Published on December 17th, 2019 | by Darren Paltrowitz


10 Last-Minute Holiday Season 2019 Gift Ideas For A Music Fan

Between holidays, birthdays, anniversaries and general “just because” surprises, there is always a need to have a few gift ideas in the back of your mind. In turn, no matter your preferred genre or form of gift-giving, below are 10 suggestions for relatively-inexpensive gifts for a music fan in your life.

Live On KCRW: Morning Becomes Eclectic by Jeff Buckley

One of the most magical, previously-unreleased live performances by Jeff Buckley finally debuted on vinyl this year as part of the continuing celebration of the 25th anniversary of Buckley’s debut studio album Grace. Buckley’s captivating appearance on KCRW-FM’s long-running Morning Becomes Eclectic was accompanied by the core band with which he recorded Grace, and features favorites from that record, including “Mojo Pin,” “So Real” and “Lover, You Should Have Come Over.”

Also released by Legacy Recordings for Record Store Day 2019 and absolutely worth your attention is Are You Ready? – Live 12/31/79 by Cheap Trick. A sonic flashback to the closing night of the 1970s, when Cheap Trick — titans of the rock scene after 1979’s triumphant At Budokan live album — rang in the ‘80s, Rockford’s finest rocking four-piece deliver all the killer cuts you’d want at the Los Angeles Forum. This includes “I Want You To Want Me,” “Surrender” and “Dream Police,” of course. This legendary performance is now available in the vinyl record format for the first time officially, as featuring previously-unreleased mixes from the original multi-track masters.

BAE Audio’s Royaltone Guitar Pedal

BAE Audio is a U.S.-based manufacturer of high-end microphone preamp and equalizers, all of which are faithful to vintage designs of the seventies and before. The company is committed to the vintage philosophy of hand-wiring and hand-soldering all of its components to achieve a high quality and authentically vintage sound. Its Royaltone pedal is an unorthodox fuzz box that delivers authentic English fuzz tones — in stark contrast to the hordes of cheesy, thin-sounding fuzz boxes that have infiltrated the market. In turn, Royaltone harkens a lost era of ’70s inspired fuzz tones, all captured in a rugged stompbox built to inspire new ideas and sonic textures.

Robbie Robertson is in rare company as a Rock & Roll Hall Of Famer, a founding member of The Band and an influential songwriter overall; most recently he was the musical director for the film The Irishman. Robertson notably used the Royaltone for his latest album Sinematic, referring to the pedal in interviews as his “black box.” Given that Sinematic includes collaborations with Van Morrison, Citizen Cope and J.S. Ondara, clearly a lot of top musicians are also digging the Royaltone.

Classics by Triumph

Comprised of drummer/vocalist Gil Moore, bassist/keyboardist Mike Levine and guitarist/vocalist Rik Emmett, Triumph formed in 1975, as hailing from Mississauga, Ontario, Canada. With their unique blend of progressive rock, heavy metal and soaring melodies, the band enjoyed a string of rock radio and MTV hits, in the process scoring a string of gold and platinum-certified albums and selling out arenas, thrilling fans with their award-winning live shows.

As of this month, Triumph’s 13-track Classics is back on the racks via Round Hill/Triumph Catalog. All of the expected gems are included, like “Lay It On The Line,” “Magic Power,” “A World Of Fantasy,” “Fight The Good Fight,” and “Hold On.” Also featured are two special live recordings that close the set “Never Surrender” (live at the US Festival) and “Blinding Light Show/Moon Child (live at Sweden Rock).

Songs From The South 1985-2019 by Paul Kelly

Paul Kelly is arguably Australia’s greatest and most enduring songwriter, and last year was yet another big year for him. Kelly released a new studio album, Nature, which was a follow-up to his 2017 full-length Life Is Fine, which had debuted at #1 on the ARIA Albums Chart; this gave Kelly his first ARIA #1 album in his long career. In addition, at 2017’s ARIA Awards — Australia’s equivalent to the GRAMMY— Kelly took home “Best Male” and “Best Adult Contemporary Album,” along with “Best Cover Art” and “Engineer Of The Year.” These results gave Kelly a remarkable 14 ARIA Awards out of 51 total ARIA nominations from over the years.

Songs From The South 1985-2019: Paul Kelly’s Greatest Hits is a collection of songs spanning the depth and breadth of Kelly’s illustrious career. It will be available as of January 2019 in a double-album vinyl format with 26 tracks, and as an expanded CD with 43 tracks. The comprehensive set includes (arguably) the finest Christmas song ever written about not being home for Christmas, “How To Make Gravy,” which has helped make December 21st “Gravy Day” in Australia.

Mesh & Lace and After The Snow by Modern English

“I Melt With You” by Modern English is undoubtedly one of the most iconic songs of the New Wave-era. It garnered heavy rotation on the then-thriving Modern Rock radio format, MTV and dance clubs across the globe, and was featured prominently in the classic 1983 film Valley Girl, staring a young Nicolas Cage. Yet Modern English was no mere one-hit wonder.

Mesh & Lace, the band’s 1981 full-length debut, reveals that long before the band conquered the airwaves, it was churning out dark, moody and challenging post-punk that rivaled such peers as The Cure, Echo & the Bunnymen and its then-4AD labelmates Bauhaus. On 1982’s After The Snow, the band’s sound evolved into a more commercial and radio-friendly mix of synthesizers, guitars, catchy drumbeats and singer Robby Grey’s unmistakable vocals. That album spawned “I Melt With You” and brought Modern English up from the underground to the mainstream.

