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Six Picks: Recommendations from the Monitor staff

New vinyl to take for a spin, novelist Francine Prose at her best, a hundred hours of 'The Man from U.N.C.L.E.,' and more.

October 17, 2008

Courtesy of Warner Home Video

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full creedence

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Just after the Sgt. Pepper era, Creedence Clearwater Revival reclaimed the earthy roots that pop music had forgotten and choogled their way into our hearts. Mega-smashes "Proud Mary," "Born on the Bayou," "Green River," and "Down on the Corner" all sounded like instant classics the first time we heard them, with "that voice" – ageless John Fogerty – commanding our attention. Special 40th anniversary editions of their first six albums are now available on CD, featuring original album art, liner notes by leading music critics, and alternate takes.

Play it again... Jimi

This fall, Capitol Records is rereleasing an astonishing amount of out-of-print vinyl, from Jimi Hendrix's "Band of Gypsys," to Radiohead's "Hail to the Thief." The project is called From the Capitol Vaults, and the 180-gram audiophile quality albums – each with original artwork – are meant to appeal to the crustiest of rock Luddites. But casual fans shouldn't be deterred: Is there a sweeter sound than a needle dropping into that old, familiar groove? More info at http://fromthecapitolvaults.com.

MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS... OR PARIS... OR...

Planning a vacation with friends or family? Try www.travelgroupplanner.com, a website that helps everyone be part of the decisionmaking – from where and when to what to do once you get there. Keeping track of details, the site shoots off a group e-mail when anyone updates information. And don't forget those holiday snaps – the good, the bad, and the ugly – that you can share in the photo album feature. Or not....

the man who would be khan

So, you think you know Genghis Khan? Mongol, directed by Sergei Bodrov and just out on DVD, portrays the feared founder of the Mongol Empire as more inspiring leader than vicious brute, and, in his heart at least, a one-woman man. Beautiful on the big screen, it's still stunning on the small.

A summertime lament

After her older sister drowns, 13-year-old Nico struggles to forge her own identity in the beautifully crafted Goldengrove. Having always lived in Margaret's shadow, she still thinks of herself only in relation to Margaret: "I was no longer Nico. I was the dead girl's sister." Francine Prose weaves together Alfred Hitchcock's "Vertigo," Sienese art, as well as the Gerard Manley Hopkins poem that gives the book its title. Most important, she tempers her biting intelligence with a bit of gentleness toward her characters, making this perhaps her most emotionally satisfying novel.

I spy U.N.C.L.E.

Before Austin Powers, there was 007. But there was also the vaguely quaint but charming TV spy, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., played by Robert Vaughn and his blond sidekick Illya Kuryakin (David McCallum, now on the CBS Navy forensics show, "NCIS"). All 41 episodes plus featurettes and feature film are packaged in a "handsome, 1964-style spy attaché case" ($199.99). The four seasons play like an old B-movie spiced up with the cutting-edge technology of the day – slide shows, er, multimedia presentations, anyone?

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