By John Benson
The holiday season means it’s time to once again attempt to find a gift for the person who has everything.
This year, instead of going the gift-card route, think about buying something that caters to their musical tastes – good or bad.
Here’s a look at some new music-related releases that could help cross names off your list.
Cowboy Mouth, “The Name of the Band Is …” (self-released) CD
Nearly 20 years ago, Cowboy Mouth scored a semi-hit with “Jenny Says.” The outfit continues to play to a cult audience, which would probably be interested in the three new songs found on the group’s new best-of album.
Faith No More, “King For A Day”/“Album Of The Year” (Rhino) CD
Faith No More released deluxe editions of two of its more underrated albums from the ’90s. Sold separately, “King For A Day” and “Album Of The Year” are not only remastered but also include bonus tracks and b-sides that live up to the esoteric group’s reputation.
My Chemical Romance, “The Black Parade” / “Living With Ghosts” (Warner Bros. Records) CD
The cool thing is My Chemical Romance is reissuing a 10th anniversary release of its breakthrough album “The Black Parade.” The problem is the effort’s unreleased demos and outtakes are lackluster at best. Then again, crying emo fans will enjoy the running mascara.
My Morning Jacket, “It Still Moves” (ATO) CD
It’s “One Big Holiday” for My Morning Jacket fans with the recently released deluxe reissue of the band’s third studio effort “It Still Moves,” which includes more than a dozen previously unreleased B-sides and acoustic demos.
The Ramones, “Ramones: 40th Anniversary Deluxe Edition” (Rhino) CD/LP
This is the set Ramones fans have been wanting. The deluxe edition celebrating the 40th anniversary of the release of the influential punk band’s self-titled debut effort includes a hardcover book, stereo and mono mixes of the original album and rarities, unreleased demos and two live shows.
Temple of the Dog, “[UMe] CD/LP/DVD
Gen Xers will be happy to relive the early ’90s with the 25th anniversary release of grunge supergroup Temple of the Dog’s lone self-titled release. The re-mastered album, featuring “Hunger Strike,” is fine, but the true marrow can be found in the various demos, which showcase the true magic of songs such as “Reach Down” and “Say Hello to Heaven.”
Various Artists, “Say Yes! A Tribute to Elliott Smith” (American Laundromat Records) CD/LP
While Elliott Smith died nearly 15 years ago, his indie-folk music hasn’t been forgotten. Artists such as Tanya Donelly (“Between The Bars”), Amanda Palmer (“Pictures Of Me”) and J Mascis (“Waltz #2”) remember the influential singer-songwriter with poignant covers.
Joe Bonamassa, “The Three Kings: Live At The Greek Theatre” (J&R Adventures) CD/LP/DVD/Blu-ray
Blues guitarist Joe Bonamassa captured his 2015 “The Three Kings Tour” for the newly released concert effort that paid homage to the likes of Albert King, B.B. King and Freddie King. Don’t miss “Born Under A Bad Sign,” “Let The Good Times Roll” and “The Thrill Is Gone.”
Various artists, “Crossroad Revisited” (Rhino) CD
For more than a decade, Eric Clapton has hosted star-studded annual blues festivals. Now the magic collaborations are being boxed up in a 41-track release that features memorable performances by Slowhand along with Jeff Beck, Gary Clark Jr., Robert Cray, Billy F. Gibbons, Vince Gill, Buddy Guy, B.B. King, John Mayer, Carlos Santana, Joe Walsh, Ronnie Wood and Jimmie Vaughn.
Exile ,“Wrapped Up In Your Arms For Christmas” (Exile Reunion) CD
Talked about for decades, country-pop outfit Exile releases its first holiday album. In addition to seasonal standards, fans will enjoy festive originals “Merry Christmas from Cancun” and “Bluegrass Kind of Christmas.”
Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood, “Christmas Together” (Pearl Records) CD
Garth Brooks and wife Trisha Yearwood’s first collaborative album, “Christmas Together,” finds the couple singing “Feliz Navidad,” “Baby It’s Cold Outside” and “What I’m Thankful For [The Thanksgiving Song].” The latter track includes James Taylor.
