And three more boxes

Gift ideas for the music fan on your list
By MATT ASHARE  |  December 12, 2006

YOU TUBE: Surrounded is the only way to get your hands on most of Björk’s videos.
A Life Less Lived: The Gothic Box | Rhino | Among post-punk offshoots, perhaps the hardest to define is “goth.” At various times it included everything from the naked, soul-bearing howl of Joy Division to the stylized Bowie-esque Bauhaus to silly Batcave denizens like Specimen and Alien Sex Fiend. A Life Less Lived throws together everything that might be considered goth in a black leatherbound book and hopes for the best. Deep cuts by Joy Division, the Cure, Bauhaus, and the unfortunately forgotten Mission U.K. are among the highlights of a four-disc set that includes more obvious tracks by the Cult (“Rain”), 45 Grave (“Party Time”), and one band I never expected to find here, the Misfits (“Halloween”). Then again, I never considered Echo and the Bunnymen or the Jesus and Mary Chain “goth.”

The Harry Smith Project: Anthology of American Folk Music Revisited | Shout! Factory | When Harry Smith first compiled his “Anthology of American Folk Music” back in the ’50s, he sparked a folk revival that echoed through the ’60s. And when his set was put on CD in ’97, it was only a matter of time before a new group of artists — particularly those of the alt-country persuasion — started to pick up where the folk revival of the ’60s had left off. This two-CD/one-DVD set is the result of a series of concerts in London, New York, and Los Angeles that both paid tribute to Smith and brought together some unusual collaborators. Steve Earle, Wilco, Beck, Elvis Costello, Marianne Faithfull, and Nick Cave all lend their distinct voices to reverential renditions of age-old tunes. And then there are the oddballs, like Sonic Youth with Roswell Rudd, Gavin Friday backed by Don Byron, Percy Heath, and Bill Frisell, and electronicist Mocean Worker, who demonstrate that there’s a whole lot more to these songs than at first meets the ear.

Björk: Surrounded | Elektra | There aren’t many artists out there whose entire catalogue is worth buying yet again. And that’s exactly what Surrounded, a brick-style collection of all seven of the Icelandic beauty’s albums in DualDisc format, requires. But Björk is as much a visual artist as she is a singer-songwriter, and since most of her “video” work is too challenging for MTV, Surrounded is the only way to get your hands on it unless you’re willing to surf YouTube for a couple of hours.

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