Ah, the Christmas-shopping season is upon us, meaning there is likely one classic-rock fan on your list. But what to get them when the Amazon Gift Card doesn’t really say “gee, I really put a lot of thought into this?” Fear not — these four items that any faithful listener to Sirius XM’s Classic Vinyl channel would love to see under the tree.
You may not know it, but the Beatles made a lot of music videos. Some have even pointed to them as the band that “started” the music-video boom. And while bestowing that title is questionable, for years Fab Fans have had to do with watching shitty bootlegs.
In a why-the-hell-didn’t-they-do-this-before situation, Apple has released The Beatles 1. A companion to the greatest-hits compilation of 2000 (whose incredible success was a shock to the industry), it features videos for all 27 musical tracks on the CD, including some rarely seen outside of fan conventions.
But if your intended has been extra good, spring for the Beatles 1+ which includes an additional 23 clips and the actual CD, including clips for “Rain,” ”Hello, Goodbye,” "Penny Lane," and “Strawberry Fields Forever” which were groundbreaking at the time and still pretty cool now. The discs mix “live” performances with lip-synced videos, and some alternate versions. The story here is the amazing visual restoration that's been done on these videos, which will make even fans who have seen them a billion times before happy.
For the Dylan fan, the no-brainer gift is the latest volume in the Bootleg Series, The Best of The Cutting Edge 1965-1966. The 2-CD set features alternate versions of songs, outtakes, and unreleased tracks from what many consider Dylan’s most productive and highest-quality era, the years spanning Bringing It All Back Home, Highway 61 Revisited and Blonde on Blonde.
Those with super-deep pockets can drop on the limited edition “Collector’s” version featuring every note that Dylan ever recorded over those two years on 18 CDs with various singles, a book, and ephemera – including one CD that is nothing but every version of “Like a Rolling Stone” laid down: limited to 5,000 copies, it sells for $599.99 and comes with a “Certificate of Authenticity."
But the smarter choice would be perhaps the most impressive book on the man ever produced: Bob Dylan — All the Songs. This thing is a frigging monster.
Clocking in at 704 pages and weighing more than seven pounds, it is a detailed historical and musical analysis of 492 songs (including outtakes) that Dylan has recorded for his to-date 36 studio albums over 53 years, including his damn Christmas record. Authors Philipe Margotin and Jean-Michel Guesdon (who says the French aren’t crazy?) look at each song’s source material, Dylan’s composition, recording process, and instruments used. And it is sprinkled heavily with photos and trivia.
Want to know how many times Dylan performed “Dink’s Song” live (once); the type of microphone used on “Mr. Tambourine Man" (Neumann U67); when there might be a “hole” in the guitar sound on the right channel in “Blowin’ in the Wind?” (1:37 in); or the origin of the cover photo of Infidels (taken by Dylan’s ex-wife, Sara, on the way to their son Jesse’s 1983 bar mitzvah in Israel)? It’s all here, and more. So, SO much more…
The most ambitious Dylan book ever published, trying to read it straight through might drive even strong men mad. And the risk of breaking your foot if the book is dropped on it is so high, it should come with an Ace bandage. Still, this is an amazing gift the BobFan on your list this year.
2015 will go down as the year a number of classic rockers mounted either anniversary tours or their last major jaunts across stage. Two of the bigger names have new CD/DVD combos as souvenirs.
The Royal Albert Hall has always held a special place in Eric Clapton’s career as the site of Cream’s farewell and reunion shows, as well as a place of residency for an annual run of concerts. All in all, he’s played there more than 200 times over 50-plus years. So why not have it as a place to celebrate a birthday on his 17th residency in Slowhand at 70: Live at the Royal Albert Hall? This May show – played the day after the death of Clapton friend and mentor B.B. King – is a journey through his entire catalogue.
Heavy on the hits but with a healthy dose of classic blues numbers that inspired him when performed by other artists, Slowhand is a master class in guitar from a master who seems ageless. It helps that his backing band is superb, because Clapton is probably the biggest classic-rock giant with the least stage presence and showmanship. Still, this is a classy and superb set — 19 songs on DVD, 18 on the CD.
For a bit more raucous and cheeky turn, there’s The Who – Live in Hyde Park. Founding members Pete Townsend and Roger Daltrey — now often tabbed “The Two” for being the last surviving members — also rage through a career-spanning set, heavy on the hits, in front of 65,000. A video screen behind the stage adds plenty of historical footage.
Daltrey’s voice, one of rock’s great treasures, is settled into a comfortable gutturalness these days, but the power is undeniable. And Townshend’s guitar work swings between attacking and playing, just as it should be. This one runs 19 songs plus a “Tommy” suite on DVD.
The two also comment on the songs and bicker a bit like the old married couple they essentially are. And after somewhat (oddly) mildly chastising the crowd for their seemingly median young age and not knowing their music (??), Townshend actually apologizes, making him a lovable grump as opposed to an angry grump like Roger Waters — whose DVD/CD package documenting his long-running tour of The Wall is also out for holiday shoppers.
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