This is an exciting week for Smashing Pumpkins fans. Billy Corgan and, um, whoever else is in his band these days, have released the first volume in their 11-EP Teargarden By Kaleidyscope series. To be totally fair, the group is generously allowing its fans to download all songs from the project free. But if you want a physical version, be ready to shell out some major cash for a painstakingly crafted special edition. Insound notes that the debut installment “is packaged in a silk-screened wooden box (7 1/4″ tall x 8″ wide x 1.05″ thick). Each box contains: a 4-song CD (with four new Smashing Pumpkins songs and instrumental intros), a 7” vinyl single (containing a new song and a B-Side), and a hand-carved “leopard stone” obelisk, about 2″ tall, similar to marble.” Considering that there will eventually be 11 $33 EPs to buy, Pumpkins completists stand to spend upwards of $350 to own the entire set.
Think that’s bonkers? Well, it’s nothing compared to some of the other insanely expensive (or just plain over-the-top) box sets and special-edition albums we’ve seen. Check out 10 of the weirdest and most expensive after the jump.
Mastodon, Deluxe Vinyl Box Set
We know you like Mastodon, but do you love Mastodon? Enough to buy a nine-LP set containing the band’s entire discography? Plus an exclusive live record? And “an embroidered logo patch, a vinyl sticker set, as well as a custom Mastodon turntable mat”? If you do, then you might be one of Mastodon’s 1000 biggest fans — or the envy of diehards who didn’t take advantage of this limited-edition release. Price: $380
Neil Young, Archives Volume 1 (Blu-ray DVD format)
Already have everything Neil Young released on CD and vinyl? Well, we bet you don’t yet own his discography on Blu-ray. This first batch, featuring material from 1963-1972, contains ten discs, tons of hidden tracks, videos, interviews, live banter, a DVD of Young’s film Journey Through the Past, an “interactive timeline,” a record of ancient tour dates, a poster, digital download codes, and a 236-page hardcover book that includes… whatever didn’t make it onto the CDs, we suppose. Then there’s the schmancy packaging, which we suppose could double as a living-room tchotchke. What’s kind of amazing about this is that it’s only the first installment of a series that we assume will eventually cover 40+ more years of Young’s career. Price: $350
Hole, Nobody’s Daughter (with makeup)
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that Courtney Love finally put out her long-awaited Hole album Nobody’s Daughter in April. But did you realize that there are no fewer than three special-edition versions available for purchase? The most extreme package contains the CD; a digital download; a bright blue, Miss America-style Nobody’s Daughter sash; signed LP; “cassette USB w/album and unreleased photo collection”; messenger bag; thermal shirt; and makeup. We suggest putting all this gear on at once and then applying the makeup using Courtney’s video tutorial. Price: $150
Dukes of the Stratosphear, The Complete and Utter Dukes Box Set
XTC’ got psychedelic under the Dukes of the Stratosphear pseudonym. And despite the fact that their entire output consists of two albums, we think they’ve totally earned this whimsical box set. Complete and Utter contains not only the records on both vinyl and CD but also booklets, play money you can use to buy a T-shirt, a seven-inch single, and — most awesome of all — a 500-piece jigsaw puzzle. The whole thing comes packaged in the purplest box this side of Prince. Price: $130
Rammstein, Liebe Ist Für Alle Da
There are crazy box sets… and then there is this crazy release, from Germany’s wackiest metalheads. It includes the album itself, five bonus songs the band admits isn’t as good as what did make the final tracklist, a hard metal case, handcuffs, lube, and (get ready for it) six pink dildos modeled after the, uh, band members themselves. How’s that for a pleasurable listening experience? Price: $450+
The Eels, Blinking Lights and Other Revelations
Among the most expensive limited-edition versions of a single album we’ve ever seen, this set collects the titular three-LP release along with the exclusive live album Manchester 2005. It comes with a hardcover book of lyrics and photos and rests inside a “beautifully crafted” box signed and numbered by the Eels’ main man, E. Only 2500 of these sets were made. But are they worth it? You tell us. Price: $258
The Durutti Column, Return of the Durutti Column
This 1980 Factory Records release is the sine qua non of extreme, absurdly brilliant album packaging. In its first run, the record was packaged in sandpaper — which meant that if you stored it with your other LPs, it would slowly grind away at their covers. Price: Alas, this edition is no longer available.
Nine Inch Nails, Ghosts I-IV
When Trent Reznor decides to screw over record labels, he does it in style. The post-industrial musical polymath offered his 2008 album in a variety of formats, from a free download of the first nine songs to two CDs for $10 all the way up to one super-limited edition. Fans who purchased that version received all four LPs in classy wrappers, along with three hardcover books containing CD copies of Ghosts I-IV, a DVD containing .wav files for all 36 songs (for remix purposes), a Blu-ray disc with high-res audio, tons of photographs, and three Giclee art prints. Oh, and NIN fans? Reznor signed each and every one of these 2500 box sets. Price: $300 (and, of course, totally sold out)
Fantômas, Suspended Animation
The Mike Patton-helmed band’s 2005 album features 30 short tracks — one for each day in the month of April. And a special edition version of the record comes as a spiral-bound calendar. It’s not expensive; it’s just awesome. Price: $14 at Amazon!
Pixies fans are notoriously devoted. So when you ask them to shell out upwards of $500 for a box set stuffed with goodies and limited to 3000 copies, you’re likely to generate some interest. Aside from every single one of the band’s studio albums on vinyl, the package includes the same material on 24-karat gold-plated CDs, a previously unreleased live record, Blu-ray and DVD versions of just about everything. The set was designed by Vaughan Oliver, the guy responsible for the Pixies’ classic album artwork, and also features two art books that spotlight Oliver and photographer Simon Larbalestier. Then there are the 12″ x 19.5″ Giclee print and two giant posters. The whole thing weighs 25 pounds. Price: $566