Published on November 24th, 2018 | by Darren Paltrowitz


15 Gift Ideas For A Music Fan

With Cyber Monday just right around the corner, the Holiday Season of 2018 is now underway. In turn, many readers of The Hype Magazine are now in gift-seeking mode for friends, family and co-workers. In turn, here are 15 new-ish, music-themed gift ideas for a music fan in your life.

James Brown’s Black Caesar Soundtrack

Multiple generations of music fans known James Brown as “The Godfather Of Soul.” But Brown did have plenty of deep cuts in his catalog, and his original soundtrack albums for the early 1970s blaxploitation films Black Caesar falls into that category. This titles was reissued last month on 150-gram vinyl LPs by UMG with a tip-on jacket and faithfully-replicated artwork.

Originally released in February 1973, Black Caesar is a gangster drama set in Harlem, written and directed by Larry Cohen and starring Fred Williamson, Gloria Hendry, D’Urville Martin, and Julius Harris. The film’s script was originally commissioned by Sammy Davis Jr., who was ultimately unavailable to participate in the production, and its original score was James Brown’s first foray into writing music for the screen. Pieces of Brown’s soundtrack, which also features the J.B.’s and Lyn Collins, have since been notably sampled in tracks by top rap artists, including “The Boss,” sampled by Ice-T in “You Played Yourself,” by Trick Daddy in “Take It To Da House,” and by Nas in “Get Down.”

In addition to this reissue, Universal Music Enterprises has also re-issued Brown’s soundtrack for Slaughter’s Big Rip-Off and various James Brown-produced albums from members of his revue, as now available for the first time for streaming and download purchasing. From Bobby Byrd, Brown’s longtime right-hand man, is his debut album I Need Help, featuring the title song and “You Got To Have A Job (If You Don’t Work You Can’t Eat).” From Brown’s backing band led by Fred Wesley< — credited to “Fred & The New J.B.’s” — is the 1974 album Breakin’ Bread, highlighted by the title song and “Rockin’ Funky Watergate,” and Maceo Parker’s solo debut album, Us, led by the hit “Soul Power ’74.” In addition, there is Marva Whitney’s It’s My Thing, as originally released late 1969, Lyn Collins with two albums, 1972’s Think (About It) and 1975’s Check Me Out If You Don’t Know Me By Now, and“Sweet” Charles Sherrell’s For Sweet People From Sweet Charles from 1974. Fingers are crossed for even more rare and unreleased gems from the JB catalog emerging in the coming years.

Frank Sinatra’s Frank Sinatra Sings For Only The Lonely

As released last month, Frank Sinatra’s intimate 1958 opus Frank Sinatra Sings For Only The Lonely was newly mixed in stereo for an expanded 60th Anniversary Edition. In turn, Only The Lonely (60th Anniversary Edition) was released in a Deluxe 2CD package, in 180-gram 2LP vinyl, a 1CD configuration, and in two digital album versions. The Only The Lonely (60th Anniversary Edition)’s 2CD Deluxe edition pairs the album’s remastered original 1958 mono mix with a new 2018 stereo mix by Larry Walsh. 4 bonus tracks from the mono session recordings are also featured, including studio takes that are making their release debuts. The album’s original mono mix makes its digital release debut in an expanded digital collection pairing the remastered album mix with the four bonus session recordings, while the 1CD, 2LP vinyl, and standard digital album configurations feature the album’s 2018 stereo mix. The new edition’s audio was mastered by Ron McMaster at Capitol Studios.

Only The Lonely itself was recorded as both a mono and stereo presentation. The mono was the focus as that was the chief format of the day. The stereo was recorded with two microphones suspended high over the studio orchestra. Frank Sinatra’s voice was recorded onto a third track. With the stereo recording being mid-side decoded, the depth of the studio is revealed. Only The Lonely reached #1 on Billboard’s albums chart and remained on the charts for 120 weeks. At 1959’s inaugural GRAMMY® Awards ceremony, the album won the award for “Best Recording Package.” As with the earlier-mentioned James Brown reissue from Universal, fingers are crossed that this means more is to come from the vaults (e.g. live recordings, outtakes) of Frank Sinatra Enterprises.

