Under the Radar’s 2021 Holiday Gift Guide Part 7: Reissues, Box Sets, and Vinyl | Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Under the Radar’s 2021 Holiday Gift Guide Part 7: Reissues, Box Sets, and Vinyl

Includes Various Soundtracks and Releases by Supergrass, U2, The Rolling Stones, Nirvana, and The Doors

Dec 17, 2021 Bookmark and Share

For the seventh and final installment of our 2021 Holiday Gift Guide we feature reissues, box sets, and vinyl. Included are a lot of nicely packaged vinyl soundtracks from Mondo and others, as well as reissues of albums by Supergrass, U2, The Rolling Stones, Nirvana, and The Doors. There’s plenty to choose from for last minute gifts for music fans and movie buffs.

Also check out the other parts of our 2021 Holiday Gift Guide: Part 1 on table top and board games, Part 2 on drinking, Part 3 on Blu-rays and DVDs, Part 4 on video games, Part 5 on collectibles and toys, and Part 6 on books.

Various Artists: Almost Famous: Music From the Motion Picture (20th Anniversary Super Deluxe Edition) (UMe)

RRP: $199.98

Music journalism is not usually as glamorous or adventurous as it’s portrayed in Almost Famous, at least not in the 21st century. Perhaps in the early 1970s, when the 2000-released film takes place, things were different, but these days it’s all emails and Zoom interviews, rather than narrowly avoiding a plane crash with a band.

Writer/director Cameron Crowe based the film on his own experiences as a teenaged rock journalist for Rolling Stone, even if the band he travels with in the film is the fictional Stillwater. Almost Famous is one of those films where the soundtrack is as essential as the film. In honor of its 20th anniversary, even though it’s been 21 years, the soundtrack has gotten this wonderful Super Deluxe Edition vinyl box set.

It’s got six LPs and 47 songs, including classics by David Bowie, Led Zeppelin, Stevie Wonder, Neil Young, Fleetwood Mac, Iggy & the Stooges, Joni Mitchell, The Beach Boys, and more, as well as six Stillwater songs. One of the most iconic moments in Almost Famous is when the tour bus slowly starts singing along to Elton John’s “Tiny Dancer” and that version of the song including the cast is featured here, as well as clips from the film interspersed throughout the soundtrack. The box set also features a foldout Stillwater poster, a making-of booklet with behind-the-scenes photos, replica Stillwater concert tickets, and a partial reproduction of the fake Rolling Stone issue featuring Stillwater on the cover, including the entire cover story article written by main character William Miller (played by Patrick Fugit, in his first film role). Also read our full review of the reissue here. (Buy it here.)

Various Artists: Say Anything… (Expanded Motion Picture Soundtrack) (Mondo)

RRP: $35.00

Music has always been a big part of Cameron Crowe’s films, going back to his directorial debut, 1989’s Say Anything… The most enduring image from that film is John Cusack holding a boombox over his head while Peter Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes” plays as he attempts to woo Ione Skye. Mondo has reissued the soundtrack for Say Anything… as a 2-LP set featuring an additional disc that includes previously unreleased demos of songs written for the film and the long-lost demo recordings of the “Joe Lies” songs, as performed by Nancy Wilson for actress Lili Taylor. (Buy it here.)

Rupert Gregson-Williams: Aquaman Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (Deluxe Edition) (Mondo)

RRP: $45.00

Aquaman is often the butt of jokes. In the HBO series Entourage the aspiring movie star within the show, Vincent Chase (played by Adrian Grenier, who never exactly became a movie star in real life), played Aquaman in a movie about the DC Comics hero, but it was played off as a bit of a joke, that Vincent couldn’t land a better superhero to portray. Lots of jokes have been made of the years about how Aquaman talks to fish and his powers are useless on land. All of that was swept away when James Wan’s 2018 Aquaman movie came out and it went on to make over a billion dollars worldwide, more than any other movie in the DC Extended Universe that kicked off with Man of Steel. Various women I know consider star Jason Momoa to be a major hunk, which likely contributed to its success, but Wan’s film was crazy and a whole lot of fun, with elaborate and colorful underwater battles and an octopus that plays the drums. Mondo has put out a deluxe vinyl edition of Rupert Gregson-Williams’ score to the film, featuring an extra disc featuring one side of bonus tracks and another side of remixes. There’s also gorgeous artwork by Pascal Blanche. (Buy it here.)

