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Gift Guide 2017: Petrucelli Picks the Best Celebrity Bios of the Year (Part Two)

The Wall Street Journal named Uncommon People: The Rise and Fall of the Rock Stars (Henry Holt, $30) one of the best music books of 2017 for a good reason. The book is an elegy for the social concept of the “rock star”. Recent times have seen the death of David Bowie, Prince, Tom Petty and Chuck Berry; with no sign that a new generation of outsized “rock stars” is coming and radical changes still transforming the music industry, it’s time to declare the end of the “rock star” as a social force. Acclaimed music journalist David Hepworth travels through the pre-Internet age of swagger, sexual charisma, self-belief and self-reliance through 40 portraits of musicians from 1955-1995.

Never Look at the Empty Seats (Thomas Nelson, $24.99) We’ll let Charlie Daniels’  friend Dolly Parton review his autobiography for you: “Charlie is so up-front and friendly, we all assume we know everything there is to know about him. Not so. There is so much about Charlie’s life in this book that it would and could make a great movie, or even better, a long-running series . . . very informative and interesting. We all love Charlie, me more than most. Enjoy the book. I did.”

Barthes: A Biography (Polity, $39.95) is based on unpublished material never before examined, and sheds new light on his intellectual positions, his political commitments and his ideas, beliefs and desires. It details the many themes he discussed, the authors he defended, the myths he castigated, the polemics that made him famous and his acute ear for the languages of his day. This biography enables the reader to enter into Barthes’s life and grasp the shape of his existence, and thus understand the kind of writer he became and how he turned literature into life itself.

For much of the 20th century, boxing was one of America’s most popular sports, and the heavyweight champions were household names. In The Boxing Kings: When American Heavyweights Ruled the Ring (Rowman & Littlefield, $36), Paul Beston profiles these larger-than-life men who held a central place in American culture. There’s John L. Sullivan, who made the heavyweight championship a commercial property; Jack Johnson, who became the first black man to claim the title; Jack Dempsey, a sporting symbol of the Roaring Twenties; Joe Louis, whose contributions to racial tolerance and social progress transcended even his greatness in the ring; Rocky Marciano, who became an embodiment of the American Dream; Muhammad Ali, who took on the U.S. government and revolutionized professional sports with his showmanship; and Mike Tyson, a hard-punching dynamo who typified the modern celebrity. A knock out! Mad Dog by Bertrand Hébert and Pat Laprade, translated by George Tombs, ECW PressAnother tome to make book ends: Mad Dog: The Maurice Vachon Story (ECW, $19,95), that explores Vachon’s career and personal struggles with painstakingly detailed historical research and through both Maurice’s own recollections and those of the people who knew him best.

Cleopatra is one of the most famous women in history—and thanks to Shakespeare, one of the most intriguing personalities in literature. She was lover of Marc Antony, defender of Egypt, and, perhaps most enduringly, a champion of life. Award-winning writer and beloved professor Harold Bloom writes about Cleopatra with wisdom, joy, exuberance and compassion. He also explores his own personal relationship to the character: Just as we encounter one Anna Karenina or Jay Gatsby when we are in high school and college and another when we are adults, Bloom explains his shifting understanding of Cleopatra over the course of his own lifetime. The book becomes an extraordinarily moving argument for literature as a path to and a measure of our own humanity.

Before Washington, before Jefferson, before Franklin or John Adams, there was Richard Henry Lee, the First Founding Father. He was first to call for independence, first to cal for union, and first to call for a bill of rights to protect Americans against government tyranny. A towering figure in America’s Revolutionary War, Lee was as much the “father of our country” as George Washington, for it was Lee who secured the political and diplomatic victories that ensured Washington’s military victories. A stirring, action-packed biography, First Founding Father: Richard Henry Lee and the Call to Independence (Da Capo Press, $28) First Founding Father will startle most Americans with the revelation that many historians have ignored for more than two centuries: Richard Henry Lee, not Thomas Jefferson, was the author of America’s original Declaration of Independence.

In Prince and the Purple Rain Era Studio Sessions: 1983 and 1984 (Rowman & Littlefield, $38), Duane Tudahl pulls back the paisley curtain to reveal the untold story of Prince’s rise from cult favorite to the biggest rock star on the planet. His journey is meticulously documented through detailed accounts of his time secluded behind the doors of the recording studio as well as his days on tour. With unprecedented access to the musicians, singers, and studio engineers who knew Prince best, including members of the Revolution and the Time, Tudahl weaves an intimate saga of an eccentric genius and the people and events who helped shape the groundbreaking music he created. This definitive chronicle of Prince’s creative brilliance during 1983 and 1984 provides a new experience of the Purple Rain album as an integral part of Prince’s life and the lives of those closest to him.

