2013 Holiday Gift Guide: Music Box Sets and Films

We must give the music industry credit: just when it appears that they have completely run out of ways to spin their back catalogs into gold for the umpteenth time, they find a way. (They’re nothing if not survivalists, those guys.) In addition to featuring a number of big box sets this year, we’ve also included some excellent concert films, as well as one The Beatles’ most famous movies.

Click on the image next to each item to purchase it online, and for more gift ideas, check out the other categories in our Holiday Gift Guide.

Bob Dylan – The Complete Album Collection V.1

Box sets often make for great gifts, and this mega-set will put a smile on the face of any serious Bob Dylan fan. The CD set contains 35 studio titles (including the first-ever North American release of 1973′s Dylan album on CD), six live albums, and a hardcover book featuring extensive new album-by-album liner notes penned by Clinton Heylin and a new introduction written by Bill Flanagan. It also includes two “Side Tracks” discs that include a wealth of previously released non-album singles, tracks from various compilations and songs from films. This set is also available as a limited-edition harmonica-shaped USB stick containing all the music, in both MP3 and FLAC lossless formats, with a digital version of the hardcover booklet, but according to the reviews on Amazon, you should probably stick with the CD box set.

The Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert

Finally. After 21 years, the full April 1992 show featuring the surviving members of Queen fronted by a murderer’s row of early ‘90s rock star gods (and Liza Minnelli) is seeing the light of day, and on Blu-ray, to boot. (Inexplicably, the DVD of the set is still missing a few songs.) Extreme’s medley of Queen tracks has been added, as have sets by Metallica, Guns ‘n Roses and even Saint Bob Geldof (and Spinal Tap appears on the Blu-ray). The main show features one showstopper after another, whether it’s James Hetfield singing “Stone Cold Crazy,” George Michael singing “Somebody to Love,” Def Leppard’s Joe Elliott banging out “Tie Your Mother Down,” or Elton John and Axl Rose teaming up to take on “Bohemian Rhapsody.” The bonus featurettes from the 2002 DVD release are here as well. For the Queen fan in your life (or even the Muse fan in your life), this is a slam dunk.

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Book Review: The Bearded Gentleman: The Style Guide to Shaving Face

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Our introduction to Dr. Allan Peterkin happened a few months ago when we were lucky enough to interview the physician, author and professor and ask him several semi-serious questions about being a man with facial hair; the pitfalls, the perks, the women… ahhhh, the women.

“The Bearded Gentleman: The Style Guide to Shaving Face” piqued my interest in being a man again. Since the divorce, the flame had certainly flickered. I got my hands on a copy and the book is fantastic. It is the de facto quick reference guide on personal style in relation to facial hair ever created, and I am including “The Bible” in that generalization as well.

Dr. Allan Peterkin and Nick (side) Burns toe the line between tongue and cheek humor and historical analysis beautifully. You didn’t know a beard could be “historically analyzed,” did you? Read on, young brother.

The book is an easy read, weighing in at 142 pages comprised of five chapters. But so much ground is covered effortlessly that it could easily be 500 pages. In terms of usefulness, it could be 700 hundred pages. In terms of making you a better “beardsman,” it could be 1,000,000 pages; imagine the size of that book.

“The Bearded Gentleman” opens by addressing the age old question about beard growth in chapter one, “Should I Shave or Should I Grow?” It also attacks myths associated with beards and shaving head-on, leaving the reader with an authoritative answer on things we want to know, but forgot we wanted to know them.

Then, if we were to remember that we wanted to know them, we’d most certainly forget when being in the physical presence of a man with that breadth of knowledge, a man like Dr. Peterkin.

For instance, the number one myth about facial hair and styling is that shaving more actually makes hair grow faster or thicker. In fact, it does not have either effect owing to the fact that, “Facial hair is dead. It just seems thicker when it’s short. When you shave a hair, a once fine point becomes a blunt end, which feels thicker to the touch.”

Aren’t much for the book learnin’ Cletus? Well, calm down, fella. There are 50-plus pages detailing every style of facial hair you can think of, with pictures.

The weird shit that hipster was rocking on his facial canvas when you were in line at the post office the other day? Yeah, there’s a name for that. It’s called the “Garibaldi Beard.” From the “Freddie Mercury” to the “The French Fork,” there are images of each, alongside descriptions of how to achieve the look.

The book also addresses the social stigma associated with facial hair and what is socially acceptable in a classic Q&A format. For example, “Both my dad and my dentist now have goatees. Should I shave mine off?”

“The Bearded Gentleman: The Style Guide to Shaving Face” is the perfect gift for the man in your life, or your mother-in-law who rocks a grey-haired goatee and is seemingly oblivious to it, though it makes everyone else around her so uncomfortable, they can’t even stand to look at her.

To order the book, click here. To write Dr. Peterkin a “Lust Letter,” check out his site here.

  

DVD Review: Queen: Days of Our Lives

The big selling point of “Days of Our Lives,” the exhaustive two-hour BBC documentary on epic rock quartet Queen, is the material culled from the band’s very early days and their very last days. There are live performances from Smile, the group guitarist Brian May and drummer Roger Taylor formed before Queen, and some video of future singer Fredde Mercury singing “Big Spender.” The later footage, shot on the sets of the last music videos Mercury would perform, his body slowly but surely being ravaged by AIDS, are at once heart-warming and devastating. Mercury was positively gaunt, yet he gathered every ounce of will he could muster to go out fighting.

May and Taylor are wonderfully candid in their interviews, as are fellow managers, producers, roadies, and side men they recruited. (They even brought in Ultravox’s Midge Ure to talk about the band’s legendary performance at Live Aid.) Everyone has good stories to tell, and there are no attempts at revisionist history. If an album didn’t work – say, 1982′s Hot Space – they own up to it, and May is the first to admit that some bad business decisions early on led rendered them financially destitute for years, and it was out of desperation from that that they made A Night at the Opera. Best of all, each album is given an equal amount of coverage, with the exception of the soundtrack to “Flash Gordon,” of which the title track is played but never discussed.

The one unfortunate aspect of “Days of Our Lives” is that bassist John Deacon did not come back to do an interview, so the producers were forced to rely on archive interview footage for half the band. Yes, he’s retired from performing, but this seems like as good an occasion as any to put the Queen hat back on for a day and talk shop. It’s a small quibble, though, because the documentary hits all of the highlights of a truly remarkable career…with one small exception: there is no mention of the “Bohemian Rhapsody” scene from “Wayne’s World.” We would have loved to see them talk about that. (Eagle Vision 2012)

Click to buy “Queen: Days of Our Lives” from Amazon

  

Friday Video – Queen, “Stone Cold Crazy”

Ladies and gentlemen, the first speed metal song.

Freddie Mercury, man. They just don’t make singers like that anymore.

And, if you’re looking for something more contemporary, here’s Trent Reznor’s remix of the song. RAWK! _\m/

  

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