Sound Matters: A Gift Guide for Music Lovers, Audiophiles and Vinyl Junkies
Here's a collection of enticing items for the serious music aficionado in your life — or for adding to your own personal wish list.
Get in the Groove
So maybe you came of age after 1982 – the year in which the world met digital music via the compact disc. Your portable device is likely spilling over with mp3's, but now you're ready to dip a toe into the ultra-cool world of vinyl. A wide – and many would argue sonically superior – world awaits you. Where to begin? For the vinyl neophyte on a modest budget, you might start with a Crosley record player. They come in the irresistibly vintage look of the portable all-in-one players of the 1950s and 60s, and they play 33 1/3, 45 and 78 rpm records. Modern features include RCA audio outs for connecting to stereo systems, USB and (if you must) Bluetooth wireless. Available in a range of retro styles, including the Executive, the Memory Master, and the Dansette Bermuda. $109.95 - $399.95; Crosley
Cocktails + LP's
Rock's Bold Visions
When Collecting Becomes Religion (or Addiction)
Analog Audio for the Masses
The Beatles for Purists
The Return of the Thin White Duke
Bowie in Berlin and Beyond
David Bowie: A New Career in a New Town (1977-1982) is the third in a series of boxed-set LP collections that, taken together, presents the artist’s album catalog in chronological sequence. As with the two such multi-disc releases preceding it, this meticulously curated collection provides faithful re-releases of Bowie’s albums from a particular stylistically defined period in his career. At the collection’s core is the so-called “Berlin Trilogy” – a trio of albums made when Bowie had relocated to Berlin and was (not for the first nor the last time) reinventing his musical style and persona. Those albums — Low, Heroes and Lodger — found Bowie entering a more experimental phase, frequently outside the bounds of rock, and collaborating with studio wizard and ambient music pioneer Brian Eno. The collection also includes Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps), an album that helped position Bowie at the forefront of the nascent music-video revolution. Also included is a newly expanded live-album, an exclusive 2-LP set of rarities and an 84-page hardback book. Rounding out the set is the 12” EP of “Heroes”, Bowie’s epic composition that, as one reviewer observed, Bryan Ferry would have hocked his best bottle of cologne to have penned. This is one of Bowie’s most creatively innovative periods, and these sonically superior versions of the original material are as real as it gets. $249.99; Music Direct. A CD version is also available for $149.99.
For related reading, check out Jerome Thomas Seabrook’s book, Bowie in Berlin, available from Amazon.
A Novel of Life, Love and Musical Obsession
Zenith of Cool
Big Star may just be the coolest band you've never heard of. This enigmatic group's curious story is now encapsulated in a documentary film titled Nothing Can Hurt Me, available on DVD. Hailing from Memphis in the 1970s, and fronted by the devilishly charismatic Alex Chilton (who had already scored a hit single – "The Letter" – with the Box Tops), Big Star played a straightforward, hook-laden and (for the time) edgy brand of power-pop that made them critics' darlings and saw them lauded in some circles as the next big thing. They released exactly three albums while concurrently drifting through a series of odd and unfortunate circumstances – including lack of competent management or distribution and undeservedly poor record sales. The band essentially ceased to exist around 1974 following the death of founding member Chris Bell, considered by some to be one of rock's great lost geniuses. Their long-term impact, however, overshadows their failed commercial success. With a sound that many feel presaged what would later become known as indie or alternative rock, they have been cited as influences by members of R.E.M. and The Replacements among others. And though, while they existed as a band, they hovered below the radar of fame, Big Star's cultish popularity has survived through decades with subsequent crops of tuned-in fans discovering them again and again. $14 (DVD); Amazon
The Boys With the Thorns in Their Sides
Digital Portable Player on Steroids
His Aim Is True
You may not have heard it, but you probably hear and feel its impact almost daily. The Anthology of American Folk Music was compiled by famed musicologist Harry Smith, drawn from 78 rpm discs from the 1920s and '30s, and first released on vinyl in 1952. Today it is considered one of the most influential releases in the history of recorded sound and has served as a wellspring of inspiration for the likes of Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Pete Seeger and Jerry Garcia. $78.98; Smithsonian Folkways