Monday, December 31, 2007

New Year's Day gift


Here is a gift for the 7th day of Christmas....My first (and hopefully annual, and preferably earlier in the season) My Space Holiday Collection Vol. 1. As you may know, I have compiled several My Space tracks. Some of them may be on EPs, CDs, LPs, or online only. As far as I know, these are all online only...I don't recall seeing record names on a lot of these when I found them.

You may download the tracks individually or they are zipped for your convenience, along with CD artwork in case you want to make your own CD case for it. There are a few tracks I shared previously on the blog.

1. The Hopefuls-Holiday
2. The Holloways-It's Christmas, It's Christmas
3. Voluntary Butler Scheme-Wombling Merry Christmas
4. Air France-Hold On To Me, Baby
5. Aluminum Group-Christmas Presents
6. Verve Pipe-This Christmas Time
7. The School-Kiss You In The Snow
8. Little My-X-Mas Song
9. Noah and the Whale-To Cyril at Crunkmas
10. Project 86-This Time of Year
11. Casiotone for the Painfully Alone-Cold White Christmas
12. Shotgun Lover-Christmas Time in the City
13. The Details-Strings and Ribbons
14. William Fitzsimmons-Covered in Snow
15. Matthias Rowe-Northern Lights
16. Bigton Town Gulch Orchestra-Santa's Coming
17. Califone-There's A Star Above the Manger Tonight
18. Brent Green & Califone-Hadacol Christmas
19. Rick Malsick-Christmas Tumbleweed

BONUS TRACK
Valdy-Secret Santa

RAR FILE

Thank you and Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

The Obligatory New Year's Eve Post

First off, nothing to do with the actual topic, I went to the store tonight to pick up a few things. They have already removed ALL the Christmas stuff off the shelves in the seasonal section at Hy-Vee. Not that I should be too shocked here, I know. But to see Valentines Day stuff going up already really threw me for a loop. It's New Freaking Years EVE here, folks. I mean, I don't expect society to ever really observe the twelve days of Christmas, but can't they at least wait until after New Years Day to put that crap up? And yet they keep doing this year after year after year and that leads me to believe that people are buying the crap early enough to make them feel like it's justified to do this. So who ever buys this stuff early....it's all your fault!

Ok, I got that out of my system...on to the post...

I have four New Year's related tracks to share with you tonight. Starting from the more mainstream but rarely heard (at least in my parts....I understand some of you out there in the blogosphere live in areas with actual GOOD radio stations so you may get to hear stuff like this all the time) and going to the more obscure, I have selected four tracks to share.

First up really needs no introduction, and if it does, you're uncultured and please look into this man's music some more.

George Harrison-Ding Dong, Ding Dong


Next up comes from an import compilation I got from Barcelona, Spain. It has the generic title of "Holiday Magic" (yeah, try Googling that or searching for it on amazon.com, ebay or Alibris!) and it's a remarkable collection in that it compiles a lot of stuff that is not, as far as I have been able to find, on any other CD. The disclaimer on the back of the case reads, "Due to the obscurity of these tracks this collection contains songs that have been transfered from analog tapes and vinyl sources..." The compilation is much appreciated, but horrifically mastered in some places. One track cuts the song off and for a few seconds plays a bit from a completely different song before it picks the track back up. But I would not trade this baby for the world, it was hard enough to find.

I will more than likely be sharing tracks from this compilation in the future, but the first I'd like to share is from the Foundations. Now, I will be the first to admit I may be wrong on this. The track on Holiday Magic is credited actually to "Foundation" so if somebody is familiar with a different band from the Foundations that's called "Foundation" please let me know.

EDIT: It is likely NOT the Foundations, but another band called simply Foundation, that seems to evade Google or Wikipedia searches. As I suspected

Foundation-Alone on New Year's Eve

Next up is a My Space find by a band from Boston, MA called Laminated Cat. I really dig the sound of this track and I have to say their other tracks on their My Space page leave a little to be desired after listening to this one first, but I still will keep my eye on them to see what else they do in the future. They also have a version of "Silent Night" on their My Space page if you'd like to check it out before it's taken down.

Laminated Cat-New Years Is A Blast

Finally, I have a band from Lawrence, Kansas. This track was preformed live on the radio in the UK by lead band member, Christopher Tolly.

The Belles-New Years Resolution


Thanks for listening. And I hope to have a special present tomorrow for those of you who have been sticking with me through the true Twelve Days of Christmas tomorrow.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

It's Christmas with the Lundstroms


Today is a thrift store find from Mankato, MN. Thrift stores are usually horrific experiences for me. Crappy merchandise galore aside, the record bins are often among the most mistreated section in the store, and I swear there are NO policies on what they will take. (For example, I found some rare 70's Maranatha records in this same store that go for good money in mint condition on Ebay and they all had DEEP gouges in the records. I am not sure if they were there when donated or if some special kind of 'tard did that to the records as they sat on the shelf, but still...there are all kinds of records in those bins in unacceptable condition.)

So when I found this...I think it was for a quarter...in good condition, I couldn't pass. It was not only a Christmas record, it had actual ORIGINAL songs on it....not a cover version in sight. It's a 4 song 7 inch EP, 33 rpm. And not only that, but it was a CHRISTIAN recording with original songs on it! So, a record in a thrift store without a ton of scratches on it, original cover not damaged or written on in crayon, a Christmas record, a Christmas record with original songs, a Christian Christmas record with original songs....surely this was the rarest of rare finds.

And I also love it because I love any record where the mother's hair is bigger than the daughter's head. Good times, good times. You know regardless of songs on the album, you're in for a real treat when you see that.

And the songs are actually fairly well written and capable. Not really unearthed treasures that will make you wonder why they haven't been covered a thousand times by everybody and their brother and have become staples of Christmas radio, but listenable songs and rather enjoyable, and for a quarter...well...you can't really go wrong. I could spend more on that on a single download on line that turns out to be complete crap. And I am offering them up for free here, so none of you can complain at all!

Another curiosity of the record is the back cover lists "It's Christmas" and "Little Stranger In A Manger" as being on side one and the label on the actual record lists those as on side two and vice versa for the side two songs listed on the back cover. I guess I don't know the rule for collectors when this type of thing happens but I am going with the listing on the back cover. And I think "It's Christmas" and "Little Stranger In A Manger" are a bit stronger tracks, so they feel like side A tracks to me.

This was released on the family's own Lundstrom Records, and judging from the hair styles, right smack dab in the middle of the 70's.

Lundstroms-It's Christmas


Lundstroms-Little Stranger in A Manger


Lundstroms-The Messiah Has Come


Lundstroms-Born to Die

And here is a little info on Daddy Lundstrom...link.

And mom's hair shrank over the years (doesn't it for all of us???)

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Christmas Quiet



Today I'd like to share something a bit more personal, if you will indulge me. I make music under the name "Thelonious Octopus" and recorded tapes back in the early 90s and then I got some CDs together in 2005. It's something I do as the inspiration hits me, but maybe this year I will finally record the second Christmas CD I've been kicking around for a while.

But I'd like to share selected tracks from my first Christmas CD, Christmas Quiet. (For a limited time, I lowered the price on the CD if anybody feels compelled...)

I tried my best to select tracks off the beaten path for my own release, only throwing in a few standards and hopefully giving new and interesting interpretations on those tracks.

Without further adieu, I'd like to now share with you a few selected tracks. I hope you enjoy...

