Making a list? Checking it twice? Here are some guidelines to keep befuddled spouses, parents of teenagers and others on the right track.

**** R.E.M., "New Adventures in Hi-Fi," Warner Bros. In its most powerful moments, the album shares some of the stark obsession of U2's "Achtung Baby," another record that alludes to rock-star isolation without identifying it as such.

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Albums and other items in the Gift Guide are rated on a scale of one star (poor), two stars (fair), three stars (good) and four stars (excellent).

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