It’s easy to call Stan Lee: The Man Behind Marvel (Rowman & Littlefield, $22.95) a marvel. Bob Batchelor offers an eye-opening look at this iconic visionary, a man who created (with talented artists) many of history’s most legendary characters. He explores how Lee capitalized on natural talent and hard work to become the editor of Marvel Comics as a teenager. After toiling in the industry for decades, Lee threw caution to the wind and went for broke, co-creating the Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, Hulk, Iron Man, the X-Men, the Avengers, and others in a creative flurry that revolutionized comic books for generations of readers. Marvel superheroes became a central part of pop culture, from collecting comics to innovative merchandising, from superhero action figures to the ever-present Spider-Man lunchbox.

How did Rich Little become an a world-famous, world-class impersonator? He quips: “Perhaps my mother was conceived by a Xerox machine!” Little by Little: People I’ve Known and Been (7th Mind Publishing, $24.95) is a witty, fun read; not so much a detailed autobio, but (as Little says) “a humorous glimpse of he people I’ve impersonated and some of the funny stories that happened along the way.”

Chris Matthews’ new book, Bobby Kennedy: A Raging Spirit (Simon & Schuster, $28.99) is a gripping, in-depth, behind-the-scenes portrait of one of the great figures of the American 20th century. Drawing on extensive research and interviews, Matthews pulls back the curtain on the public and private worlds of Robert Francis Kennedy. He shines a light on all the important moments of his life, from his early years and his start in politics to his crucial role as attorney general in his brother’s administration and his tragic run for president. This book brings Bobby Kennedy to life like never before and is destined to become a political classic.

Not many people know Wanda Jackson. They should. Her debut single, “You Can’t Have My Love,” reached the Top 10 while she was still a 16-year-old high school student. She hit the road after graduation, playing package shows with Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Elvis Presley, who gave Wanda his ring and asked her to be “his girl.” With Presley’s encouragement, the Oklahoma native began recording rock music, often releasing singles with country on one side and rock on the other during her decade-and-a-half tenure on Capitol Records. With more than 40 albums to her credit, Wanda has proven to be an enduring and genre-defying legend of American music. She details her life and career in the wonderful In Every Night Is Saturday Night: A Country Girl’s Journey To The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame (BMG Books, $24.99). She’s still so loved Elvis Costello wrote the foreword.

In Reckless Daughter: A Portrait of Joni Mitchell (Sarah Crichton Books, $28), David Yaffe draws on dozens of unprecedented in-person interviews with Mitchell, her childhood friends and a cast of famous characters to reveal the backstory behind the famous songs. Reckless Daughter: A Portrait of Joni Mitchell by [Yaffe, David]From Mitchell’s youth in Canada, her bout with polio at age nine and her early marriage and the child she gave up for adoption, through the love affairs that inspired hits, and up to the present, the bio shows us why Mitchell has so enthralled her listeners, her lovers and her friends. It’s the story of an artist and an era that have left an indelible mark on American music.

Hal Prince is King of Broadway . . . and then some. In his pithy and wildly entertaining Sense of Occasion (Applause, $29.99), the most honored director/producer in the history of the American theater looks back over his 70 (and counting!) year career. The book gives an insider’s recollection of the making of such landmark musicals as West Side Story, Fiddler on the Roof, Cabaret, Company, Follies, Sweeney Todd, Evita and The Phantom of the Opera, with Prince’s perceptive comments about his mentor George Abbott and his many celebrated collaborators.  He also fairly reflects on the shows that didn’t work, most memorably and painfully Merrily We Roll Along. This thoughtful, complete account of one of the most legendary and long-lived careers in theater history, written by the man who lived it, is an essential work of personal and professional recollection.

In The Grouchy Historian: An Old-Time Lefty Defends Our Constitution Against Right-Wing Hypocrites and Nutjobs (Simon & Schuster $26), Ed Asner leads the charge for liberals to reclaim the Constitution from the right-wingers who use it as their justification for doing whatever terrible thing they want to do, which is usually to comfort the comfortable and afflict the afflicted. It’s about time someone gave them hell and explained that progressives can read, too. Go get ’em Mr. Grant!

The answer is blowin’ in the wind. Or at least in this quartet of books that celebrate and commemorate Bob Dylan. Why Bob Dylan Matters (Dey Street Books, $24.99), Harvard Professor Richard F. Thomas, a world expert on Classical poetry, was initially ridiculed by his colleagues for teaching a course on Bob Dylan alongside his traditional seminars on Homer Virgil, and Ovid. Dylan’s Nobel Prize brought him vindication, and he immediately found himself thrust into the spotlight as a leading academic voice in all matters Dylanological. Today, through his wildly popular Dylan seminar—affectionately dubbed “Dylan 101″—Thomas is introducing a new generation of fans and scholars to the revered bard’s work. This witty, personal volume is a distillation of Thomas’s famous course, and makes a compelling case for moving Dylan out of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and into the pantheon of Classical poets. You’ll never think about Bob Dylan in the same way again. On October 13, 2016, he the Nobel Prize in Literature, recognizing his countless contributions to music and letters over the last 50 years. His acceptance speech is contained in The Nobel Lecture (Simon & Schuster , $16.99), in which Dylan reflects on his life and experience with literature, providing both a rare artistic statement and an intimate look at a uniquely American icon. 100 Songs (Simon & Schuster, $17) is an intimate and carefully curated collection of his most important lyrics that spans from the beginning of his career through the present day. Perfect for students who may be new to Dylan’s work as well as longtime fans, this portable, abridged volume of these singular lyrics explores the depth, breadth and magnitude of one of the world’s most enduring bodies of work.  Bob Dylan: The Essential Interviews (Simon & Schuster, $35) features more than two dozen of the most significant and revealing conversations with the singer, gathered in one definitive collection that spans his career from street poet to Nobel Laureate.

