procedure) This should remove the glue stains, though obviously it won't help the scratches and scuffs. Will the discs be playable? Yes, but in a $100 box set, we fans are reasonable to expect the discs in a sealed, new box set to be in clean, new condition.
As for the DVD's in my box set, they were in perfect condition. And for you vinyl enthusiasts, you'll want to know how the vinyl records sound. The answer is that the grooves are on-center and the overall sound quality is good, with a sound less bright than the CD edition(so you'll get the analogue "warmth" that you vinyl revival fad enthusiasts crave), but, though the records are visibly in good condition, there are numerous loud pops, some of them repetitive, despite the absence of any visible damage. The culprit is likely poor quality(or inconsistently blended) vinyl. Care was taken at the mastering stage, but the pressing plant did a poor job. Of the two vinyl records, the 33.3 RPM L.P. is the worse one. The 45 RPM record with the 3 bonus tracks has numerous pops, but they are milder than those on the L.P. . My copy of "L.P. 1" had a mild(but not audible) warp towards the edge, but when playing Side Two, gravity flattens the record.
Don't dispose of the cardboard advertising sheet shrink wrapped with the box. The rear of the sheet has a code number which can be redeemed online for a 24-bit audiophile download of the "So" album and the 3 previously unreleased tracks. I'm going to wait a few weeks before downloading, because (whether true or not), there have been reports on at least one audio-related website, of some sort of brief glitch in the download. However, the download is the only way to get a crackle-free version of what are otherwise the 3 vinyl-only previously unreleased tracks.(UPDATE:I've now downloaded the 48Khz/24-bit version and burned it to DVD-R. I don't hear any glitches, except the noise on the first piano note of the alternate[bonus track] version of "Don't Give Up", but that "glitch", if it is a glitch, is also there when this performance appears on the 3-song/45 RPM vinyl record in the box set. That noise may be an imperfection in the original master tape.)
This box set could have been better in so many ways. The manufacturing defects certainly don't help. And while the audio & video quality of the "Live In Athens" DVD are certainly excellent, many of us would have preferred the superior audio & video quality of Blu-Ray.