Published on May 31st, 2019 | by Justin G.
Ten: Opera Omnia: The Complete Works (Frontiers, 2019)
We finally saw the long-promised Ten box set this year. The massive, 16-disc brick of a box set includes every single studio album from Gary Hughes’ long running melodic rock band as well as their sole live release. It also includes a wealth of bonus tracks.
The set is called Opera Omnia: The Complete Works. Does it really live up to that promise? Here’s the disc-by-disc breakdown:
Disc 1: Ten – We get the full 1996 Ten debt album plus the bonus track “When Only Love Can Ease the Pain” and live versions of “After The Love Has Gone” and “Can’t Slow Down.” The Japanese exclusive bonus track “Beautiful Miss Understood” is missing, unfortunately.
Disc 2: The Name of the Rose – We get the full 1996 album, plus the bonus tracks “The Quest” and “You’re My Religion.” The Japanese reissue exclusive bonus track “Round & Round” is not included.
Disc 3: The Robe – The band’s 1997 epic The Robe is disc 3. It includes the bonus tracks “Warpath” and “To Die For,” (from The Robe/Bonus Collection) as well as live versions of “Close Your Eyes and Dream” and “Turn Around.” “If Only For A Day” from the Japanese reissue is not included.
Disc 4: Never Say Goodbye (Part 1) – This is the first half of the two-disc Never Say Goodbye live set. Nothing added, but nothing is missing either.
Disc 5: Never Say Goodbye (Part 2) – This is the second half of the live release, and it includes the four new studio tracks.
Disc 6: Spellbound– We get the full 1998 album, plus a whole lot of bonus material (previously from The Robe/Bonus Collection). It includes “Xanadu” and “Rainbow in the Dark” (not a Dio cover, sadly) as well as acoustic versions of “We Rule The Night,” “Red” and “Til The End of Time.” It does not include the bonus track “Time” from the 2016 Japanese reissue of Spellbound.
Disc 7: Babylon– This is the band’s 2000 concept album. It includes the bonus track “Dawn Star,” which doesn’t appear to have been released previously. I was hoping they’d separate the “story” bits from the proper songs for this reissue, but that didn’t happen.
Disc 8: Far Beyond The World – Ten’s 2001 is presented here. It includes the original Japanese bonus track “The Soldier,” but not the bonus track “In Love And War” from the 2016 Japanese reissue.”
Disc 9: Return To Evermore – The band’s 2004 album includes the bonus track “It’s You I Adore.”
Disc 10: The Twilight Chronicles – Ten’s 2006 album includes the bonus track “Fahreheit” from the Japanese version of the album.
Disc 11: Stormwarning – This is the band’s 2011 studio album. We get the bonus track “The Darkness,” which was previously only on the Japanese import version.
Disc 12: Heresy and Creed – I was all set to be irritated by this one, since the track listing on the back of the sleeve shows just 12 songs (giving us the bonus track “I Found Love” but omitting the album track “Insatiable”), but when I popped the disc in the player it actually has 14 songs. The additional track is the Japanese exclusive “The Riddle.”
Disc 13: Albion – The band’s epic 2014 album is presented in full, with the bonus track “Good God In Heaven What the Hell Is This.”
Disc 14: Isla De Muerta – This 2015 album is probably my least favorite Ten release, but they loaded it up with bonus tracks. You get all five bonus tracks that were on the Battlefields collection.
Disc 15: Gothica – This is the band’s 2017 studio album. We just get the main album, not the remix of “Paragon” from the Japanese import. It’s not a great loss, but it’s still an unnecessary omission.
Disc 16: Illuminati – The band’s 2018 album closes out the set. As with Gothica, Illuminati is missing the bonus remix of “Rosetta Stone” that appeared on the Japanese import.
By my count there are five missing studio bonus tracks and two missing remixes. That’s a source of frustration, especially in a set billed as “The Complete Works.” There was room to include those songs and no reason not to.
Setting aside the frustration with the missing songs, the packaging for this compact set is really quite nice. Sure, a big box with 16 individual jewel cases would have been ideal, but that would have driven the price (way) up. What we get here are cardboard sleeves for each disc. Not the thin promo-style sleeves, but not quite the LP replica sleeves you see on Japanese reissues either. They’re not bad, and it’s a nice touch that each disc has its own inner sleeve and liner notes. The discs fit snugly into the small, but attractive box along with a separate booklet that has an informative album-by-album band history.
As far as sound quality goes, the albums in this set have (to the best of my knowledge) not been remastered. Most of them were recent enough to not need any kind of remastering. Several of the early Ten albums were remastered in 2016 for a Japanese reissue campaign. I can’t tell if that’s the audio that was used here.
The price point (at the moment) is around $75. That’s a bargain any way you look at it. If you don’t have any Ten albums, or are missing a few, this is a no-brainer. And if you have the albums but want to upgrade for the bonus material – however incomplete – it’s not a huge expense, especially if you can sell off or trade in your earlier editions.
Opera Omnia: The Complete Works could have been an absolutely perfect set, but even without all of the bonus material it’s still a really good set. Serious Ten fans are going to love this set, and you really can’t do better than this for an introduction to the band.
Summary: Not quite "the complete works," but still a great set.