Thelonious Octopus-Christmas Quiet

Thelonious Octopus-See, Amid the Winter's Snow

Thelonious Octopus-From Heaven Above to Earth I Come

Thelonious Octopus-A Fantasy On A Silent Night

Thelonious Octopus-Infant Holy, Infant Lowly


Thelonious Octopus-The Savior Is Born


Thelonious Octopus-Silent Night

Friday, December 28, 2007

45s

I got a batch of 45s today that I'd like to share and, unlike most other sites, I will also share the b-sides. Only one b-side is not Christmas related in this batch, but it's a fun song nonetheless.

While some of these do delve a little into novelty territory, I think they are obscure enough to be included on this blog.

First up is what got me buying these 45s in the first place. Once I realized I didn't have a handful of versions of Little Donkey, I was determined to rectify the situation. So I give you the Beverley Sisters. The b-side is borderline Christmas...and I don't know if you can really call it that. It's about a toy drum and has a Little Drummer Boy kind of feel to it, but that's as close as it gets.

This record, as with the others here, are all year unknown.

Beverley Sisters-Little Donkey
Beverley Sisters-The Toy Drum (With His Drum)

I have a record off the Mica Records label by Blinda Turvey. I can't find any information about her online and don't know what year this is from, but it's a fun track. The B Side is not Christmas related at all, but I thought I'd post it since I've always wondered about the b-sides of these Christmas singles when posted on other blogs.

Blinda Turvey-Santa's Tag-A-Long
Blinda Turvey-I'm All Broke Out With Love

Jim Backus will probably be long associated with Christmas for his work on Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol but he had a Christmas 45 out and, from the sounds of it, it may predate the Christmas Carol special. Both sides are Christmas treasures.

Jim Backus-I Was a Teenage Reindeer
Jim Backus-Office Party

The last track I have to share comes from a promo record that sounds like it was recorded later than the previous tracks. I am guessing it came out in the 70's. The same track is on both sides.

Larry Cartell-Cowboy Santa

Thank you for stopping by and I hope you enjoy!

Also, there was a request for me to take down a MP3 on my Bethlehem post. It took me a couple days, but I was able to find more than an adequate replacement song...it is THE song I was searching for for that post. It said exactly what I wanted to compliment the post with. Please check it out if you have an extra moment. The track is from Over the Rhine, and it's an excellent song.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

ROCKING Around the Christmas Tree


How about for some good old fashioned ROCK AND ROLL?

I have to admit, I used to shy away from these types of songs in the past. I'd rip my Christmas CDs and leave most of these types of tracks on the disc and never rip them because I was afraid of what other employees/customers might think if I took these songs into work. But this year I started to warm up to these types of tracks a little more and while some aren't work friendly (well...just one..."Christmas 1979") I did put these on a mix CD (sans Christmas 1979) and got a good response from customers, over all. One even asked me where he could buy the CDs with the music he was hearing on my mix CD!

Yeah, there's nothing like just some good rock music to get you in the festive mood. If you have had enough of the Carpenters and Burl Ives, you came to the right place.

I'd like to start things off with the one that REALLY got things hopping when it came on at work...This track comes from The Mother of All Flagpole Christmas Albums, which compiled local artists from Athens, GA for this 1992 collection to go with the magazine of the same name (Flagpole.) Some really, really great stuff on here. Highly recommended.

Follow For Now-Santa's Hard


The next is a favorite of mine to kick off a mix CD with, which can be found on the Kevin and Bean CD The Real Slim Santa.

Orgy-Santa's Creepy Secret


Next up is just an awesome track from MXPX. This song is so vivid, I could see it as an Adult Swim Christmas special. (if ANYBODY out there reading this can get that done, don't wait!) This comes from Santa Clause: It's a Punk Rock Christmas, which can be snagged as I type this for a mere 5.97 from amazon.com. What are you waiting for???

MXPX-Christmas Night of the Zombies

I have another track from the incredible Flagpole compilation...this one being a little too close to the edge for a mix CD to take into work, but hey....I had to do it.

Allgood-Christmas With the Devil

And this final track is awesome, but the last few seconds makes it not work friendly. I just couldn't pass on posting it when thinking of some good rock Christmas tunes, though. This is one of my My Space finds of this year.

Billy Childish-Christmas 1979

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

TV Christmas songs---Tone King style


Back in the "Don't Hassle the Hoff" post, I promised to post a TV song themed topic in the future. I do have some Partridge Family, but I just can't get past the whole novelty feel about it, and I try my best to shy away from the novelty type songs here. That's not to say I won't share some in the future, but I am betting if that's what you're looking for, there's other places to find some Partridge Family out there.

And while what I am sharing today doesn't directly come from the TV shows mentioned, it does tie back into it in a six degrees of separation kind of a way. More like one degree, in this case.

A nod of gratitude goes to the one who can identify the character above. It is Roger Barkley, of the Barkleys. And what does the Barkleys have in common with Ghost Story, The Amazing Chan and the Chan Clan, Gidget Gets Married, Bewitched, and others? They all have characters played by Gene "Eugene" Andrusco. He was a child actor who didn't follow in the destructive paths of so many other former child stars, but had a formidable career in music in his adult years.

Known simply as Gene Eugene by his fans, he will always be best remembered by his work in music, both as a performer and as a producer. He has recorded and produced hundreds of albums in his studio, The Green Room, including Starflyer 59, who I chose a track from for my Spud 102 segments.

Gene's main avenue to express his own music was with Adam Again and also with the Lost Dogs. There is much more to be said about these two bands and the artists involved in each band and the influence all these members have in each other's lives and in other music. It spans quite a history of music in total, when you include such people as Terry Scott Taylor in the mix as well.

As I said, I could say MUCH about this man's work and all that he's been involved in. I will let the Wikipedia pages pick up where I lack the space here (you came looking for songs, after all...I know.) And I'd like to share with you some of Gene Eugene's Christmas music.

The first two tracks come from the long out of print and highly sought after collection "Broken Christmas."

Adam Again-Angels We Have Heard On High
Gene Eugene, Riki Michelle, ojo-O Come, O Come Immanuel

If you clicked on the Wiki links already, you know that Gene Eugene died March 20, 2000. The music world lost a giant when Gene died, there's no doubt about it, and nobody has been able to replace him, and I doubt anybody ever will.

I learned of Gene's death from a colleague of his, Harold Bloemendaal, who goes by Harold Wayne on some records. Harold has been in three bands in his life: The Reign (rock), Mercy River (alt country-where I personally discovered his music), and in the Christmas themed named band ZuZu's Petals (by name only...ZuZu's Petals did not put out any Christmas music). ZuZu's Petals hasn't played in nearly 5 years now and I see that there is a new band out there using that name, not to be confused with Harold's band.

When he recorded as the Reign, Harold not only contributed to the Broken Christmas compilation, but he also released a Christmas song on his debut CD for the Reign, "Back From Euphoria." This album, and song, was one of the many albums produced by Gene Eugene in his day.

The Reign-Looking For You (On Christmas Day)

While I am sure those of you waiting for the TV song related post were hoping for some tracks so horribly bad they go back to good by your beloved TV favorites, I had to dig a little deeper and bring out some true treasures from the mine to share. And if this is your first exposure to Gene Eugene and Adam Again (and the Lost Dogs and all those he worked with) I hope this isn't your last. These artists do not have large followings, but a fiercely loyal following, and it's easy to see why once you get into the music.

The Lost Dogs also have a new Christmas CD out. It is a shame that Gene did not live to be involved in this project, but if you're like me and you discover new music through Christmas music, this is some of the best you will discover this year.

More to come....

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Twelve Days of Christmas and other lost traditions

As much as I like the regular traditions, I have to say when I learn of things that could have been in the past or things from the past that have died away, I often wonder what life would be like with those things today (such as the thirteen month calendar, or the deci-clock {metric time} These things always struck me as making much more sense than the systems we have adopted and accepted as the norm, and while I know society will never see these developed where it's used on a massive scale, it's still interesting to play around with them and wonder what if....)

