Lots of sonic platters of joy are ready to be served up this holiday season, and what better gift to give someone than the universal appeal of music? During this festive time, when credit card debts mount up, layaway plans become way too unmanageable, and the stress of owing money takes charge over one’s soul and wallet as the new year turns, it’s still worth the feeling one gets when one sees someone’s eyes light up when they tear the wrapping paper off a gift, positively effused with sincere delight at its contents. We all still do it, we all get by, we grumble as the new year rolls in, but it’s all worth it; gifts are cool, no doubt, gifts never go out of style, and the end result of giving someone a gift makes it all worth it. Music was no exception this year. There were some great collections for one to gnaw on, collections which run every genre and will turn even the most hard hardened curmudgeon of a Scrooge into the softest teddy bear imaginable, even if it’s only for one holiday. My holiday box set picks are below, this one goes to eleven:
The Rush album which for many still stands as one of the best from this long-running progressive rock Canadian trio, gets a complete facelift and overhaul via deluxe edition, which sports three live bonus tracks from the album (recorded during various times and various places), a digital comic book which tells the 2112 tale of a disillusioned youth who tries to use music as a catalyst to destroy his oppressive government, expanded artwork, and liner notes, and a glorious 5.1 Surround Sound mix for the album itself.
Rock and roll’s seminal shockster, the progenitor of goth and hard rock, Alice Cooper gets his early years, which arguably were his best years, nicely housed in one 4 CD set, chock full of early hits (“I’m Eighteen,” “Is It My Body,” “Elected,” “School’s Out,” “Muscle of Love”) and curios and demos from the bands formative years, with an entire live show from his Killer tour in 1971 included within as well. Rare photos, personal anecdotes, demos and rehearsals, in a nice box set with a cover resembling a pockmarked and graffiti laden wooden school desk (akin to Coopers’ School’s Out album cover) round out the collection.
Celebrating the 20th anniversary of the album Ten, regarded by many as the high water mark during the flannel-choked grunge scene that took over American musical tastes in the early 1990s, this deluxe edition 3-DVD set, which was created by Oscar-winning director and ex-Rolling Stone scribe Cameron Crowe, shows Pearl Jam in an intimate light, culled from over 1,200 hours of interview footage, which attempts to explain the album, its genesis, and its impact. Along with 3 hours of bonus material on the DVD and bonus content, showcasing now folklore songs for the genre such as “Evenflow,” “Jeremy,” “Alive,” and “Black”, Pearl Jam 20 gives a naked and fully realized wide open look into the making of a well-remembered album, two decades strong and counting.
JOHNNY CASH – THE COMPLETE COLUMBIA ALBUM COLLECTION
59, that’s right, 59 Johnny Cash albums are included in this 63-disc box, an exhaustive and lovingly handled collection which showcases the Man in Black, the Godfather of sounds like country and rockabilly and gospel, with sprinklings of rock and roll here and there, in all his sonic splendor. Classics albums like Ring of Fire and Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison are just the cream of the crop and barely scratching the surface of what’s included here. Two more bonus discs, one being a collection of singles, many unreleased and the other focusing on Cash’s earliest sessions during the 1950s at famed Sun Records are also included. They complete a collection that of course by its overall size and intimidating volume, might be too overwhelming for the casual fan, but for the diehard Cash zealot, for sure, your ship has come in and then some.
Although the label is best known for its many disco acts and artists, Casablanca Records first had the shock and roll foursome KISS in its stables, and achieved a large modicum of success because of it. During the band’s tenure there, which accounted for millions upon millions of records sold, they also released 29 singles on 7-inch vinyl in the early 1970s to the early 1980s. Although the singles released for the most part were well known songs in the band’s catalog (“Strutter,” “Rock and Roll All Nite,” “Beth,” “Detroit Rock City,” “Love Gun,” “Christine Sixteen,” and more), the singles were alternative versions, different mixes and edits that never wound up on the studio vinyl versions. That, and the innovative packaging of the set, a limited edition die cut shadow box with etched silver metal plate, makes this a no-brainer for KISS fans. To complete the original set of these singles must have been a pretty herculean task for the rabid layman KISS fan. Now, they are all included in one incredible, amazingly handled collection. This won’t last long, sure to be an instant collectable, snatch one up if you can, as soon as you can!
