Music is never out of fashion as a gift idea. Here are some outstanding vinyl box sets for lovers of Neil Young, Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald, Iron Maiden and a certain ex-Beatle, a book about the beginning of rock at Sun Records and another about The Byrds, some tough-looking boots made in collaboration with The Clash, and even a perfume inspired by Whitney Houston.
ALWAYS YOUNG: Neil Young is releasing his 1972 album “Harvest” as a 50th anniversary edition. Young’s fourth solo album remains one of his most beloved, with the songs “Heart of Gold” and “Old Man.” The box sets will be released Dec. 2 on vinyl and CD, boasting the original album, three studio outtakes, and an unreleased live 1971 BBC solo performance on CD, LP and DVD. Also included is the film “Harvest Time,” a previously unseen two-hour documentary capturing the “Harvest” recording sessions. The package also contains a hardbound book and fold-out poster. Cost: $150.
BOOTS MADE FOR WALKIN': The Clash and Dr. Martens — two British icons — have gotten together again for some punk-approved footwear. An eight-eye, high-shine boot ($180) has a military green base, and a three-eye shoe ($140) has a cherry red base. The heels are marked with The Clash’s logo, and each pair comes with a set of dog tags based on those worn by the band, and seven sets of laces inspired by the colors of their most iconic albums. Here's a way to “Rock the Casbah” in style.
BABY ROCK: You can't talk about the birth of rock ‘n’ roll without talking about Sun Records, which recorded Elvis Presley, Roy Orbison, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins and Johnny Cash. To celebrate Sun's 70th anniversary comes “The Birth of Rock ’n’ Roll: The Illustrated History of Sun Records & the 70 Records that Changed the World” (Simon and Schuster). It's written by Peter Guralnick and Colin Escott, and has entries for such hits as “Blue Suede Shoes,” “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On,” “Breathless,” “I Walk the Line,” “Mystery Train” and “Good Rockin’ Tonight." Cost: $60.
SIR PAUL: Paul McCartney's three solo albums have been packaged into a single box. His first, “McCartney,” was released in 1970 and features “Every Night,” “Junk” and “Maybe I’m Amazed.” “McCartney II” came out in 1980 and contained “Coming Up,” “Waterfalls” and “Temporary Secretary.” The third, in 2020, had tracks “Find My Way” and “Women and Wives.” The vinyl versions come in creamy white or black, and there is a three-CD set. They include three photo prints with notes from McCartney about each album. Cost: $40-100.
SMELL LIKE WHITNEY: Whitney Houston's estate has released a perfume inspired by the singer’s “luminous” personality, warmth and zest for life. Simply named “Whitney,” the scent features notes of pear and citrus, balanced by gardenia, ylang-ylang and jasmine. A touch of amber grounds the fragrance with a warm, sensual note, according to its maker. The bottle was similarly inspired, taking its tall, sleek silhouette from Houston’s “elegant stature.” Cost: $9.95 for a 3 ml sample.
BILLIE & ELLA: Limited edition vinyl box sets from legendary jazz vocalists Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald will make anyone's holiday brighter. Never before released on vinyl, the four-LP box collection, “Billie Holiday: The Complete Decca Recordings” has 50 tracks, including “Guilty” and “Solitude,” and a 20-page booklet. The three-LP box set “Ella Fitzgerald: Jukebox Ella: The Complete Verve Singles, Vol.1” gathers her singles together for the first time, including “The Sun Forgot to Shine This Morning” and “Hotta Chocolatta.” Cost: $90 for Holiday; $45 for Fitzgerald.
IRON GIFT: In honor of the 40th anniversary of Iron Maiden's third album, “The Number of the Beast,” the heavy metal kings have released a three-disc vinyl rerelease. That was the album that first featured Bruce Dickinson on vocals and catapulted the band to international stardom, with songs like “Run To the Hills” and "Murders In the Rue Morgue.” In the set, the band is also offering for the first time on vinyl their live concert from March 1982 at Hammersmith Odeon in London, “Beast Over Hammersmith.” Cost: $49.50.
BYRDS, PART ONE: “ The Byrds: 1964-1967” is a 400-page coffee-table photo book that was curated by the band’s three surviving founding members. It is available in three versions, signed by the surviving members, Chris Hillman, Roger McGuinn and David Crosby. The book features more than 500 images from legendary photographers such as Henry Diltz, Barry Feinstein, Curt Gunther, Jim Marshall, Linda McCartney, Tom Gundelfinger O’Neal and Guy Webster, as well as restored images from the Columbia Records archives. Cost: $125-$1,700.
BIRDS, PART TWO: Fans of our feathered friends may love a massive, 20-LP set containing 242 recordings of original songs and readings inspired by or incorporating birdsong — all to benefit the National Audubon Society. Some of the artists included in The Birdsong Project are Mark Ronson, Beck, Karen O, Nick Cave, Elvis Costello, Robert Pattinson, Jonathen Franzen, The Flaming Lips, Bobby Cannavale, Greta Gerwig and Ad-Rock. There's also a 60-page book with essays from Randall Poster and Shearwater’s Jonathan Meiburg, and 27 artists contributed original paintings and illustrations. Cost: $400-$440 depending on outlet.
TOP OF THE CHARTS: Who has the best album in the land? Rolling Stone magazine has weighed into such a fraught and contentious debate with “The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time." This is a book that will spark a thousand arguments — is “Superfly” by Curtis Mayfield better than “Red” by Taylor Swift and is Pearl Jam's “Ten” correctly ranked above “The Bends” by Radiohead? The magazine got its ranking by polling critics and musicians like Stevie Nicks, Questlove and Beyoncé. Let the debates begin (likely as soon as this gift is unwrapped). Cost: $50.
For more AP Gift Guides, go to https://apnews.com/hub/gift-guide.
Mark Kennedy is at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwits