Monday, July 15, 2024

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Planet X’s ‘Anthology’ Set Is A Mostly Successful Career Retrospective

Fans of the prog super group Planet X received a special treat this weekend thanks to the independent distribution company, MVD Entertainment Group.  The treat in question came Friday in the form of group’s aptly titled box set, Anthology.  The four-disc collection proves to be largely a success.  That is due in large part to its general presentation, which will be discussed shortly.  The set’s companion booklet, with its liner notes, make up another positive (and sadly a negative) that is noteworthy.  This item will be discussed a little later.  The set’s packaging rounds out its most important elements.  It will also be addressed later.  Each item noted is key in its own way to the whole of Anthology.  All things considered, they make Anthology a mostly welcome presentation for fans of Planet X and its famed founders and guest musicians.

Prog supergroup Planet X’s new career retrospective, the aptly titled Anthology, is a mostly welcome presentation for fans of the group and its members.  Originally founded by keyboardist Derek Sherinian (Sons of Apollo, Black Country Communion, ex-Dream Theater) and drummer Virgil Donati (Wing of Fire, Southern Sons, The State), the group released three studio albums and a live recording between 2000 and 2011.  All four records were released through InsideOut Music.  Now all four of those records have been made available collectively for the first time in this new presentation.  That presentation forms the collection’s foundation.  As noted, it is the first time ever that all four of the group’s records have been made available in a single setting.  This means whether audiences already own all of the records, none, or only certain ones, everyone will benefit from this collection.  For those who do not own any of the band’s records and those who only own certain records, it means no more having to search for the records they do not own.  For those who already own the band’s records, it means being able to have them all in one place instead of having to go through the albums one at a time, pulling one then the next, etc.  This will be discussed at more length in the matter of the set’s packaging.  Simply put, the general presentation of Anthology forms a solid foundation for the collection and serves as a wonderful starting point for the set.

The foundation formed by the collection’s general presentation is strengthened at least to a point through the liner notes in the set’s companion booklet.  Audiences get a thorough background on Planet X’s history through the liner notes, penned by Rich Wilson and Sherinian’s longtime drummer friend, Simon Phillips.  Wilson notes in his outline, the formation of Planet X started in 1998, before the turn of the century.  He adds Sherinian was for all intents and purposes the band’s founding member.  He also adds personal comment from Sherinian, who points out that his separation from the members of Dream Theater in the late 90s was allegedly less than amicable.  He notes Sherinian was ousted from the band due allegedly to “personality differences”.  More is added to the discussion for audiences to read for themselves, but for many audiences who are or were Dream Theater fans, this side of the story may not have been known.  To that point this revelation adds its own share of interest to the back story of Planet X.  This especially when one considers how the split between Sherinian’s fellow former Dream Theater band mate Mike Portnoy and the band went down, too.  From there, Wilson outlines the development of Planet X and how the lineups changed for the records, etc., giving listeners such a rich tapestry to enjoy.

Phillips’ notes are less copious than those of Wilson, spanning roughly a single page of the booklet.  He points out playfully that in listening to Planet X’s debut album, he was so glad that he only had to master the record for the set and not play on it.  That is because of its depth.  His comment was made in the most respectful fashion.  This is sure to put a smile on any listener’s face and generate some laughs.  He also gives some brief insight into the recording process for the band’s 2002 album Moonbabies.  The note of how he and Virginal Donati sat down to enjoy some cappuccino ahead of the recording makes for its own share of entertainment.  Between this anecdote, Phillips’ other comments and all of the background provided by Wilson, the liner notes provided in the set’s booklet makes builds mostly well on the foundation formed by the collection’s general presentation.

While the information provided by Wilson and Phillips adds quite a bit to the set’s overall presentation, the actual presentation of the notes also detracts from the presentation.  Audiences will note that the liner notes are printed in such small size font and with such close spacing that it all feels so crammed together in such a small space.  This will leave audiences essentially having to squint as they read in order to be able to read everything.  Audiences should not have to squint just to read liner notes.  Compared to the much more well-spaced information about each album that follows in the booklet, it makes the aesthetic all the more concerning.  To that end, the manner in which Wilson and Phillips’ notes are presented unquestionably detracts from the overall appeal of the set’s presentation.  It is not enough to doom the whole, but definitely cannot be ignored, even with the background that the notes offer.

Knowing that the negative presented by the set’s booklet is not enough to doom the recording, there is one more positive to note.  The positive comes in the form of the set’s packaging.  The packaging in question is a two-gatefold presentation.  Sherinian and Donati are presented on either side of the outermost fold, interestingly, profiling the band’s two founding members.  Each record sits in its own spot inside the case.  This protects them from potentially scratching one another as they are placed and replaced over time, in turn ensuring a long lie for each disc.  This is an important aspect for the set if not its most important aspect.  On another level, the cover art for each record is printed under each record’s respective spot, adding a great aesthetic to the presentation in its own right.  When this element is considered along with the positive of the general presentation and the background in the set’s liner notes, the whole makes even clearer what makes the collection so largely appealing.  Again, it collectively makes the set a welcome offering whether audiences already own the band’s albums or not.

MVD Entertainment Group’s brand-new Planet X collection, Anthology, is a largely successful offering that will easily appeal to fans of the band and its members.  That is due in large part to its general presentation.  The general presentation is important because it features all three of the band’s studio recordings and its lone live recording all in one setting.  Audiences who do not already own the records and those who maybe own only certain records from the band will especially find this appealing.  It means they will no longer have to search for the records, but rather have them all in one place.  The liner notes featured in the set add to the collection’s appeal.  That is because of the background that they add to the band’s story.  The set’s packaging rounds out its most important elements.  That is because even being somewhat bulky, it ensures each record has its own spot inside the case, thus protecting the discs from marring one another.  When this aspect is considered along with everything else noted, the whole makes Anthology a mostly successful offering from Planet X.

Anthology is available now through Planet X Records and MVD Entertainment Group.  More information on the collection is available along with all of Planet X’s latest news at: