Today’s five picks for The 2022 PopCult Gift Guide are all music. I am suggesting physical formats for music because 1) I’m old and 2) You can’t wrap a download.
Below you’ll find a mix of cool music with new releases, reissues, archival collections, live performances and top-level musicians. You won’t find local musicians here today. I’m saving those for later in The PopCult Gift Guide. While the prices range from cheap to the low three-figures, I’m not including anything with a ridiculous price, like Paul McCartney’s $700 crate of 80 singles. These are all reasonably priced gift ideas.
Unless I provide a link, you ought to be able to buy or order these from any retailer who sells CDS or Vinyl. I strongly suggest that you support your local music retailer, but some of these are harder to find in person.
Todd Rundgren Space Force
Available anywhere physical music is sold on CD and Vinyl.
This brand-new release is the thrilling 2022 studio album from rock legend Todd Rundgren collaborating with several peers and acolytes to create one of the his most diverse albums of his stellar career. Includes guest performances by Weezer’s Rivers Cuomo, hip hop stars The Roots, indie rock duo The Lemon Twigs, outsider theatrical act Sparks, electronic icon Thomas Dolby, guitar maestro Steve Vai, Cheap Trick’s Rick Nielsen and lots more.
That’s the advertising blurb above, and this album is so loaded that they didn’t feel the need to mention that Adrian Belew and Neil Finn are also among the musical guests.
Be warned that “Down With The Ship,” Rundgren’s collaboration with Cuomo, based on a sample from The Skatalites, is one of the most infectous earworms you are ever likely to hear. It’ll stick in your head for weeks, if not longer.
Space Force is recommended for fans of Rundgren, his collaborators or anybody who likes adventurous rock music.
Paul Weller Will of The People
Available from retailers who carry imports, or Amazon
This is another three CD set of rarities from the former leader of The Jam and The Style Council.
Back in the autumn of 2003, the Fly On the Wall collection brought together a wealth of Paul Weller solo recordings that stretched back to 1991. The B-sides, 12-inch EP tracks, single remixes and ‘live’ recordings featured all had one thing in common, namely that they hadn’t been included on any of his hugely successful solo albums. Furthermore, in many instances, they’d become highly sought after as the original 7-inch, 10-inch, 12-inch and CD singles and promos that first aired them were fetching significant sums from fans and collectors.
Will of the People follows up Fly On the Wall and takes the listener through a similar mix of rarities, this time spanning the period 2002 to 2021. Like it’s predecessor not only does it make for some great listening but it’s a superb way to hear all those hard to get solo tracks that haven’t been featured on an album before.
This collection has been compiled by Paul Weller himself and Paul has provided artwork ideas and sketches for the design. Alongside this Paul has written track-by-track sleeve notes. The release includes additional sleeve notes from writer and broadcaster John Wilson.
Will of The People is a must-have for fans of Paul Weller. It’s a treasure-trove of gems.
Robert Berry’s 3.2 Alive at ProgStock Double CD and DVD
Self-released. Order it from his website for $20 ($25 autographed)
Robert Berry is sort of the Zelig of progressive rock. He was to have taken over as the lead singer of the Steve Howe/Steve Hackett band, GTR, in the mid-1980s, but that band dissolved before he could make his debut. He then formed the band 3 with Keith Emerson and Carl Palmer, but after one album and tour, those two reunited with Greg Lake, leaving Berry on his own.
Following that he spearheaded several Prog-rock tribute albums, released three holiday albums as the leader of The December People and is currently in a band with members of Saxon and Saga called “Six By Six.”
Before his current project he recorded and toured as “Robert Berry’s 3.2,” playing songs he’d written with Keith Emerson prior to Emerson’s death, as well as tunes from the original 3 project and other prog-rock classics.
From Robert’s triumphant 3.2 band’s 29 cities North American tour, this two-CD plus DVD set captures the band at the 2019 International ProgStock Festival. This 2-hour program encompasses Robert’s 30-year history of progressive rock and features 15 tracks, including Robert’s work with Steve Howe (YES), Geoff Downes (GTR), the Magna Carta Tribute album series, and more.
Featured along with Robert Berry is guitarist Paul Keller from the original “3” touring band on guitar/vocals, Jimmy Keegan (Spock’s Beard) on drums/vocals, and Andrew Colyer (Circuline) doing the difficult keyboards and vocals parts with ease.
