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December Songs
The inaugural 2003 edition of Sweet Tracks, a series sold exclusively through Best Buy stores

Every year, dozens of promotional albums or "promos" are issued by records labels, radio stations, and retail stores. Some are intended for airplay only, while others are sold for a limited time. During the 1960's, series of these records - especially those sold by Firestone and Goodyear tire dealers - were among the most popular Christmas albums on the market. Usually, promotional albums are compiled from widely-distributed major label catalogs. But, occasionally - and with increasing frequency these days - promotional albums contain exclusive or hard-to-find tracks to drive record collectors wild.

This page lists the mere handful of Christmas promos that I have picked up for various reasons, some enumerated below. Even what qualifies an album as promotional can be fuzzy, but the common thread here is that these records were not widely available for sale - if at all. So, if you want to track them down, you'll most likely have to do it the same way I did - by scouring used record stores and haunting the darkest corners of the world wide web. As always, your feedback is encouraged. Please send additions, corrections, criticisms, and suggestions via email .

A&M Records 1997 In-Store Christmas Sampler 1997 image buy  
A&M Records Christmas Sampler
- above two catalog surveys from Universal-distributed label; all tracks commercially available elsewhere
1993 image buy  
Black Christmas
- compiled and illustrated by the Cramps' Lux Interior and Ivy Rorschach for Bust Magazine; by most accounts, the band only selected the tracks, leaving it up to readers to hunt them down...
2004 image buy  
Bluebird Cafe Christmas
- benefit for St. Patrick's Shelter in Nashville
1993 image buy  
Capitol Records Chestnuts
- 18 tracks from Capitol Records and associated labels; includes rare tracks from Luscious Jackson, Dexter Freebish
1999 image buy  
Christmas All Over The Place
- 13 tracks taken from the eclectic Rykodisc catalog; similar to commercially-released Xmas Marks The Spot (1997)
1994 image buy  
Christmas Chaos Compilation
- 6-track Warner Music Group alternative EP, no front cover; includes non-LP tracks from Guster and Sixpence None The Richer
2003 image buy  
Christmas Double-Tradition
- Warner CD containing 8 tracks from Christmas Tradition Volume 1 (1987), all of Volume 2 (1988), plus three additional new tracks
1988 image buy  
Christmas Stocking Stuffers
- catalog sampler from Sony labels Columbia and Epic; all tracks commercially available elsewhere
1998 image buy  
Christmas Twist
- sold only in Pier One Imports stores; several rare songs including Dada's "My Baby Fell For Old St. Nick"
2000 image buy  
Coca-Cola: Delivering Real Holiday Refreshment
- sampler from Coke, EMI, and now-defunct retailer
1998 image buy  
Columbia Christmas Classics
- catalog sampler from Sony's flagship label; includes Zebrahead's rare "Deck The Halls (I Hate Christmas)"
1999 image buy  
December Songs
- new songs (Smithereens) and catalog classics (Elvis) from RCA
1994 image buy  
Deck The Halls
- 5-track EP from Houston-based indie label Compadre Records; includes a previously unreleased track by Billy Joe Shaver
2003 image buy  
Elton John's Christmas party
- smart 21-track collection of rockers from Reg Dwight and Starbucks/Hear Music; 15-track version issued the following year by Hip-O Records
2005 image buy  
Flip For Toys
five varied modern tracks plus interactive content; distributed exclusively through Target stores
2001 image buy  
- five-track alternative rock EP from Tim/Kerr and Capitol Records; given away through the Coalition Of Independent Music Stores
1997 image buy  
Happy Holidays
- From Your Friends at Redeye Distribution and Yep Roc Records!
2006 image buy  
Holiday Cheers from the Quincy Jones Music Publishing Songwriters