One of the things I contemplate how life today would be different is if we, as Americans, didn't allow the long held Christmas traditions of the past to die and fade away in the face of consumerism and the sprawling corporate mindset we've come to accept as the norm.

One of those traditions is the Twelve Days of Christmas. It's not some fanciful song somebody came up with a long time ago in a land far, far away...it was a way of LIFE for quite a long time. I always hear people say Christmas is only one day a year. NO, it's NOT, and why did we let this get away from us? Who is responsible for the death of the twelve days of Christmas??? I personally blame corporate America, who has forced things like "Black Friday" and "After Christmas" sales on us on the 26th and the emphasis of New Years Day on January 1st when, traditionally, it was viewed to be the first day of the new year on the first day of spring. Well, to be fair, New Year's Day has always been celebrated at different times in different cultures, but I am personally think celebrating it on the first day of Spring makes far more sense than some arbitrary day a culture chooses for whatever reason. (And to be clear...I don't blame corporate America for creating January 1st as the first day of the new year...I am familiar with the origins of that day being the new year in the Roman Empire. Just as sects of Christianity have changed the Christmas traditions, not corporations, but corporations don't help!)

But what happened to the Twelve Days of Christmas? Starting at sunset on December 25th and going through sunset on January 6th seems like a much more fun idea than one day a year. Or the Feast of St. Stephen? Or the Feast of the Innocents? Not in America, but these traditions are still held in many parts of the world, so that's why I blame the corporate mindset in America who seems to want to rush us along right into the next holiday (which is always a complaint every year when Christmas items go up in stores right after Halloween.)

I think it would be a better society if we still celebrated the Twelve Days of Christmas, and not leaving it in the hands of just a few to continue to enjoy while the rest of society rushes along in stress and turmoil that surrounds this season. Maybe if we had twelve days of gift giving people wouldn't be so stressed out right before Christmas. I mean, have you ever worked in retail at this time of year? Good customers become monsters around this time of year, and the amount of selfishness is unbearable. People become short tempered, frustrated, fly off the handle...all because they didn't get a freaking Wii or some other manufactured piece of crap somebody told them would make their lives better. It's pretty sickening, and in all of this we traded away twelve days for what? "Black Friday?" An "After-Christmas Sale?" "New Years?" Heck fire, I'd rather see New Year's celebrated in it's proper time on the first day of Spring and we get our twelve days back. The Jews have managed to keep their eight crazy nights, why have we given up our twelve? And to think I could be having an extra day off from work on the first day of spring??? Yeah, I am feeling I got the raw end of the deal around here somewhere, I don't know about you.

And I guess that's my Christmas message of this year. And in light of that, I plan on celebrating the twelve days of Christmas right here. You can expect to find a steady stream of great finds and good music for the next twelve days, right through Jan 6th. Screw corporate America telling me the 26th is "after Christmas." NO, IT IS NOT. This is just the beginning friends! Stack up the yule logs, stock up on the nog, and save some gifts for the next 11 nights...we have some CELEBRATING TO DO!

The first track I'd like to share has been around for a while and not rare in the blogosphere, but it's my favorite version of The Twelve Days of Christmas I have ever heard. I cannot get enough of this track. I must have listened to this thing twenty times in a row when I first heard it. It's not high in the professional polish (I don't think the lead singer is supposed to crack up laughing so hard during the song he can't sing!) but it's high in entertainment value.

Belle and Sebastian-The Twelve Days of Christmas

And for good measure, my second favorite version from the Chantons Noël. Ghosts of Christmas Past collection.

Winston Tong-Twelve Days of Christmas

And I'd like to give to you a couple gifts this first day of Christmas: two of my most favorite obscure tracks, two of the most unique Christmas songs I've added to my collection.

The first comes from a CD that was sold only for a limited time on the band's website and has been long out of print.

The Handsome Family-Stupid Bells

Finally, I have a very unique track from Brent Green and Califone. This comes from their video for the same song, which I found on My Space. (You will find more Christmas downloads on the Califone website, by the way...get them while they are here!)

Brent Green and Califone-Hadacol Christmas

And a bonus track for the special first day...a track that, while it does not seem exactly work safe--it does use the f' word when I really don't see it's necessary and that's a shame because this would be a fun track to put on my mix CDs to take into work otherwise--it does seem to say what I am trying to say here, but in a more humorous way.

Beans on Toast-Christmas at Tesco

Enjoy, and Merry First Day of Christmas!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Oh, Little Town of Bethlehem

The picture above is of the few remaining Christians still in Bethlehem attending mass in the grotto at the Church of the Nativity, which is believed to be the birthplace of Jesus Christ. A century ago the population of Bethlehem was 90% Christian; today only a third remain, and they are continuing to flee the city. Today, the city isn't quite so much the little town of silent nights, holy nights and heavenly sleep, but it is a prison with a snaking wall cutting the city off from the West Bank and Jerusalem.

It's just one thought I have on this Christmas Eve, as we enjoy our quite times with our families or apart from our families or with friends or apart from friends, but with the enjoyment of freedom. Whatever Christmas message your clergy delivers (if that's what you do at Christmas), the message in Bethlehem is that the town is a prison, and a town of oppression and humiliation of the Palestinian people.

The National Geographic recently had an incredible article that is well worth the read, if you'd like to check it out.

I will decline commenting on the article further, but in light of it I wanted to share some of my favorite songs about the city and about that oft celebrated night (and I am aware of the arguments--which I personally believe, by the way--that Dec. 25th is not his birthday, but I am still going to enjoy these songs today.)

First up is a stunningly beautiful song by Márta Sebestyén from the "Xmas Marks the Spot" compilation put out by RykoDisc in 1997. This is an out of print collection, and is full of great songs you won't find anywhere else. It's not in high demand, so I recommend people pick it up from the amazon.com sellers who are offering it at a really fair price.

Márta Sebestyén-Bethlehem, Bethlehem


Next up is a track that pretty much sums up for me what I am trying to say in this message. It's perhaps THE centerpiece track I was looking for but for a long time was unable to find. I am glad to be able to post this...if any song captures the true spirit of Bethlehem today, it's perhaps this one.

Over the Rhine-Little Town


Finally, I have a beautiful track by SAY that I would like to share. "Silent Night" is an oft covered song, and not too many versions are memorable to me, but this is one of the few that I really enjoy.

SAY-Stille Nacht

Sunday, December 23, 2007

More My Space finds

We've really been enjoying the My Space tracks around these parts, and I have to say it's no easy task tracking them down. Aside from the few artists I am already familiar with who have posted Christmas songs, finding the rest has been laborious, at best. (If My Space added some extra search features, such as the ability to search for song titles, that would be AWESOME.) But, as with anything that takes time and effort, the pay offs are usually worth the wait. And I feel these tracks I am sharing today were well worth the wait.

Before I get into the tracks, I just want to say a few words about My Space, a pet peeve.... If you are an independent artist and not bound by record contract deals that dictate how you can distribute your songs online, MAKE THE SONG AVAILABLE FOR DOWNLOAD! One, if you are an independent artist starting out, I think it would be a huge benefit to get your music more freely available and out there. I have my personal opinions on artists who don't allow for downloads, but I will keep them to myself. It's a personal choice on how somebody wants to distribute their music online, but I am just saying...those of us who download a lot tend to buy a lot of music, too. Trust me. It's a win/win situation.

Ok, on to the music....And I gotta get this stuff on My Space while it's available, because it won't be long before the files are taken down!