The Beatles’ The White Album

50 years ago in November 1968, millions of double-LPs were shipped to record stores worldwide ahead of that year’s most anticipated music event: the November 22nd release of The Beatles (soon to be better known as The White Album). In turn, with their ninth studio album, The Beatles took the world on a whole new trip, sonically and philosophically.

Earlier this month on November 9th, via UME, The Beatles released a suite of lavishly-presented White Album packages. The title’s original recordings were newly mixed by producer Giles Martin and mix engineer Sam Okell in stereo and 5.1 surround audio, as joined by 27 early acoustic demos and 50 session takes, most of which are previously-unreleased in any form. Simply put, this is the first time the White Album has been remixed and presented with additional demos and session recordings; Martin’s new mix is guided by the album’s original stereo mix produced by his father George Martin. And on top of that, the thick box for the collection will look really cool on your vinyl shelf.

The Bee Gees’ Timeless: The All-Time Greatest Hits

Via the 20-something studio albums recorded (and numerous soundtrack contributions made), The Bee Gees infused popular culture with dozens of worldwide hit singles which featured their singular and highly influential three-part harmonies. They achieved 9 #1 singles and 23 Top 10 singles on the Billboard Hot 100 chart — including “How Deep Is Your Love,” “Night Fever,” and “Stayin’ Alive” from Saturday Night Fever — and graced charts around the world with many other classics.

Last month on October 26th, UMG released the Bee Gees’ Timeless: The All-Time Greatest Hits in a 2LP vinyl edition. Already available on CD and digitally, the career-spanning collection of hits by one of music’s most legendary and acclaimed groups features 21 tracks personally selected by Bee Gees co-founder Barry Gibb. Sequenced in chronological order, Timeless spans decades of Bee Gees smash hits. Hopefully it is a sign of more to come from the Bee Gees camp.

Urban Legends Re-Issue Series

Urban Legends — the urban catalog platform of the aforementioned Universal Music Enterprises — and Marvel Comics recently collaborated to bring together the mighty, epic worlds of comics and hip-hop with an on-going exclusive album series. This series features variant album covers for select collector’s editions of some of the record label’s most legendary hip-hop releases. The first three releases in this joint series, all of which due for a December 7th street date, are:

– Iron Man standing behind cracked glass for 50 Cent’s incendiary 2003 debut Get Rich Or Die Tryin’
– The Punisher replicating LL Cool J’s 1990 album Mama Said Knock You Out
– Iron Man dueling Maestro, mirroring the cover of GZA’s second studio album, Liquid Swords.

Each album release will boast a pair of collectible options, the first one being a double color vinyl Variant Cover Collector’s Edition that replaces the album’s original image with Marvel’s variant hip-hop cover art. Second, a Deluxe Variant Cover Collector’s Edition will sport the featured album itself housed in a gatefold LP with the variant cover printed directly on the front. The deluxe collector’s edition will include double-color vinyl, along with a copy of the limited-edition corresponding Marvel comic book that ties in with the artwork. The deluxe version will also include a 3D lenticular print of Marvel’s variant cover artwork. Each initial Collector’s Edition will be capped at 3,000 units. Almost needless to say, it will be interesting to see which other UME titles are given this treatment.

Kalapana’s The Original Album Collection

Next week, on November 30, Manifesto Records and Kalapana Music will release Kalapana: The Original Album Collection, a definitive 9-CD boxed set containing the influential Hawaiian pop/rock group’s first seven albums. This set includes three albums — Many Classic Moments Original Soundtrack, In Concert, and Northbound — which were previously unreleased in the U.S., as well as a 40-page booklet offering detailed liner notes and archival photos to take fans through every stage of their incredible journey.

