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2011 Holiday Gift Guide

Christmas Gifts for Oldies Music lovers and retro enthusaists

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Wondering what to give that oldies lover for the holidays? Here's a handy guide to Christmas / Holiday gifts for people who love oldies music from the '50s, '60s, and '70s, selected by me, your Oldies guide at About.com. These items are all brand-new for 2011, so you can be sure they haven't been given as gifts before! As always, if you have a suggestion for upcoming lists, feel free and e-mail me!

The Beach Boys: The Smile Sessions (Box Set)

Brian Wilson was convinced to load all the original tracks from this lost masterpiece into ProTools in 2004, move them around into a coherent playlist, and then re-record them, which resulted in the critically acclaimed resurrection SMiLE. But the original session tapes -- cut over a period of five months in three different L.A. studios with the cream of rock's West Coast session men -- have only been available on bootlegs. Until now, that is. This deluxe edition of The Smile Sessions features 5 CDs, 2 LPs, and 2 45s, including tons of outtakes and fragments, and two whole discs devoted to "Good Vibrations" and "Heroes and Villains," so you can hear, as best as possible for mere musical mortals, how Brian's brain worked. The 60-page accompanying book, replete with rock archaeology, is worth the steep price alone.

Elvis Presley: The Complete Louisiana Hayride Archives

There are precious few live recordings of Elvis in his formative years, but fortunately he made his bones (and his Southern fan base) appearing on Shreveport's highly influential radio program called the Louisiana Hayride. Here, finally, are the remaining archives: two dozen tracks, including many of the King's biggest early hits, spanning 1954-1956, presented as if he'd done one monster 2 CD show, and accompanied by a 100-page hardbound book with photos that give you a real feel of time and place. Lots of crucial early Presley performances here, including Holy Grail covers of "Hearts of Stone," "Tweedle Dee," and "Maybellene." You can also hear his crowd build in the background, moving over two years from a fascinated smattering to a near-riot.

Frank Sinatra: Best of the Best

For far too long, Capitol's Frank Sinatra recordings (the ones that made him famous and then stranded him in novelty hell) and his own cuts on his own label, Reprise (the music which revived him and graduated him from a teen idol to a saloon crooner) were only available on separate collections. Now, finally, neophytes interested in the style and swing of Ol' Blue Eyes get to hear the whole story in one place: 23 of his biggest hits and his defining standards, assembled in order and sweetened with a bonus live disc featuring a rare 1957 Seattle date with his bandleader of choice, Nelson Riddle. Outfitted in a gorgeous case and topped off by historical liner notes from Frank's own son, who should know.

George Harrison: Living in the Material World (book)

He may have always been third in the minds of many Beatles fans, but George Harrison was far from unimportant, as proved by the critical rethink that's been happening since his untimely death. This companion piece to Martin Scorsese's musical documentary of the year may itself be the coffeetable book of the year, blessed as it is by George's widow and weighted down with a staggering four hundred pages of the "Quiet" Beatle's own correspondance, notes, and photographs. There's also quite a bit of ink from those who knew him best -- Ringo, Paul, Clapton, the Pythons -- and lots of pre-Fab Four family and childhood documents. An excellent Anthology of the Beatle who needed it most.

Nile Rodgers: Le Freak: An Upside Down Story of Family, Disco, and Destiny

Nile Rodgers was the man behind Chic, the genius bassist, producer, and songwriter who steered pop music through disco, hip-hop, and Eighties pop with his productions for his old band, David Bowie, Madonna and more. But before he became a king of the NYC disco scene in the '70s, Nile had already lived a fascinating life, surrounded by a hippie permissiveness and social awareness that shaped his ideology even as it inflamed his appetites. A bicoastal odyssey of bohemian rebellion in a survivor's own words, the aptly titled "Le Freak" is more or less a guide through the very freakification of the postwar American landscape.

50 Rockabilly Licks You Must Know

From country boogie to psychobilly and beyond, Jason knows all the ins and outs of rockabilly guitar, and this video makes it easy for even a beginner to pick like a Nashville cat in no time. Featuring not just riffs but intros, solos, tricks and outros, this instructional video leans heavily on the classic period (Hank Garland, Scotty Moore, Paul Burlison) but also makes room for subsequent greats (Danny Gatton, Brian Setzer, Rev. Horton Heat). And with the ace backing beats, and Loughlin's painstaking deconstruction of every picked note and gliding riff, you can't go wrong.

The Last Sultan: The Life and Times of Ahmet Ertegun

Ahmet Ertegun is a name still only known largely to music aficionados, but this legendary music mogul, who passed away in 2006, practially built the modern American music industry: if he'd only signed a young R&B singer named Ray Charles to his Atlantic label, or helped create soul music in the Sixties, or sought out a supergroup going by the strange name of Led Zeppelin, he'd still be a major figure, but this son of the US Turkish ambassador had his fingers in nearly every aspect of his adopted country's musical entertainment, from jazz to R&B to classic rock. Ahmet discovered the Rascals. He convinced Crosby, Stills, and Nash to add Neil Young. He signed Coltrane, Mingus, and Ornette. And this, finally, is his story.

Vintage Cocktails: Retro Recipes for the Home Mixologist

Before frat boys started downing flaming shots and hipsters fell in love with working-class beers, the cocktail was the symbol of American affluence and sophistication, the upwardly mobile man's (and woman's) ticket to respectability in a dog-eat-dog world; ordering the wrong one could create an impression that might actually damage your career. Hallay, who's a Brit, not only understands this, she has enough cultural distance to appreciate the appeal of the "retro" cocktail while looking askance at the whole institution with dry English wit. All joking aside, these recipes are the real deal, however -- the Brandy Alexander, the Gin Rickey, the Moscow Mule, and other nearly-forgotten attempts to turn getting tipsy into an exotic travelogue.

Silver Retro Classic Mini Flexible Computer Mic

This classic crooner style vintage mic looks as if it could be set up for a live postwar radio program, but in fact it's a state-of-the-art computer mic you can use with Skype, VOIP, laptops, you name it! Highly sensitive and with a swivel base and lots of cord, it's the perfect gift for anyone who has a retro sense of style, but a up-to-the-minute connection to the cyber world. Just resist the urge to sing tender romantic ballads during your online meeting.

Grace Digital Victoria Wireless Internet Radio

This baby is literally solid -- seven fat pounds of polished walnut, just like a vintage 40s tabletop radio. In seconds, however, it connects to any Wi-Fi in range, allowing you to stream free podcasts, internet radio, on demand, or network radio programs right to your desk (or living room, or whatever!). Complete with a very customizable display, a fully functional remote, and connectivity to just about any potential sound device. The perfect way for you or your loved one to get modern broadband in a classic style!
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