The review desk at OnMilwaukee is chock full of fun new gifts for friends or for yourself. Here are some the best we've played with recently.
"Vino: The Essential Guide to Real Italian Wine,” by Joe Campanale (Clarkson Potter)
This beautiful hardcover is a modern take on the classic wine encyclopedia. Not stuffy, not top-loaded with minutiae, instead New York restaurateur and sommelier Joe Campanale captures the dynamic spirit of winemaking in Italy from Piemonte all the way down to Sicily. The best part is that you feel like you’re there in Italy, exploring with him as he captures history, flavors, terroirs, techniques and the people behind the wines – great and small – of this amazing country.
Elton John – “Madman Across the Water” 50th Anniversary Edition (Universal)
Elton John’s fourth album was also his third (!) to be released in 1971 and many consider it his finest hour, but that wasn’t always the case. It was hardly beloved by all the critics at the time and it didn’t do well on the charts, either. But it has, over time, become more beloved for songs like “Tiny Dancer” and “Levon.” This two-disc anniversary set has a remastered version of the album with five bonus tracks plus Elton’s piano demos for the record. There’s also a 40-page booklet with photos, info and more. A super deluxe adds a bigger book, a poster and a live BBC concert.
Larkmead 2018 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
This bottle’s pricier than most that I recommend but maybe you need a splurge wine for a special occasion or a fancy gift, or you just want to treat yourself. SRP is $125 for this gorgeous cabernet that’s light and approachable but complex and rich, with a chocolate and licorice foundation overlaid with a cherry sweetness and herbal notes, too. And it’s from the historic Larkmead winery, founded in 1895. Not cheap, but worth it if you can swing it.
“The Who Sell Out” Super Deluxe Edition (Universal)
This is the dream edition of the 1967 third LP by The Who, with 112 tracks spread across seven discs in a hard-board slipcase including an 80-page book full of essays, track details, photos and notes from Pete Townshend. Plus, like the original “Live at Leeds,” there is a pile of replica documents that are super fun, including concert programs, fan club newsletter, gig posters and more. The music, of course, is stellar. An early attempt at a concept album, some of the tunes were written as mock advertising jingles (hence the album title and memorable cover art), and others have become classic rock standards, like “I Can See For Miles,” and The Who classics, like “Pictures of Lily.” Among the bonus tracks, which include demos, outtakes and alternates, are both sides of the 1967 single that featured The Who covering two Stones tunes: “Under My Thumb” and “The Last Time.” An embarrassment of riches.
"Lennon, the Mobster & the Lawyer" by Jay Bergen (Devault Graves Books)
Amazingly, more than 50 years after the Beatles disintegrated, books about the band and its members keep coming. Amid the rehashes have been some insightful, groundbreaking works, including, above all, Mark Lewisohn's "Tune In." But it doesn't end there. This book, for example – written by John Lennon's lawyer in the case surrounding Lennon's quote of a Chuck Berry tune in "Come Together" and a related bootleg version of John's 1975 "Rock 'N' Roll" album sessions – offers a deeper look not only at that case but also as Lennon as an artist and a private person – a father to a new son, a husband, and a personality that could be both virulent and charming in his own defense.
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.
He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.
With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.
He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.
In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.
He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.