Brian Setzer Nitro Burnin’ Funny Daddy (Surfdog)
The former Stray Cat struts his stuff again. Joined by a bass and drums, the band travels back to the early 1960s, lets loose with brushes on the snare and stand-up bass, and Setzer shows his plucking ability on the banjo with “When the Bells Don’t Chime.”
Reba McEntire Room to Breathe (MCA Nashville)
On her 26th album, this Oklahoma-raised redhead spins 12 musical yarns into a blanket of thought-provoking and honest material. With tear-jerking ballads such as “Learned To Be Lonely,” “Moving Oleta,” and “He Gets That From You,” all 12 tracks tug at the heartstrings. No matter how popular her Broadway or television sitcom career becomes, it’s country music where she’s truly at her best.
David Bowie Sound & Vision (Virgin)
This extensive boxed set is a great treat for that special someone on your holiday list. Disc one opens with a demo-version of “Space Oddity” and includes a “John I’m Only Dancing” outtake. Disc two features a rare single version of “Rebel Rebel.” And discs three and four cover Bowie’s time spent on various projects in the 1980s, including his stint with Tin Machine, tracks from the 1980 Baal EP, and numbers from the Buddha of Suburbia release from the BBC television series. As an added treat, the package comes with a limited-edition poster and updated liner notes from Kurt Loder.
— JAMES E. MAYFIELD