In the compelling biography Moscow Nights: The Van Cliburn Story-How One Man and His Piano Transformed the Cold War (Harper, $28), Nigel Cliff recounts how the young pianist’s warm embrace of Russian music kindled an enduring love affair with an entire nationand sparked optimism that the two antagonistic superpowers could find a route to peaceful co-existence.  In contrast to the tensions sparked by the Bay of Pigs debacle and the Cuban Missile Crisis, Cliburn brought classical music to the masses.  Elegantly combining the political and the personal, this narrative provides a fresh perspective on the Cold War and its implicit nuclear threat while telling the whole of Van Cliburn’s story for the first time.

Jenifer Lewis bares her soul in The Mother of Black Hollywood: A Memoir (Amistad , $25.99), a touching and poignant—and at times side-splittingly hilarious—memoir of a Midwestern girl with a dream, whose journey took her from poverty to the big screen, and along the way earned her many accolades. In the audaciously honest voice that her fans adore, Lewis describes her transition to Hollywood; when an undiagnosed mental illness stymies her career (culminating in a breakdown while filming The Temptations), her quest for wholeness becomes a harrowing and inspiring tale, including revelations of bipolar disorder and sex addiction.

Hunter Davies, the only ever authorized biographer of the Fab Four, brings together three eminent Beatles experts—Spencer Leigh, Keith Badman and David Bedford to compile an invaluable and essential guide. Divided into four sections—People, Songs, Places and Broadcast & Cinema—The Beatles Book(Ebury Press , $59.95) covers every element of the band’s history and brings every influence that shaped the incredible Beatles phenomenon vividly to life. Hunter and his team have also rated entries to show how important, influential or meaningful that characteristic was in the history of their lives and creations. Illustrated with material from Hunter’s remarkable private collection of personal artifacts and memorabilia, this compendium is an beautiful, insightful and entertaining treasure for any Beatles fan.

Steve McQueen remains the embodiment of cool some three decades after his death. How can that be? Whether on the silver screen, racing a Triumph motorcycle across a California desert, dueling with other racers at Le Mans, or simply hanging with his pals, McQueen exuded an effortless style that belied his rough and tumble past. It’s a trick that ensures he continues to appear in advertising and pop culture all the while embraced by cinema, racing, and motorcycle fans as one of their own. He remains the ultimate guy’s guy. The Life Steve McQueen (Motorbooks, $30) explores and celebrates the memorable aspects of McQueen’s life that, taken as a whole, defined the man and cemented his reputation as a Hollywood rebel and risk taker. Peppered with period photos, illustrations, posters and more, the book surveys the movie roles, racing, personal style, art, and pop culture that all combined to crown the King of Cool and ensure his legacy.

 

Gift Guide 2017: Petrucelli Picks the Best Celebrity Bios of the Year (Part One)

On the morning of January 15, 1947, the bisected body of aspiring Hollywood actress Elizabeth Short was discovered on the sidewalk of a vacant L.A. lot, and at first it was mistaken for a mannequin. The gruesome chance sighting ignited one of the most sensational and flawed manhunts in the history of American criminal justice. Seventy years after the most notorious unsolved murder in American history, Black Dahlia, Red Rose: The Crime, Corruption, and Cover-Up of America’s Greatest Unsolved Murder (Liveright, $26.95) uncovers tantalizing evidence to raise fresh theories about the culprit.  Pulling from recently unredacted FBI and LAPD files, author Piu Eatwell goes further than any previous investigator, untangling the web of secrets and rampant corruption that clouded the Black Dahlia case for decades. The murder became infamous for the frightful description of Short’s severed body and for the confounding clinical way it seemed to have been carried out, pointing to a killer experienced with a knife. Image result for black dahlia deathAfter the corpse was identified as a young beauty with jet-black hair and a rose tattoo, she became instant tabloid fodder. Christened by the press as “The Black Dahlia,” an exotic flower both toxic and intoxicating, Short became a potent symbol of the dark side of Hollywood and a warning to young women about the fatal snares of glamour, adventure, and female sexuality. In an all-too-familiar transformation, Eatwell recounts the swift transition of Elizabeth Short, New England ingénue, to transient temptress violated by a delinquent man (or lustful lesbian lover). This is the best book of the year: What sets Eatwell’s account apart from the many speculative histories, fictional retellings, movies and TV documentaries, is her gripping re-creation of the period through letters, memoirs, newspaper accounts and other evidentiary documents. So who killed Liz? Read and savor!