While most music fans have a preset notion of “Hawaiian” music — generally falling into the traditional Hawaiian genre — Kalapana’s legacy uniquely stands as a groundbreaking modern pop and soft rock band representing the 50th state. As the local success of Kalapana’s eponymous 1975 debut album regionally-outsold albums by America, Chicago, and Earth, Wind & Fire, the group’s regional status and rich songwriting history would lead them to be called “The Beatles of Hawaii.”

For those seeking a more concise introduction to the band, Manifesto also offers the single-disc release Black Sand: The Best Of Kalapana, which collects 20 of the group’s favorites spanning their most definitive period, 1975 through 1983. The songs have been remastered from the original tapes, and this album is accompanied by a 20-page booklet providing an overview of Kalapana’s career.

Lee Michaels’ Nice Day For Something

Also released by Manifesto this month are two albums from FM radio staple Lee Michaels. The two titles — 1973’s Nice Day For Something and 1974’s Tailface — were originally put out by Columbia Records, yet this Manifesto re-issuing will mark the first time that either of these albums have ever been available on compact disc. In addition, both titles have been digitally re-mastered from their original tapes and both come in high-quality gatefold packaging.

All seven A&M titles by Michaels — beyond a 20-song hits package, Heighty Hi: The Best Of Lee Michaels — were released on Manifesto Records in 2015. The addition of these two titles put nearly all of Lee Michaels releases under one roof. The only exception is the rare album Absolute Lee, which Michaels released in 1982 on his own short lived Squish record label.

Local H’s Pack Up The Cats

Local H’s Pack Up The Cats was originally released on September 1, 1998 via Island Records. The album was the followup to 1996’s As Good As Dead, which featured the still-great-sounding singles “Bound For The Floor,” “High-Fiving MF” and “Eddie Vedder.” While Dead prided itself in being a very lo-fi release, Pack Up The Cats featured production from Roy Thomas Baker, who notably produced top-selling albums by Queen and The Cars. While Island Records was not behind Pack Up The Cats, the album did wind up on “best albums of 1998” lists from Spin, Robert Christgau and Greg Kot.

In time for its 20th Anniversary, SRCVinyl has given Pack Up The Cats a proper vinyl re-release. The vinyl record itself comes in transparent red coloring, while the music was properly remastered for vinyl via lacquers created by Kevin Gray of Cohearant Audio. The SRCVinyl release includes a gatefold jacket and 11×11 insert. Meanwhile, Local H continues to tour and record, and its upcoming dates include December 30th (Highland, Indiana) and 31st (Chicago, Illinois) headlining shows.

Alvin & The Chipmunks’ Christmas With The Chipmunks Vol. 2

Statisticallyproven to be one of the most successful animated franchises in history, Alvin & The Chipmunks have also become the most successful children’s artists of all time. Among the act’s successes are 2 #1 singles on the Billboard Hot 100, 5 Grammy Awards, 4 Top 10 albums on the Billboard 200, and 3 platinum albums. Meanwhile, the song “The Chipmunk Song” remains one of best-selling singles of all time with over 5 million copies sold.

Christmas with The Chipmunks Vol. 2 was released in 1963 as the follow-up to the Chipmunks’ first Christmas album, released the previous year. Reissued on limited-edition white vinyl, this album features 11 traditional holiday songs and one original composition by Ross Bagdasarian, Sr. While there is definitely more to re-issue from the Chipmunks’ catalog, my hopes remain very high for a Chipmunk Punk — as first released on June 15, 1980 — re-issue on vinyl.

Dennis Quaid & The Sharks’ Out Of The Box

While Dennis Quaid & The Sharks have been doing live shows for 18 years, Out Of The Box is the group’s first proper studio album. With Quaid credited as the in-studio producer, Out Of The Box is a mix of originals and covers. Quaid’s musical heroes have been cited as Buddy Holly, Hank Williams, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash, The Beatles, The Doors, and James Brown, and Out Of The Box is proof of that, given some of his choices in covers.