First up is not a "Christmas" song, but it is a winter song, and a sure as heck fire great find at that. This will turn up on many of my personal Christmas mix CDs in the future, I can promise that. It is by Matthias Rowe, and I don't know much about him, aside from the fact that he's from Stockholm, Sweden, and he's put this wonderful track on his My Space page, and it's just awesome.

Matthias Rowe-Northern Lights

Next is a friend of another artist I shared already on this blog (Fireflies) and when I saw their band name was Her Space Holiday I knew they would have a Christmas song on their My Space page, and they did not disappoint. It's a cover version, but it certainly brings a unique take to the table that makes this one stand out from the crowded room full of cover versions of this song. They are from San Mateo, CA

Her Space Holiday-Let It Snow

Next I'd like to share a track I found from Blah Blah Blah, who are from London, UK. This is such a great tune, I will make sure I check next year to see if they give us a new Christmas song then too. It's one of those songs that makes me want to hear more from the band.

Blah Blah Blah-Caravan Christmas

Finally, I'd like to share a couple performers from Kansas City who are part of the acoustic folk scene here.

David Hakan-Christmas Day

And, perhaps the most original Christmas song I've heard so far this year...

Rick Malsick-Christmas Tumbleweed

And thanks for reading and listening.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Little Donkeys

First off, I'd like to apologize for the late post today. The morning/afternoon didn't go exactly as planned and I simply did not have the time until now.

Onward and upward...

I've seen the MP3 file of Camera Obscura's "Little Donkey" popping up on other blogs around the 'net (which is the same one I made for this blog, which is absolutely fine with me! Glad to share and get the great song out there!) and I've seen others say they never heard that song before. Oh, how can that be???? When I saw that I figured I had to rectify the situation and give you the original version.

Some background info to start: The song was originally recorded by Dame Gracie Fields, who is a noted entertainer and actress known for far much more than an obscure Christmas song called "Little Donkey." But she gave the world "Little Donkey" in 1959, and what a great gem that song was. It is a traditional Christmas poem, and I am uncertain who put music to it or exactly how far back the poem goes. The Wikipedia entry for the song is terribly brief.

I just came across the song this year, I believe about a month ago (so my previous statment that I had a "handful" of cover versions of this was incorrect...I more than likely listened to this track a handful of times since coming across it) when it was released on the 101 Christmas Songs collection. Some great stuff on there, too, by the way, that isn't found else where, if you can stand the price tag.

Gracie Fields-Little Donkey

Since I am on a donkey kick today, I decided to share another donkey Christmas song, this time by Johnny Cash, whose Christmas music isn't exactly obscure, but you hardly hear it played on the radio and in the malls, it seems. Which perplexes me, but that's how it is I guess.

Johnny Cash-Little Grey Donkey


And what better place to tell this joke.... Where is PMS in the Bible? Mary rode Joseph's ass all the way to Egypt!

Finally, I'd like to share another track from Kansas City's John Mitchell, which sums up how I've been feeling all day. Last week I posted songs about loving winter weather and blah blah blah. Yeah, well...the love affair is over. It sucks. I am ready for winter to be freaking over. It's been really horrible today, and the snow is just packing down on the roads regardless of how many times the plows go over it, and making for treacherous driving. This was NOT supposed to happen when the weather men in the area (Gary Lezak, I am looking your way...and he is mentioned by name in John's song...he's the local weather man for our NBC affiliate), who all predicted a blast of bad weather during the first ten days of December then things would be in more mild pattern. More mild my fat hairy nether region.

John Mitchell-I Hate Snow

Friday, December 21, 2007

Music from the Midwest

Today I'd like to share some regional finds. Starting in the north, from Minneapolis, MN we have Mercurial Rage. This is a Christmas song they shared on their My Space page, so I don't believe it has been released on a CD. Their influences range from Joy Division, Bauhaus, The Psychedelic Furs, A Flock of Seagulls, and among others. It adds up to a very nice sound, and great original Christmas tune.

Mercurial Rage-It's Christmas


Going right down I-35, we pull off into Maquoketa, Iowa, where we find the folk song husband-wife duo of Scott and Michelle Dalziel. They are found on the Hudson Harding record label, and this song comes from the label's 2006 Christmas sampler. (They also have a new compilation out this year, so check it out as well!)

This track is a complete polar opposite of what we found in the Mercurial Rage track. But it is a wonderful song, and it exemplifies what I love about Christmas music so much and it goes to show you that great original Christmas music is still being made. I credit it only to Michelle here because she is the only vocalist.

Michelle Dalziel-The Only Gift

A few hours south we find ourselves in my stomping grounds: Kansas City. The first band I'd like to feature is The Ottomen, which got their start in 1996 at the Kansas City Art Institute. This track is credited on their My Space page as being from 1997, but it is not on their 1997 CD release, Adventures at The Shore, so I am not sure if it's been released on CD or not.

The Ottomen-Christmas No. 3

Finally, I'd like to share a bit of a novelty song from an unsigned Kansas City artist by the name of John Mitchell. He's a folk/comedy singer who is shopping around for a record deal, and this is a demo song. He's got a handful of Christmas themed demos on his My Space page, but this was the best of the lot, IMHO. It really, and I mean REALLY, captures the TRUE meaning of this time of year better than any song I have found.

John Mitchell-The Reason For the Season

And Todd MacEwen of SPUD 102 wrapped up our segments today. It was great fun, and if you're up to do it again next year Todd, just let me know!

Today's segment features a track I recorded myself, so just be warned!

SPUD 102 12-21-2007

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Jesus Music

I bemoaned the CCM music scene in a previous post earlier this week, but it strikes me that the late 60's-the mid 70's or so was a very creative time for music, not just secular music but in a long gone genre called "Jesus Music." This genre produced some really excellent folk and rock music, not just for Jesus Music, but in any genre. And today I'd like to share with you a few choice cuts from long out of print LP records of that era.

First up is an oddity from The Gamble Folk. Information on them and the others listed here can be found at One Way, a Jesus Music site. One Way doesn't have much on them, but their first record was released in 1968. This song comes from "Christmas Boy", which was released in 1977. This is the title track, and while I find it a little cheesy, I also enjoy it for being an original tune and an interesting take.

The Gamble Folk-Christmas Boy


Next comes an absolutely beautiful song from 1977's album "Gentle Night" by the St. Louis Jesuits.

St. Louis Jesuits-The Beautiful Mother

Now I'd like to share a track from an album by Joe Wise- 1977's "He Has Come." A record of pretty much all cover versions, it does include a rare treasure in "The Cherry Tree Carol." Now this fits in exactly with my desire to see artists take on more obscure Christmas songs, and this song has been around since the 15th century, but this is the first time I heard it.

(And, not to take away from the beauty of the song, but the lyrics do creep me out...he sings of Joseph being an old man and marrying the Virgin Mary. Uh....Mary was 14 years old when she had Jesus, maybe even 13. And he was an OLD MAN??? If only Chris Hansen had a time machine, the Christmas story might be remarkably different!)

Joe Wise-Cherry Tree Carol

One thing I loved about 70's rock albums were the extended songs, sometimes those that took up an entire side of a record. And Jesus Music was no exception to this, as the Joyful Noise (see One Way's website for details) performed a ten minute title track to their 1975 release, "The Nativity."

Joyful Noise-The Nativity

The Joystrings were an early British beat band that released a Christmas album in 1966 called "Well Seasoned." A nice, peppy tune to close off today's selections....

The Joystrings-The Little King Jesus

Finally, but certainly not least, is the latest installment of the SPUD 102 segments. These have been great fun, and I hope you have been enjoying them as well. And, as always, thanks for listening.

