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Christmas GiftFor a brief time, I'm offering free MP3's of a five treasures from my voluminous collection - songs I love and that I'm confident you can't find easily at any store. These are relatively lo-fi files (128 kbps), so no one should get too upset (we hope) at this petty larceny. Click on the pictures, song titles, or MP3 links to get your Christmas off to a rockin' start! Like Phil Spector, I'm pleased to offer this Christmas gift for you.

Randy Anthony

Shelby Lynne Shelby Lynne, "Squat" (2003)
The sultry Ms. Lynne has conducted an unpredictable career ranging from revved-up western swing (Temptation, 1993) to blues-inflected alternative country (I Am Shelby Lynne, 2000). Regardless of venue, her amazing pipes are always the focus, whether wailing like Patsy Cline or digging deep like Janis Joplin. She was in the latter mode when waxing "Squat," which was released exclusively to radio for as part of Capitol Records' promotional push for Lynne's album, Identity Crisis. A tawdry tale of Christmas dreams fallen prey to trailer park turpitude, "Squat" is the punch line to the musical question, "Guess what Shelby got for Christmas?"

speaker MP3, 2.2 MB (ripped from CD)

E, "Everything's Gonna Be Cool This Christmas" (1993)
The best-known version of this wryly uplifting song was released on Christmas In The LBC, a 1996 compilation from L.A. shock jocks Kevin & Bean, then more widely released in 1998 on It's A Cool, Cool Christmas, an offering from British radio station XFM. Credited to the Eels (a group that barely exists beyond redoubtable frontman E), this later version was a full-blown, power pop assault marked by the immortal line, "Baby Jesus, born to rock!" The earlier version I present here is a relaxed, acoustic take released only as a b-side on a radio promo of E's 1993 single, "Shine It All On."

speaker MP3, 3.1 MB (ripped from CD)

Eels

Chomsky

Chomsky, "Christmas Time Is Here" (2000)
Poring over stray MP3 tracks one day, I happened upon this marvelous power pop rendition of Vince Guaraldi's composition from A Charlie Brown Christmas. But, the file bore no I.D. tags beyond the song title! About ten frantic hours later, I finally figured out who performed the song - a Dallas-based band named Chomsky - and where it could be found - Electric Ornaments, a compilation on local label Idol Records. While Electric Ornaments is out-of-print, it's not that hard to find. My purpose here is to alert the faithful to this unheralded classic. The way the band reinvents Guaraldi's gentle ballad is mind-blowing.

speaker MP3, 3.2 MB (ripped from CD)


White Stripes, "Candy Cane Children" (2002)
In the midst of the White Stripe mania that gripped the alternative rock world a couple of years ago, Jack & Meg snuck out this vinyl-only single for Christmas 2002. "Candy Cane Children" is pure White Stripes - Jack's slashing guitars, Meg's bashing drums, and plenty of violent imagery fleshing out a skeleton of spooky blues. "Christmas once a year, that's 364 tears," Jack warns. "When Christmas finally comes, and you think it might be fun," he concludes, "think again, boy." The song was originally released in 1998 on an incredibly rare 7-inch e.p. on Flying Bomb Records, "Surprise Package, Vol. 2."

speaker MP3, 3.3 MB (ripped from vinyl)

White Stripes

Wombles

The Wombles, "Wombling Merry CHRISTMAS" (1974)
The Wombles were created by Elisabeth Beresford and rose to fame as characters on a British TV show. They can best be described as the English version of the Banana Splits - mythical, musical creatures - or perhaps the precursors of the Teletubbies. Anyway, the Wombles were bizarre, furry creatures who lived underground, going topside to pick up our litter (they were early recyclers). The Wombles sang songs composed (and, in reality, performed) by Mike Batt. "Wombling Merry Christmas" is classic bubblegum rock - a mixture of garage rock, glitter pop, and children's music, relentlessly cheerful and more than a bit silly. Let's go wombling!

speaker MP3, 3.1 MB (ripped from CD)

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