Benjamin Wallfisch: Shazam! Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (Mondo)

RRP: $35.00

After the all so serious (but still worthy) Zack Snyder DC films such as Man of Steel and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, 2019’s Shazam! was a bit of fresh air. Considering the concept behind the character is like Big meets Superman, with a boy saying a magic word and then turning into a grownup superhero, it would’ve been hard to go too dark with the film adaptation. Director David F. Sandberg found a good balance between gravitas and humor, there are plenty of well earned laughs, but the stakes feel real. And Zachary Levi was born to play Shazam!, he really does come off as a kid in a man’s body.

The film wasn’t as big a success as some superhero films, but thankfully enough of one to warrant a sequel, Shazam! Fury of the Gods, due out in 2023. Mondo’s vinyl soundtrack for Benjamin Wallfisch’s score is nicely packaged, with new front cover artwork by Cathy Kwan depicting Shazam! and his best friend Freddy Freeman playing video games (it’s loaded with Easter eggs), while interior images pull from the film’s climax at an amusement park and the back cover features a fully charged cellphone via magical lightning, a reference to one of the funnier moments in the film. (Buy it here.)

Hans Zimmer: Wonder Woman 1984 Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (Mondo)

RRP: $45.00

Wonder Woman 1984 had the misfortune of coming out at the height of the pandemic, last December, after being delayed several times, so its box offices numbers weren’t spectacular. It was also the first film to debut on HBO Max for free at the same time, so lots of people did watch the film at home. Wonder Woman 1984 was a divisive film, but personally I liked it quite a bit and my 8-year-old daughter Rose loved it and even wore the winged gold armor costume for Halloween 2020, a couple of months before the film came out. But even detractors need to admit that Hans Zimmer’s score was wonderful. Zimmer came up with Wonder Woman’s theme for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Gal Gadot’s first appearance as the Amazon superhero, but the score for the first Wonder Woman movie was actually done by Rupert Gregson-Williams (which incorporated Zimmer’s theme in parts). Wonder Woman 1984 was Zimmer’s chance to finally score the entirety of a Wonder Woman adventure and as usual the composer delivers a rousing and memorable score. Equally impressive is La Boca’s cover art for Mondo’s vinyl soundtrack release for Wonder Woman 1984’s score, featuring a profile shot of the hero with her gold armored helmet on. There’s also a note from director Patty Jenkins on one of the interior flaps and side 6 features the bonus track “Lost and Found.” (Buy it here.)

Various Artists: The Suicide Squad Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (Mondo)

RRP: $25.00

What the fuck!? Why didn’t more people go see The Suicide Squad when it hit movie theaters this summer? It was much better than the first film and got rave reviews (Certified Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes). It came from James Gunn, a director beloved for his work on The Guardians of the Galaxy movies. And unlike Marvel, DC/Warner Bros. gave Gunn free reign to create a very R-rated, violent, and hilarious movie. It was the most James Gunn of James Gunn movies. His best movie to date. Oh well, who cares. Those who got it, adored it. And there’s still talk of Gunn doing more work for DC in the future, with a spinoff TV series starring John Cena’s Peacemaker character coming to HBO Max early next year, as well as potential other DC movies or TV shows from Gunn. Like all of the filmmaker’s movies, The Suicide Squad’s soundtrack features an array of songs, some classic, some more modern. We’re talking Johnny Cash, The Decemberists, Pixies, Kansas, Louis Prima, and more. While music wasn’t as essential to the plot as it was in the Guardians of the Galaxy films, it was still an important component of the film’s vibe. Mondo’s vinyl release of the soundtrack features 14 songs from the movie. The front cover is essentially the movie’s poster, but the inner sleeve does feature the spawn of the film’s evil alien starfish, Starro. If you haven’t seen The Suicide Squad yet then do yourself a favor. (Buy it here.)

