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Music Gift Guide 2023 – LA Weekly

todayNovember 23, 2023 3

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Music Gift Guide 2023: The holidays are upon us once again, and that means we need to spend a fortune on gifts for family and friends, and maybe even a few people that we don’t even like. Don’t, we’ve got you covered. Everyone likes music, and below you’ll find a whole load of music-related ideas for presents. If nothing else, treat yourself!

Avril Lavigne (Beatbox)

BeatBox

Last year, we were sent deadmau5’s coconut rum to sample, and very nice it was, too. This year, our music-related boozy treat is BeatBox, a read-to-drink cocktail brand. The music connection comes in due to the fact that they’ve partnered with Avril Lavigne on a Pink Lemonade flavor. That is undeniably delicious, though not quite as good as its Green Apple. The Peach is damned fine, too. All of them pack a punch; the Pink Lemonade clocks in at 11.1%.

“The partnership with BeatBox felt right from the start – I have never come across a brand that was as committed to providing their fans with a truly memorable experience, specifically pegged to music, than the BeatBox Team,” said Avril Lavigne

KiddKenn

Kidd Kenn

Kenn Doll”

We received this back in May, but it’s so awesome that we had to include it here. Rapper Kidd Kenn partnered with Target to unveil a Kidd Kenn doll that has nothing to do with Barbie, but the timing was perfect. The hair on the doll is temperature-activated, and changes from pink to blue and back. The packaging is great, and the doll is perfect for kids or for adult collectors.

Devo

50 Years of De-Evolution 1973-2003 (Rhino/Warner)

While Devo is embarking on its farewell tour, it’s fitting that we celebrate the incredible career in every possible way and this career-spanning box really does highlight what an artistically brilliant, dazzling and, frankly, fun band Devo has been. We’ll never see anyone like them again. Two double albums take us from the start to the finish, musically. We also get a paper Devo hat, stickers and a book. But the headline is, we’re going to miss Devo.

Fishbone Bobble

(Aggronautix)

Fishbone

Angelo Moore bobblehead (Aggronautix)

It’s been out for a little while, but it’s always interesting to see what music-related toys and ornaments Aggronatix has available, and it recently sent us this glorious bobblehead statue of Fishbone’s Angelo Moore. The man is shirtless and sporting combat shorts and boots. He’s grasping a mic with two hands, and his sax is hanging from his neck. It’s an iconic image, captured beautifully. The merest shudder from the bobbling head makes it all the more authentic.

Pantera

1990-2000: The Complete Studio Albums (Rhino/Atco)

“Complete” is a bit of a stretch, seeing as Pantera released four albums prior to its 1990’s Cowboys From Hell, but the band has done all it can to erase those early, glammy records from existence. It’s fair to say that the super-intense metal Pantera began with Cowboys, and that’s where this awesome box set begins. All five albums are picture discs, and the set looks beautiful. Cowboys and Vulgar Display of Power sound as good as ever, and Far Beyond Driven holds up well. The last two are the biggest surprises – they’ve both dated remarkably well and sound brutal. A great box, to coincide with the recent reunion while also paying tribute to fallen heroes Dimebag Darrell and Vinnie Paul.

Dookie Colored Vinyl Pack Shots

(Reprise)

Green Day

Dookie: 30th Anniversary Super Deluxe Edition (Reprise)

Dookie is probably the album that defines ‘90s pop-punk above all others. To be fair, it is a bit of a masterpiece. For its 30th birthday, this box is wonderful. Six LPs include the original album plus demos, outtakes and two full concerts. There’s also a glossy book, a poster, a print, a paper airplane (yes really), fridge magnets, a sticker, a pin set, a car air fresh, a postcard, and a roll of doggie poo bags (for picking up dookie, we guess). It all comes in a silver box, and the music is awesome. All box sets should be this much fun.