SPUD 102 12-20-2007

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

New Stuff

"New stuff" is a relative term for me. I loaded Christmas songs in to my MP3 player last night to take into work today and I had 185 new songs since I last loaded songs in there a few days ago. So when I say "new stuff" I mean the picks of the newest of the new....just stuff I got today. I think there might be one track I am sharing today that I got yesterday, though. It's always a daunting task to pick files out of so many to share, but we will get to them, one MP3 at a time!

First up is a new song by a familiar band. I've been checking their My Space page almost daily for the last couple weeks waiting for a new Christmas song. It's Camera Obscura, and while we've had a handful of Belle and Sebastian Christmas songs to share online for a couple years now, I never knew about any Camera Obscura songs. Either this is brand new, or I just missed it in my searches last year. Either way, it's a winner in my book because it holds true to what I always recommend artists to do: if you can't come up with a good original Christmas Song, cover a more obscure track and make it a GOOD cover version.

They give us a version of "Little Donkey," and I can probably count on one hand how many versions I have in my collection personally. It's not exactly Frosty the Snowman. But it's a fun little tune, and I just dig their take on it.

Camera Obscura-Little Donkey

Next up is The Birthday Girl Vs AFH, and this comes from a 2006 collection called "Filthy Little Angels." It's called "Hey Santa," but it is not a cover version of the painfully bad song most of us might be familiar with by the same name. It seems to be an original, and a refreshing one at that.

The Birthday Girl Vs AFH-Hey Santa


I found an online only single by Komon, who is from Göteborg, Västra Götalands län Sweden. This could also fall into the same category as my post from a few days ago of new artists I discover solely through their work in Christmas music. I don't know about the rest of you, but I am far, far more open to trying out new bands and sounds at this time of year than any other time.

Komon-Poetry For The Winter

ShiSho is the next artist I discovered right before I logged on to make my post tonight. They come from Columbus, Ohio. A click to their website will also take you to an interesting version of "Get Behind Me Santa!" This track just about sums up the meaning of the holidays for quite few of us, if we were truly honest with ourselves.

ShiSho-Merry Christmas, Now Leave!

Todd MacEwen shared with me, and gave me permission to share with you all, another voice that was new to me, but has been around in the Canadian music scene for quite a while, and may no doubt familiar to quite a few in America. He simply goes by Valdy, and he was recently in the SPUD 102 studio and played this live for Todd to share with all of you.

Valdy-Secret Santa

And while on the topic of SPUD 102, what better time than now to share with you today's radio spot.

SPUD 102 12/19/2007

Again, thanks for reading and listening.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Going From Suck to Blow!


Yesterday was a good day. My place of work gives the employees a "shopping day" to take off and do Christmas shopping or spend it however they like. And it's all paid for! Not a bad deal. I had a good time yesterday going out and checking the stores for used and needed Christmas CDs (came away with a handful...nothing too exotic or ultra rare but still a good haul).

However, why does it seem when we get a day off from work and it is a good day off the Universe works to balance it out the next day and punish us with a craptacular day at work?

Yes, today was such a day, and it started to suck immediately when I had computer problems from the start and was on the phone with IT for nearly an hour. Then a co-worker went home sick which added to my work load considerably, and it quickly went from suck to blow.

But enough of that. I am sure everybody has experienced this...good times followed by bad that seem to be designed to keep you down on the ground and remind you to not get used to it. And me whining about my day isn't helpful and nobody wants to hear it.

So I decided since we all have days like that, what better way to spend this post than posting songs that just make me feel good? Heck, I need it, and maybe you do too. And maybe your choice of songs to feel good by are different than mine, but I hope these make you feel good.

First up is the Flaming Lips. I've seen this in different places, and I just loved the song as soon as I heard it. This past weekend I burned a MP3 CD to take into work, and this was in the mix. As this was playing, I was helping a customer and the wife said to her husband before she left, "I don't like this music." Tough titty, said the kitty. This is a great song. Just because it isn't Burl Ives doesn't mean it's not good.

Flaming Lips-A Change At Christmas

And what makes us feel better than PUPPIES! I know after a particularly rough day, nothing beats coming home to my doggie. This is a song I first found on Ebay on an original 45. I HAD to have it, but before I committed to buy it I found a whole collection by this artist on amazon.co.uk (this is the only Christmas song on the CD...but the whole collection is great) for less than what the single 45 was going for. I was quite glad to add this to my play list.

Adam Faith-Lonely Pup (In a Christmas Shop)

From 2005, here's another good rollicking rock tune to perk you up after the day has beat you down.

The Knife-Christmas Reindeer

I started out to post some unreleased greats, but the first one I came across made me feel so good after this rough day that I immediately changed the topic for today. I found this one online at their My Space page. As far as I know, it's online only and officially unreleased.

Robbers on High Street-Seasons Greetings

And, finally, I have a track from the Fireflies out of Chicago, IL. This is from their album Goodnight Stars, Goodnight Moon. This is a bit more on the serene side of feeling good, but it makes me feel good nonetheless.

Fireflies-Xmas Song

And not to miss a beat, here is today's installment of my SPUD 102 segments.

SPUD 102 12/18/2007

Thank you for listening and for your time.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Michael Card

In my quest for off the beaten path Christmas music, in my first year of collecting I thought what better place to look than the Christian bookstores! If any place is going to have great, interesting Christmas music, it would be the CCM scene! Well...it seems more of that is plagued by the problem of artists just putting out place holders and coming up with insipid cover versions of familiar standards. I have been able to come away with a few solidly good songs from that, but they are far and few between.

Among the finest of the finest is Michael Card. My problem with most of the music I found is that it just seemed like it was rejected from more mainstream record labels so they just put it out on a "Christian" label to make money off of it some how. But with Michael Card, it was clear I was listening to something that wasn't just a seasonal place holder, but a year long mainstay that rivaled some of the finest song writers I could find in any other genre of music.

Michael has always been known for his intelligent, very literate songs. He's able to take the most obscure topics and churn out the most intriguing songs. With his album The Final Word he took some of the concepts of the long celebrated Bethlehem morning that were not often covered in Christmas music and managed to make an album full of great songs. These songs and more Christmas themed tracks can also be found on The Promise: A Celebration of Christ's Birth . This is one to buy, not just sample on some blog, so I encourage anybody to buy this CD not only if you're looking for interesting Christmas music, but if you're looking for good and interesting music in general.

I will share a couple of my favorite tracks. "Joseph's Song" is unique in that it is a Christmas song from the POV of Jesus' father. It's not a take you often get to hear. And "The Promise" is just one strong track of many on the entire CD.

Michael Card-Joseph's Song
Michael Card-The Promise

POST UPDATE:
Updated to include today's SPUD 102 segment. Enjoy, and thanks again for reading and listening.

SPUD 102 12/17/2007

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Christmas Instrumentals

The other day somebody asked me if I had any Trans-Siberian Orchestra. I might have them on a NOW collection or two that I picked up the first year I was looking for Christmas music that wasn't commonly heard on the radio, but I have to say I never sought out their music. They are not only played on the radio and in the malls and stores quite frequently, but they have become THE standard for instrumental music around this time of year. Not to put down their work...what they do is awesome...but just don't expect to find any of their music posted here anytime soon or later.

Instrumental music, for me anyway, is really a huge hit or miss. Trans-Siberian Orchestra is pretty consistent in the material they produce, but when I am shopping for Christmas records and CDs I've never heard of before, I am much less likely to make a blind purchase on instrumental music because a lot of it just is bland and uninspiring. And they keep rehashing the same Christmas standards over and over and over again. So I have to admit my collection of unique and obscure Christmas instrumental music isn't really strong, but I'd like to share a few tracks I have.

