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MUSIC

Santasma

A roundup of box sets, the traditional no-brainer gift for music fans

Ray Charles

Singular Genius: The Complete ABC Singles

Even though his most influential and celebrated work was recorded for Atlantic a decade earlier, Ray Charles’ tenure with ABC Records in the 1960s and early ’70s yielded some excellent material, including the classic Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music. This five-disc box gathers all 53 singles, both A- and B-sides, from his dozen years at the label. There are plenty of hits here – “Hit the Road Jack,” “Georgia on My Mind,” “I Can’t Stop Loving You” – but you’ll also find some buried gems from Charles’ most prolific and experimental period. Playing around with jazz, soul, gospel, pop and country, he refused to settle into just one groove on these 106 tracks, upending the very genres he was supposedly paying tribute to. (Concord)

Paul Simon

Songwriter

Paul Simon chose the 32 songs featured on his latest compilation, a two-disc set that focuses on his nearly 50-year career as a songwriter. And as you would expect from an occasionally cranky musician who draws a line between artist and entertainer, it’s not filled with his big hits (though some of them, like “Still Crazy After All These Years” and “Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes,” are here). Several of Simon’s best songs are featured in different versions – live takes of “The Sound of Silence” and “The Boxer,” Aretha Franklin’s cover of “Bridge Over Troubled Water” – and there’s a sizable chunk of space devoted to his recent solo albums, which most fans would agree are far from his finest. Still, Songwriter’s self-curated collection reveals a personal insight into Simon’s storied past. (Columbia/Legacy)

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