 

Salt-N-Pepa

Very Necessary: 30th Anniversary Edition (Republic Records)

Glass ceiling smashers Salt-N-Pepa’s Very Necessary gets a deserved 30-year celebration with a lovely 2 LP set, on blue vinyl and with some extra tunes. Somehow, Salt-N-Pepa remain underrated — whenever they play on a hip-hop bill, they’re way too low down on the poster. But as we celebrate 50 years of the genre, it’s great to hear songs like “What Man,” “None of Your Business” and “Shop” again.

IceT

Ice T

The Legend of Ice T: Crime Stories (MVD Entertainment / Ruffnation Entertainment)

In the sleeve notes for this gorgeous vinyl package, Ice T himself explains that he just hasn’t felt inspired to write a new album for years, and he can’t force it. So we’ll have to make do with this career-spanning compilation spread across three LPs on clear vinyl with red splatter. That really plays up the “crime stories” theme.

Chris Schwartz, owner of Ruffnation Entertainment, stated, “When you look at the volume of artists brought to us via hip-hop culture, there have been less than a handful who have true multigenerational appeal. Ice-T is hip-hop’s first breakthrough actor, spokesperson, and chronicler.” Can’t argue with that.

MotleyCrue

(BMG)

Motley Crue

Shout at the Devil: 40th Anniversary Limited Edition Box Set (BMG)

With the dust settled and with all said and done, Shout at the Devil is probably the Crue’s best album. It’s raw, a bit nasty, their makeup hadn’t quite gone “pretty boy” yet, and the songs are immense. So it deserves a birthday party, and this box is about perfect. The album is in there on three formats (LP, CD, cassette tape), and there’s a second LP of rarities and demos. The goodies don’t stop there – there are two 7-inch singles, plus a metal pentagram 7-inch adaptor. There’s a bandana and an Ouija board (with metal pointer), and weirdly but gloriously, a devil candle holder. Tarot cards too. They really milked the devil theme, but it’s tons of fun.

Motorhead

Another Perfect Day: 40th Anniversary Celebration (BMG)

Unlike Crue’s Shout at the Devil, nobody would seriously say that Another Perfect Day (released the same year) is Motorhead’s best album. It is a fascinating one though. It’s the only Motorhead studio album to feature former Thin Lizzy man Brian “Robbo” Robertson. Some say Robbo wasn’t really suited to Motorhead, but it really is an interesting period in the band’s history. As well as the album, this set includes a live show from that period, for a total of three LPs.

The Kinks

The Journey, Part 2 (BMG)

The Kinks compilation The Journey, Part 1 was released earlier in the year and it’s great, but Part 2 is arguably more interesting because it has more deep cuts on it — b-sides and oddities, and each one is glorious. The vinyl release is a joy — two heavyweight LPs in a beautiful gatefold sleeve with new sleeve notes by the band. Having said that, there are a few extra songs on the CD version, so maybe get both.

The Doors

Golden Doors (Elektra)

These recent Elektra reissues are superb, starting with the Japanese Doors compilation, on red vinyl with original replica Japanese liner notes, and a four-track 45 (also red). There’s nothing on here that even casual Doors fans haven’t heard before, but the package is sweet.

Love

Del Capo (Elektra)

Also on red vinyl and coming with a bonus 7-inch single is this bona fide classic from Love. It’s worth noting that Johnny Echols’ current touring version of Love is playing the Whisky as part of that venues’ 60th anniversary celebrations. This reissue is a perfect way to get warmed up. Love is, quite simply, one of L.A.’s finest.

Otis Redding

Love Man (Atco)

More red vinyl, and another 45. This time, it’s Otis’ absolute classic, Love Man. The whole album, and the title track in particular, is gloriously sexy, intense R&B of the highest quality. If you only know the song “Love Man” from the Dirty Dancing soundtrack, get hip quick.

Aretha Franklin

Soul ‘69 (Atlantic)

The last of the “red vinyl and a 45” series, Aretha’s Soul ‘69 was, back in 1969, considered a fresh start for the queen of R&B. “Aretha moves into new pastures, where fair comparisons can be made between today’s greatest female voice, and those that have gone before,” says journalist Ritchie Yorke on the original liner notes. Well said.

