After a year like 2020, what we could all use is some moments of peace and relaxation - preferably with our favorite music to keep us company! Amid the challenges of this year, some really tremendous soul, R&B and jazz music was reissued or unearthed for your listening pleasure - and with the holiday season in full swing, now's the time to add these to your lists, or give them to a friend who'll love them. From Prince to Palo Alto, Roberta Flack to Diana Ross, these sets are not to be missed!
Prince, Sign O’ the Times (Super Deluxe Edition) / Up All Nite with Prince: The One Nite Alone Collection
Prince's absence is missed more and more each year, and these two sets only served to underline his genius. Sign O' the Times, his 1987 solo masterpiece, shines brighter than ever in box set form, featuring B-sides, outtakes and live tracks (a total of 45 unheard recordings) across eight CDs or 13 LPs plus a DVD. Up All Nite with Prince showcases the Purple One in studio and in concert in 2002, featuring the rare One Nite Alone... album, the contents of the One Nite Alone...Live! box set and the Live at The Aladdin Las Vegas video - four CDs and a DVD of pure funky soul.
Roberta Flack, First Take (50th Anniversary Deluxe Edition)
Flash back to the first time ever you heard her voice. Roberta Flack's debut album gets its proper due with this limited edition reissue, featuring the original album on CD and vinyl, plus a bonus disc of rare and unreleased material - the ultimate tribute to an undisputed legend of soul music.
Dionne Warwick, Deja Vu: The Arista Recordings (1979-1994)
Long before she committed to slaying on Twitter, Dionne's 15-year tenure with Clive Davis' label produced such hits as "I'll Never Love This Way Again," "Heartbreaker," "That's What Friends Are For" and many others. Every album from this period is collected on this special box set, with 29 rare bonus tracks added for fans and collectors.
Diana Ross & The Supremes, Sing and Perform "Funny Girl" - The Ultimate Edition
Until the summer of 2020, this was the only album by The Supremes to never be released on CD. This deluxe presentation more than makes up for it, offering original stereo and mono mixes of this classic tribute to Jule Styne's musical (and the first album to feature Cindy Birdsong alongside Mary Wilson and Miss Ross), plus a new "ultimate" mix of the album alongside rare and unissued bonus tracks. Nobody can rain on your parade when you've got this one in your collection!
Sade, This Far
Every Sade album of the last 35 years has felt like its own event, and this box set does a good job of capturing their quiet intensity, featuring all six of the group's studio albums on vinyl. Let's hope there's not long to go before Sade blesses us with another new album.
Whitney Houston, Whitney Houston (35th Anniversary Edition)
With her self-titled debut, mass audiences experienced Whitney's immortal voice for the first time on chart-toppers like "Saving All My Love for You," "How Will I Know" and "Greatest Love of All." This special 2LP box set includes that original album and the rare Japanese remix EP Whitney Dancin' Special on peaches and cream vinyl, plus a 40-page hardcover book of essays, lyrics and memorabilia.
Mariah Carey, The Rarities
Her career as a chart-topping hitmaker has stretched 30 years - but on this set, Mariah puts that powerful voice to work on a bounty of rare and unreleased tracks from across her career. And if that doesn't convince you she's the real deal, the accompanying live set from 1996 might do the trick.
Thelonious Monk, Palo Alto
Unheard performances from legends like Thelonious Monk are always welcome, especially when they have stories like this one: shortly after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Monk performs some of his best works in a special show organized by a high school student - played in the school gymnasium and recorded by a janitor. The sound quality is surprisingly sharp and Monk and his band are in fine form.