I feel these tracks show that you don't have to sound like the Trans-Siberian Orchestra or just use piano to create holiday instrumental music. They likely won't be taking any thunder away from the stalwart standards of instrumental Christmas music any time soon, but at least on this blog I can share them and let you see for yourselves there is creative and innovative Christmas instrumental music being created.

First up is Durutti Column. Though they have been together since 1978, I just discovered them this year through their obscure Christmas instrumental work. Their tracks I am sharing, along with a couple others I will be sharing today, come from the "Chantons Noël. Ghosts of Christmas Past." compilation, originally released in 1981 and reissued on CD this year. Durutti Column is still going strong, with new releases out and tracks on their My Space page if you'd like to seek out more information on them.

Durutti Column-One Christmas For Your Thoughts

Durutti Column-Snowflakes

From the same compilation I also have Michael Nyman. Michael is still going strong and is releasing music to this day.

Michael Nyman-Cream or Christmas

I'd now like to share with you an experimental track from Olivia Tremor Control. This is a decidedly more experimental take from their 2000 collection, Singles and Beyond.

Olivia Tremor Control-Christmas With William S


Next up is Photophob. Their work is so far from Trans-Siberian Orchestra I didn't just cross the globe to find it, I feel as if I got in a space ship and landed on another planet to find it. This track comes from their 2004 release Within. It's not a Christmas album, but this is their Christmas track.

Photophob-A Robot For Christmas

Finally, I'd like to share a track with you from Frank Zappa. This is his sole Christmas track I could find, and it makes me wish he had compiled a whole album of Christmas originals, instrumental mixed with vocal tracks. Maybe a cover version or three just to see what he'd do with some of the standards. Sadly, that will never happen obviously, unless unreleased masters of such an album are uncovered. But we have this song that comes from his last album, Civilization Phaze III.

Frank Zappa-Xmas Values

I have part 5 of my SPUD 102 segments to share as well...enjoy and thanks again for reading and listening!

SPUD 102 12-14-2007

Saturday, December 15, 2007

I Love the Winter Weather


Well, I love it when I don't have to drive in it. Sitting inside and looking at a new world full of crystal branches and a fresh blanket of snow is something quite serene.

And the mid-west has been getting pounded pretty bad with winter weather lately. Some not so good (several still without power in my state alone) but waking up to a fresh coating of snow made me nostalgic for some old songs.

First up is Robyn Hitchcock. I first got into Robyn back in the late 80s when his videos were featured on 120 Minutes (an MTV video music show...I know, I know, pretty old school stuff from a time when MTV actually showed MUSIC!). This song comes from "I Often Dream of Trains," which I picked up in Rochester, Minnesota from a small record store just on the other side of the rail road tracks. A great place, by the way, that has long since died out. But I digress.... This track isn't commonly heard with the usual mix of Christmas music, and to be fair it's not a Christmas track, but it's fitting for this time of year so I am including it and it's in The Tone King's Christmas play list.

Robyn Hitchcock-Winter Love

Next is another winter track, this time from the Squirrel Nut Zippers. A co-worker told me about this band back in 1996 and this is probably one of the first alternative type Christmas CDs I purchased. Great, great stuff, and this is only one track of many that are just incredible.

Squirrel Nut Zippers-Winter Weather


I have another track from the Flagpole collection I posted about not that long ago. It's from a band called Here It Love It Dance It and a Google search results in NOTHING! I can only surmise that, since Flagpole was just a local magazine in Athens, GA, that this band never rose above local fame and died out in the early 90s. Well, such is the fate of many local bands, but at least their time together was preserved on a local CD which ended up in my hands to share with you all.

Here It Love It Dance It-Snowflakes are Falling

Finally, I chose a track to give to those of you who are not experiencing a peaceful day of snowfall in your city. If you have not yet had your dose of winter weather yet, this track is for you.

The Specimen-Wish It Would Snow

Slide Down the Bat Pole!

Bart Simpson belted out "Jingle bells, Batman smells, Robin laid an egg...." A promising start, but was there actually a song that gave these lyrics their rightful place in a full version?

Our friends at The Mad Music Archive answered this on a Christmas episode last year, and shared a true gem with the world that I never knew existed, and likely many readers here didn't know about either! Now, you won't find many novelty songs at my blog...most of them kind of wear out their welcome after a few listens...but this one has an enduring quality.

Phil Snyder-Jingle Bells, Batman Smells


What better time to share The Lost Batman Christmas Episode starring Adam West?

Adam West: Batman-The Lost Christmas Episode

And here is day four of my SPUD 102 segments!

SPUD 102 12/13/07

Friday, December 14, 2007

New voices

Sign you're listening to too much Christmas music #2: You find out about most of the new artists you come across from their Christmas music!

The thing about Christmas music that perpetuates the sheer amount of junk to plow through in the stores and on the airwaves is that most artists treat Christmas music as a tacked on product. They already had their studio success, they may have come off a popular tour, they are being downloaded at lightning speeds on the Internet, and they want their names to stay in the public eye for the Holiday season. They put out Christmas CDs just to have place holders on the shelves, and most of these CDs fail to provide much more than obligatory cover versions of way too familiar songs and sometimes "Christmas" versions of their biggest hit(s) (Jewel, I am looking your way!)

This is the time of year I discover some artists for the first time. I will often give artists a first time listen because I am on my quest for new and great Christmas music, so I am far more open this time of year to new music. That being said, I find that when I discover an artist who gives me something really interesting and unique to listen to, they are far more worthy of my attention.

Last year that artist was Feist with her version of "Lo, How A Rose E’re Blooming." It stuck out because it wasn't "Silver Bells" or "Silent Night" or any of the other popular standards. It stood out even though it wasn't an original song because it wasn't commonly heard and it was well done. (Of course, she went on to get more fame by having "1-2-3-4" featured on an I-something commercial.)

(So that's this blogger's tip to up-and-coming artists: if you MUST release your seasonal shelf place holder, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE do some digging and come up with some more obscure and off the beaten path Christmas songs to cover. "Virgin's Lullaby?" "See, Amid the Winter's Snow?" "A Fantasy On a Silent Night?" There are PLENTY of songs to cover that haven't been done to death if you don't have original tracks to use!) (and if you are an artist reading this, and you do this, let me premier your song on my blog! ;^D )


Christmas music, on a whole, is challenging to write. I will admit it. It's no easy task to come up with fascinating songs about Santa, Baby Jesus, and reindeer and say something new that hasn't been said before in this business. So when an artist delivers an original tune that makes me sit up and take notice, I think if they can do that to a Christmas song then maybe their entire catalog might be worth checking out. Writing a good original Christmas song may very well be the true test of whether or not the artist can really be creative.

Today I am sharing a few examples of new artists I discovered this year solely because they put out original Christmas songs. These are certainly artists I hope to hear more from in the future. The other day I posted about Ingrid Michaelson, but there is an artist she has collaborated with by the name of William Fitzsimmons. If Ingrid and William are the faces of tomorrow's music, then I can rest comfortably that some of the best music is not behind us but is to come. And if William's new Christmas song is any indicator, this guy has the chops to write some incredible original music. It's just captivating.

William Fitzsimmons-Covered in Snow

Next there is Shotgun Lover. Like William and Ingrid, I discovered Shotgun Lover on My Space, just searching various artist websites until I came across some fascinating new Christmas songs. But this just isn't a fascinating Christmas song, this is a fascinating song. They were under the "friends" list for Bill Mallonee (of yesterday's posting of "On To Bethlehem") so I knew they would be worth while.