It’s been 25 years since the follow up to the massive, best-selling album of all time, Michael Jackson‘s Thriller was released. A worthy follow up which was also produced by Quincy Jones, Bad of course didn’t have the entire pomp and world circumstance frenzy that Thriller manifested, (it still became the fifth biggest selling album of all time), but still holds up as a nice entry in the late King of Pop’s catalog. “Man in the Mirror,” the title track, the rocking “Dirty Diana,” and stalwart pop confections like “I Just Can’t Stop Loving You” are among the songs included, along with demos of songs on the album and unreleased, and various deluxe editions includes vinyl versions, DVDs, with memorable tributes and a live 1988 performance by Jackson.
Celebrating the band’s 50th anniversary, and who show no sign of slowing down whatsoever, The Rolling Stones remain the last true original rock and roll band, and to commemorate this milestone, comes the release of GRRR, an expansive and huge overview of the band’s career, chock full of plenty of their hits, radio hits, memorable tracks, and lesser known sonic bullets. Two new songs are included as well, which shows the band still perfectly and effortlessly going through their Stones-by-numbers routine, and the track listing includes “Satisfaction,” “Under My Thumb,” “Brown Sugar,” “Gimme Shelter,” “Wild Horses,” and many, many more. Most of these tunes has and continues to act as a life soundtrack for many of us, decades and decades of the Stones’ music have passed through our ears, as comforting and welcome as an old friend. Various deluxe editions of GRRR have more songs, and demos of the band in its infancy, way back in 1963.
RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE – XX (20th Anniversary Edition)
Commemorating the 20th anniversary of this release by the hard rock/hip hop/punky quartet, the self-titled debut album by Rage Against The Machine still stands as one of the band’s most adventurous and starkest releases. Risk taking, unabashed diatribes on all sundry things political and world damning, the band, led by the quasi-Chuck D/Gil Scott Heron posturings and in a class by himself vocalizing of Zack De La Rocha and the original, fresh and trailblazing guitar by Tom Morello, who creates sounds with his guitar like a Midi spouting out loops, takes no prisoners on the album, now seminal tracks like “Bullet in the Head,” “Take The Power Back,” “Killing in the Name,” and “Freedom” are perfectly matched and centered alongside lesser known songs like “Know Your Enemy” and “Township Rebellion.” The record pretty much changed the game when it was originally released during the sea of grunge back in November 1992, but strong word of mouth and airplay gave RATM its niche and fanbase, which grew to untold heights as the band went on. XX is remastered, and various editions include demos, rare B-sides and never before released concert material and the kicker, released for the very first time in its entirety, the original demo tape. Essential and thought provoking at once. 20th Anniversary Edition Deluxe Box Set comes with 2 CDs, 2 DVDs, and 1 vinyl LP.
Studio Albums is an amazing box set containing all the albums by British rockers The Who musically illustrating their eclectic catalog of rock and roll, pop and even opera sounds and arrangements. From 1965’s My Generation to the 2006 reunion album Endless Wire and fan favorites like Tommy, Who’s Next and Quadrophenia in the middle, presented with classy restored original artwork for the album sleeves, superb sound remastering and an immaculate amount of kid gloves for the overall rendering of the box set, this is a must-have for a fan of one of rock and rolls greatest shining lights.
ROXY MUSIC – THE COMPLETE STUDIO RECORDINGS (1972-1982)
These glam rock/art rockers never achieved the kind of success here stateside other than a cult, but that cult stretches far and wide, as fans upon fans have given full ear service to Roxy Music‘s ambient, musically transient and intelligent brand of music, led by the illustrious Brian Ferry. This box set spans the 10-year period of 1972-1982, on 8 CDs, all remastered to the closest possible analog sound harking back to the original sounds of the albums. Two more discs round up bonus tracks and songs previously unreleased. Housed in a nice black box and retaining original album art sleeves, this complete studio recordings is an eclectic collection which is perfect for the eclectic person (or people) in your world.