Social Distortion

Mommy’s Little Monster (Craft Recordings)

Yet another album that is celebrating its 40th anniversary is Social D’s debut. No elaborate box set here, just five colored vinyl variants, plus solid 180 gram black. The OC punk legends have put out many great albums, and the debut is right up there with the best of them. Gnarly and cynical, the title track remains a fan favorite. This release does it justice.

Meat Puppets

In a Car, Up On the Sun and Camp Songs (Meat Puppets Music)

The Meat Puppet’s SST catalog from 1981 to ‘89 has been reissued, starting with the debut In a Car EP (officially self-titled) on 45. That’s the punkiest and, arguably, the best that the band ever sounded. But there’s plenty to love on Up On the Sun, while Camp Songs is a new live album of material recorded 1991-95. Dig in!

The 3 O’Clock

Baroque Hoedown and Sixteen Tambourines (Yep Roc)

Paisley Underground heroes The 3 O’Clock is another band with a 40th anniversary to celebrate (what is it with 40th anniversaries this year?), this time for the magnificent Sixteen Tambourines album. That PU tag was always a bit silly – these guys play garage rock, and they’re damn good at it. “Jet Fighter” is a proper classic. If you’re new to them, get hip.

Tom Waits

Swordfish Trombones, Rain Dogs, Franks Wild Years, Bone Machine and The Black Rider (Universal/Island)

Would you believe it, another 40th anniversary release? This time for Waits’ ’83 classic Swordfish Trombones. Actually though, five of his ‘80s albums have been remastered and re-released. The boozy opera of Franks Wild Years is a highlight, but Waits is never terrible and it’s a treat to delve back into this chapter of his career.

Jewel

(Craft)

Jewel

Spirit (Craft)

Alaskan singer and songwriter Jewel’s second album, Spirit, is one of her best and it’s been given the 25th anniversary treatment here. The gatefold vinyl is gorgeous and the music is exemplary. “Hands” remains one of Jewel’s best songs, but there’s no filler here.

Creem Magazine

Box set

The five print issues of Creem that have been published since the relaunch have been packaged together in a smart hard box, embossed with the Boy Howdy logo. Ignore any naysayers – new Creem might be different to the old magazine, but it’s still good stuff. This box makes for a great gift.

Print BitchesAintShit 1

Dr. Dre’s The Chronic” prints

It was an odd day when we received a tubular package on our doorstep, and it turned out to be an official print shot by Jeremy Dupree from Dre’s Chronic Masters 30th anniversary collection. Specifically, it’s a print for the “B*tches Ain’t Shit” master, which is a nice collector’s item, but certainly not for everyone. That said, there are plenty more prints in the collection, as Dre’s work is celebrated.

Steven L. Jones

Murder Ballads Old & New (Feral House)

This is interesting. Artist, writer and musician Jones has delved into some of the most painfully themed music ever composed. “This book is about unhappy music,” reads the press release.

“Songs of death and loss caused by sudden, often violent reversals of fortune.” Jones really does take the reader on a deep dive into agony starting with old war hymns and digging into the lyrics of everyone from Robert Johnson to the Mekons, looking in on Springsteen, Dylan and so many more along the way. It’s not a light read, but it is beautifully written and confirms what we already knew – music can be wonderfully therapeutic.

Beck, Bogert & Appice

Live in Japan 1973 / Live in London 1974 (Rhino/Atco)

The trio of Jeff Beck, Tim Bogert and Carmine Appice was relatively short-lived – they were active for about two years from 1972. So it’s a treat to hear two of their shows from that period in full. Two double albums, plus a hardcover book, a replica tour book and a poster make for a nice set.

