Holiday Gift Guide: Perfect Presents for Music Fans – Rolling Stone
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Holiday Gift Guide 2016: 35 Perfect Presents for Music Fans

From a speaker that fits into a stocking to a TV that will blow minds – but not wallets – there’s something for all

Holiday Gift Guide, 2016

With a growing number of gadgets, deluxe edition LPs and fancy headphones on the market, it can be hard to nail down a killer gift, so we did the heavy lifting, narrowing it down to the best items you'll want to for the music fan in your life – or add to a wish list of your own.

Como Audio Solo

The Modern Radio: Como Audio Solo

Rediscover the joys of radio, but with a twist: The great-sounding Como Audio Solo has built-in WiFi and streams stations from all over the globe. That means reggae from France or pop from Nigeria are just a preset away. $299; comoaudio.com 

The Mini Assistant, Amazon Echo Dot

The Mini Assistant: Amazon Echo Dot

Your wish is Alexa's command – the always-listening Amazon Echo Dot can be stealthily placed in any room so you can ask to play a song whenever the urge strikes. It pairs with Bluetooth speakers and also performs basic smart-home functions. $49; amazon.com 

Shure SE215m+SPE

The Professional Earbuds: Shure SE215m+SPE

The pro monitor-like design of Shure SE215m+SPE helps improve fit, blocks outside noise and adds extra bass. Plus, they kinda make you look like Adam Levine. $119; shure.com 

The E-Music Maker: ROLI BLOCKS

The E-Music Maker: ROLI BLOCKS

Put on your producer hat with ROLI BLOCKS, a mini modular music studio that lets you create digital jams no matter how skilled you are. The Lightpad (each device is sold separately) is touch-sensitive, so you can tap and swipe your way to a club hit – or just rock out with your friends. From $179; roli.com 

The Smarter Streamer: Google Chromecast Ultra

The Smarter Streamer: Google Chromecast Ultra

Make any TV smarter with the Google Chromecast Ultra – it can handle 4K video and easily send content to the biggest screen in the house. $69; google.com 

The Wearable Speaker, Polk BOOM BIT

The Wearable Speaker: Polk BOOM BIT

Drop the tiny Polk BOOM BIT speaker into stockings this year – it's perfect for running and cycling, or whenever you get tired of wearing headphones. $30; polkaudio.com 

VIZIO SmartCast Crave Pro

The Petite Powerhouse: VIZIO SmartCast Crave Pro

The toaster-size VIZIO SmartCast Crave Pro is a fetching wall-shaker, and more than enough speaker for any room. If you do need more power, it connects to other VIZIO speakers to create a multiroom system. $300; vizio.com 

NES Classic Edition

The Retro Gaming System: NES Classic Edition

Whether you grew up playing Donkey Kong or love all things gaming, the NES Classic Edition, a retro remake of the 1985 Nintendo system, will entertain for hours. It comes with 30 classic games pre-loaded, including PAC-MAN, Galaga and Punch-Out!! $60; nintendo.com 

Insignia HDTV

The Affordable TV: Insignia 55″ 4K Roku Ultra HDTV

If you (or someone you love) has been holding off on upgrading to 4K until the price is right, here's your sweet spot: The Insignia 55" 4K Roku Ultra HDTV looks amazing, has an intuitive streaming system baked right in and is affordable. Best of all? No Black Friday to deal with. $549; bestbuy.com

Bob Dylan,’The 1966 Live Recordings’

With the exception of the infamous "Judas!" show at the Manchester Free Trade Hall, Bob Dylan's 1966 electric tour of Europe with the Hawks has only been heard on dodgy-sounding bootlegs. That changes when this epic 36-CD set chronicling every show on the tour, including 18 previously unreleased soundboard recordings. It captures every boo, catcall and fiery rendition of "Like a Rolling Stone" and "Ballad of a Thin Man." "I realize it's loud music," an exhausted Dylan said after getting pummeled with boos at London's Royal Albert Hall. "If you don't like it, that’s fine. If you've got some improvements you can make on it, that’s great. But I'm not going to disagree or fight with you"

Pink Floyd, ‘The Early Years 1965 – 1972’