The second best book of the year: The Way It Was: My Life With Frank Sinatra (Hachette Books, $27). I loved it because I grew up during the years of the Westchester Premier Theater, where I saw all the greats, giving flowers and getting autographs. And we all knew it was run by the Mafia. That’s just part of Eliot Weisman’s candid memoir (he also was thisclose to Liza and Steve and Eydie); the memoir takes an inside look at the final decades of Frank Sinatra’s life. Frankie invited Weisman into his inner circle, an honor that the budding celebrity manager never took for granted. Even when he was caught up in a legal net designed to snare Sinatra, Weisman went to prison rather than being coerced into telling prosecutors what they wanted to hear. With Weisman’s help, Sinatra orchestrated in his final decades some of the most memorable moments of his career. There was the Duets album, which was Sinatra’s top seller, the massive tours, such as Together Again, which featured a short-lived reunion of the Rat Pack—until Dean Martin, having little interest in reliving the glory days, couldn’t handle it anymore—and the Ultimate Event Tour, which brought Liza and Sammy Davis Jr. on board and refreshed the much-needed lining of both their pocketbooks.  Ultimately Weisman, who had become the executor of Sinatra’s estate, was left alone to navigate the infighting and hatred between those born to the name and the wife who acquired it, when a mystery woman showed up and threatened to throw the family’s future into jeopardy. Great fearless stuff!

Vanda Krefft’s The Man Who Made the Movies: The Meteoric Rise and Tragic Fall of William Fox (Harper, $40) is the first definitive biography of William Fox: The fascinating, flawed, and brilliant man who risked everything to realize his bold dream of a Hollywood empire. It took her 10 years to research and write this compelling, well-researched massive tome that has it all: Ambition, genius, vision, glamour, greed, fortune and misfortune unfolding at the dawn of modern America. This is a landmark in film history . . . and the photos have never been seen before!

With his bestselling biography Jack Kennedy, Chris Matthews shared a new look of one of America’s most beloved Presidents and the patriotic spirit that defined him. Now, with Bobby Kennedy: The Raging Spirit (Simon & Schuster, $28.99), Matthews returns with a gripping, in-depth, behind-the-scenes portrait of one of the great figures of the American twentieth century. Bobby kennedy 9781501111860 hrDrawing on extensive research and interviews, Matthews pulls back the curtain on the public and private worlds of Robert Francis Kennedy. He shines a light on all the important moments of his life, from his early years and his start in politics to his crucial role as attorney general in his brother’s administration and his tragic run for president.

If you ask “who?” when we urge Head of Drama: The Memoir of Sydney Newman (ECW Press, $22.95) you will learn that this is the autobiography of the creator of Doctor Who . . . as well as a legend in British and Canadian TV and film.  For the first time, his comprehensive memoirs—written in the years before his death in 1997—are being made public. At the BBC, overseeing a staff of 400, Newman developed a science fiction show that flourishes to this day: Doctor Who. Providing further context to Newman’s memoir is an in-depth biographical essay by Graeme Burk, which positions Newman’s legacy in the history of television, and an afterword by one of Sydney’s daughters, Deirdre Newman.

Cher. Liza. Bette. Beyoncé also needs only a one-word introduction. She is a singer, an artist, an activist, a mom and an icon. In the first bio-graphic book of its kind, Beyoncegraphica  (Aurum Press, $29.99), her genius is explored like never before, with fun, informative infographics looking at the highlights and successes of her career–from costume changes to record sales, http://cloud.firebrandtech.com/api/v2/img/111/9781781316511/Mher impressive vocal range to her work off-stage, as well as including the all-important breakdown of some of her most popular dance routines. Beyoncé’s astonishing accomplishments are showcased against fellow legends of the industry in addition to celebrating her achievements in her own right.

Henry Fonda and James Stewart were two of the biggest stars in Hollywood for 40 years. They became friends and then roommates as stage actors in New York, and when they began making films in Hollywood, they roomed together again. What a wonderful life. They got along famously, with a shared interest in elaborate practical jokes and model airplanes, among other things. For Hank and Jim: The Fifty-Year Friendship of Henry Fonda and James Stewart (Simon & Schuster, $29),  Scott Eyman spoke with Fonda’s widow and children as well as three of Stewart’s children, plus actors and directors who had worked with the men—in addition to doing extensive archival research to get the full details of their time together. This is not another Hollywood story, but a fascinating portrait of an extraordinary friendship that lasted through war, marriages, children, careers and everything else.

