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Great music in a box

Boxed sets, greatest hits and other holiday suggestions

By Todd Leopold

Marah, Brian Wilson, Nancy Sinatra and Green Day produced some of the best albums of the year. There are also several terrific box sets to choose from.
Nancy Sinatra
Miles Davis
Brian Wilson

(CNN) -- If you're looking for a gift with soul, no problem.

If you're looking for a gift that's loud and edgy, that's easy enough.

If you're looking for a gift that taps into a fondness for nostalgia, a love of history or an affection for camp, there's plenty to fill the bill.

Music is, after all, as varied as the people who make it -- or enjoy it, or buy it.

Among 2004's boxed sets, best-of collections and samplings of musical pasts are a four-disc compilation of bluegrass music; a Rhino set devoted to 1980s college radio music; newly remastered versions of the Beatles' first four American album releases on Capitol; and a beautifully packaged seven-disc collection of Miles Davis' 1963-64 work on Columbia, a period when he was assembling his "Second Great Quintet."

Not covered in the accompanying gallery -- but well worth checking out -- are some of the terrific new releases from the past year, including:

  • Marah's "20,000 Streets Under the Sky" (Yep Roc), which features a passionate, ambitious urban rawness that hearkens back to Bruce Springsteen's greatest work;
  • "Brian Wilson Presents Smile" (Nonesuch), the Beach Boy's stunning evocation of his 1967 "lost" classic;
  • "Nancy Sinatra" (Sanctuary), in which Ol' Blue Eyes' daughter comes across with a "Dusty in Memphis" soulfulness -- and expresses a world-weary depth her father would be proud of;
  • and Green Day's profound (!) "American Idiot" (Warner Bros.).
  • There's music in abundance. Click here for a variety of choices from 2004.

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