So who are those Sharks, you ask? Sharks members Tom Mancillas, Ken Stange, and Tom Walsh have worked over the years with artists as varied as Harry Dean Stanton, Roger Miller, Tina Turner, Joe Cocker, Supertramp, Jose Feliciano, and America. Expect Quaid, Mancillas, Stange and Walsh to be on the road for at least 50 concerts in 2019, per my recent interview with the award-winning actor.

New Wave: Dare To Be Different

New Wave: Dare To Be Different is the story of what many industry insiders feel to have been the most influential radio station in America. That would be Long Island, New York’s WLIR, which was arguably the American station that launched U2, The Police, Depeche Mode and many other now-classic artists.

Even if you know the story of WLIR — which this writer was fortunate to have grown up listening to — the participating artists within this documentary are an interesting “who’s who” of entertainment industry staples. These include Joan Jett, Blondie’s Debbie Harry, Billy Idol, Duran Duran’s Nick Rhodes, Depeche Mode’s Vince Clarke, Tears For Fears’ Curt Smith, The B-52s’ Fred Schneider, Thomas Dolby, Midge Ure, Gary “Baba Booey” Dell’ Abate, record executive Seymour Stein, former U2 manager Paul McGuinness, The English Beat’s Dave Wakeling, Bow Wow Wow’s Annabella Lwin, and IRS Records’ Miles Copeland. Fortunately, the on-air talent of WLIR also gets their time to shine.

Creator, director and producer Ellen Goldfarb started Jomyra Productions to house New Wave: Dare To Be Different and other entertainment projects, so it will be interesting to see what else is coming from Goldfarb. New Wave comes out on VOD and DVD on December 7th.

Sheryl Crow’s Live At The Capitol Theatre

Sheryl Crow is a nine-time GRAMMY® Award winner, first becoming a worldwide sensation with 1993’s Tuesday Night Music Club. With 25 years (and counting) of acclaim to her credit, a Sheryl Crow concert is full of hits and classics. In turn, when Rock Fuel Media captured a November 2017 concert of Crow’s at the historic Capitol Theatre in Port Chester, New York, 90 minutes of audiovisual fun was directed by Mark Ritchie (Madonna, Beyonce, Kanye West), as produced by Rock Fuel Media’s Barry Summers (Guns N’ Roses, Foreigner, Smashing Pumpkins, Jane’s Addiction).

Noted by Crow herself of the aforementioned Capitol Theatre in Westchester: “Very rarely, you walk into a venue and deeply feel the musical history of the place… With so many legendary shows by artists like The Grateful Dead, Eric Clapton, The Allman Brothers… Their imprint resonates. The vibe really elevated our performance. My band goes out and kills every night, but this set was on another level entirely. I’m so glad we were able to capture this show on film, it was one of those really special nights.” As a great-quality home video release from a top-tier artist, I am looking forward to seeing what else Rock Fuel Media has planned in terms of live releases.

Gillian G. Gaar’s World Domination: The Sub Pop Records Story

From Seattle grunge to swamp blues and all points in between, BMG Books’ new RPM series gives fans an inside look at the independent record labels that made their mark on music history. The series debuted on November 20, 2018 with the first two volumes: World Domination: The Sub Pop Records Story — as penned by Gillian G. Gaar — and Shake Your Hips: The Excello Records Story. Both titles are sized at 7″x7″ to mimic the dimensions of a 45 RPM record, and each features a photo insert that helps brings the story to life with rare and unseen photographs.