Miss D and Me: Life with the Invincible Bette Davis (Hachette Books, $27) is a story of two powerful women, one at the end of her life and the other at the beginning. As Bette Davis aged she was looking for an assistant, but she found something more than that in Kathryn Sermak: A loyal and loving buddy, a co-conspirator in her jokes and schemes, and a competent assistant whom she trained never to miss a detail. But Miss D had strict rules for Kathryn about everything from how to eat a salad to how to wear her hair . . . even the spelling of Kathryn’s name was changed (adding the “y”) per Miss D’s request. Throughout their time together, the two grew incredibly close, and Kathryn had a front-row seat to the larger-than-life Davis’s career renaissance in her later years, as well as to the humiliating public betrayal that nearly killed Miss D. A fun read.

Rolling Stone writer Anthony DeCurtis, who knew Lou Reed and interviewed him extensively, tells the provocative story of his complex and chameleonic life in Lou Reed: A Life (Little, Brown and Company, $32). With unparalleled access to dozens of Reed’s friends, family and collaborators, DeCurtis tracks Reed’s five-decade career through the accounts of those who knew him and through Reed’s most revealing testimony, his music. LOU-REED-A-BIOGRAPHY-ANTHONY-DECURTIS-FIRST-EDITION-2017-BRAND-NEW-NEVER-READWe travel deep into his defiantly subterranean world, enter the studio as the Velvet Underground record their groundbreaking work, and revel in Reed’s relationships with such legendary figures as Andy Warhol, David Bowie, and Laurie Anderson. Gritty, intimate, and unflinching, Lou Reed is an illuminating tribute to one of the most incendiary artists of our time.

The cyclone of stories ABC News chief meteorologist Ginger Zee relates in Natural Disaster: I Cover Them. I am One. (Kingswell, $26.99) is for all the mistake makers who have learned to forgive others and themselves-even in the aftermath of man-made, or in this case Zee-made, disasters. Ginger also opens up about her lifelong battle with crippling depression, her romances that range from misguided to dangerous and her tumultuous professional path. She’s shattered the glass ceiling for women in meteorology, but admits here first, she’s the one natural disaster she couldn’t have forecast.

At a moment of crisis over our national identity, venerated journalist Dan Rather has emerged as a voice of reason and integrity, reflecting on—and writing passionately about—what it means to be an American. Now, with What Unites Us (Algonquin Books , $22.95), he reminds us of the principles upon which the United States was founded. Looking at the freedoms that define us, from the vote to the press; the values that have transformed us, from empathy to inclusion to service; the institutions that sustain us, such as public education; and the traits that helped form our young country, such as the audacity to take on daunting challenges in science and medicine, Rather brings to bear his decades of experience on the frontlines of the world’s biggest stories. As a living witness to historical change, he offers up an intimate view of history, tracing where we have been in order to help us chart a way forward and heal our bitter divisions. With a fundamental sense of hope, What Unites Us is the book to inspire conversation and listening, and to remind us all how we are, finally, one.

 

With his trademark acerbic wit, incisive humor, and infectious paranoia, Dick Gregory, one of our foremost comedians and most politically engaged civil rights activists, looks back at 100 key events from the complicated history of black America. In this collection of thoughtful, provocative essays, he charts the complex and often obscured history of the African American experience. In his unapologetically candid voice, he moves from African ancestry and surviving the Middle Passage to the creation of the Jheri Curl; the enjoyment of bacon and everything pig; the headline-making shootings of black men; and the Black Lives Matter movement. A captivating journey through time, Defining Moments in Black History explores historical movements such as The Great Migration and the Harlem Renaissance, as well as cultural touchstones such as Sidney Poitier winning the Best Actor Oscar for Lilies in the Field and Billie Holiday releasing Strange Fruit. An engaging look at black life that offers insightful commentary on the intricate history of the African American people, Defining Moments in Black History is an essential, no-holds-bar history lesson that will provoke, enlighten, and entertain.

 

Universal Music Enterprises releases a double-vinyl LP “Moulin Rouge! Music from Baz Luhrmann’s Film”

Excited about the news from Universal Music Enterprises? Oui! Oui!

For the first time, the company has released a double-vinyl LP edition of Moulin Rouge! Music from Baz Luhrmann’s Film, the 2001 soundtrack which accompanied the release of his acclaimed motion picture. In addition to its standard black-vinyl release, the anniversary LP will also be released in a limited colored-vinyl edition that will be available exclusively through the online retailer, uDiscover.

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The film, a modern classic, is widely regarded as a reinvention of the film musical. Before the popularization of the mash-up, the “Elephant Love Medley” brought together a distillation of the twentieth century’s great songs into an argument-in-song between the Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor. “Lady Marmalade” created a one-time-only super group. The album purposefully brought together an eclectic cross-section of artists and music creators to make a definitive musical statement at the dawn of the new millennium.  Where else can one hear the likes of Bono, Rufus Wainwright, Beck, David Bowie, Jose Feliciano, and Fatboy Slim all joining in a unified musical gesture?

“We wanted to celebrate the great songs of the twentieth century as a lens through which to view the world of the turn-of-the-century Paris Belle Epoque, while remaining visceral and relevant to the audience watching the film in 2001,” coos Baz Luhrmann.

