Holiday gift ideas for music lovers

U2’s “Achtung Baby” Uber Deluxe edition ($597.99).

By Dan Durchholz, Special to the Jewish Light

With Hanukkah on the horizon, we thought we’d spend a little column space this month suggesting some music-related gifts.

For music fans of a certain age, these are heady times, as certain classic rock albums are being reissued with, in some cases, unprecedented amounts of bonus material. That’s great, but the down side is that, to get all of the extras, it’s going to cost you dearly. Deluxe (and super deluxe and super-duper deluxe) packages are available on the Rolling Stones’ “Some Girls,” the Who’s “Quadrophenia” and U2’s “Achtung Baby.”

For the basic, two-disc versions, “Some Girls” ($29.99): (all prices mentioned are list-look around for a better deal) is a great value. It includes the original 1978 album (which features “Miss You” and “Beast of Burden” and is regarded by many as the last truly great Stones album) plus a second disc of outtakes. Usually, the outtakes in these special editions are interesting, but seldom worth repeated listening. Not this time. Tracks like “Claudine (a naughty rocker about French singer Claudine Longet, who shot and killed her lover, American skier Spider Sabitch-trust me, it was a hot topic at the time), the country weeper “No Spare Parts” and several others could have easily made the original disc.

For those with deep pockets, there’s a super deluxe edition ($179.99) that includes a 7-inch vinyl single of “Beast of Burden” (featuring the album’s original sleeve art, which was banned), a hardcover book and other goodies.

The Who’s classic concept album “Quadrophenia” ($29.99) has been given the deluxe treatment as well and is available in various editions. The two-disc version includes the original album plus a handful of Pete Townshend’s eminently listenable demo recordings of a handful of songs. The pricier “director’s cut” box set ($169.99) includes more (and more choice) demos, a surround-sound DVD, a book with a long essay written by Townshend and more.  

Hardcore fans of U2 have probably already dished out a couple hundred bucks to Bono & Co. this year in exchange for a ticket to the band’s July concert at Busch Stadium. In an attempt to get all of your disposable income, the Irish rockers have released three versions of their 1991 classic “Achtung Baby.” The two-disc set ($29.99) includes the original album, plus a disc of (mostly worthwhile) B-sides. The “super deluxe” edition ($169.98) includes six CDs (including a must-hear alternate version of the album), 4 DVDs and a book of essays. The “Uber Deluxe” edition is uber absurd: It includes all that, plus a vinyl copy of the album and five 7-inch singles and-get this-a replica pair of Bono’s famous “fly” shades. It’ll set you back $597.99.

Also recommended for gift giving

Paul Simon, “Songwriter” ($13.99): not a greatest-hits set (though it does contain plenty of hits), but a collection that emphasizes Simon’s role-as the title plainly indicates-as a songwriter.

The Beach Boys, “The Smile Sessions”: Brian Wilson’s unfinished masterpiece appears at last, more or less as originally intended. Available in two- ($34.99) and five-CD ($158.99) configurations.

R.E.M., “Part Lies, Part Heart, Part Truth, Part Garbage- 1982-2011” ($19.99): a greatest-hits swan song for the band that established indie rock.

Various Artists, “Songs of the Jewish-American Jet Set: The Tikva Records Story 1950-1973” ($15.99):  From klezmer to cantorial singing, garage rock, political speeches and Catskills comedy, Tikva Records covered all things Jewish.  This single-disc set offers a sampling of the label’s important and eclectic history.

For the music fan who also enjoys books, there are a number of fine offerings this holiday season, including two notable photo collections: “Rock Seen” by Bob Gruen ($45) (who was recently featured at the Jewish Book Festival) and Ken Regan’s “All Access: The Rock ‘N’ Roll Photography of Ken Regan” ($75).  Both offer classic shots from the noted rock photogs’ decades-long careers with anecdotes about their famed subjects and the photos themselves.   

“I Want My MTV: The Uncensored Story of the Music Video Revolution” by Craig Marks and Rob Tannenbaum ($29.95): A rollicking oral history of the groundbreaking video channel, spanning the years 1981-1992.  

“Love Goes to Building on Fire: Five Years in New York That Changed Music Forever” by Will Hermes ($30): A chronicle of the Big Apple’s burgeoning music scene in the 1970s.

There are also a host of new music DVD offerings on the shelves this holiday season. They include:

“God Bless Ozzy Osbourne” ($14.98): An intimate portrait of the iconic rocker and unlikely reality TV star.

“Pearl Jam Twenty” ($19.98): Cameron Crowe’s look at one of America’s most important contemporary bands as Eddie Vedder & Co. celebrate their 20th anniversary.

The Bridge School Benefit: 25th Anniversary ($29.99): Performances from a quarter century of Neil Young’s annual benefit shows are compiled on this set, with appearances by Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, Patti Smith, and Young himself, among many others.

Quick hits

Two shows of note are coming up soon, and they just happen to be on the same night, at the same venue. Singer/songwriter, novelist, and former Texas gubernatorial candidate Kinky Friedman (profiled in this space back in April) brings his Hanukkah Tour to Off Broadway, 3511 Lemp Avenue, at 8 p.m. on Friday (Dec. 2). Tickets range from $25-$28. After leaving St. Louis off his itinerary for years and years, the singer of “Ride ‘Em Jewboy” and “They Ain’t Makin’ Jews Like Jesus Anymore” will make his second appearance here in 2011. The first time was terrific, though, so he’s more than welcome.

After Friedman’s set, the Brothers Lazaroff (also featured here previously) present their first annual Hanukkah Hullabaloo at 9:30 p.m. In addition to the Brothers themselves, performers include Will Soll’s Klezmer Conspiracy, Rabbi James Stone Goodman, DJ Goldie, plus the Vaad, featuring members of Magnolia Summer, the Bottle Rockets and Melody Den. Tickets range from $7-$10.

The shows have separate admission fees (see above) unless you’re already in the house for Friedman’s set, in which case you’re welcome to stick around for free.