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Arts and Music

Do You Hear What I Do?

Suggested gifts for the music lover in your life

Not unlike what’s happened with books, technology’s various conveniences have also impersonalized the way we ingest music be it through downloads or the earbuds of an iPod. While LPs are arguably the best way to experience this food for the soul, there’s something to be said about cracking open either a CD booklet or a well-packaged box set, regardless of the genre.

Alt-Rock  

Anglophiles had plenty to rejoice about whether it was because Blur commemorated its 21st anniversary by releasing its entire canon (in addition to a live album culled from its show at the 2012 Olympics closing ceremony). Or could it be elder statesmen Elvis Costello and Peter Gabriel being represented by a pair of compilations for the former and the 25th anniversary release of the latter’s biggest album? And while there’s the deluxe edition of The Jam’s last album and the entire Roxy catalog for Union Jack fans to rave over, the Yanks got their due with the deluxe reissues of Bob Mould’s old band Sugar and Smashing Pumpkin’s sprawling 1995 double-disc third album.

Blur – ParkLive [4-CD/1 DVD] (Virgin); Blur 21: The Box [18-CD/3-DVD] (Virgin)

Elvis Costello – In Motion Pictures (UME); The Return of the Spectacular Spinning Songbook [CD/DVD] (Universal)

Peter Gabriel – So: 25th Anniversary Edition [3-CD] (Real World Productions)

The Jam – The Gift [Deluxe Edition] [2-CD] (Polydor/UME)

Roxy Music – The Complete Studio Recordings [10-CD] (Virgin)

Smashing Pumpkins – Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness [Deluxe Edition] [5-CD/1-DVD] (Virgin)

Sugar – Copper Blue/Beaster [3-CD] (Merge); File Under: Easy Listening [Deluxe Edition] [2-CD] (Merge)

The Velvet Underground – The Velvet Underground & Nico: 45th Anniversary Edition] [6-CD] (Polydor/PGD)

Blues & Jazz

Sony’s Legacy reissue division went whole hog this year in compiling sets that contained all the releases an artist may have released in their entirety for the company’s various imprints. Jazz and blues fared particularly well with legendary bandleaders (Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington), guitar pioneers (Charlie Christian), Crescent City stalwarts (Preservation Hall Jazz Band), blues queens (Bessie Smith) and bop giants (Charles Mingus, Thelonious Monk) all getting their work excavated and repackaged.

Louis Armstrong – The Complete Columbia/Okeh & RCA Victor Recordings 1925-1933 [10-CD] (Columbia/Legacy)

Charlie Christian – The Genius of the Electric Guitar [4-CD] (Columbia/Legacy)

Duke Ellington – The Complete Columbia Studio Albums Collection 1951-1958 [9-CD] (Columbia/Legacy)

Etta James – The Complete Blues, Rock ‘N’Soul, Private Music Albums Collection [7-CD] (Legacy)

B.B. King – Mr. B.B. King [4-CD/10-CD] (UME)

Taj Mahal – The Hidden Treasures of Taj Mahal 1969-1973 [2-CD] (Columbia/Legacy)

Charles Mingus – The Complete Columbia & RCA Albums Collection [10-CD] (Columbia/Legacy)

The Thelonious Monk Quartet – The Complete Columbia Albums Collection [6-CD] (Columbia Legacy)

Preservation Hall Jazz Band – 50th Anniversary Collection [4-CD] (Legacy Recordings)

Bessie Smith – The Complete Columbia Recordings [5-CD] (Columbia/Legacy)

Weather Report – The Columbia Albums: 1971-1975 [7-CD] (Columbia/Legacy)

Classic Rock

Lots to love in this category particularly when it comes to seminal album reissues be it from Eric Clapton (Slowhand), The Doors (L.A. Woman) or Paul and Linda McCartney (Ram). Otherwise, it was all about yet another Rolling Stones compilation (GRRR! Greatest Hits), a vintage Janis Joplin live album (Live at the Carousel Ballroom 1968) or nods to mod peers The Who (Live at Hull) and Small Faces (1966, The Beginning).