Kacey Musgraves, “A Very Kacey Christmas” (Mercury) CD
Rising country artist Kacey Musgraves decided to throw her cowgirl hat into the holiday album ring. The result is a modern sounding effort with classic twists heard on “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” and “Let It Snow.” Special guests include Leon Bridges, Willie Nelson & The Quebe Sisters.
Oak Ridge Boys, “Christmas Celebration” (Gaither Music Group) CD
The legendary country band is back with a new batch of Christmas tunes, including “Joy To The World,” “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” and “O Come, All Ye Faithful.”
Peter Hollens, “A Hollens Family Christmas” (self-released) CD
YouTube sensation Peter Hollens shows off his classically trained a cappella skills performing “Carol of the Bells,” “Mary, Did You Know” and original tune “December Song.”
Rascal Flatts, “The Greatest Gift of All” (Big Machine) CD
Platinum act Rascal Flatts has finally released a Christmas album that finds the Ohio-band giving a country Christmas spin to “The First Noel,” “Deck the Halls” and “Let it Snow.”
Bob Dylan, “No Direction Home” (Capitol Records) Blu-ray & DVD
The 10th anniversary DVD release of Martin Scorsese’s award-winning documentary “No Direction Home” feature more than two hours of bonus and never-before-seen content.
David Bowie, “Who Can I Be Now? (1974-1976)” (Parlophone Records) CD
Less than a year after the Thin White Duke’s death, fans can rediscover David Bowie’s influence and magic with the latest boxed set including the remastered “Diamond Dogs,” “David Live,” “Young Americans” and “Station To Station,” as well as his previously unreleased 1974 album “The Gouster” and different mixes.
Freddie Mercury, “Messenger Of The Gods – The Singles” (Hollywood Records) LP
When Freddie Mercury wasn’t working with Queen, the singer did pursue a solo career. Naturally, this isn’t news to diehard fans, who will consider this box set including all 13 of Mercury’s solo singles on individually colored vinyl the perfect way to remember the iconic vocalist 25 years after his death.
Grateful Dead, “July 1978: The Complete Recordings” (Rhino) CD
Ask any Deadhead, 1978 was a high-water mark for the world’s greatest jam-band. Now there’s a 12-CD boxed set capturing the era and including five unreleased concerts. The setlists include obligatory tunes such as “Friend Of The Devil,” “Wharf Rat,” and “Sugaree,” as well oddball covers such as Warren Zevon’s “Werewolves Of London.”
Jimi Hendrix, “Machine Gun: The Fillmore East First Show 12/31/69” (Legacy Recordings) CD/LP
Recorded less than a year before his death, the recently released “Machine Gun: The Fillmore East First Show 12/31/69” reveals Jimi Hendrix’s vision for his influential but short-lived act Band of Gypsys. Highlights of this must-have release for Hendrix fans are killer versions of “Earth Blues,” “Ezy Ryder,” and “Machine Gun,” as well as a magical “Changes.”
Justin Hayward, “Live In Concert at the Capitol Theatre” (MVD) DVD
The Moody Blues singer’s latest concert DVD features all of classic rock band’s hits, which makes you wonder why this isn’t Moody Blues effort.
Led Zeppelin, “The Complete BBC Sessions” (Atlantic) CD/LP
Two decades ago, Led Zeppelin reminded fans of its blues bona fides. Now a newly remastered version of the box set includes a third disc that truly reveals the experimentation of the band. Check out the evolutionary versions of “Communication Breakdown,” as well as the imaginative “White Summer.”
The Monkees, “50” (Rhino) CD/LP
More than likely fans of The Monkees don’t need a three-CD set capturing the group’s entire career, which is what the newly released “50” provides. Instead, check out the band’s single-disc greatest hits to get your “Daydream Believer” fix.
Phil Collins, “The Singles” (Atlantic) CD/LP
After spending the last two decades in relative obscurity, Phil Collins is embracing his past with 45-song career retrospective “The Singles.” Collins was viewed as uncool for so long he’s now watched his music enjoy a renaissance. (Cue air-drum solo to “In The Air Tonight”).
