David Browne
January 10, 1992 AT 05:00 AM EST

EW discovers two neglected boxed sets

Just as there were albums by new artists that fell between record-store cracks last year, so were there esoteric boxed sets that deserve a mention. King Crimson’s The Essential King Crimson/Frame By Frame traces the 15-year history (1969-1984) of these most eggheaded of art-rockers, who, led by guitarist and technophile Robert Fripp, continually pushed the boundaries of progressive rock with squealing guitar, murky lyrics, and shifting rhythms. Extra points for the sumptuous packaging, which includes a booklet with a month-by-month chronicle of the band. B+

Historians and librarians shouldn’t be the only ones who drool at the prospect of Great Speeches of the 20th Century. The 4-CD, 69-track box includes all the greatest hits of ”historically important oration”: inaugural addresses from JFK and FDR, farewells from Lou Gehrig and Douglas MacArthur, King Edward VIII’s abdication in favor of ”the woman I love,” even Ollie North’s Iran-contra testimony, with Tricky Dick’s labored 1962 ”You won’t have Nixon to kick around anymore” concession speech becoming, in its mind-numbing 16-minute glory, the ”In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” of the set. Great Speeches is, in small doses, a reminder that in politics ideas were once more important than images. A-

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