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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, 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

Albert Brooks

Albert Brooks, "Daddy's Christmas" (1974)
Once upon a time, Albert Brooks was the younger, hipper, West Coast edition of Woody Allen. Brooks never got that famous, and he's certainly not been as prolific (six films in forty-or-so years, not counting his more frequent acting gigs), but then, he never married his stepdaughter, either. Nearly lost to history, sadly, are the comedy records Brooks made early in his career. Both were brilliant, and neither has been reissued on CD. "Daddy's Christmas," released only on 45, is even more obscure - and more twisted. Every holiday season, one of my favorite moments is hearing Brooks invoke this deathless bit of wisdom during his bedtime dialogue with an unsuspecting young actor, "Honey, sometimes I wonder if through sheer stupidity children aren't just as smart as any grownup."

speaker MP3, 4.5 MB (ripped from vinyl)

Cheap Trick, Christmas Christmas (1996)
Recorded in 1995, this song was ultimately released in 1996 on Gift, a 2-track charity fundraiser available only in Cheap Trick's hometown of Rockford, Illinois. The a-side, "Come On Christmas" (based on "Come On Come On" from In Color, 1977), has already been unleashed on the general public in an extended versionon the band's boxed set, Sex America Cheap Trick. But "Christmas Christmas," a manic rave-up merely 1:35 in length, is only available on the Gift EP - which is by now pretty goddamn rare.

speaker MP3, 2.3 MB (ripped from CD)

Cheap Trick

Mike Ireland

Mike ireland, "Merry Christmas From A Bar" (1997)
Despite glowing reviews, this Kansas City singer/songwriter and his band Holler remain largely unheard - too dark to be revivalists, too traditional to qualify as alternative country. Their 1998 debut, Learning How To Live, featured the tender ballad, "Christmas Past." An early mix of the song had been released by Sub Pop Records as a promo-only single also featuring the otherwise unavailable song "Merry Christmas From A Bar." In fact, Ireland adapted that song from Austinite Michael Hall's "Merry Christmas From Mars," wresting a true country weeper from Hall's weirdo carol.

speaker MP3, 3.2 MB (ripped from CD)

Native Tongue, "Do You Hear What I Hear?" (1983)
One of my all-time fave raves, A Boston Rock Christmas, is an obscure, 12-inch EP notable mainly for the recorded debut of the Del Fuegos. With the exception of that song (included on Ho Ho Ho Spice), none of the tracks has ever appeared on CD. Regardless, all five songs are priceless, including this one. Native Tongue's slouching insouciance and punk clatter perform the perfect deconstruction of Bing Crosby's 1963 query.

speaker MP3, 3.6 MB (ripped from vinyl)

Native Tongue

Leon Russell

Leon Russell, "Christmas In Chicago" (1972)
Leon Russell penned "Christmas In Chicago" as the b-side to his "Slipping Into Christmas," releasing the single on his Shelter Records in 1972. "Christmas In Chicago" is defensibly the better song - certainly it's the least weird - conforming to a more traditional blues structure and featuring some snappy steel licks. All the same, the eerie a-side slipped up to #4 on the Billboard Christmas chart. Oddly, Russell has never included either song on one of his albums, nor has he licensed them for inclusion elsewhere. DCC Records did, however, release the songs on a promotional CD single to publicize their 1989 reissue of Russell's Shelter catalog.

speaker MP3, 3.6 MB (ripped from CD)

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