Music-related gifts are an easy choice this holiday season. Everyone likes music, right? Here are some outstanding record collections for lovers of rap, metal and pop, a pair of fascinating books and some clothes that help musicians in need.
PIANO MAN: Bill Joel is celebrating 50 years of making music this year and he’s reminding us all how it started. “Billy Joel — The Vinyl Collection, Vol. 1” contains nine LPs: His first six solo studio albums (“Cold Spring Harbor,” “Piano Man,” “Streetlife Serenade,” “Turnstiles,” “The Stranger,” “52nd Street”) with his first live album (“Songs in the Attic”) and “Live at The Great American Music Hall — 1975,” a previously unreleased concert recording available for the first time in the box set as a double vinyl album. The box also includes a 50-page booklet highlighting Joel’s early career through archival photos, his insights on his songs, and tributes from fellow musicians, artists and celebrities. Price: $250.
BOOK NOTES: “Music Is History” by Questlove is both very personal and sweepingly grounded in the historical, one of the most fascinating music-based books of the year. The Roots’ five-time Grammy-winning producer and drummer picks one song per chapter from 1971-2001 and let’s his encyclopedic mind fly, explaining the tune in its context, reaching back to its influences, connecting it to its influencers, and exploring pop culture and U.S. history. It’s a tour de force. Take 1976, which highlights Stevie Wonder’s “Sir Duke,” then spotlights Duke Ellington and connects it all to Richard Nixon, the Republican Party and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Questlove also includes great lists, like the best E-minor songs or hip-hop deep cuts. Cost: $30.