Shotgun Lover-Christmas Time In the City

I also discovered Drugstore. This comes from a collection called "It's A Cool, Cool Christmas," released back in 2000, so saying I just discovered them this year isn't exactly the most savvy thing for me to admit, but they deserve to be included in this posting nonetheless. And, judging from their CD release dates on amazon.com, I fear maybe they are no more, which would be a shame. But while good bands come and go the best of the good deserve to be heard even if they aren't together to put out new tracks. And I have had the Cool Cool Christmas compilation for a while now...it's just this year I got around to really digging into the collection deeper.

Drugstore-Maybe At Christmas Time

This next band has been around for a while but are still cranking out new tunes. They are Remington Super 60, and the following track comes from their Christmas EP that is available only online (and it's FREE, so scurry right over there to download the rest of it!)

Remington Super 60-Christmas Song for Melanie

I have part three of my segments on SPUD 102. I was going to post two today to catch up, but I figured I could post one per day over the weekend and that will take us right into next week without missing a beat.

SPUD 102 12/12/07

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Christmas music I'd like to see

Often I will dream of Christmas music not yet made (is that a sign I listen to too much of this stuff??) I mean, how cool would it be to get a Christmas compilation with songs by the likes of Leonard Cohen, Michael Gira, the Tindersticks, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Tom Waits, and the sort? And not simply cover versions, but originals penned by these masters? Oh, I keep dreaming of the day.

But I am glad I have what I have, and there are some fantastic songs that fill that void to be heard and shared.

First up is an artist I featured on SPUD 102 on the first segment. It was the first song I thought of when trying to come up with great songs to share with a wider audience, and it is by Bill Mallonee. He's been hailed by critics as the best American songwriter you're not listening to. He's been making music since the early/mid 90's and it is criminal...and I mean CRIMINAL...this man doesn't have a larger following. His name deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as Nick Cave and Leonard Cohen.

I will have more from him in a future blog posting, but today's song is not the same version heard on SPUD. It's a live recording going back to the time I discovered this song for myself...back to April of 1998 at the Xhedos Cafe in Ferndale, MI.

Vigilantes of Love-On To Bethlehem

Next up is another artist who has labored for years and still only has a relatively small following. Phil Madeira isn't a household name among a few but his work has influenced and been recorded by some of the biggest names around, including Ricky Skaggs and Garth Brooks. More than likely you may know his work and never knew you knew it was his work.

This is a new song by him.

Phil Madeira-Hallelujah, It's Christmas

I mentioned Tom Waits and how I'd love to hear him do an original Christmas song or two. I was listening to my Christmas songs on my MP3 player today and the Legendary Shack Shakers came up. This is from the Redeye Christmas compilation. This is a cover version, but it sure as heck fire is one of the best cover versions of this song I've heard and has a very Tom Waits kind of a feel to it.

Legendary Shack Shakers-God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen


Next up is the Opal Foxx Quartet. Not much info can be found online about Opal Foxx, but I can tell you this track comes from a rare Christmas song compilation out of Athens, GA compiled by Flagpole, a local music magazine from the early 90s. This, too, has a Tom Waits kind of feel to it. It has that American roots kind of feel to it that I am going for today.

Opal Foxx Quartet-On Christmas Day


And I know some of you reading this are going, "But Tom Waits DOES have a Christmas song!" Ah, yes he does. And I'd like to share with you an ultra rare live recording of it that is also mixed with his rendition of Silent Night.

Tom Waits-Silent Night/A Xmas Card From a Hooker In Minneapolis

And, last but certainly not least, is a glimpse of what might be if Leonard Cohen gave his vocals to a Christmas album. This is, sadly, just a cover version (not "just" in any bad way...ANY Christmas song by L. Cohen is a welcome addition to my collection...but I'd love to hear is poetic beauty in an original Christmas song) and it comes from a soundboard recording at the Dome Theater in Brighton, recorded on 12/15/1979.

Leonard Cohen-Silent Night

And for those of you looking for the third part of the SPUD segments, Todd hasn't sent me the file yet. Hopefully I will get two tomorrow and get those on the blog for you.

Thanks for listening.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

A long time ago, under a tree far away....


Anybody over the age of 30 probably had Star Wars toys when they were kids. Or at least knew somebody who did. How could we celebrate Christmas and presents and toys and all the good stuff with it without recalling some of the best toys of the past....the Star Wars toys from Kenner! Todd MacEwen of SPUD 102 got me thinking about this again with a recent blog post:

"While we were on location at McDonald's last week as part of the SPUD FM Christmas Miracle (for more details, see the home page) we got to talking about Christmas memories from childhood - and generally these memories involve toys. Lots and lots of toys. For me, it began and ended with Star Wars."

That about sums it up for me as well. And, not surprisingly, there is a Christmas song honoring these wonderful days of a Christmas long ago and far far way. It comes from an animated short of the same name and it won the George Lucas Selects Award in 2002.

Kristy Dawson-Christmas Tauntauns

And while we are on the topic of Star Wars, this is a good time to talk about the Star Wars Christmas in the Stars holiday album. Naturally, my curiosity is piqued on how aliens in a galaxy long ago and far far away could be celebrating the birth of Jesus in a tiny manger in what is more than likely in their future (a problem I have with the Flintstones celebrating Christmas as well, come to think of it) but the result is both breathtaking and horrific at the same time.

Most bloggers will share either the title track or the ever popular, "R2-D2, We Wish You A Merry Christmas." You can even find the answer of what do you get a Wookie for Christmas if he already has a comb elsewhere online. (The answer is you can get him peace, love, and understanding...so basically Chewie gets screwed AGAIN, as if not getting a medal at the end of A New Hope wasn't a piss in the face enough!) No, I chose to share with you a lesser heard track...a track where R2-D2 learns to put his whistles to good use...and that is debatable, by the way...

Star Wars Christmas in the Stars-Sleigh Ride


And also today I have the second segment on SPUD 102 for your listening pleasure.

SPUD 102 12/11/07







Tuesday, December 11, 2007

On the Radio


Talking yesterday about SPUD 102 and my upcoming segments on the station got me thinking about a couple live performances that have aired recently that yielded some marvelous offerings for the Holiday season.

First up is Ingrid Michaelson. I personally discovered her by happening upon her My Space page, but she's had songs featured in Old Navy commercials and on Grey's Anatomy. The track I am featuring by her is a very intriguing take on building a snowman. It's the polar opposite of the silly song Gene Autry sang when he was boggled beyond belief about where a snowman could go if you build a fire by it.

This song was performed live for WXPN 88.5 at the University of Pennsylvania. As far as I've been able to see from Ingrid's two CD releases is that she doesn't have this on a CD yet. She appears to have a holiday related tune on Girls and Boys ("December Child") but if this live performance is any indication, I think Ingrid needs to bless us with a Christmas/holiday themed CD next year with all original songs. This is a very, very striking track.

Ingrid Michaelson-Men of Snow

Next I have another live performance, this time from Today FM in Dublin. Juliet Turner gives us a tale about winter in this track. As far as I can find, it's not on any CD of hers. Please correct me if I am mistaken.

Juliet Turner-Winter's Tale

I also have another Christmas music oddity. Seeing as this is a radio themed post, and I talked previously about Todd MacEwen, my mind went back to this track. He sent me a handful of Christmas tunes that were mostly new to me, all by Canadian artists. Meryn Cadell penned a track called "The Cat Carol," and I have to admit I wasn't exactly delighted to see that name on a song. If Todd hadn't sent it to me, I doubt I'd ever give a song like that the time of day because all I could think of was the "Jingle Cats" type crap. Meryn's song just goes to show you that you cannot judge a song by its title.

Meryn Cadell-The Cat Carol


And please give a listen to my first segment on SPUD 102. More to follow...

SPUD 102 12/10/07

Monday, December 10, 2007

Spud 102


Shameless plug time.

