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Christmas gifts for music lovers: Sonic suggestions for silly season

There are hundreds of box sets on offer as vinyl continues to boom in 2021
There are hundreds of box sets on offer as vinyl continues to boom in 2021   -   Copyright  Canva
By Shannon McDonagh  & AP

Music-related gifts are an easy choice this holiday season.

Whether it's deluxe vinyl box by Metallica or stunning photo books documenting Billie Eilish's rise to fame, there's something for everyone this year.

Here are some outstanding ideas for lovers of rap, metal and pop, as well as some literature for your favourite melophiles whose tastes are too broad to pin down the perfect gift.

Piano man: A nine-LP Billy Joel collection celebrating big hits and rough cuts

AP
Billy Joel's first six albums come in the vinyl collectionAP

Billy Joel is celebrating 50 years of making music this year and he's reminding us all how it started.

'Billy Joel — The Vinyl Collection, Vol. 1' contains nine LPs: His first six solo studio albums (Cold Spring Harbor, Piano Man, Streetlife Serenade, Turnstiles, The Stranger, 52nd Street) with his first live album (Songs in the Attic) and Live at The Great American Music Hall — 1975, a previously unreleased concert recording available for the first time in the box set as a double vinyl album.

The box also includes a 50-page booklet highlighting Joel's early career through archival photos, his insights on his songs, and tributes from fellow musicians, artists and celebrities.

Price: $250 (€217)

Book notes: Questlove's encyclopaedic look at pop culture

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Abrams Books released Questlove's Music Is History just in time for ChristmasAP

'Music Is History' by The Roots' Questlove is both very personal and sweepingly grounded in the historical, one of the most fascinating music-based books of the year.

The Roots' five-time Grammy-winning producer and drummer picks one song per chapter from 1971-2001 and lets his encyclopaedic mind fly, explaining the tune in its context, reaching back to its influences, connecting it to its influencers, and exploring pop culture and US history.

It's a tour de force. Take 1976, which highlights Stevie Wonder's Sir Duke, then spotlights Duke Ellington and connects it all to Richard Nixon, the Republican Party and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Questlove also includes great lists, like the best E-minor songs or hip-hop deep cuts.

Price: $30 (€22)

Heavy Box: Metallica's 'Black Album' honoured for its 30th anniversary

AP
Metallica's Blacklist features covers by everyone from Miley Cyrus to Elton JohnAP

Metallica's 1991 self-titled LP, generally known as the 'Black Album,' is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, and one way to join in is by listening to a whole lot of people who aren't in Metallica.

'The Metallica Blacklist' is a four-hour, 53-track behemoth of covers by artists including Phoebe Bridgers, Miley Cyrus, St. Vincent, Weezer and Elton John.

They tackle legendary tracks from the album, including Enter Sandman, The Unforgiven, Nothing Else Matters, Wherever I May Roam and Sad But True.

The seven-LP vinyl box set retails for $150, a 4-CD version is $30 and the digital download costs $50. All profits go to the charities of each contributing artist's choice along with Metallica's own foundation, All Within My Hands.

Price: Ranges from $30 (€22) for the CD collection to $150 (€111) for the box set

Rap this up: Lil Wayne's singles collection embodied in 'Tha Carter'

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Lil Wayne's Tha Carter IV went five times platinum in the USAP

Lil Wayne's 'Tha Carter Singles Collection,' which features 19 of the rapper's hit 45 rpm records, including A Milli, Hustler Musik, How to Love and the unreleased until now Carter III-era song Ya Dig.

Two liner lithographs and a booklet filled with never-before-seen photos are included in the box, which is decorated with Lil Wayne's tattoos.

The rapper - once the youngest signee to prolific rap label Young Money - has thirteen albums to his name. Arguably, his five most successful are serialised as editions Tha Carter, after his birth name Dwayne Michael Carter Jr.

Tha Carter III, Tha Carter IV and Tha Carter V all reached top spots in 2008, 2011 and 2018, respectively.

Price: $200 (€150)

The gift of Billie: life through the eyes of the Grammy-winning teen

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Grand Central Publishing's 'Billie Eilish' is widely available across Europe nowAP/AP

How did Billie Eilish become Billie Eilish? You can learn in her songs, or the Apple+ doc 'Billie Eilish: The World's a Little Blurry.'

But there are also the hundreds of photos of her growing up in Grand Central Publishing's 'Billie Eilish.' There's one of her as an infant in a sling worn by her father as he plays the piano, and another of her and her brother, Finneas, looking mischievous as small children. "I just want you to see me and see my life, with your own eyes," she writes in the introduction.

"I want to give you a big pile of pictures that speak for themselves." They are at the same time deeply intimate snaps of a future Grammy-winning artist and yet often just ordinary shots of a child growing up in what seems a loving home.

Price: $35 (€26)

Do good, look great: support for ill musicians with Sweet Relief tees

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Sweet Relief benefits career musicians who are struggling to make ends meet while facing hardshipsAP

The nonprofit Sweet Relief Musicians Fund provides assistance to all types of career musicians who are struggling to make ends meet while facing illness, disability or age-related problems.

One way to help Sweet Relief help others is to help yourself or your loved ones to some cool music-themed merch, from totes, T-shirts, tank tops, caps, mugs, bags, sweatshirts and more. Check out their Music Heals and Music Is Love lines.

Proceeds from each purchase go to help those in need.

Candid camera: a photobook courtesy of Graham Nash

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“I've been a very lucky man in some very strange places" - Graham NashAP Photo

Singer-songwriter Graham Nash has been taking photographs longer than he's been making music.

His collection of images over the years — A Life in Focus: The Photography of Graham Nash, out Nov. 30 — captures unguarded many fellow celebrities like Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Mama Cass Elliott, Twiggy and, of course, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young.

"I've been a very lucky man in some very strange places," Nash writes in the introduction. Many of the images have a surreal flavor, some have a political vibe and some are just random subject he encountered on a street.

Price: $60 (€44)