Lucky Seven (and a half) Gift List
Taking a break from romance and cocktails, we've recently been embracing
the legend known as Stax Records. What a powerhouse of talent this label
was! If you need to buy gifts for someone who is particularly funky, or
is over 35, any one of these Stax-related items are sure to please. And
remember, to quote Rufus Thomas, "Boogie ain't nuttin but gettin'
U.S.A.: The Story of Stax Records (Book)
First and foremost, Soulsville U.S.A. is the story of the "little
label that could", Stax Records. Fate, talent and timing all met
in Memphis and the sounds of Soul music were born. It's also the story
of a racially mixed work environment, greed, the insides of the music
business and the running
of an independent label. Author Rob Bowman writes in a delightfully straightforward
style and neither glorifies nor vilifies any of the lead characters, despite
what must be an overwhelming temptation to do so. The story of the demise
of this label is heart-wrenching stuff. Well-meaning people do stupid
things and each story has several sides. Amid the inspiration and insanity
were 15 years of wonderful music. Teeny tiny print makes this a slower
and more painful read than it should be, but the information is so essential
to popular culture, we'll overlook this.
Stax/Volt Soul Singles, Volumes 1, 2 and 3 (CD)
If the recipient of your gift has been very good this year, you may want
to treat him or her to one or all of these swell box sets featuring the
singles from the Stax/Volt library. Anyone would love the nine discs on
the first volume. Despite this being virtually every single on the label
until 1968, there are very few clunkers, at least on the first two volumes.
By Volume Three, the first real signs of stress set in and there was a
lot of bland music made at Stax, as there was elsewhere. Still, we wouldn't
want to be without it.
If your budget is limited, this fine four-CD set, reviewed last month
in MrLucky would be nice. Read the review.
10-CD box from Germany is not a lavish package but it gets the job done.
It's everything she recorded between 1933 and 1948, with the exception
of her seminal Commodore recordings. This would make a great present for
any jazz buff. Shamefully, Sony/Columbia have let the Billie Holiday catalogue
languish and have postponed a long-promised box like this. Well, tough
luck Sony. This is the box to beat. With all the essential tracks and
gorgeous sound, who could ask for more? How about a reasonable price?
Done! This set can be found for less than $70. If we didn't already have
it, we'd ask you to get it for us.
Hullabaloo was a short-lived youth-oriented variety show. It is really
terrible and terribly funny. The dancing is bad, the guests range from
Joanie Sommers to the Byrds to Frankie Avalon and the highlight of each
show was the last number, "Hullabaloo a Go Go", a fake discothèque.
If your gift-recipient has a sense of humor and is easily amused (as we
are), this would make a great gift. Over 4 hours of fun!
Something to Live For (DVD)
doesn't like Ella? Everyone does and anyone would appreciate this fine
DVD documentary on the great singer's life. Who really cares that Johnny
Mathis thinks Ella is the best? No one! Luckily, Johnny and the other
talking heads take a backseat to lots of vintage footage of Ella performing
from all stages of her career.
Encyclopedia of Popular Music (Book)
We think any music fan would love this big, fat book with short bios and
lots of fun facts. Obviously we couldn't care less about Arrowsmith and
John Cougar Mellancamp's entries but we were surprised by some of the
more obscure but seminal artists that popped up in the book. Handy as
a reference piece, but fun to browse through as well.
Moves: Pop Music in the Late '70s (Book)
Not long ago, little ones, there was a time when music was actually fun.
No, not Eminem-style fun, but actually silly, stupid fun. You could sing
along to the songs, even the ones you hated. Love songs were about love.
It was a very strange and exciting time.
Like their previous book on the early 1970s, Precious and Few, Don and
Jeff Breithaupt's Night Moves is a fast, fun romp through a slice of pop
music history. Anyone who was a teen in the 1970s will have a gas. Pop
music was leaving us colder and colder at this time and we were increasingly
turning to our parents' Jackie Gleason records. But we still kept an ear
open. And if we had any idea where pop music was headed, we would have
realized we were living through some kind of Golden Age.