This edition of our Holiday Gift Guide series looks at new releases that are available on vinyl, including an amazing Freddie Mercury box set, "new" music from jazz man Errol Garner and two releases featuring performances by big stars that were recorded during induction ceremonies at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
Messenger of the Gods - The Singles
13-disc box set of 7" singles on colored vinyl
If your gift list has a Queen or Freddie Mercury fan on it and that person also happens to collect music on vinyl, here's something that will absolutely knock that person's socks off. Encompassing every song that Mercury put out as a single during his solo career, the first disc finds Freddie working under the alias Larry Lurex for a cover of the Beach Boys 1969 hit "I Can Hear Music." Released shortly before the debut Queen album, Queen completists will be happy to know the cut also features Brian May on guitar and Roger Taylor on drums. The disc's B-side is a cover too --- Carole King's "Goin' Back." Among the other included collectibles are a one-sided single of "Love Kills" from the soundtrack to the movie "Metropolis," a remix version of "Made in Heaven" from the Mr. Bad Guy album with the rare non-album cut "She Blows Hot and Cold" as its B-side, "Time" from the musical of the same name, and three discs featuring Mercury's work with opera star Montserrat Caballe. The set wraps up with "Living on My Own," Mercury's first solo #1 record, ironically released two years after his death. Each single is pressed on colored vinyl and comes in a sturdy cardboard sleeve that replicates the artwork of the original release. A booklet with photos and notes on each song is included in this deluxe box set.
Ready Take One
Octave Music/Legacy Records
2 X LP 150-gram vinyl, gatefold jacket with booklet
Here's one that will absolutely floor fans of pianist Errol Garner. Garner died nearly 40-years ago, so while jazz buffs might have expected some sort of reissue to come along, this album features 14 studio cuts that have never before been released. Dating to recording sessions from the late 1960s through 1971 and taken from recently discovered and restored master tapes, the compilation features some familiar material as Garner plays renditions of standards like "Satin Doll," "Stella by Starlight," "Caravan" and his own often-covered "Misty." But fans will go the most gaga for the included six Garner-penned songs that have never been released before in any form: The swinging samba of "Highwire," a fast jam called "Wild Music" that certainly could stimulate some wild dancing, the delicate "Back to You," "Chase Me," which after a false start boogies like mad, the sassy "Latin Digs" with Jose Mangual adding the Latin flavor with conga drumming, and the funky strut of "Down Wylie Avenue." Besides Mangual, other sidemen here include drummers Jimmie Smith and Joe Cocuzzo along with bass men Ike Isaacs, George Duvivier and Ernest McCarty, Jr. A booklet with several essays, photos and track notes is included in this impressive package.
Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Live - Volume 2
LP 180-gram vinyl, orange and red marble
Here's the second in what will hopefully be a long series of releases featuring live performances taped at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame during induction ceremonies. Most of the performances are drawn from the '90s but a couple are more recent: Jerry Lee Lewis's rip-roaring take on "Whole Lotta Shakin' Going On"/"Hound Dog" is from 2005 and a multi-song tribute to Wilson Pickett featuring Solomon Burke, Marc Broussard and Leela James is from 2006. Otherwise Eddie Vedder sings with the Doors on "Roadhouse Blues," the Who play a slightly sped-up version of "Pinball Wizard" while Johnny Cash and John Fogerty take to the water with "Big River" and "Green River" respectively. Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham perform the delicate "Landslide," the Young Rascals lift the crowd up with their joyful "Groovin'" and there are also two Beatles-related cuts: Bruce Springsteen and Axl Rose teaming for the funky "Come Together" and Paul McCartney waxing emotional on the classic "Let it Be."
Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Live - Volume 3
LP 180-gram vinyl, white and black marble
More one-of-a-kind performances highlight the third release in this set; some of the interesting combos include Carl Perkins, Keith Richards and Paul Butterfield teaming for early rock hit "Blue Suede Shoes," Sheryl Crow sharing lead vocals on the Allman Brothers Band cut "Midnight Rider" and Stevie Wonder, Keith John and Joan Osborne turning up the heat on "I Heard it Through the Grapevine." The goodies don't stop there; John Mellencamp plays his hit "R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A." and throws in a couple verses from "Little Latin Lupe Lu," Aretha Franklin sings Carole King's "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman," Ray Charles performs the understated "Nature Boy" and Damien Rice offers his version of the oft-covered Leonard Cohen standard "Hallelujah." Rounding out the compilation are Traffic with "Dear Mr. Fantasy," a scathing version of Van Halen's "Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love" by Velvet Revolver and a blues jam of "Sweet Home Chicago" by Eric Clapton, Robbie Robertson and Bonnie Raitt.