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The best music gifts of 2008

Like a lot of other cultural movements, though, it was the very popularity of the Sunset Strip that led to its demise. City leaders were not exactly happy with the thousands of strange-looking longhairs descending on the area to dance lasciviously to bizarre-sounding music. Tensions between kids and cops boiled over on several nights in November 1966, leading to the riots of the book's title, which it shares with a quickie movie later made of the events. Stephen Stills — then a member of Buffalo Springfield — memorialized the incidents in the then-incendiary "For What It's Worth," which included the stanza: "There's something happenin' here. What it is ain't exactly clear. There's a man with a gun over there, tellin' me I've got to beware." BOB RUGGIERO

Simply put: it's hard to watch this reggae concert DVD while sitting still. From the moment the DVD first begins and "Shine Eyed Girl" cues up, you know you're in for a ride. The footage comes from the band's landmark concert from 1981 at the Rainbow in London, and the original trio is all here: Michael Rose, Duckie Simpson, and Puma Jones. It's undeniably the best unit Black Uhuru ever possessed. From there, you've got the Sly and Robbie combo surging the rhythm section forward. There's a "Memories" section with classic black and white photos from the band's heyday. For a 25th-anniversary edition, there are few new features, aside from the additional photography. But the concert was raucous enough that you get the essence of reggae's "rockers" staged in a unique light; the Jamaicans on stage are wailing away, and the British Jamaicans in the audience are propelling them forward. There's a lot of energy captured on this DVD, and it makes for a good reggae stocking stuffer. JONATHAN CUNNINGHAM

It's not clear whether this book should be listed under autobiography or comedy, and there's certainly no real reason that Debbie Nelson should have ever authored a book. Yes, she's the mom of rap star Eminem, and yes, she has been maligned in many a song by the rapper that few ever took seriously. But here she is, "trying to set the record straight."

Details

U2Under a Blood Red Sky and Live at Red Rocks CD/DVD deluxe edition (Universal)Beres HammondA Moment in Time CD/DVD (VP Records)Parliament-FunkadelicThe Mothership Connection Live 1976(Shout Factory)Riot on Sunset Strip — Rock 'n Roll's Last Stand in Hollywood By Domenic Priore (Jawbone Press)Black UhuruLive in London—25th Anniversary DVD(Nacional Records)My Son Marshall My Son EminemBy Debbie Nelson(Phoenix Books)

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Eminem built his reputation during the late '90s as an MC who rapped about anything to make people laugh, no matter how cruel or crass it was. His mother was often a target of his punchlines, and she spends a fun 226 pages offering her rebuttal. True Eminem fans could purchase the book for an insider's look at the rapper's childhood. Eminem loves to reinvent himself, but here you'll see photos of him as a kid and stories about his numerous run-ins with bullies. It's unclear whether Nelson can be taken seriously. Her writing shows her only in a positive light. But it's a compelling read about a mother losing her son to celebrity and the perils that come along with it. For fans of Eminem, or moms suffering through similar situations (celebrity or not), this book has its place. JONATHAN CUNNINGHAM

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