I had a good time on Saturday being interviewed by Todd MacEwen of Spud 102, a classic rock station in Summerside, Prince Edward Island. He saw the blog, thought it would be fun to talk to me about out of the ordinary Christmas music, and he's going to be playing segments of the interview during his afternoon drive program as well as playing tracks I selected, most of which haven't been posted on this blog yet.

You can listen online or Todd will be sharing the MP3s of the segments with me and I will post them on my blog as I get them.

102 Spud

December 6

Beginning next week, I will be talking to a noted Christmas Musicologist and get some insight into some favorite, not so favorite and downright unusual Holiday classics...in the meantime, check out his blog... http://twelvemonthsofchristmas.blogspot.com/ ...honestly, Hasselhoff saves Christmas! Tune in weekdays just after 5 PM to hear the good, the bad and the ugly of the season.


Wonderful Beatmas


The impact the Beatles had on music has been immeasurable. I am really surprised their contribution to the Christmas music scene, however, was rather limited to a handful of flexi discs (which I won't even dare to post here--sorry--I've seen the files removed from other sites so fast I am not even going to try). "Christmas Time Is Here Again" is about it, folks. Of course, there's Paul's "Wonderful Christmas" that is, by all rights, a great song. I can see why it's often featured in many play lists this time of year.

But you're not going to find either song here today.

Instead, I am focusing on songs that are Beatlesque in feel, coming from bands inspired by the Beatles, or just have a FAB kind of sound to them.

First up is XTC. While they didn't really start out as a Beatlesque band, their albums such as Skylarking and Oranges and Lemons had a decidedly Beatles influence to them that is undeniable. They released a Christmas song in the UK as "The Three Wise Men." Maybe it's the over exposure to Paul McCartney's "Wonderful Christmas," but I always found myself partial to this Beatlesque Christmas tune over McCartney's song. Sorry, Paul. Nothing personal.

XTC-Thanks For Christmas

Next up is a track from Neil Innes. He is best known for his work in Monty Python, but you also may know him from the movie, The Rutles: All You Need is Cash. The Rutles was a Beatles spoof mockumentary, and the Rutles also released two albums of Beatlesque music. As a solo artist, Neil Innes released a Christmas single in 1984. The influence of the Beatles is clearly evident in this track.

Neil Innes-Dear Father Christmas

Chris Stamey is the founder of the band The dB's. I can't say I've listened to a lot of their music, but Chris had a Christmas song that was included in the New Wave Xmas collection (long out of print, and going for a mint in some areas on the Web.) It has that whole Beatles nod/Wonderful Christmas kind of feel to it, so I had to include it.

Chris Stamey Group-Christmas Time


Finally, there was a group called Rubber Band that is a Swedish Beatles tribute band. They released a CD in 1996 and it's a quite fun take on what Christmas music might have sounded like if the Beatles chose to do more Christmas music than what they did. Often--well, not often but all the freaking time--people will credit these songs to the Beatles when posting the songs online. Not here, folks. I strive for more accuracy here. It's the Rubber Band. I wish it was the Fab Four, but it's great stuff nonetheless.

Rubber Band-Last Christmas

Sunday, December 9, 2007

A Home Sweet Home Christmas


One LP record I happened upon recently was a still sealed copy of A Home Sweet Home Christmas. Home Sweet Home was a record label started by Chris Christian.

The record is from 1985 and features all original songs by the artists represented...not a cover version in sight. The majority of the songs were written in 1984 and 1985 (one was written in 82) so it's certainly a product of its time.

While I more than likely won't do this often, I am going to post every track from the record. It's extremely hard to find (an extensive Google search this afternoon yielded no further information about this record for me, but I did see that the label that put this record out is also responsible for unleashing the Dallas Cowboys NFL Christmas Record on the world.)

It's middle of the road safe music...nothing really revolutionary here. Just nice, easy listening tracks. And sometimes that's just perfect.

White Heart-Gloria
Steve Archer-Bethlehem Morning
Chris Christian-It's Christmas Time
Gary Allen Green-Jesus, Merry Christmas
John Schriner-What Child Is This?
Rick Riso-Jesus Is the Promised One
Tami Gunden-Jesus Was Born in Bethlehem
Gary Allen Green-I Have Held My King
David Martin-It Won't Be Christmas
White Heart-Who Is The One?

YOU BETTER WATCH OUT!!!!

There are some Christmas songs that are quite frequently covered, but very few get different lyrics later on. One song that's often customized is "The Twelve Days of Christmas." So when I find classic songs that have been covered and they feature different lyrics, I am intrigued and I take notice.

The lyrics of Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town are often all the same. However, I've found a couple versions that have different lyrics.

First up is an old version by the Caroleers. I am unable to find the exact year of this recording. It is unique because it has an extra verse at the beginning that I've never heard before or seen published in any online lyrics sites.

Caroleers-Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town

I also have a considerably newer version of the song with completely reworked lyrics to bring the song into the 21st century. It's a very creative re-imagining of the classic song by Garrison Keillor of A Prairie Home Companion fame. This recording comes from his live Christmas broadcast in 2006.

Garrison Keillor-Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town

Now I'd like to share a late 70's rendition of the reminder that Santa's annual visit is impending, but it's not a cover version of the beloved classic. This time instead of coming to town, Santa is discoing to town, and it's a original tune that takes a cue from the classic.

Max Fagan-Santa Claus Is Disco'n To Town

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Christmas At Denny's


Today's blog post carries on the theme from a few days ago of posting songs that are Christmas songs but appeared on non-Christmas albums. I don't know if any of these songs have been collected on Christmas compilations ever. Unless you're a fan of these artists, I am not sure when somebody would get a chance to hear them. That's why I love sharing these songs.

Christmas At Denny's
(lyric link) is the first offering today. It is by an artist named Randy Stonehill, and I first discovered Randy when I made a blind purchase on Our Recollections, a best of collection. This track was on there and I was happy to have another unique Christmas song to add to my collection in addition to having a collection of great music and an introduction to an artist who's work I'd come to enjoy for a long, long time.

Randy Stonehill
is not the best known singer in the world, but his song "Shut De Do" will probably live long after him and be sung in Sunday School class rooms and by children for years to come. And so will his acting debut in Beware! The Blob.

It's probably been ten years since I discovered this song and I still manage to find a new appreciation for it each time I hear it. It's just an amazing track.

Randy Stonehill-Christmas At Denny's

Next up is Bobby Goldsboro. The song is "Honey" and it is his tenth album and his only number one hit, released back in 1968. It has been called "The Worst Song of All Time" by CNN and makes the worst song lists of many critics quite frequently. I had no idea it was supposed to be a bad song when I discovered it through the underrated and criminally overlooked movie Breakfast on Pluto and the movie's subsequent soundtrack. It's not a traditional Christmas song (as if Christmas at Denny's is!) but because the story of the song centers around Christmas, it's a Christmas song in my book.

As for it being the worst song of all time, that hasn't stopped me from just loving this song and every minute of it. It's a beautiful song and when I realized what I was listening to, I was quite taken by it. And it's a song that once it ends the lyrics pick right up at the beginning again.

Bobby Goldsboro-Honey


Today I will give you a bonus song...another Bobby Goldsboro track, but this is a true Christmas song.

Bobby Goldsboro-Look Around You (It's Christmas Time)



A side story that has nothing to do with the songs, but
just a personal story about Randy Stonehill. I was trying to
find a copy of the limited edition version of his new
CD Thirst, which was signed and numbered by him. I
was having a very difficult time finding a copy, and
was posting on an online message board about it.
Randy Stonehill himself contacted me and sent me a
copy of the CD personally. So he's an artist very
much in touch with his fans, and I think that's a
great quality in any artist. He's got a cult
following, but he does deserve a wider audience.