The album is best known for its first single, “Lady Marmalade,” re-recorded by Christina Aguilera, Lil’ Kim, Mya and Pink, produced by Missy Elliott and writing partner Rockwilder, with the lyrics transposing the original location from New Orleans to the title Paris nightclub.  “Lady Marmalade” reached #1 in its eighth week on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100, spending five weeks at the top of the chart, the third airplay-only song in Billboard chart history to hit #1 without being released as a commercially available single. The soundtrack album debuted at #5, and peaked at #3 on the Billboard 200, while topping the charts in Australia and New Zealand. It eventually reached #1 on the Top Soundtracks chart and was certified in April, 2002, double-platinum.

The song earned a 2002 Grammy Award for Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals and MTV Video Music Awards for Best Video of the Year and Best Video from a Film, along with nominations for Best Dance Video, Best Pop Video, Best Choreography and Best Art Direction. The album was Grammy-nominated in the category of Best Compilation Soundtrack Album for a Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media. Luhrmann (along with music supervisor Anton Monsted, under the music production pseudonym BLAM), is a co-producer on cast recordings on the album. Luhrmann, along with music director Marius DeVries, oversaw all of the cast recordings for the film during pre-production.

The album includes Beck’s “Diamond Dogs” and Bono, Gavin Friday and Maurice Seezer’s take on T. Rex’s “Children of the Revolution,” among the highlights. Other tracks include Ewan McGregor and Alessandro Safina’s take on Elton John’s “Your Song,” Nicole Kidman and McGregor’s love song, “Come What May,” originally composed by David Baerwald and Kevin Gilbert for Luhrmann’s previous film, William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet, but first heard here.

Holiday Gift Guide 2016: The Year’s Best in Music, CDs, Vinyl and Spoken Word

Simply put, the best box set of the year has nothing to do with music. Or singers. Or orchestrations.ssssssssssssssssssssssss Decca has released Shakespeare: The Complete Works, an unabridged collection of Shakespeare’s 37 plays, performed by The Marlowe Dramatic Society and Professional Players. In addition, there are all of the 154 Sonnets combined with the four narrative poems comes together to create an ultimate collection in one box set.

The recordings feature celebrated actors such as Sir John Gielgud, Richard Pasco, Dame Prunella Scales, Sir Ian McKellen, Sir Trevor Nunn, Peggy Ashcroft, Patrick Wymarck and many others. It’s big and heavy and could also serve as a murder weapon. Just in case.

The ideal gift for those who want to keep the “Christ” in Christmas. Bill Gaither’s Homecoming Hymns is a true blessing from Time Life. This must-have 10-disc set is packed with 150 inspirational performances, a bonus 20-song CD and a collectible 48-page hymns book with lyrics.  Bonus content also includes extended conversations with Bill and Gloria Gaither, Behind the Scenes featurettes about the “Amazing Grace” and “How Great Thou Art” DVDs, and an exclusive, new interview with Bill  talking about hymns.gaitherehyms
Since his early days with the Bill Gaither Trio, Bill  has enjoyed a love of hymns. That love has grown stronger over the years, and these sacred gems have reached new levels of popularity during the last 20 years of Homecoming concerts featuring stars of country and southern gospel music.  Time Life invites fans of gospel and Christian music to enjoy an unforgettable collection of the world’s most beautiful hymns personally selected by Bill himself.  The tunes are enlivened by guest performers including George Jones, The Oak Ridge Boys, Larry Gatlin, Marty Stuart and Alabama. The set is only available currently through TimeLife.com or by calling 800-950-7887.

Since he made his Billboard chart debut in 1964, Hank Williams, Jr. has amassed one of the most prolific catalogs in the history of the music business. Curb Records now celebrates that legacy with the release of Hank Williams, Jr: A Country Boy Can Survive, a four-disc box set that stands as one of the most comprehensive Williams sets ever released.
Focusing on his superstar era that kicked off with 1979’s “Family Tradition,” 29 of his 30 Billboard Top-40 Country hits from 1979-1990 are featured on the collection, which also includes nine of his ten number one hits (including his first 1970’s “All For The Love Of Sunshine,” with The Mike Curb Congregation.)hankjrsetThe set also contains fan-favorite album cuts, such as ‘”Outlaw Women,” “Dinosaur,” “The Blues Man” and concert favorite “My Name Is Bocephus,” which originally appeared on his million-selling 1986 set Montana Café. The fourth disc of A Country Boy Can Survive focuses on Williams’ legendary live show, including performances of such classics as “I’m For Love” and “If Heaven Ain’t A Lot Like Dixie,” as well as the iconic title cut–which will celebrate its’ thirty-fifth anniversary in 2017.
The set is available at Walmart, flyt.it/HankJr

With the holiday season in full swing, UMe has several new Christmas collections sure to get you in the spirit and to soundtrack all your yuletide festivities. With classics on vinyl, new CD and digital compilations and an official Spotify playlist, there’s truly something for everyone in every format preferred by you or the ones on your good list.