Culminating from the live one-off performance at the O2 arena in 2007 for a tribute concert for Atlantic Records founder Ahmet Ertegun, Celebration Day shows the mighty Led Zeppelin reuniting with its original members and the late drummer John Bonham‘s son Jason on the backbeat. In ferocious, unexpected fiery musical fervor as they ran through a tight but loose set of their well known songs like “Stairway To Heaven,” “Dazed and Confused,” “Whole Lotta Love,” and “Rock and Roll,” and Zep-phile favorites like “Nobody’s Fault But Mine,” the jazzy and dreamy “No Quarter,” and the magnum opus fist in the face “In My Time of Dying,” Celebration Day remains absolutely essential. It even contains two songs Zep never performed live until this concert: “Ramble On” from Led Zeppelin II and “For Your Life” from the largely underrated Presence album. The band, who are pretty much legendary elder statesman at this point, play with a verve unseen and unheard in previous horribly executed and botched reunions, from the lead vocals of golden tressed Robert Plant, to the bottom end of John Paul Jones, and the influentially panzer tank out of control guitar bombardier aggression of Jimmy Page, the band sounds as good as ever. A concert film documenting the event in Blu-ray and DVD and a 2-CD set, with sounds mixed and mastered to the highest digital quality round out this most deluxe collection. Finally, a worthy addition to a post-John Bonham Led Zeppelin universe.
– Rush- Clockwork AngelsCD | MP3
– David Bowie – Rise & Fall of Ziggy Stardust 40th anniversary edition LP/DVD | CD | MP3
– Pink Floyd – Making of Wish You Were HereBlu-ray | DVD
– The Beatles – Yellow SubmarineBlu-ray
– The Beatles – Magical Mystery TourBlu-ray
– The Kinks – Live at the BBCBox Set
– Smashing Pumpkins – The Mellon Collie and the Infinite SadnessVinyl
– Garbage – Not Your Kind of PeopleDeluxe CD | MP3
– Jimi Hendrix – West Coast Seattle BoyBox Set
– Metallica – Quebec MagneticBlu-ray
AMAZON SHIPPING INFORMATION
If you’re ordering through Amazon.com in the United States, here’s their ordering deadlines for delivery on or before Christmas Eve (12/24) for items in-stock shipped to physical addresses within the United States and marked “Ships from and sold by Amazon.com” or “Fulfilled by Amazon.com.”
– December 16th – FREE Super Saver Shipping* [Last day to order]
– December 18th – Standard Shipping [Last full day to order]
– December 20th – Two-Day Shipping (FREE with Amazon Prime), Last full day to order
– December 21st – Two-Day Shipping (FREE with Amazon Prime) – Order as late as 7pm EST/4pm PST (varies by item); One-Day Shipping (Last full day to order)
– December 22nd – One-Day Shipping (Order as late as 3:00pm EST/12pm PST) [varies by item]
– December 24th – Local Express Delivery – While available (available in select cities, varies by item
– December 25th – Christmas Day: Email and printable gift cards can be sent immediately, at any time.
*Super Saver Shipping is FREE on orders $25 and over.
Giving MP3 Music as Gifts
If you’d like to gift these MP3 purchases, you can – just click the “Give album or song as gift” button on the right on the product page. From there you enter the recipient’s email address and then select either specific songs to gift or the entire album.
Note – when you purchase MP3s through Amazon for yourself, it stores your purchases to Amazon’s Cloud Drive; from there you can stream the music right from their online player. Also, if you have a Kindle Fire, your MP3 purchases will automatically be available for you to stream on your device. All your purchases are backed up and available for you to download at any time. You can download the files to your computer to load to an MP3 device and to your iTunes account if you have one.
Remember, if all else fails, there’s also the Amazon.com Gift Card, you can have emailed to the recipient (arrives immediately) or you can print out the gift card at home and give it to the intended that way. If you order in enough time, you can get the physical gift card sent to you.