The Rolling Stones, “The Rolling Stones in Mono” (ABKCO) CD/LP
For the first time, all of The Rolling Stones’ early mono studio recordings are being released as one collection. The remastered albums, released between 1963 and 1969, boast exceptional fidelity.
Roy Orbison, “The Ultimate Collection” (Roy’s Boys) CD
This 26-song anthology captures The Big O’s beginning at Sun Records all the way to his late ’80s comeback (including The Traveling Wilburys).
Various artists, “Feel Like Going Home/The Songs of Charlie Rich” (Memphis International Records) CD
While Charlie Rich was largely considered a country artist, the truth is the singer-songwriter explored all genres. Now Shooter Jennings, Jim Lauderdale, Keith Sykes, Charlie Rich Jr., Preston Shannon and more remember Rich’s catalog with a tribute album.
Various artists, “Bad Boy 20th Anniversary Box Set Edition” (Rhino) CD
Sean “Diddy” Combs (aka Puff Daddy) is taking fans on a trip down memory lane with this 20-year retrospective that features his own tracks, as well as tunes by The Notorious B.I.G., Craig Mack, Faith Evans, Mase, 112 and more.
Frankie Valli, “’Tis the Season” (Rhino) CD
Considering his half century of success in the music industry, it seems odd that Frankie Valli never released a solo Christmas album. That all changes with his new effort “’Tis the Season,” which includes a guest appearance by Jeff Beck on “Merry Christmas, Baby.”
Otis Redding, “Unbelievable … The Otis Redding Dictionary of Soul [50th Anniversary Edition]” (Rhino) CD
A half-century after soul legend Otis Redding released his R&B masterpiece, a double-disc deluxe features a remastered album with rare outtakes. The new compilation can be purchased in either stereo or mono mixes. Be sure to check out the nearly seven-minute version of “Try A Little Tenderness.”
Various artists, “T.A.M.I. Show/The Big T.N.T. Show” (Shout! Factory) Blu-ray
Baby boomer alert: In the mid-’60s, these two concerts featured legendary performances by the likes of The Byrds, Ray Charles, The Rolling Stones, James Brown, The Beach Boys, Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson & The Miracles, The Supremes and Chuck Berry.
Dio, “A Decade Of Dio: 1983-1993” (Rhino) CD
Just like in life, Ronnie James Dio remains largely unappreciated in death. Fans can relive the metal man’s career with “A Decade Of Dio: 1983-1993” featuring newly re-mastered albums including “Holy Diver.”
Extreme, “Pornograffitti Live 25: Metal Meltdown” (Loud & Proud Records) DVD
More than words, indeed. Is there really an audience eager to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Extreme’s “Pornograffitti” album? Every family has that oddball cousin that still defends singer Gary Cherone’s Van Halen stint. Consider this the perfect gift for that guy.
Judas Priest, “Battle Cry” (Epic) Blu-ray and DVD
Granted metal legends Judas Priest have released numerous concert recordings over the years; however, what makes the latest, “Battle Cry,” appealing is the mix of new tunes (“Dragonaut” and “Halls of Valhalla”), classics (“Electric Eye” and “You’ve Got Another Thing Coming”) and deep album cuts (“Devil’s Child” and “Jawbreaker”).
Soundgarden, “Badmotorfinger” (UMe/A&M Records) CD/DVD/Blu-ray
Soundgarden may be defined by 1994’s “Superunknown,” but it’s “Badmotorfinger” that put the Seattle band on the map. If you’re shopping for someone who is “Looking California and feeling Minnesota,” this special reissue (remastered album, unreleased studio outtakes and concert performances) is for them.
Twisted Sister “Metal Meltdown Live At The Hard Rock Casino Las Vegas” (Loud & Proud) DVD
Odds are the same person you’re buying the aforementioned Extreme album would also enjoy Twisted Sister’s DVD “Metal Meltdown Live At The Hard Rock Casino Las Vegas.”