Iconic Rock Gift Guide: Presents for the Music Lover on Your List

It’s that time of year again: It’s the holidays, and time to look for that special gift for the geek in your life. Hey, it’s been a rough year – we all deserve a little something, don’t we?

Record Store Day Black Friday

It’s become a tradition, and Record Store Day Black Friday is indeed happening again this year. It’s shorter list, but there are some interesting finds to be had.  Some of the highlights:

  • David Gilmour’s first new music in five years, a tune called “Yes I Have Ghosts” with his daughter Romany on harp and vocals
  • The 40th anniversary of U2s “Boy” in a limited-edition white vinyl pressing that includes an additional double-sided poster plus a lyrics/credits insert
  • A 7” single of Chris Cornell’s version of GnR’s “Patience” with “Nothing Compares to U” as the B-side

Other releases include singles by Johnny Cash, Motorhead, Willie Nelson, Post Malone, and others.

Remember that inventory will vary by store., so call ahead if you’re looking for something specific. And be ready for a longer line as many stores will have social distancing protocols in place.

Box Sets

The holidays are the perfect excuse to justify a splurge on a box set. Some of the standouts this season include:

  • Prince: “Sign O the Times” A beautifully curated package with 92 tracks, 63 previously unreleased, on 8 CDs.
  • Neil Young: Archives Volume 2, 1972-1976: For the completist, this CD-only set has 10 discs with 131 tracks, including 12 songs that have never been released and 49 new unreleased versions of his classics (studio and live recordings). There’s also a 252-page hardbound book with hundreds of previously unseen photographs, additional archival materials, a partial tape database, a detailed description of the music, and a fold-out timeline. And it only covers four years!
  • Elton John: “Jewel Box” – Curated by the man himself, this collection goes beyond the hits with rarities from 1965-1971, lesser-known B-Sides, and deep cuts. it has 148 songs spanning 1965 to 2019 on 8CD, 4LP, 3LP, 2LP, digital download and streaming formats.
  • Tom Petty: “Wildflowers and All the Rest”- It’s a fitting farewell to an artist that means so much to so many. Along with the original 15 songs, it has 10 from the Wildflower sessions, 15 solo demos, and 14 live versions of Wildflowers songs recorded from 1995 – 2017.

Turn the Page

If you’re looking for gifts for the rock and roll bookworm in your life, it’s been a banner year for music biographies and autobiographies:

  • “Me”- At last, Elton John tells his story as only he can. As you might guess, it’s a hard-to-put-down, juicy, honest insight into the legend and the man.
  • “All I Ever Wanted: A Rock ‘n’ Roll Memoir”- Their music is as sunny as their California roots. Kathy Valentine tells the darker truth behind the Go-Go’s, how hard it is to lose it all – and fight your way back.  
  • “This Thing Called Life, Prince’s Odyssey on and Off the Record.” – A rare intimate look at the Purple One, written by Neal Karlen, “…The only reporter who made Prince sound like what he really sounded like.”
  • “Queen: The Neal Preston Photographs” – Images, some famous, some never before seen, from an iconic band and one of music’s premier photographers.
  • “More Myself: A Journey” – Alicia Keys tells how she confronted the pain that shaped her early life and helped make her the artist she is now.
  • “The Decade That Rocked: The Photography Of Mark “Weissguy” Weiss” – Yes, Virginia, there was hard rock and heavy metal in the 80s, and Mark Weiss shot it all, from Motley Crue to Ozzy to Bon Jovi, and more.

This year saw the release of two more books in the “All the Songs” series: Queen and Bruce Springsteen. As the title says, they look at every track recorded by an artist, with info on their inspiration, production notes, and chart performance. Previous titles in this series have looked at the Beatles, the Stones, Led Zeppelin, Michael Jackson, Pink Floyd, and Bob Dylan.

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