In the lead up to Christmas, I’ve gone a bit mad buying boxed sets and while I know some people will consider these collections to be money for old rope there are various reasons why an avid collector would want to add them to their collection.

For X2 featured below there are two reasons – one is that it’s a Japanese import with some unique artwork, and the second is that it features early live tracks and instrumentals. I don’t think there’s anything in the 1991 compilation that hasn’t been released in the UK in some other format, but it’s an interesting set of four discs spanning the period 1980-1990.

Put anything in a black box and a Depeche Mode fan will want to buy it. X2 is no exception, and as you might expect X1 will probably follow shortly, if I can find a decent copy on Discogs. EBay currently has the pair of boxes listed from one seller in the UK at an outrageous price well over the market value. I’m a keen collector but not so keen that it blinds me to situations where a seller has their sights set higher than a high church spire.

On the instrumentals disc I think ‘Any Second Now’, ‘Christmas Island’ and ‘Agent Orange’ written by Vince Clarke, Alan Wilder/Martin Gore and Gore respectively are my favourites, but I generally like any instrumental they come up with and I’m a big fan of Wilder’s Recoil instrumental stuff.

On the B Sides disc ‘Ice Machine’, ‘Shout’ and ‘But Not Tonight’ are my top three if held at gun point, although some may dispute whether that third track is actually a B Side. I think they’re referring to the original UK releases for this where it was the B Side of ‘Stripped’ from the Black Celebration album. As for the live stuff on discs 3 and 4, I’ll have to wait to hear it, but I’m expecting it will be ‘A Question of Time’, ‘Black Celebration’ and ‘Photographic’ that steal the show.

The live stuff comes from a variety of sources. Tracks 3-1 through to -9 were recorded live at the Hammersmith Odeon, UK in October 1982; Tracks 3-10 and 3-11, 4-9 and -9 live at the Empire Theatre, Liverpool, UK September 1984; Tracks 4-1, 4-5, 4-8, 4-11 & 4-12 were from the 101 show at the Pasadena Rose Bowl, USA, June 18th 1988; Tracks 4-2, -3 and -4 are from a show in Basel, Switzerland on 30th November 1984; Tracks 3-12, 4-6 and 4-10 are from Birmingham NEC, UK, April 1986.

Anyhoo, on that note I really need to go and listen to those live tracks…