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YOUR HOLIDAY MUSIC GIFT GUIDE, PART ONE
11/9/15

A trove of reissues, compilations, live sets and other goodies from the worlds of rock, pop, jazz and hip hop sits ready to go under your tree or other seasonal hearth. Check ‘em out.

The Beatles, 1+ (Apple Corps Ltd./UMG): A Beatles film fest and road-trip soundtrack in a single box, with lovingly remastered video clips and audio tracks for the Fabs’ #1 hits. It’s all gathered in a pretty hardbound book filled with vibrant photos and historical background. It serves nicely as The Beatles 101 for the next generation as well; put it on  while the chestnuts are roasting for a family singalong.

Bob Dylan, 1965-1966: The Cutting Edge (Columbia Legacy): Dylan didn’t just “go electric” by plugging in an amp. How did Highway 61 Revisited, Blonde on Blonde and Bringing It All Back Home come to be? This two-CD or three-LP archive of his explosive mid-‘60s evolution guides the listener, take by paintstaking take, through the creation of “Like a Rolling Stone” and offers developmental fragments and alternate renditions of “Subterranean Homesick Blues,” “Desolation Row,” “Highway 61 Revisited,” “Positively 4th Street” and other essential songs. Naturally, there’s a lavish book of goodies too. More detail here

Elvis Presley With the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, If I Can Dream (RCA/Legacy): The King with strings? We may be a million miles from the grit of Sun Studios—and occasionally swimming in schmaltz—but this compendium of tracks recorded between 1960 and 1972 showcases a rare alchemy. “Burning Love,” “It’s Now or Never,” “In the Ghetto,” the title track and covers of “Bridge Over Troubled Water” “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’” are among the highlights. Put it on for an instant Vegas mood.

The Grateful Dead, 30 Trips Around the Sun: The Definitive Live Story, 1965-1995 (Rhino): Mark Pinkus and team Rhino have turned out a dizzying catalogue of live sets, but this four-CD comp may be the most incisive, tracing the band’s entire career from scruffy psych-blues, Americana flowering and mainstream renaissance. The selections aren’t “greatest hits” but rather an ultra-fan’s mixtape. 

Frank Zappa & The Mothers: Roxy, The Movie (Eagle Vision): Zappa’s early 70s stint at the Sunset Strip club were arguably the peak of his proggy absurdism, and it was all filmed for a movie that never was. Until now. With a band that could do anything backing up his masterful guitar chops and playful vocals, Zappa romps through “Inca Roads,” “Penguin in Bondage,” the monster-movie ode “Cheepnis” and other impossibly complicated, kinkily convoluted tunes. This two-disc set includes a DVD and a soundtrack CD. 

Stay With Me: Faces Anthology (Warner Bros./Rhino): This double-CD set is a more condensed experience than the fall box You Can Make Me Dance, Sing or Anything, which stuffed four full albums together. This one finds Rod, the Ronnies and mates hitting all their high points, notably “Stay With Me,” “Ooh La La,” “Bad ‘N’ Ruin” and their sublime rendition of “Maybe I’m Amazed.”

Stay tuned for more gift ideas.