Author Gillian G. Gaar, a longtime Seattle-based writer, draws on firsthand interviews, deep research, and her years of covering that city’s scene as a music journalist to bring together the first in-depth historical narrative of one of America’s most influential independent record labels. Gaar is the author of more than 15 books, including Return Of The King: Elvis Presley’s Great Comeback and Entertain Us: The Rise Of Nirvana. She was a senior editor at the Seattle music paper The Rocket and has also written for Mojo, Rolling Stone, Goldmine, and Seattle’s Museum Of Popular Culture. Gaar served as a project consultant on Nirvana’s With The Lights Out box set. In turn, who better to write a book about the history of the very-influential, Seattle-based record label Sub Pop Records than GaaR?

Future volumes of BMG Books’ RPM series will cover Chrysalis Records (Procol Harum, Jethro Tull, Blondie, Pat Benatar, Billy Idol) and the Cold Chillin’ label (Kool G Rap, Big Daddy Kane, Biz Markie).

The Chief Herbal Vaporizer by Chuck Billy & Lord Vaper Pens

Are you a fan of the influential metal band Testament? Do you have an interest in vaping? Well, Testament frontman Chuck Billy is here to help you kill those 2 birds with 1 stone. In early 2015, iconic Testament vocalist Chuck Billy introduced his Signature Herbal Vaporizer pen, “The Chief,” in collaboration with Lord Vaper Pens. Recently, Billy and Lord Vaper Pens introduced “The Chief” Signature Series, which includes a pipe (“Tomahawk”), an Oil Cartridge Battery (“Dream Catcher”) and a 2-in-1 Vaporizer (“War Drum”).

Recently, Billy also recently unveiled “The Chief of Thrash!” merchandise line, which includes unique t-shirts, drawstring bags, mousepads, dog tags, phone cases, coasters and more. Swag aside, almost 35 years since forming in the early 1980s, Testament is still going strong, having released Brotherhood Of The Snake in 2016. Highlights from my phone interview with Mr. Billy will be airing on a future edition of the Paltrocast With Darren Paltrowitz, as produced with

Danny Fields’ My Ramones

A legendary manager, publicist, journalist and record label executive, Danny Fields was at the heart of every significant movement in rock music for two decades. Fields has also been credited with introducing punk to America. He was a significant player in launching the careers of The Doors, The Ramones, The MC5 and The Stooges, among other influential recording artists.

Danny first saw The Ramones play a 15-minute set at CBGBs in New York in 1974, and he instantly offered to manage them, also setting them up with a record deal. Originally published in a rare limited edition, My Ramones features over 225 photographs from Danny’s personal collection of one of the most loved and well-known bands from the last four decades. Danny managed the band from the ground up, accompanying them across Europe and America, while also photographing them at work, with fans and during more informal moments. Taken between 1975 and 1977, Danny’s photographs offer a rare insight into the lives of the band on-tour, backstage and recording their first album.

The book’s publisher, Reel Art Press, also has amazing — and I don’t use the word “amazing” lightly — new books on Johnny Cash and Led Zeppelin. When I see that Reel Art Press is producing a title about an artist that I am fond of, I know to check it out. In turn, thanks to Reel Art for its streak of excellence.

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About the Author

Darren Paltrowitz is a New York resident with over 20 years of entertainment industry experience. He began working around the music business as a teenager, interning for the manager of his then-favorite band Superdrag. Since then, he has worked with a wide array of artists including OK Go, They Might Be Giants, Mike Viola, Tracy Bonham, Loudness, Rachael Yamagata, and Amanda Palmer. Darren's writing has appeared in dozens of outlets including the New York Daily News, Inquisitr, The Daily Meal, The Hype Magazine, All Music Guide, Guitar World,, Businessweek, Chicago Tribune, L.A. Times, and the Jewish Journal. Beyond being "Editor At Large" for The Hype Magazine, Darren is also the host of weekly "Paltrocast With Darren Paltrowitz" series, which airs on dozens on television and digital networks. He has also co-authored 2 published books, 2018's "Pocket Change: Your Happy Money" (Book Web Publishing) and 2019's "Good Advice From Professional Wrestling" (6623 Press), and co-hosts the world's only known podcast about David Lee Roth, "The DLR Cast."

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