There are no casual fans of Pink Floyd's salad days, the short period in which they transformed from Stonesy garage rockers into psychedelic mad scientists and then again into cosmic space rockers, before they redefined prog rock with Dark Side of the Moon. The group's ginormous new 27-disc box set, The Early Years 1965 – 1972 – which comes in packaging about the size of a treasure chest – presents an exhaustive look at that period with 12-and-a-half hours of unreleased audio and seven hours of rare concert footage. (If that seems like a lot, there's also a two-disc version.) Highlights include the group's bluesy 1965 recordings with original lead guitarist Rado Klose, unreleased Syd Barrett–era tracks "Vegetable Man" and "In the Beechwoods," hours of video from the Barrett era, footage of their early ballet and concept performances, a jam with Frank Zappa, reproduction seven-inches and memorabilia and much, much more. Some of it has circulated as bootlegs, but it has never looked or sounded this good.

The Rolling Stones, ‘The Rolling Stones in Mono’

This hugely important set is a testament to the living history of what remains the greatest rock & roll band's greatest decade. The Rolling Stones in Mono collects all the albums the band recorded during the Sixties on CD, LP, digital and hi-res formats. The vinyl box contains 16 LPs; the CD version contains 15 discs. There are versions of all the group's U.S. and U.K. albums as well as a fantastic two-LP collection of on-LP singles and EP tracks, including "Con Le Mie Lacrime," a version of "As Tears Go By" sung in Italian, "Stoned" (the instrumental B-side of "I Wanna Be Your Man") and the 1965 outtake of Otis Redding's "I've Been Loving You Too Long." The collection also comes with a 48-page book containing a 5,000-word essay by Rolling Stone's David Fricke and rare photos by Terry O'Neill. 

The Kinks, ‘The Mono Collection’

In the Sixties, the Kinks developed from the raw singles band of "You Really Got Me" and "All Day and of the Night" into the brilliant album artists that crafted classics like Something Else and The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society. This amazing vinyl set collects all eight of the albums they released during the decade, plus the previously out of print in the U.S. mono mix of Live at Kelvin Hall. It also includes the bonus double LP compilation The Kinks’(a.k.a. The Black Album) and a hardcover 48-page book that has interviews with Ray Davies, Dave Davies and Mick Avory. There's also a 10-CD version.  

The Who, ‘My Generation: Super Deluxe Edition’

Pete Townshend dug deep to present the most thorough portrait of the Who's formative years with the release of a super-deluxe edition of their groundbreaking debut LP, My Generation. The five-disc box set contains the album in mono and stereo, as well as a bevy of outtakes, B-sides and other odds and sods. The most exciting addition, however, is a disc of Pete Townshend's songwriting demos from the period. They provide a greater understanding of the depth of Townshend's talents during that particularly fruitful period and show why he's one of the strongest voices of his generation.

Elvis Presley, ‘The Album Collection’

Coinciding with the 60th anniversary of the release of his debut LP, this epic box set Includes restorations of 57 Elvis Presley albums originally released on RCA Records from 1956 through 1977, plus three new discs of rarities from the 1950s, Sixties and Seventies. It also includes a lavish, hardbound 300-page book with commentary, discographies and recording session details. Of course, his early RCA albums and the electric 1968 comeback that spawned From Elvis in Memphis are the highlights but this astonishing deep dive lets you experience and reassess less-known periods in the King's career, such as LPs like Promised Land and Raised on Rock, recorded at Stax studios in 1973.

Led Zeppelin, ‘The Complete BBC Sessions’

This three-CD, five-LP set expands Zeppelin's original 1997 BBC Sessions album into a super-deluxe package that in many ways becomes a kind of shadow history of the band's development from 1969 to 1971. The new edition uncovers eight unreleased recordings they made for the BBC, including a "lost" three-song session from 1969. As Rolling Stone's Joe Levy noted in his four-and-a-half star review of the set, "The songs are familiar, but the protean variations of these renditions provide fresh jolts of Zeppelin's audacious blend of brutality and delicacy, desperation and entitlement."

