The Boxing Lesson

Box sets grow up and out

The Boxing Lesson

The Animals

The Mickie Most Years and More (ABKCO/Real Gone)

Like Sixties contemporaries the Rolling Stones, the Animals channeled a love of American R&B into raw, seething rock & roll that ranked with the era's most explosive music. Unlike the former band, the latter act never developed as songwriters, but its early work with pop-savvy producer Mickie Most retains its primal power. Although the Animals' vintage work has been extensively reissued, the band deserves a comprehensive box set, and while The Mickie Most Years and More isn't quite that, it collects most of the original combo's studio output as originally heard by Americans – on four U.S. LPs released by MGM Records between 1964 and 1966. They're on CD for the first time, augmented by a 1963 live EP, a handful of key bonus tracks, and David Fricke's too-short liner notes. The Animals, The Animals On Tour, Animal Tracks, and Animalization jumble tracks with little historical logic, differing substantially from more cohesive UK versions and limiting this set's archival value. Another strike is the colorful but flimsy outer box. Both issues run secondary to the music, Eric Burdon's scrappy howl and the band's punchy performances on material drawn from authentically rootsy sources and Brill Building tunesmiths, which sounds as magnificent as ever.

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