Fogerty1

(BMG)

John Fogerty

The Blue Ridge Rangers and John Fogerty (BMG)

Two reissues from the former CCR man – we get his first two solo albums in heavy vinyl glory. Nothing new added — this is just two awesome albums sounding better than ever. The Blue Ridge Raiders was originally supposed to be a whole new band – it was only released with Fogerty’s name on it later, hence the fact that his second album is self-titled. Sweet quirks aside, the music on both is magnificent.

Thunder

The Thrill of it All, Giving the Game Away and Shooting at the Sun (BMG)

Hard rockers Thunder were always much bigger in their native UK than over here, but there’s still time to put that right. These three reissues have been lovingly put together on colored vinyl with a ton of bonus live tracks, and the albums sound great. Shooting at the Sun and opening track “Loser” are particularly perfect examples of what makes Thunder so special.

GG

(Aggronautix)

Tecso

(Aggronautix)

More bobbleheads (Aggronautix)

Not long after the Fishbone bobble dropped on our doorstep, the mailman brought a few more statues courtesy of those heroes at Aggronautix.

We have Vinny Stigma of New York hardcore band Agnostic Front, in all of his purposeful, confident glory. Then we have Tesco Vee, frontman with Michigan hardcore villains the Meatmen, in full-on Satan mode. And speaking of villains, we have GG Allin and his two Murder Junkies in a super-special set. If anyone has offended more people than Tesco Vee, it’s GG Allin. You could also do what we did, and make some poop out of chocolate for a GG Allin accessory. Top tip — tootsie roll works best.

Evanescence

Fallen — 20th Anniversary Edition (Craft)

This one make us feel old. Has it really been 20 years since “Bring Me to Life” was all over the charts and in that Ben Affleck Daredevil movie? Apparently so. The goth-ish metal band’s debut warrants a reissue then, and it’s been given the full treatment. A 2 LP gatefold set that includes previously unreleased demos, live performances and b-sides. “My Immortal” remains a beautiful song too.

Steely Dan

Aja (Geffen/Universal)

Jazz-rock masters Steely Dan have seen their own masterpiece, Aja, remastered and reissued on vinyl for the first time in over 40 years. The title track, “Deacon Blues,” “Josie” and “Peg” remain gems of their genre — way ahead of their time.

Twain

(Mercury/Universal)

Shania Twain

Greatest Hits (Mercury/Universal)

Pop-country she might be, but Shania Twain makes quality pop-country. Those Mutt Lange-produced tunes from the massive Come On Over album are epic, and we get all of this on this comprehensive Greatest Hits set, and way more. That impresses me much!

Beatles

(Apple/Mercury)

The Beatles

1962-1966 and 1967-1970 (Apple/Universal)

These much-heralded, expanded editions of the classic Beatles compilations really are worth the purchase even if you already own them (as was the case with this writer). The oldest songs sound crystal clear, and there are a ton of extra tracks including recent single (how weird is that to say?) “Now and Then.” As technology improves, there will always be new ways to listen to the Beatles and that’s fine and dandy with us.

Frank Zappa

Over-Nite Sensation — 50th Anniversary EditionMudd Club’80 Munich, and Nothingness (Universal/Zappa Records)

A whole man of Zappa reissues on vinyl and CD, previously lost or available for rediscovery. Over-Nite Sensation is about as accessible as Zapps gets — there’s some strong songs among the expected, brilliant experimentation. Nothingness is a “from the vaults” lost album that is considered by hardcore fans to be the spiritual sequel to Hot Rats. The other two are live albums. We suggest you put some serious time aside over the holidays and just dive right in for a few hours. Zappa’s music is an immersive experience.

Lynyrd Skynyrd

Fifty (Universal/Geffen)

While we’ll always be #teamneilyoung, get past the confederate flags (if you can) and Skynyrd have a lot of great songs. 50 of them are spread across this 50-CD compilation (don’t be fooled — the sleeve makes it look like vinyl but it’s not). “Freebird,” “Simple Man,” and “Sweet Home Alabama” are rock & roll classics, but it’s fun to get into some of the later, deeper cuts too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Written by: Soft FM Radio Staff

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