Lou Reed, ‘The RCA & Arista Album Collection’

This 17-disc boxset contains every album the late Godfather of Punk recorded from his 1970 debut to 1986's Mistrial. Packaged in a beautifully austere black box, it isn't just a fitting tribute to his most iconic recording period, it's also the final project of his life (Reed oversaw the remastering of the original albums). The set comes with insightful liner notes from Hal Willner and reproductions of several promotional posters from the era. A six-LP 12-inch vinyl edition, The RCA & Arista Vinyl Collection, Vol. 1, is also available, comprised of remasterings of his albums from his 1971 breakthrough to 1982's landmark LP, The Blue Mask.

David Bowie, ‘Who Can I Be Now (1974-1976)’

Following the excellent 2014 Five Years 1969-1973 box, this 12-CD box or 13-LP set continues the story from 1974 to 1976, a fascinating transitional period in the artist's career. The heart of the collection is 1974's glam apocalypse Diamond Dogs, 1975's soul-influenced Young Americans and the genre-warping 1976 masterpiece Station to Station. Also included is 1974's David Live, a remastered version of that release, another concert album titled, Live Nassau Coliseum '76, an alternative mix of Station to Station and Re:Call 2, a disc of singles and non-album B-sides. The real find amid all this is Bowie's "lost album" The Gouster, begun during prior Young Americans and discarded; in his liner notes longtime Bowie producer Tony Visconti calls the record "forty minutes of glorious funk."

The Band, ‘The Last Waltz, 40th Anniversary’

The Band is releasing four versions of their legendary 1978 farewell concert film to celebrate its 40th anniversary. There's a remastered two-CD version, four-CD/Blu-ray Deluxe Edition, six-LP Deluxe Edition vinyl edition and a massive four-CD/2-Blu-ray Collector's Edition. The sets include rare performances not featured in the film, including "Furry Sings the Blues" (with Mitchell) and "All Our Past Times" (with Clapton). The CD version also features new liner notes from Rolling Stone's Ben Fong-Torres and David Fricke. The Collector's Edition – limited to 2,500 copies worldwide – includes complete audio, a Blu-ray of the film, a second Blu-ray with a rare 1990s interview with Scorsese and Robertson, a photo gallery and 5.1 audio mix of the original album. The set also includes a 300-page book featuring a full replication of Scorsese's shooting script, rare and previously unseen photos and a foreword by Scorsese.

Eric Clapton, ‘The Studio Albums 1970-1981’ and ‘The Live Album Collection 1970-1980’

Clapton's emergence as a solo artist and the Seventies defining guitar legend is chronicled throughout these two handsome box set collections. The eight-LP studio set begins with his 1970 self-titled debut and goes through his greatest work, including 1972's landmark Layla, with Derek and the Dominos, and 1974's 461 Ocean Boulevard and 1977's Slowhand. The live box collects four live albums on six LPs, including 1970's Derek and the Dominos In Concert and 1973's The Rainbow Concert.

Kris Kristofferson, ‘The Complete Monument & Columbia Album Collection’

To honor the singer-songwriter, poet and country music icon on his 80th birthday, this 16-CD set covers his first decade in music and includes 11 studio albums as well as bonus live and demos discs, chronicling this emergence as country’s first modern outlaw and one of its essential literary visionaries. Two of the concert recordings are previously unreleased. Producer/musician Don Was offers an aesthetic appreciation, titled "Kris Kristofferson True American Hero," and the set also features an insightful essay on Kristofferson's artistry penned by Rolling Stone's Mikal Gilmore.

NRBQ, ‘High Noon: A 50-Year Retrospective’

The eclectic rockers' compile highlights from a 50-year, 21-album, 17-member career as one of America's most beloved cult bands onto this five-CD set. The Q's catalog is far too epic and rangy to absorb unless you're a lifelong fan and this is excellent one-stop shopping, including songs like "Magnet," "Ridin' in My Car," "Me and the Boys" and "Captain Lou" as well as live tracks side-project cuts and several unreleased tracks.

Marvin Gaye, ‘Volume Three: 1971-1981’

The third and last installment in a career-spanning overview of Gaye's Motown years, this seven-album vinyl box set covers of his most artistically important period. Beginning with political and spiritual 1971 masterpiece, What's Going On and ending with 1981's In Our Lifetime and including the sex classic Let's Get It On, the double-LP divorce classic Here, My Dear and his great duets album with Diana Ross, Diana & Marvin.