Holiday Gift Picks from Rhythm Planet

For those of you just getting started on your holiday shopping, we thought we’d round up a few gift ideas for music lovers. Below you’ll see a list of our Rhythm Planet holiday recommendations for all budget sizes. Who knows? You might find something that catches your fancy that’ll help tick a name off your list!

Designed for Hi-Fi Living: The Vinyl LP in Midcentury America |
by Janet Borgerson & Jonathan Schroeder; MIT Press, $34.95 for hardcover

Album covers from left to right: Courtesy of MIT Press, from Designed for Hi-Fi Living: The Vinyl LP in Midcentury AmericaChristmas in Cuba, Fernando Albuerne and Coro de Madrigalists, Capitol Records. Holiday Abroad in Rome, Carlo Savena and his Orchestra, RCA Victor LPM 1595, cover illustration by Mozelle Thompson.

At first, I thought Designed for Hi-Fi Living: The Vinyl LP in Midcentury America would be another hi-fi fluff book filled with mostly vintage images, but this terrific book proved to be much more than that. It’s a fascinating look at how postwar America developed its affinity for the 33⅓ rpm LP records that enhanced leisure at home, inspired air travel and adventure—not to mention dreams about exotic, faraway places—and romantic flights of fancy. Thanks to classic LPs, Americans were afforded musical journeys to destinations like Paris, Havana, the Caribbean, Hawaii, India, China, and Japan. Other LP titles include those in a series on Dinner Music: “Music for a French Dinner at Home,” “Music for an Italian Dinner at Home,” and “Music for a German Dinner at Home” to help set the stage for your very own culinary adventures in the kitchen. This book makes a great gift for the music lover who loves midcentury design and travel.

Tribute to Ndiouga Dieng by Orchestra Baobab | World Circuit Records, $13.99 for CD or $21.98 for vinyl

For the African music lover, I recommend this tasty new release from Senegal’s Orchestra Baobab, named for the iconic African tree. Their rhythmic and soulful sounds are a sublime mélange of Cuban son and West African groove. The latest album was produced in a Dakar studio by World Circuit Records—the same folks behind the Buena Vista Social Club, so you know they really know their stuff. Tribute to Ndiouga Dieng is an homage to one of Baobab’s founding vocalists. For audiophiles, it’s also available on great-sounding vinyl.

Ladilikan by Trio Da Kali & Kronos Quartet | World Circuit, $16.98 for CD or $21.98 for vinyl

Kronos Quartet and Trio Da Kali. Photo © Jay Blakesberg

The Kronos Quartet is one of the most adventurous and versatile chamber groups ever. Following their 1992 release that explored African music, Pieces of Africa, they’ve now combined forces with the fine Malian musicians of Trio Da Kali. The result is a triumph of synergy, proving that stuffy chamber music can cross boundaries and be truly exciting. Ladilikan is an excellent pick for any world music fan.

Vinyl Record Pedestal from Waxrax | $850

Tired of having your LPs strewn all over the floor and covered in pet fur or stacked precariously in milk crates? This stainless steel vinyl record pedestal with black powder-coated rings is an attractive way to organize and show off your vinyl, so you’ll never have to go searching for another misplaced album again. With all of the renewed interest in vinyl and record collecting, this is a wonderful—even if a bit extravagant—accoutrement for you or any other vinyl lover in your life. Waxrax also offers a variety of other vinyl storage options on their website.

A New Career in a New Town (1977–1982) by David Bowie | $109.69 for the 11 CD set or $197.19 for 13 180g audiophile vinyl albums

David Bowie live. Photo © 1978 Andrew King

Last but not least, A New Career in a New Town is an exceptionally produced set that features David Bowie’s groundbreaking “Berlin Trilogy” (LowHeroesLodger), the albums Stage and Scary Monsters, plus collected rarities and singles released between 1977 and 1982. The remastered box set comes with an 84-page booklet of photographs, lyrics and reviews, in addition to an intimate blow-by-blow of recording sessions with longtime Bowie collaborator and producer Tony Visconti. The artistic and sonic quality of this collection is evident in the noiseless vinyl and the faithful reproductions of his album covers. The set even includes small details such as a 1970s circular from the David Bowie Fan Club. It’s an amazing holiday gift for any Bowie fan, or anyone who wants to revisit the period of Bowie’s career that defined him as a titan of rock music.

Banner image: Christmas Holidays at Radio City Music Hall, 1958, RCA Victor. Courtesy of MIT Press, from Designed for Hi-Fi Living: The Vinyl LP in Midcentury America.