Secret Santa

Let the New Times be your music guide during this holiday season

It's the season for gift-giving, but what to get that music nerd in your family? Well, you could try to appease him (or her) with a copy of U2's latest. Maybe you could even cop out and present a gift certificate from Virgin Megastore or Best Buy; it's the perfect way to say, "Hey, I love you, but I don't understand you."

May we propose a wiser choice? Cut out this article, take it with you when you go shopping, and purchase one of the items listed here. We have provided a tasteful selection of books, DVDs, and box sets to guide you -- and add to our promo collections.

Various Artist

Fred Harper

Can’t You Hear Me Callin’ — Bluegrass: 80 years of American Music

Columbia/Legacy

Bluegrass, a confluence of blazing musicianship and traditional music, was "invented" by Bill Monroe and his band The Blue Grass Boys, but as this 107-track, four-disc set demonstrates, its roots stretch back to the dawn of American folk music. It brings together giants such as Gid Tanner and His Skillet Lickers, Molly O'Day, who was known as the female Hank Williams, and modern crossover acts such as The Byrds, Dixie Chicks, and Alison Krauss. -- j. poet

Martha Cooper

Hip Hop Files: Photographs 1979-1984

powerHouse Books

Martha Cooper was one of the first to chronicle the early years of hip-hop culture, photographing its rise from the Bronx tenements to the nightclubs and streets of downtown Manhattan. This text captures the highlights of her archives, pairing beautiful images of b-boys looking fresh and clean with reminiscences from Doze, the Furious Five, Grandmaster Caz, and several other pioneers. Much like Subway Art, her groundbreaking work with writer/photographer Henry Chalfant, Hip-Hop Files combines images and text in a way that makes it universally appealing to rap fanatics as well as appreciators of culture and art. -- Mosi Reeves

Beastie Boys

Beastie Boys Anthology: The Sounds of Science

powerHouse Books

The origins of Beastie Boys songs such as "Fight For Your Right" are revealed in this deluxe title, in which the trio (Mike D, MCA, and Ad-Rock) goes behind the music to reveal their creative process. But for nonmusic geeks, this book's highlights are its images from several photographers, including Ricky Powell and director Spike Jonze. A proper anthology, the book also comes with two discs of greatest hits and B-sides (originally released five years ago under the same title). -- Tamara Palmer

Alexis Rodriguez-Duarte

Presenting Celia Cruz

Clarkson Potter

Whether you're buying for a person who thinks salsa is a spicy red dip for chips or for a bona fide salsero, there's something new for everyone in this exclusive photo album by photographer Alexis Rodriguez-Duarte. One closeup shows the beloved singer reclining in a limo on the arm of her trumpeter husband Pedro Knight, her radiant face framed by purple ostrich feathers, looking up at us as if we were her sun. Nice additions to the intimate photos are personal anecdotes by leading artists such as Marc Anthony and Patti LaBelle, and penetrating commemorative essays by Miami Herald writers Liz Balmaseda and Lydia Martin. -- Makkada Selah

Bob Dylan

Chronicles, Volume One

Simon & Schuster

Those who've witnessed Dylan's aloofness in concert may marvel at his lucidity as an author. Not that the Bobster reveals all; Chronicles reflects the guarded persona of the artist, a contradictory icon who insists he eschewed the title of spokesman for a generation. Nevertheless, despite their lack of chronological sequence and the questions about literal interpretation they raise, his ruminations on his early days as an itinerant folkie in Greenwich Village, the toll taken by the weight of fame, and his near burnout at the end of the Eighties provide a fascinating read. Any Bob-head on your list will find this intriguing if not wholly illuminating. -- Lee Zimmerman

Nirvana

With the Lights Out

Geffen

For all the cynical talk of grave robbing and misplaced mythology, Nirvana's much-ballyhooed, litigation-delayed CD/DVD boxed set delivers an intriguing, entertaining, and periodically spine-tingling depiction of the trio's seven-year journey, warts and all, with none of the voyeuristic guilt associated with reading Kurt Cobain's disgraceful, posthumously released Journals. Opening with a cover of Led Zeppelin's "Heartbreaker" (from their first-ever show in 1987) and closing with Kurt's heavy-hearted acoustic versions of "You Know You're Right" and "All Apologies," most of the 61 audio tracks were previously unreleased. Among the high points: A nine-song, 1988 rehearsal video at Krist Novoselic's mom's house that captures Nirvana in all its nascent glory, well before the tidal wave of fame took its ultimate toll. -- Michael Alan Goldberg

Anthony Kiedis with Larry “Ratso” Sloman

Scar Tissue

Hyperion

It's difficult to take a 42-year-old man who uses phrases such as "rad" and "rocking" and calls every girl he hooks up with (and there's a lot of them) "the most sexually magnified person I'd ever been with" seriously. So why bother? This action-packed biography is best read as a fun romp through the life of the Red Hot Chili Peppers vocalist, complete with bizarre pairings with hot celebrities (Sinead O'Connor, Nina Hagen, Ione Skye), disturbing photos of Kiedis getting high in his pubescent years, and more drug relapses than Robert Downey Jr. -- Mosi Reeves

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