Last week I offered some ideas for your Christmas gift list that would please fans of both new and old music. This week, I've pulled together a few more:
The fall is traditionally a big time for the music industry to release both new "best of" collections and new studio albums from big names in preparation for the Christmas season. So if you've got a fan of classic rock on your list, you might want to grab them the new Bob Dylan CD, Modern Times, or the new Tom Petty disc, Highway Companion. Or if you've got an '80s synth-pop fan on your list, you could grab the new Pet Shop Boys CD, Fundamental. They probably don't even know the latter album is out, since it hasn't gotten much hoopla.
If you want to please both new rock and progressive rock fans in one stroke, pick up the new disc by Jeremy Enigk, World Awaits on Reincarnate Music. Enigk made a name for himself as the singer of the critically acclaimed indie rock band Sunny Day Real Estate, and his new solo album is amazing -- rife with subtle string backgrounds and intricate instrumental and harmony vocal textures, this will please fans of classic Yes, King Crimson and ELP as well as modern rock fans of Radiohead, Modest Mouse and Muse.
Call it smart music for demanding listeners! Hear him for yourself this Friday night, when Enigk plays a concert at Chicago's Double Door.
Here's a great collection that will also please all music fans of all ages and is perfect for the season: Legacy has issued a compilation called Between The Covers with all the net proceeds of its sale going to the T. J. Martell Foundation to fund research to combat cancer, leukemia and AIDS. The disc offers 14 tracks, and each one is a cover song -- pop stars performing other pop stars' hits.
Included are Lenny Kravitz's cover of The Guess Who's "American Woman," Madonna's remake of Don McLean's "American Pie," Tori Amos' piano version of Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit," Maxwell's cover of Kate Bush's "This Woman's Work" and more. Other artists include U2, Rod Stewart, Dixie Chicks, Norah Jones, Alicia Keys and more. It closes with David Bowie and Mick Jagger's classic cover of Martha & The Vandella's "Dancing in the Street."
And here's an unusual one: back before Dave Stewart joined the Tourists and then created the smash duo Eurythmics with Annie Lennox, he teamed with another female vocalist, Erin Grace, to record the album Make Believe under the stage name Platinum Weird. But when Grace disappeared, the tracks -- which include a couple appearances from Ringo Starr on drums -- were never released. Now, 32 years later, Stewart has rekindled the band with a new singer, and the original album has finally been issued on Interscope Records. For fans of Stewart, as well as '70s pop, this CD is a must-find. The recordings have held up surprisingly well, not sounding nearly as "dated" as a lot of material from the time.
Grace proves an intriguing vocalist, with a slight whiskey edge and echoes of mid-'70s Heart and Fleetwood Mac as she croons some stirring ethereal rock, including my favorite "Picture Perfect," which offers "Whiter Shade of Pale" era keyboard work and a rousing harmonied chorus.
Here's a true gem of a reissue: for fans of alternative rock in the '80s, the first album from Australia's Hoodoo Gurus was a revelation, and their next disc would offer one of their biggest college radio hits in "Bittersweet."
Now the Gurus have reissued that first album, Stoneage Romeos on their own label, along with "Tunnel Vision," a separate two-DVD set that offers all of their videos and a long interview with the band and friends.
The Stoneage Romeos disc was originally issued in 1984, and features a brash mix of cavernous surf guitar sounds mixed with pounding tribal drumming and lyrics that turned popular music on its ear, ranging from a song about digging up a lost love ("Dig it Up") to catchy-as-heck guitar pop of "I Want You Back" and "My Girl," the latter of which featured a video implying that the "love song" was actually to a dog, not a woman. For more information, check www.hoodoogurus.net.
Atlantic/Rhino is digging into the David Crosby catalogue, and now offers Crosby's first solo album, 1970's If I could Only Remember My Name, in a new format. The special reissue offers both a CD of the album with a bonus track, "Kids and Dogs," as well as a DVD of the album remixed in advanced surround sound for play on surround sound home entertainment centers.
The album features a number of guest appearances from members of the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane and more. If you've got a Crosby fan on your list, you'll want to check out the new boxed set Voyage, which offers three discs of Crosby material, including his hits with The Byrds ("Eight Miles High," "Renaissance Fair") to his hits with various permutations of Crosby, Stills & Nash ("Wooden Ships," "Deja Vu,") to solo material. The third disc is filled with all previously unreleased demos and studio versions of songs spanning his career, including the Crosby & Nash demo of "Deja Vu."