Holiday Gifts for Music Lovers

Recently released box sets make great presents for fans of everyone from Hank Williams to Pink Floyd.

For more gift ideas, please see BJT's 2020 Holiday Gift Guide.

LOU REED AT HIS BEST

The late Lou Reed cofounded the Velvet Underground, one of rock’s most influential bands, after which he enjoyed a long solo career whose highlights included 1989’s powerful, atypically political New York. This edition offers a remaster of that release on CD and vinyl plus CDs containing works in progress, singles, and a live version of the album culled from three concerts. A DVD adds video of another New York performance, a high-resolution audio version, and a revealing Reed interview. About $75

Lou Reed, New York (Deluxe Edition)
Lou Reed, New York (Deluxe Edition)

HANK WILLIAMS ON RADIO

Here’s the latest proof that 1998’s The Complete Hank Williams is erroneously titled: Pictures from Life's Other Side, a six-CD collection of recordings from the country giant’s 1951 radio show that intersperses rarities with “Hey, Good Lookin’,” “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry,” and many of his other best-known songs. The newly restored material arrives in a handsome slipcase with a lavishly illustrated hardcover book that includes informative liner notes. About $70

Hank Williams, Pictures from Life’s Other Side
Hank Williams, Pictures from Life’s Other Side

GRATEFUL DEAD'S U-TURN

After three guitar-based, loosely constructed albums, the Grateful Dead did a 180 for Workingman's Dead, their popular fourth LP, which serves up concise, country-influenced music that emphasizes vocal harmonies. The record clocks in at only 36 minutes, but a high-octane two-and-a-half-hour 1971 concert supplements the remastered copy here. About $30

The Grateful Dead, Workingman’s Dead (50th Anniversary Edition)
The Grateful Dead, Workingman’s Dead (50th Anniversary Edition)

ESSENTIAL EARLY FOLK

Harry Smith’s 1952 Anthology of American Folk Music, which ranks among the genre’s most influential albums, collects 84 singles first released between 1926 and 1933. Now comes The Harry Smith B-Sides, a box set that addresses the question, “What was on the flip side of all those great records? Answer: more greatness, including groundbreaking folk, blues, gospel, and country from pioneers like Mississippi John Hurt, the Carter Family, and Blind Lemon Jefferson. About $70 

Various artists, The Harry Smith B-Sides
Various artists, The Harry Smith B-Sides

ASTONISHING GUITAR WORK

Much of the music from Jimi Hendrix's historic Fillmore East shows, which took place on New Year’s Eve in 1969 and the following day, has previously been released multiple times. But it has taken half a century to get a collection that embraces nearly all of the concerts’ material, and in the sequence in which the band originally performed it. The five-CD, 43-track Songs for Groovy Children presents Jimi Hendrix at his funkiest and most soulful. About $85

Jimi Hendrix, Songs for Groovy Children: The Fillmore East Concerts
Jimi Hendrix, Songs for Groovy Children: The Fillmore East Concerts

IRELAND'S FAB FOUR ON FIRE

U2 floundered a bit in the 1990s, but they came roaring back in 2000, with All That You Can't Leave Behind, an all-killer, no-filler collection of melodic, anthemic gems. A new five-CD anniversary edition adds remixes, B-sides, studio outtakes, and, most notably, a terrific Boston concert that includes seven songs from Leave Behind plus versions of many of the group's earlier triumphs. About $140 

U2, All That You Can't Leave Behind
U2, All That You Can't Leave Behind

FASCINATING BEATLE COVERS

From the seemingly endless list of Beatles covers, the three-CD Looking Through a Glass Onion culls 68 that were recorded over a seven-year period. Inventive winners are sprinkled throughout, including a jazzy “Dear Prudence” and a live, high-energy “I Am the Walrus,” both by obscure groups. Like the Beatles’ White Album, the anthology closes with “Good Night,” sung here by Vera Lynn, whose 1940 recording of “Goodnight, Children Everywhere” influenced John Lennon’s composition. About $30 

Various artists, Looking Through a Glass Onion: The Beatles Psychedelic Songbook 1966–72
Various artists, Looking Through a Glass Onion: The Beatles Psychedelic Songbook 1966–72

PINK FLOYD'S BIG BOX

Pink Floyd's The Later Years packs in five CDs, six Blu-rays, five DVDs, and two vinyl singles, plus a couple of hardcover books and assorted memorabilia. Pink Floyd created all of the music here after the departure of cofounder, guitarist, and lyricist Roger Waters, so this isn’t quite the group that produced monster hits like Dark Side of the Moon and The Wall. Waters’s presence is missed, but there’s still lots to savor, including a ton of concert material. About $325

Pink Floyd, The Later Years
Pink Floyd, The Later Years

THE REINVENTED ANIMALS

Eric Burdon's Animals, one of the best products of the mid-1960s’ so-called British Invasion, racked up many hits, including the chart-topping “House of the Rising Sun.” Then, leader Eric Burdon reinvented the outfit with a new lineup and the psychedelicized music featured on the frequently rewarding five-disc When I Was Young/The MGM Recordings 1967–1968, which incorporates such popular singles as “Monterey” and “San Franciscan Nights.” About $40.

Eric Burdon and the Animals, When I Was Young/The MGM Recordings 1967–1968
Eric Burdon and the Animals, When I Was Young/The MGM Recordings 1967–1968

STOCKING STUFFERS

Bob Dylan’s Rough and Rowdy Ways, his 39th studio album, doesn’t depart stylistically from his other fine recent efforts, but it improves on them, resulting in his strongest collection in years…Jeb Loy Nichols, who surely ranks among the best folk singer/songwriters you’ve never heard, offers half a dozen stripped-down acoustic stunners on his latest EP, Season of Decline (This one is digital only, so put a gift certificate for a download in the stocking)…Thanks for the Dance, released three years after Leonard Cohen’s death, delivers an unexpected and poignant final statement from the master poet and songwriter…Lucinda Williams’s heartfelt latest gem is the dark, challenging Good Souls Better AngelsHate for Sale, from the great Pretenders, finds singer/songwriter Chrissie Hynde serving up ballads and rockers that are on a par with the group’s early classics…The terrific Peace, Love & Understanding finds Bruce Springsteen performing an atypical Christmas show with friends such as Southside Johnny and Sam & Dave’s Sam Moore.

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