Big Brother and the Holding Company featuring Janis Joplin – Live at the Carousel Ballroom 1968 (Sony Legacy)

Eric Clapton – Slowhand 35th Anniversary [Deluxe Edition] [2-CD] (Polydor)

Donovan – The Essential Donovan [2-CD] (Columbia/Legacy)

The Doors  – Live at the Bowl ’68 (Rhino); L.A. Woman [40th Anniversary Edition] [2-CD](Rhino)

Heart – Strange Euphoria [3-CD/1-DVD] (Epic/Legacy)

Paul & Linda McCartney – Ram (Special Edition) [2-CD] (Hear Music)

The Rolling Stones – GRRR! Greatest Hits [Super Deluxe Edition] [5-CD/7” Vinyl/96-page hardback book](ABCKO/Interscope)

Small Faces – 1966 [Deluxe Edition] [2-CD]; From the Beginning [2-CD] [Deluxe Edition] (Reprise)

The Who – Live at Hull 1970 [2-CD] (Geffen)

Country/Singer-Songwriters

The Man in Black also finds all his Sony-related albums getting pulled out of the vault, dusted off, remastered and dropped on the market in the form of a gargantuan 63-CD set. For those looking for something a less wieldy, there’s the 25th anniversary reissue of Paul Simon’s iconic stab at world music (Graceland).

Johnny Cash – The Complete Columbia Albums Collection [63-CD] (Columbia/Legacy)

Paul Simon – Graceland: 25th Anniversary Edition [2-CD/1-DVD] (Legacy)

Golden Oldies

For this holiday season, cool comes in the form of yet another Elvis Presley box set, a compilation of vintage live Jerry Lee Lewis performances and the eternal hipness that was and always will be Rat Packer Dean Martin.

Jerry Lee Lewis – Killer Live 1964-1970 [3-CD] (Hip-O)

Dean Martin – Collected Cool [3-CD/1 DVD] (Universal)

Elvis Presley – Prince From Another Planet [Deluxe] [2-CD/1-DVD] (RCA/ Legacy)

Hard Rock

The genre of loud guitars, blistering amps and heaps of teen angst continues to roll along with the complete canons of Judas Priest and Long Island sons Blue Oyster Cult all pulled together in two separate mega-boxes, a succulent overview of Alice Cooper’s early days and the long-awaited release of Led Zep’s live 2007 reunion in London.

Blue Oyster Cult – The Complete Columbia Albums [17-CD] (Columbia/Legacy)

Alice Cooper – Old School 1964-1974] [4-CD] (UME)

Judas Priest – The Complete Albums Collection [17-CD] (Columbia/Epic/Legacy)

Led Zeppelin – Celebration Day [2-CD/1 Blu-Ray/1-DVD] (Atlantic)

Megadeth – Countdown to Extinction-20th Anniversary Edition [Deluxe Edition] [2-CD] (EMI)

Miscellaneous

Not necessarily a genre as much as a category dedicated to the adventurous music lover. Fans of vintage garage rock can either dive into the psychedelic unorthodoxy of Texas natives the Moving Sidewalks (featuring a pre-ZZ Top Billy Gibbons), or sup on a single disc culling cuts off of Rhino Records’ seminal Nuggets box set from a few years back. Elsewhere, the 4-CD Surf Age Nuggets serves as the perfect companion for anyone that may own the aforementioned garage rock box set while reggae lovers can indulge in VP’s 4-CD overview of the genre. More conventional tastes are well served by the first Ben Harper compilation hand-picked by the man himself and a 2-CD overview of Blues Traveler balanced out by one disc of pure hits and the other chock full of b-sides, rarities and unreleased demos.  

Ben Harper – By My Side (Virgin)

Blues Traveler – 25 (Hip-O/Select)

Moving Sidewalks – The Complete Collection  [2-CD] (Rockbeat Records)

Various Artists – Nuggets: Original Artyfacts from the First Psychedelic Era (1965-1968) (Rhino)

Various Artists – Surf Age Nuggets [4-CD] (Rockbeat Records)

Various Artists – With Love: Origins of Jamaican Music [4-CD] (VP)

R&B/Pop

Three-plus years after his death, the Gloved One gets remembered via the deluxe treatment of his seventh solo album. And while nostalgia junkies will swoon over memories of baby not getting put in the corner while they listen to the late Patrick Swayze croon, soul fans get to explore the recorded output of Bill Withers, the silky singing crooner that walked away from the music industry in 1985 and whose music has been covered/sampled by a myriad of artists including Sting, Barbra Streisand, John Legend and the Roots, Seal, Isaac Hayes and Fiona Apple.

Michael Jackson – Bad25  [Deluxe Edition] [3-CD/1-DVD] (Sony Legacy)

Various Artists – Dirty Dancing: The Deluxe Anniversary Edition (RCA/Legacy)

Bill Withers – Complete Sussex and Columbia Albums Masters [9-CD] (Columbia/Legacy)