is the week before Christmas, and all through the mall, many creatures are shopping, even some guy named Paul. It's officially last-minute shopping season, and if you're looking for hot new releases to buy that special someone on your list, you're out of luck. Very little new stuff gets released this late in the year, it's mostly reissues and box sets. But if you need a stocking stuffer for Dad or Grandma, there may be something in this week's crop of releases that's perfect for them.


Eric Clapton / Slowhand (35th Anniversary Deluxe Edition)


THEY SAY: 2-Disc reissue of Eric Clapton's 1977 solo album.

WE SAY: If you, or someone you know, is among the legion of folks who subscribe to the notion that "Clapton is God," you're already sold on this album, considered to be his seminal solo release. If, on the other hand, you've never understood what anyone sees in this guy, and you think his guitar playing, songwriting, and singing are all tremendously overrated, we have to say we couldn't agree more.


John Fahey / Transcendental Waterfall Guitar Excursions 1963–1967

(4 Men With Beards)

THEY SAY: 6-LP vinyl box set collecting albums from the legendary folk guitarist's creative peak.

WE SAY: The albums in this set: Blind Joe Death, Death Chants, The Dance of Death, The Transfiguration of Blind Joe Death, The Great San Bernardino Birthday Party,  and Days Have Gone By, had a huge impact on both the '60s folk scene and the '70s new age scene. These are legendary recordings by one of the greatest folk guitar players of all time.

tom tom club

Tom Tom Club / Downtown Rockers

(Nacional Records)

THEY SAY: New recordings from one-time Talking Heads side project Tom Tom Club.

WE SAY: Fans of Talking Heads are already familiar with Tom Tom Club, the funk/disco side project begun by the Heads' rhythm section, Tina Weymouth and Chris Frantz, and even if you don't recognize the name, you've probably heard one of their two club hits, "Wordy Rappinghood" or "Genius of Love." Downtown Rockers is more vintage-sounding urban funk-rock. The sound is updated slightly, but you could be excused for confusing this with an album of lost recordings from the early 1980s.


Frank Zappa / The Lost Episodes


THEY SAY: Reissue of a collection of rare Zappa recordings, from his pre-Mothers of Invention period through the mid-1970s.

WE SAY: This year has seen another complete overhaul of the Zappa catalogue, and this curio, originally released in 1993, features previously unreleased gems, including two tracks featuring a young Don Van Vliet (later known as Captain Beefheart). A must have for any Zappa fan on your list.