Los Angeles-based Blixa Sounds re-released these two classic albums earlier this month, as remastered for the vinyl LP and CD formats, also including a collection of non-LP bonus tracks exclusively on the CD edition. Both albums feature new re-imagined artwork by Vaughan Oliver, the noted artist /designer responsible for the original Modern English album art.

The Gambler’s Last Deal by Kenny Rogers

Kenny Rogers is a true living legend of classic country music. His final tour, titled The Gambler’s Last Deal, celebrated that career and the scope of his talent from his very first recording made when he was in school, through his time with The First Edition, then on to his amazing solo years. In turn, The Gambler’s Last Deal is more than just a concert. It’s a musical journey of Kenny’s life, complete with track after track of all his hits, archive footage, music videos and past concert performances from Dolly Parton, Alison Krauss and Dottie West.

Filmed at the legendary London Palladium in 2017 at the end of his final world tour and combined with live footage from numerous other venues on the tour, the concert spans an impressive six-decade career that established Kenny as a top recording artist with 150 million records sold worldwide. Extras include a music video of “Buy Me A Rose,” a rehearsal from 2005 of “Someone, Somewhere Tonight” and additional interviews with members of Rogers’ band and crew.

Come On Feel The Noize: The Story Of How Rock Became Metal

Come On Feel The Noize: The Story Of How Rock Became Metal features exclusive, long-lost live material from rock’s most iconic bands and artists, as well as all-new original interviews with the living legends themselves. This film is an access-all-areas backstage pass to Heavy Metal and Hard Rock history. Delve into the rich history of Heavy Metal: from its scandalous origins in the 1960s to its heyday in the 1980s, from its glam phase in the 1970s to its indestructible present in 2017. Ultimately, it is a backstage pass into the history of how Rock became Heavy Metal.

Melody Makers DVD

Also great and new from Cleopatra Entertainment is Melody Makers, a stunning, award-winning film that goes behind the scenes to explode the myths, honor the legends, and reveal the incredible stories and never-before-seen photographs of rock giants like Mick Jagger, David Bowie, Elton John, Bob Dylan, Jimmy Page, Jimi Hendrix, Ray Davies, Frank Zappa, Patti Smith and many others. This “tell-all” reveals anecdotes and unpublished photos from the world’s most influential music publication, Melody Maker, with its intimate access to legendary rock bands including The Rolling Stones and the Beatles, Pink Floyd, Queen, The Who, Led Zeppelin and The Animals.

At the heart of this film is Melody Maker‘s head photographer, Barrie Wentzell, who takes us along on an intimate journey with his colleagues into the world of rock icons. The film captures this unique period telling the story behind the magazine’s rise and fall, showing firsthand how the artists, the record companies and journalists came to move a generation.

Me & Mr. Cigar by Gibby Haynes

Me & Mr. Cigar is the wonderfully weird debut young-adult novel from psychedelic rock legend Gibby Haynes, best known for his work with The Butthole Surfers. It is as strange as you might imagine, more surreal than you would expect, and will move you in ways you could never anticipate. Part road trip, part coming-of-age, and part redemption tale, Me & Mr. Cigar takes Oscar Lester and his best friend/enforcer/magical pet dog, Mr. Cigar on a journey to save Oscar’s sister Rachel, who has been abducted by a sinister cabal for reasons unknown. Along the way, Oscar encounters ultra-secret technology, agents of the U.S. government, super-wealthy corporate interests, and nefarious art dealers. But his motive to save Rachel always comes back to his dog. Five years earlier, Mr. Cigar bit off Rachel’s hand, and she’s been estranged from them ever since. “YA” the Gibby Haynes way.

Sinatra Select by Jack Daniels

Throughout his seven-decade career, Frank Sinatra performed on more than 1,400 recordings and was awarded 31 gold, nine platinum, three double-platinum, and one triple-platinum album by the Recording Industry Association Of America. Sinatra demonstrated a remarkable ability to appeal to every generation and continues to do so; his artistry still influences many of today’s music superstars. The Oscar-winner also appeared in more than 60 films and produced eight motion pictures. Sinatra was awarded Lifetime Achievement Awards from The Recording Academy, The Screen Actors Guild and the National Association For The Advancement of Colored People, as well as the Kennedy Center Honors, the U.S. Presidential Medal Of Freedom and the U.S. Congressional Gold Medal.

December 12, 2019 marked what would have been Frank Sinatra’s 104th birthday and Jack Daniel’s is celebrating with a toast to the singer’s love of Tennessee Whiskey. It’s no secret that Frank Sinatra was a fan of Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey, and Frank’s daughter Tina Sinatra located a flask Mr. Sinatra would have used to bring his favorite whiskey around the world — an English silver-plated flask engraved with the words “OLE JACK” on the front. Now, Jack Daniel’s is honoring Sinatra’s spirit with a limited-edition recreation of the flask and matching leather case with four jigger cups. Paired with a bottle of Jack Daniel’s Sinatra Select, the flask set will take fans back to Sinatra’s “Rat Pack era” with the bold, smoky, smooth taste of this specially-made Tennessee Whiskey. I had the pleasure of speaking with Charles Pignone, archivist for Frank Sinatra, about Sinatra Select and more, as embedded below.

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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 the bi-weekly "Paltrocast With Darren Paltrowitz" podcast, as co-produced with V13 (formerly He has also co-authored two published books, 2018's "Pocket Change: Your Happy Money" (Book Web Publishing) and 2019's "Good Advice From Professional Wrestling" (6623 Press), with a second podcast set for a June 2020 launch.

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