Any prog-rock fan should love this. He has long stories about his legendary collaborators between the songs, and in addition to his own music, his band takes on tunes from YES, Jethro Tull and ELP. You get the whole show on two CDs, plus on DVD. And for five bucks more, he’ll sign it for you.
TOYAH Anthem Super Deluxe Edition
This is another import, so you may have to resort to Amazon
During the pandemic Toyah Wilcox and her husband, Robert Fripp, have kept the shut-in masses entertained with their bizarre and delightful Sunday Lunch videos that feature the pair doing their own unique versions of some of the most unlikely songs you could imagine.
This higher profile has remined the public of Toyah’s career as a hit UK new-wave chanteuse and now we are being treated to deluxe reissues of her four-decade-old work with her namesake band. The latest album to get this treatment is 1981’s Anthem.
This super deluxe edition includes two CDs, an NTSC/Region 0 DVD, a vinyl picture disc LP, a 12″ splatter colored single, and a transparent orange 7″ vinyl single. Plus there’s a 44 page book, a 12″x12″ signed print, and four postcards.
The meat of the package is a digitally remastered and expanded edition of Toyah’s 1981 Gold-selling album Anthem. This release presents the full album complemented by 25 bonus tracks.
Among the bonus materials is the standalone hit single ‘Thunder In The Mountains’. Produced by Nick Tauber, with arrangements by the band and Toyah, the album features a line- up that saw Wilcox and Joel Bogen joined by Nigel Glockler, Phil Spalding and Adrian Lee.
Further bonus material includes a six-song live session recorded on 1 April, 1981 at BBC’s Paris Theatre in London which is released commercially for the first time ever plus a previously unreleased unfaded version of the flexi-disc track ‘For You’.
The accompanying DVD presents a fascinating new in-depth interview feature with Toyah about the creation of the album plus a track-by-track commentary and exclusive renditions of three Anthem songs, plus for the first time ever classic footage of Toyah’s 1981 BBC performances of ‘It’s A Mystery’, ‘I Want To Be Free’ and ‘Thunder In The Mountains’ and four different appearances on the legendary Top Of The Pops alongside performances originally broadcast on Something Else, Cheggers Plays Pop and Multi-Coloured Swap Shop plus the classic promo videos for ‘I Want To Be Free’ and ‘Thunder In The Mountains’, both directed by Godley & Creme.
That’s one hell of a lot of Toyah for you. Highly recommended for the New Wave Music fan on your shopping list.
Joe Strummer 002: The Mescaleros Years
Dark Horse Records
Available anywhere physical music is sold on CD and Vinyl.
2022 marks 20 years since the passing of the legendary Joe Strummer. While best known as the frontman for The Clash, between 1999-2002 Strummer produced some of his most exciting work alongside The Mescaleros.
Joe Strummer 002: The Mescaleros Years is the first comprehensive collection highlighting this intense period of creativity and brings together the albums Rock Art and The X-Ray Style (1999), Global A Go-Go (2001), the posthumous Streetcore (2003), and Vibes Compass, a brand-new compilation of 15 B-sides and rarities, including never before heard tracks like ‘Ocean of Dreams’ (featuring Steve Jones of the Sex Pistols on guitar) and early demos of some of the Mescaleros best-loved tracks (‘The Road To Rock ‘N’ Roll’, ‘X-Ray Style’ and more), through to some of the original recordings from Joe’s last ever sessions (‘Coma Girl’, ‘Fantastic’ and ‘Get Down Moses’), all in one complete boxset.
All albums are remastered by Grammy Award winner Paul Hicks (The Beatles / The Rolling Stones / John Lennon / David Bowie) and are packaged in a richly curated boxset, featuring extensive new liner notes and interviews with Joe’s friends, collaborators and The Mescaleros band members, plus never-before-seen handwritten notes, lyrics, and drawings by Joe taken from the Joe Strummer Archive.
Both the 4CD and 7LP boxes include four reproduction lyric sheets and chord charts, and the LP box includes an exclusive 12”x12” art print. Joe Strummer 002 serves as a loving tribute to Strummer’s final musical output, released in celebration of what would have been his 70th birthday year.
This is a must-have album for any fan of Joe Strummer, or his previous band, The Clash. He is a much-missed musical force and it’s nice to have a reminder of his musical brilliance.