Mark Mothersbaugh: Thor: Ragnarok Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (Mondo)

RRP: $35.00

Like James Gunn, New Zealand filmmaker Taika Waititi is one of the other auters of modern superhero cinema. His quirky stamp was all over 2017’s Thor: Ragnarok and will likely be clear and present in 2022’s sequel, Thor: Love and Thunder. While waiting for that, you can relive the last movie via Mondo’s vinyl release of Mark Motherbaugh’s score. Motherbaugh is of course also the frontman for New Wave legends Devo, but has had quite a second career scoring movies and TV shows. Mondo’s release features striking artwork by Yuta Onoda. (Buy it here.)

Danny Elfman: Mission: Impossible Original Motion Picture Score (Mondo)

RRP: $35.00

Another New Waver turned film composer is Danny Elfman. The former Oingo Boingo frontman has had many fruitful collaborations with director Tim Burton, but his filmography extends much further, including to the first Mission: Impossible film, directed by Brian De Palma. It’s hard to believe that the first Mission: Impossible film came out 25 years ago, way back in 1996. De Palma’s film had some great set pieces, such as Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) being suspended over a pressure-sensitive floor, but the films have gotten even better as the franchise has continued, a rare feat for Hollywood filmmaking. It’s a testament to Cruise’s passion and drive to top himself with more elaborate stunts, most of which he does himself. We’ll see what he has in store for us with 2022’s Mission: Impossible 7 and 2023’s Mission: Impossible 8. In the meantime, Mondo has reissued Elfman’s soundtrack to the first film. (Buy it here.)

Alan Silvestri: Who Framed Roger Rabbit Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (Mondo)

RRP: $25.00

How do you follow-up Back to the Future, the biggest film of 1985 and an instant classic that is beloved four decades later? If you’re director Robert Zemeckis you challenge the norms of filmmaking technology and make the groundbreaking Who Framed Roger Rabbit, which seamlessly combined live action actors with cartoons in a convincing manner not previously attempted. And unlike Disney classics such as Mary Poppins, the effect actually made sense to the plot, with cartoons existing in Toontown, right next to Los Angeles. Regular Zemeckis collaborator, composer Alan Silvestri, returned for Roger Rabbit and his score has been repressed on vinyl by Mondo. It’s a whimsical and energetic score and features songs supposed sung by both Roger Rabbit and Jessica Rabbit (“Why Don’t You Do Right?,” really performed by Amy Irving rather than Kathleen Turner, who voiced the sultry character). This reissue features fresh artwork from Stan & Vince. (Buy it here.)

Various Artists: The Muppet Christmas Carol Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (iam8bit/Walt Disney Records)

RRP: $29.99

The Muppet Christmas Carol is another beloved family classic whose soundtrack is getting a vinyl reissue, this time by iam8bit (who also produce cool video games). The 1992 film was the first big screen Muppet movie in eight years, since 1984’s The Muppets Take Manhattan. It was also the first Muppets film for Disney. An adaptation of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, it stars a game Michael Caine as Ebenezer Scrooge, alongside Kermit, Miss Piggy, Gonzo, Fozzie Bear, and all your favorite Muppet characters. Like most Muppet movies it was a musical and so the single LP soundtrack has various songs sung by the cast. Iam8bit’s reissue comes in “Ghosts of Christmas Past Blue Vinyl” and “Ghosts of Christmas Future Red Vinyl.” (Buy it here.)

