2015 Holiday Gift Guide

This year, give the gift of music

By Jim Hynes



Ray Wylie Hubbard—A Life… Well, Lived

ray wylieRay Wylie’s Hubbard’s autobiography is written with the help of one of my favorite music critics, Thom Jurek of All Music Guide. As you might expect from Hubbard, this book is chock full of humorous tales but also centers on Hubbard conquering his addictions and living a life of sobriety, having been inspired by Stevie Ray Vaughan. In addition to a compendium of Hubbard’s lyrics, the book also includes plenty of narratives and vignettes composed in Hubbard’s signature style—free-form stream of consciousness with minimal regard to strict punctuation and no regard whatsoever to capitalization. It’s a quick, fun read.

Joseph A. Rosen—Blues Hands

blues handsAce photographer Joseph A. Rosen has devoted his entire 40-year career to taking iconic shots of legendary musicians, primarily blues artists. His work can be found on album covers and, in addition to Elmore, in The New York TimesTIMENewsweek and more. From B.B. King to Eubie Blake and current stars like Alexis P. Suter and many more, this book‘s impeccable photographs are accompanied with detailed captions from Rosen himself, a true blues historian. This is the perfect coffee table book.

Peter Guralnick—Sam Phillips: The Man Who Invented Rock ‘n’ Roll

sam phillipsPeter Guralnick has written the definitive biographies of Elvis Presley, Sam Cooke and Muddy Waters and is as well qualified as any music writer to tell us everything about Sam Phillips and Sun Records—and in some cases, more than we ever needed to know. His meticulous details may not be for everyone but there’s so much to choose from here: Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, Roy Orbison, Elvis, Howlin’ Wolf, and Ike Turner.

Elvis Costello—Unfaithful Music & Disappearing Ink

elvis costWe’ve always known that Elvis Costello is a master wordsmith, so it comes as no surprise that he’s given us a massive autobiography (674 pages) that is by turns funny, strange, angry and nostalgic. Although I haven’t even finished reading it yet, I’m struck by his honesty, literary gifts and his envy of his father, who sang in popular dance bands.




CD and DVD Box Sets

Drive-by Tuckers—It’s Great to be Alive

dbtThis three-disc set of live recordings over one weekend at the Fillmore West presents a career-spanning collection of many of the best songs by one of America’s best live bands. I’ve had the privilege of seeing the DBTs live twice in this past year and can attest to their energy and interplay onstage, which comes through brilliantly here thanks to longtime producer/engineer David Barbe, who delivers a crisp set of recordings.

Son Volt—Trace (Expanded and Remastered)

son voltThis two-disc version features newly remastered sound and more than two dozen unreleased bonus tracks from one of the most highly acclaimed, seminal Americana—or “alt-country” which was the in-vogue term 20 years ago—albums. The second disc contains an unreleased live performance recorded at the Bottom Line in New York s Greenwich Village on February 12, 1996, which also features songs originally recorded by Uncle Tupelo, the vastly influential alt-country band that Farrar started with Jeff Tweedy in the ’80s.

Bob Dylan—The Cutting Edge 1965 – 1966: The Bootleg Series Vol. 12 (6 CD Deluxe Edition)

bob dylanBetween 1965 and 1966, Bob Dylan recorded three landmark albums: Bringing It All back Home, Highway 61 Revisited and Blonde on Blonde. This set offers an overwhelming number of unreleased songs, outtakes, rehearsals and alternate versions that give a real insight into Dylan’s legendary creativity in the studio during that peerlessly fruitful period. For example, the complete 16-take session for “Like A Rolling Stone” is included here as well as alternative versions of the epics “Desolation Row” and “Visions of Johanna.”

Weather Report—The Legendary Live Tapes, 1978-1981 (4CD Set)

weatherThese four discs offer completely unreleased performances by the iconic band’s lineup of keyboardist Joe Zawinul, saxophonist Wayne Shorter, bassist Jaco Pastorius, drummer Peter Erskine, and a bit later, percussionist Bobby Thomas, Jr. It was compiled by Erskine and  Zawinul, Joe’s son, culled from never heard before sound board tapes. The material is not arranged chronologically but detailed well in Erskine’s ample accompanying notes. These tracks were taken from a period when the band was especially funky and R&B driven. You’ll hear plenty of improvisational lengthy solos from each member too. Win a free copy here.

Bobby Rush—Chicken Heads: A 50-Year History Of Bobby Rush (4CD Set)

bobby rushThis is like sampling every important era of black music from the 1950s right up until today. If Bobby Rush didn’t set the trends, he was right on top of them with Chicago blues in the 1950s to soul and funk in the 1970s and 1980s to all genres including Americana in the past decade. There are nearly 100 tracks culled from 20 different labels with solid representation of Chess, Ichiban, Philadelphia International, Malaco/Waldoxy, and his own Deep Rush label. The 32-page full color booklet has testimonials from Mavis Staples, Leon Huff and Denise LaSalle to name just a few. Bobby Rush is the oldest genuine bluesman left and is still going strong in his early eighties. Don’t be surprised if we hear him for another decade. In the meantime, enjoy his journey so far through this amazing set.

Read our recent interview with Rush about the set here.

Buck Owens—Buck ‘Em! Volume 2 – The Music Of Buck Owens (1967-1975) (2CD Set)

buck owensBased on the success of both Volume 1 and Randy Poe’s excellent book—2013’s Buck ’Em! The Autobiography Of Buck Owens—Omnivore Records has delivered an encore with Volume 2. The 50 tracks contain both well-known tunes like the “Streets of Bakersfield” to the more obscure as well as covers like “Johnny B. Goode.” The recordings are engineered so masterfully that it’s hard to believe you’re listening to classic country from the 1960s and 1970s.


Happy Holidays! Enjoy your reading, viewing, and listening.


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  1. […] Fifty original recordings by the late country legend Alvis Edgar “Buck” Owens Jr. and his band, the Buckaroos, sound better today than ever before with the release of Buck ‘Em! Volume 2: The Music of Buck Owens (1967-1975). […]