Among the off-the-beaten-path ideas are biographies of Keith Richards, Frank Sinatra, Rosanne Cash and Patti Smith, a Michael Jackson video collection, Coachella and Warped Tour-related gifts, and the ultimate Miles Davis collection.
Keith Richards, "Life" (Little, Brown, $29.99)
James Kaplan, "Frank: The Voice" (Doubleday, $35)
Kristin Hersh, "Rat Girl" (Penguin, $15)
Rosanne Cash, "Composed" (Viking Adult, $26.95)
Patti Smith, "Just Kids" (Ecco, $27)
It used to be easier to pick out music for your tune-obsessed relatives. There were far fewer releases than there are now, and unless it was a hot album, chances are good that with enough research one could find sounds desired yet unpurchased. No more. With the instant gratification of iTunes, Amazon and miscellaneous pirate portals, a music freak who wants a particular set of tunes probably already has it, and if not, doesn't want it.
Still, that leaves a ton of music-centric gift options that aren't run-of-the-mill compact discs. Below is a list of ideas for the melodically inclined.
is a high point. Between dishing dirt and co-dependently bashing Mick, the rock god's doorstop reminds us that a passionate (and borderline nerdy) love of jamming is what makes the rock-and-roll lifestyle meaningful. The equally bulky "Frank: The Voice," by James Kaplan, reveals something similar about singing: This hard-boiled, heavily detailed biography reveals that Sinatra's delicate pursuit of vocal refinement was the practice that kept him sane during the rocky first half of his titanic career.
"Rat Girl" by Kristin Hersh, leader of the groundbreaking Throwing Muses, expands upon her teen diaries to confront one cataclysmic year: At 18, Hersh recorded the band's first album, discovered she suffered from bipolar disorder and had a baby. "Composed," by Rosanne Cash, takes a longer view, gracefully exploring how this song-fed daughter of country music royalty learned to take, and give, her own nourishment. And the National Book Award-winning "Just Kids" by Patti Smith, the punk priestess' account of her early romance with New York and with the artist Robert Mapplethorpe, describes the way artists give birth to themselves with more love and courage than any book I can remember. — Ann Powers
"Michael Jackson's Vision" DVD box set (Epic, $39.98)
Fans wary of the controversial posthumous album hitting stores can pick up "Michael Jackson's Vision," a DVD box set featuring nearly five hours of remastered Jackson videos and including a 60-page hard-bound book with behind-the-scenes photos. "Vision" is heavy on Jackson's legendary short films, including Martin Scorsese's full 18-minute cut of "Bad" and the groundbreaking short for "Thriller." Ten videos, including the previously unreleased "One More Chance," make their DVD debut here, resulting in quite a comprehensive gift for any MJ fanatic.
— Gerrick D. Kennedy