The Doors: L.A. Woman (50th Anniversary Deluxe Edition) (Elektra/Rhino)

RRP: $79.98

The Doors’ sixth studio album, L.A. Woman, was first released on April 19, 1971 and now gets a 50th Anniversary Deluxe Edition reissue thanks to Rhino. The roots rock-influenced album features some real classics, including “Love Her Madly,” the title track, and the epic seven-minute closer “Riders on the Storm.” The reissue includes the stereo mix of the album on vinyl and CD, newly remastered by The Doors’ longtime engineer and mixer Bruce Botnick, as well as two CDs, over two hours, of previously unreleased sessions for the album, different takes of some of its best tracks. There’s also a nice booklet, featuring text by David Fricke and Botnick, as well as photos of the band in the studio. (Buy it here.)

Nirvana: Nevermind (30th Anniversary Edition) (UMe/Geffen)

RRP: $149.98

Every once in awhile a band and an album come along that shakes up the whole foundations of the music industry. The ’60s had The Beatles, in the ’70s it was David Bowie, and Madonna conquered the ’80s. But the early ’90s were all about Nirvana. The Seattle-based band led the grunge movement and only released three studio albums before the untimely death of frontman Kurt Cobain. It was their 1991-released sophomore album, Nevermind, that became the cultural touchtone, soundtracking the existence of many a Gen-Xers. In honor of its 30th anniversary comes this new reissue. It features five CDs and one Blu-ray. Disc one is a remastered version of the original album. The other four CDs are various live concerts from 1991 and 1992 in places like Japan, the Netherlands, and Australia, with most tracks never officially released before. The Blu-ray features a live performance from Amsterdam on November 25, 1991. Also included is a photo book. (Buy it here.)

The Rolling Stones: Tattoo You (40th Anniversary Edition) (UMe/Interscope)

RRP: $197.82

It’s been argued that Tattoo You is the last classic Rolling Stones album. Certainly the band has released quite a few albums since then, up to 2016’s Blue & Lonesome, which will be the last album recorded with drummer Charlie Watts, who died earlier this year, and have continued touring, despite its members pushing 80 now. Tattoo You’s most recognizable song is album-opener “Start Me Up,” which was later used by Microsoft in their Windows 95 marketing campaign. The new 40th Anniversary Edition of the album comes in various formats. We were sent the vinyl box set, which includes the original album remastered, as well as the Still Life live album, recorded at Wembley Stadium in London in 1982, and an impressive book filled with live photos. (Buy it here.)

Supergrass: In It For the Money (2021 Expanded Deluxe Edition) (BMG)

RRP: $29.98

Young Britpop heroes Supergrass turned down the chance to make a new Monkees-like series with Steven Spielberg after the success of their 1995 debut album, I Should Coco, instead opting to record their 1997 follow-up, the ironically titled In It For the Money. It was a more mature album, but no less fun than their debut. The album has been reissued as a three-CD set. Disc one features a 2021 remaster of the original album. Disc two includes B-sides, demos, and other “studio extras.” And disc three consists of live recordings from 1995 to 1998. (Read our recent interview with the band on the reissue here.) (Buy it here.)

U2: Achtung Baby (30th Anniversary Edition) (UMe)

RRP: $84.85

U2’s golden age stretched from their 1980 debut album, Boy, to 1993’s eighth studio album, Zooropa, which is a longer run than most bands get. Some fans still love 1997’s Pop and 2000’s All That You Can’t Leave Behind was acclaimed (although it never did anything for me). Achtung Baby might fall at the tail end of their golden age, released in 1991, but there’s not a bum track on there: “Even Better Than the Real Thing,” “Mysterious Ways,” “One,” “Until the End of the World,” etc. etc. The latter was originally recorded for the amazing soundtrack of the Wim Wenders sci-fi film of the same name. Achtung Baby was already given a 20th anniversary box set reissue in 2011 that featured six CDs, four DVDs, two LPs, five singles on transparent vinyl, a pair of sunglasses, a magazine, and more. The physical edition of the 30th anniversary reissue is much more bare bones. It is simply the album on two LPs, a booklet, and a poster. Still, if you don’t already own Achtung Baby on vinyl, and with the 2011 box set out of print, this is your chance. (Buy it here.)

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