In honor of Capitol Records’ 75th anniversary, A Capitol Christmas presents some of the most cherished holiday classics from Capitol’s vast catalog and legendary artists. Available now digitally, on CD and as a double LP housed in a gatefold package, the 24-track album brings together beloved Christmas songs from Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Ella Fitzgerald, Dean Martin, Peggy Lee, Bing Crosby and many more. Liner notes by compilation producer Jay Landers tell the story of each song in beautiful detail. Order and stream A Capitol ChristmasUMe.lnk.to/ACapitolChristmas

xmas-cdsThe album that started an international movement is now available back on vinyl. Released 29 years ago in 1987, A Very Special Christmas, Vol. 1 brought together some of the biggest musicians of all time for a holiday album to support the Special Olympics and their mission. Founded by David Geffen, the first in the AVSC series featured a who’s who of artists including Bryan Adams, Bon Jovi, Whitney Houston, Madonna, John Cougar Mellencamp, Alison Moyet, Stevie Nicks, The Pointer Sisters, The Pretenders, Run–D.M.C., Bob Seger, Bruce Springsteen, Sting, U2 and The Eurythmics contributing a variety of seasonal staples along with original songs. With their iconic covers by Keith Haring, the A Very Special Christmas album series has become a perennial favorite on the radio and for holiday celebrations over the years.
Since 1987, the A Very Special Christmas album series has changed lives through generating over $123.4 million in royalties in direct support of Special Olympics programs, thanks to the generosity of top internationally acclaimed recording artists. Since its inception, more than $70 million has helped support 159 countries and territories resulting in more than five million new athletes participating in and benefiting from Special Olympics year-round sports training and competition programs. Each successive album in the series has honored the quality of its predecessors with timeless recordings of holiday music by some of the most influential and talented artists of their time.  Order and stream A Very Special Christmas, Vol. 1UMe.lnk.to/AVerySpecialXmasVol1PR

NOW That’s What I Call Music!’s festive new holiday collection, NOW That’s What I Call Merry Christmas, brims with 20 evergreen holiday favorites spanning more than 60 years, from Nat King Cole, Burl Ives, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Bing Crosby & David Bowie, and Elvis Presley to Wham!, Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Pentatonix, Justin Bieber and Josh Groban. Order and stream NOW That’s What I Call Merry Christmasnow.lnk.to/MerryChristmasPR

For more music to get you in the mood for the holiday season, UMe has you covered with the ideal Christmas playlist. The 70-song collection features some of the biggest songs and artists in the holiday music canon and pairs timeless classics from Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Burl Ives, Bing Crosby, Ella Fitzgerald and Vince Guaraldi Trio with modern staples from Michael Bublé, Tony Bennett & Lady Gaga, Diana Krall, Dave Koz, Mariah Carey, Ariana Grande, Justin Bieber, Sam Smith, Mary J. Blige and many others for an eclectic and festive playlist sure to be the perfect soundtrack for your holidays. Stream the playlist on Spotify: smarturl.it/UMeXmasPlaylist

And so the music is flowing, from A to Z, with the emphasis on Z . . . as in “Zappa.” Following this month’s release of three new Frank Zappa albums, the Zappa Family Trust and UMe are continuing their extensive reissue campaign by releasing five iconic works of the musical innovator on vinyl for the first time in decades: zappaCruising With Ruben & The Jets, Joe’s Garage, Lumpy GravyWeasels Ripped My Fleshand We’re Only In It For The Money. The albums spanning Zappa’s incredibly fertile late ’60s-late ’70s period will be pressed on 180-gram vinyl. Talk about rockin’ around the Christmas tree!

Jimmy Buffett has a brand new Christmas record guaranteed to get you in the holiday mood. Tis The SeaSon, released on Mailboat Records, features many classic Christmas favorites, as well as three new songs written especially for the album.
61ux-3alphl-_ss500-1The 13-track record also includes an updated Parrothead version of “The 12 Days Of Christmas.” Be warned.

What verve! On Sarah McLachlan: Wonderland McLachlan sings classic Christmas songs including Winter Wonderland, O Come All Ye Faithful, Let It Snow, Silver Bells and more. Her signature voice and gorgeous arrangements make this a perfect holiday album.saragmc

The reissue of the  2-disc Christmas With Pavarotti (Decca) features some of the most beloved Christmas recordings from star tenor Luciano Pavarotti, including “O Holy Night,” “Panis Angelicus,” “Oh Tannenbaum,” among other arias and songs.pavarotti

Christmastime in New Orleans is a new album featuring some of the Big Easy’s finest jazz musicians in custom instrumental arrangements of holiday includingneworleans “Silver Bells” & “Jingle Bells,” the latter given a slinky, finger-snapping treatment like none other.

Breaking stereotypical expectations of a ‘seasonal’ album, Voces8’s new Decca release Winter paints a portrait of the season through a sparse and powerful aural landscape, invoking a meditative, inspiring feeling of solitude and union. voicesThe CD includes four world premiere recordings, notably a brand new work “Winter”, written exclusively for the album by award-winning composer Rebecca Dale.

