Unlike many archival box sets that offer comprehensive documentation of an artist or record label for a given period, A Musical History doesn't attempt to present a complete collection of the Band's recordings (which defined Americana music before there was a term for it). What you get is a perspective on what made the Band the Band from founding guitarist Robbie Robertson, who serves as executive producer of the lavishly annotated and illustrated five-CD-plus-DVD book-bound set. There are plenty of desirable extras, like a 108-page hardcover tome loaded with cool photos and a thoroughly researched historical essay by Toronto-based musicologist Rob Bowman, along with pre-Band recordings by Ronnie Hawkins and Levon & the Hawks, 35 previously unissued tracks and a DVD of vintage performances primarily drawn from the Festival Express film and the Band's memorable Saturday Night Live appearance. While the mammoth compendium comes close to being the last word on the Band, it seems the plan was to avoid rendering the individual albums obsolete. It'll still make for a helluva nice gift.