For a brief time, I'm offering free MP3's of a five
treasures from my voluminous collection - songs I love (or love to hate) and that I'm confident you
can't find easily at any store. These are relatively lo-fi files (128 kbps) of (mostly) very rare songs, 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.
Christmas, "O Holy Night" (1983)
Back in 2005 I shared a track from one of the first-ever sort-of punk rock Christmas samplers, A
Boston Rock Christmas (1983). Only one of its five measly tracks has ever been reissued on CD (Sonny Columbus & the Del Fuegos' brilliant "Punchbowl Full of Joy" - see Ho Ho Ho Hospice), which leaves me three more tracks to share. This year, I am crossing "O Holy Night" off that list. It's by the band Christmas - a noisy crew that, unlikely as it seems, transformed into Combustible Edison, one of the most technically proficient lounge revival acts of the 90's. Their gleeful romp through this hoary old chestnut is almost reverential (they nail those harmonies), but after a couple of verses it devolves into utter chaos - and that's why I love it. (Well, that and I always thought the way singer Liz Cox cooed "jingle bells" as the song fades out was so sexy....)
2.3 MB (ripped from vinyl)
The Blues Magoos, "Jingle Bells" (1967)
Enthusiasts speak of these New York garage rockers in hushed, reverential tones. And, they are just about that good - no one rocked harder, looked cooler, played louder - and their debut LP, Psychedelic Lollipop (featuring the existential powerhouse hit "We Ain't Got Nothin' Yet") is an unchallenged classic of the genre. Strange, then, that their epic holiday single, "Jingle Bells" b/w "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town," has never been reissued in any shape or form (except as a neato vinyl bootleg with a dayglo orange picture sleeve...). I mean, the single was issued by Mercury Records, now owned by Universal Music - no stranger to catalog exploitation. What's up with that? Regardless - here it is. Prepare to have your mind expanded.
2.3 MB (ripped from vinyl)
Super Deluxe, "A Bittersweet Noel" (2000)
The Seattle-based alt-poppers could never quite catch a break with all the grunge rock pouring out of the Pacific Northwest during the mid-90's - not to mention a little competition from a mildly talented outfit called the Posies. They harbored no ill will, apparently, because members of the two groups collaborated in 1995 in the Screaming Santas (see my 2006 giveaway). And, I think we can conclude that Super Deluxe really likes Christmas because the same year one of the band's very first releases was Electric Holiday (1995), a fabulous four-track EP filled with hard-charging anthems like "All I Wanted Was A Skateboard" and the "Bohemian Rhapsody" send-up "Johnny's Gone Sleddin' With Queen." While that record is long out-of -print, it's not that hard to find. A Bittersweet Noel (2000) isn't quite as great, but it's a helluva lot more rare. Here we have the title track - the best thing on the six-track EP (though "No Merry Christmas" runs a close second).
3.2 MB (ripped from vinyl)
Blondie, "Yuletide Throw down" (1982)
This funky rarity features Freddie - as in Fab Five Freddie, the rapper
name-checked by Debbie Harry on Blondie's 1981 #1 hit single, "Rapture." As the song starts,
Deb is dubious, deeming Freddie "too skinny" to be Santa Claus. But, she soon relents and joins him in a spirited rap anchored by the slinky "Rapture" backbeat. The whole affair is pretty amusing, though it lacks the pinpoint focus and high-dollar sheen of "Rapture." "Yuletide Throw Down" was originally released on bright red, green, and blue flexidiscs (hence, the scratchy sound quality) included with the January,
1982 issue of Flexipop! Magazine, a short-lived British new wave rag. The song
was also compiled on the promo-only LP, The
Flexipop! Album, but it has never been issued on any commercially-available
album. In either format, it is now hilariously scarce. A lifetime or two later, by the way, Blondie cut another Christmas single, "We Three Kings" (2009), as a free download - but it's also hard-to-find.
4.7 MB (ripped from flexidisc)
Long Ryders, "Christmas In New Zealand" (1985)
This trailblazing California quartet is typically lumped in with the West Coast "paisley underground" school typified by Dream Syndicate and The Rain Parade. Personally, I've always associated them more with the "cow punk" bands that sprang up to combat the twin evils of fey English synth pop and lunkheaded California hardcore. Not much became of the Long Ryders or any of their cow punk compatriots (Lone Justice, Rank & File, Beat Farmers), but the movement helped birth the "Americana" genre that holds sway today. Anyway, most of the time the Ryders pursued an anthemic course (cf. "And She Rides"). On "Christmas In New Zealand," they tack hard towards whimsy, poking fun at everything in sight (including the native Kiwis) over a relaxed country beat. Like Blondie's "Yuletide Throw Down," "Christmas In New Zealand" was originally issued as a flexidisc. Unlike "Throw Down," it was reissued on CD - Looking For Lewis & Clark: The Long Ryders Anthology (1998).
4.2 MB (ripped from CD)
Have you been very, very good? Well then, you get to reach into Santa's swingin' sack one more time! Peruse our MP3
giveaways from 2003 (including Weezer and Keith Richards), 2004 (Shelby Lynne, White Stripes), 2005 (Cheap Trick, Leon Russell), 2006 (Marshall Crenshaw, Screaming Santas), 2007 (T. Rex, Turtles), 2008 (MxPx, BoDeans), 2009 (Aimee Mann, The Fray), and 2010 (R.E.M.).
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