A film as enigmatic as Nicolas Roeg’s 1976 cult classic The Man Who Fell to Earth is always going to conjure up mysteries in its wake and one of the biggest for the past four decades has been the fate of its much-talked-about soundtrack. Long sought after and highly celebrated by fans, the soundtrack of the David Bowie-starring film, has up until now never been available as a body of work. In celebration of the film’s 40th Anniversary and Studiocanal’s 4K theatrical release, UMe is releasing for the very first time the original movie soundtrack, featuring seminal and original pieces by Stomu Yamash’ta and John Phillips, who composed specifically for the film. fellfromearthThe full 25-track soundtrack is available now digitally and on CD. On December 16, a 19-track vinyl edition of the soundtrack featuring just Yamash’ta and Phillips’ score will be released as a double LP. For the collectors, a limited edition dual format deluxe box, which pairs the vinyl and CD releases with a 48-page hardback book with rare photos.  Order and stream The Man Who Fell To Earth: UMe.lnk.to/TMWFTE A limited collector’s edition arrives on Blu-ray Combo Pack (plus Digital HD) January 24 from Lionsgate Home DVD.

Theatre queens, die-hard fans of show music and those who simply cannot listen, not even for one more second, rap, rock or hip . . . enter Broadway Records. Van Dean is the mastermind behind masterful CDs, especially his series of evenings taped live from Studio 54/Below (which also goes under the name of the highly overrated MF). Santa baby, if you cannot bring us the inimitable Charles Busch Tony nominee and drag legend (so brilliant in Auntie Mame), then we’ll take Charles Busch–Live at Feinstein’s/54 Below. On the CD, Busch brings his unique blend of songs both contemporary and from the pas. sdsdsdsdsdsdsdsdsdsdaAs our pal, New York Times critic Stephen Holden, raves “He has the gift of comic gab like few other entertainers. Innately funny, endearing and acutely intelligent, he also has claws. For an audience, the possibility of being scratched, although remote, lends his humor a bracing edge.” PS) Charles returns to Feinstein’s/54 Below on New Year’s Eve at 7 p.m. Hey, Santa . . .

Carmen Cusack’s debut album, If You Knew My Story, is brimming with the deeply emotional stories and songs that brought her to Broadway. Carmen has been widely recognized for her sensitivity to past pains and joys during each moment onstage. After her time on London’s West End as Fantine in Les Misérables and Christine in The Phantom of the Opera, Carmen toured as the leading lady of both Wicked and South Pacific before arriving on Broadway as Alice Murphy in Bright Star, earning her a Tony Award nomination for her Broadway debut. ddddThe album includes songs cut from Bright Star, as well as duets with Katie Rose ClarkJoe JungPaul Telfer and Grammy Award winner Edie Brickell

Adam Pascal and Anthony Rapp celebrate their 20-year friendship with Acoustically Speaking: 20 Years of Friendship–Live from Feinstein’s/54 Below. The intimate unplugged show feature songs that have influenced their lives. ttttttttttRecorded over eight nights in October 2016, Adam and Anthony strip down songs fans know and love, while also offering new and familiar stories of their lives, careers and friendship. Featuring songs from MemphisSweeney ToddCabaretHedwig and the Angry InchOnce and much more, Acoustically Speaking is the perfect celebration of two decades  of friendship.

Two-time Tony Award winner Norbert Leo Butz (and star of Netflix’s acclaimed series, Bloodline) has followed  up his critically lauded first album Memory & Mayhem–Live at 54 Below with Girls, Girls, Girls (Live at 54 Below), a live album of the show that The New York Times hailed as “brilliantly audacious . . . deeper and richer than any conventional Broadway musical.” 61loopkvxkl-_ss500Inspired by Greek female deities, the show illustrates the treatment of women in classical myth and contemporary society. The song selections range from Loretta Lynn and Elvis Costello to Hedwig and the Angry Inch and Johnny Cash.

Set in the wildest decade ever, Disaster! delivered earthquakes, tidal waves, infernos and unforgettable ’70s hits like “Knock on Wood,” “Hooked on a Feeling,” “Sky High,” “I Am Woman” and “Hot Stuff”–plus, and outrageous cast of Tony winners. Audiences and critics went wild for this hilarious homage to the era of bell-bottoms, platform shoes and the hustle.91mvtdemwrl-_sl1500_ From the moment the glitter ball started spinning, there was dancing in the seats . . . and rolling in the aisles.

Jay Armstrong Johnson blew the roof off of Feinstein’s/54 Below with his personal eclectic solo show. Broadway Records has released Jay Armstrong Johnson–Live at Feinstein’s/54 Below, his debut album capturing the electric show, featuring songs from Broadway to radio pop to gospel, with fresh arrangements, a full all-star band, and duets with Todrick Hall, Lindsay Mendez and Billy Lewis Jr. Expect everything from Sondheim to Dixie Chicks.