- eight exclusive tracks, gospel, hip hop, and rhythm & blues
1997 image buy  
Hope: Island Radio Holiday Sampler
- twelve tracks from the Island Records catalog 1973-1995
1995 image buy  
In The Spirit
- 9-track compilation from Elektra Records, sticker on jewel case for front cover; includes rare tracks by the Old 97's, Luna, and Freedy Johnston
1998 image buy  
Island holiday sampler
- 11 tracks in a red-and-white, round, cardboard slipcase
1994 image buy  
Jingle This
- Atlantic/Lava alternative sampler, no front cover; two different editions issued - each with slightly different track listings and CD label artwork (one red, one green)
2004 image buy  
Just In Time For Christmas
- seven-song EP sent by IRS Records executives to their clients; reissued in 1990 as a full-length commercial album
1987 image buy review
Kevin & Bean: Feel The Warmth Of Kevin and Bean's Wonderful World of Christmas
- irreverent KROQ morning team commences long-running series of albums featuring comedy routines and alternative rock (see below)
1990 image buy  
Kevin & Bean: Bogus Christmas 1991 help! buy  
Kevin & Bean: We've Got Your Yule Logs Hangin' 1992 image buy  
Kevin & Bean: Santa Claus Schmanta Claus 1993 image buy  
Kevin & Bean: No Toys For O.J. 1994 image buy  
Kevin & Bean: How the Juice Stole Christmas 1995 image buy  
Kevin & Bean: Christmastime In The LBC 1996 image buy  
Kevin & Bean: A Family Christmas... In Your Ass
- first-ever CD compiles highlights from above seven LP & cassette tape releases
1997 image buy  
Kevin & Bean: Santa's Swingin' Sack 1998 image buy  
Kevin & Bean: Last Christmas 1999 image buy  
Kevin & Bean: The Real Slim Santa 2000 image buy  
Kevin & Bean: Swallow My Egg Nog 2001 image buy  
Kevin & Bean: Fo' Shizzle St. Nizzle 2002 image buy  
Kevin & Bean: Year They Recalled Santa 2003 image buy  
Kevin & Bean: Christmastime In The 909 2004 image buy  
Kevin & Bean: Super Christmas
- yes, they skipped 2005...
2006 image buy  
KLBJ Local Licks: Yule Rock!
- local talent compiled by mainstream rock station in Austin, Texas; all exclusive tracks
1999 image buy  
KROX 101X-mas
- local talent compiled by alternative rock station in Austin, Texas; largely exclusive tracks, including one by the Butthole Surfers
1995 image buy  
KVET Genuine Austin Christmas
- Austin, Texas country radio station 98.1 KVET presents all-new recordings by Kelly Willis, Radney Foster, Ray Benson (Asleep At The Wheel), Rick Trevino, and a host of local talent
2003 image buy  
Mad Tidings
- jazz, gospel, and rhythm & blues from Polygram family of labels
1993 image buy  
Mark & Brian: Little Drummer Boys
- music and comedy from KLOS radio team's popular show
2000 image buy  
Merry Christmas (EP)
- 6-song, 12-inch EP from Les Disques Du Crépuscule; one track would go on to become a recurring entry in their lengthy Ghosts Of Christmas Past series
1984 image buy  
A Merry Little Christmas
- 7-song adult-alternative sampler from Elektra/East-West Records; includes rare tracks from Freedy Johnston and Ween
1994 image buy  
Mojo's Blue Christmas 2005 image buy  
Mojo's Festive Fifteen
- above two compile 15 exclusive, rare, or classic tracks; given away with the December issue of storied English music magazine
2011 image buy  
Music To Stuff Any Stocking: 1996 Rhino Christmas Sampler
- 25 tracks taken from the label's varied, voluminous catalog
1996 image buy  
Nine Capitol Christmas Singles On One CD
- title pretty much says it all...
2000 image buy  
91X-mas Loudspeaker
- produced by George Gimarc for San Diego radio station XTRA-FM
1993 image buy  
99X Deck The Hall Ball 1998 image buy  
99X Deck The Hall Ball
- different cover and track listing than above
1999 image buy  
99Xmas Sound Track: Seasons Greetings From 99X 2000 image buy  
99Xmas Sound Track Vol. 2: Happy Holidays from 99X 2001 image buy  
99Xmas Sound Track Vol. 3: Happy Holidays from 99X 2002 image buy  
99Xmas Sound Track Vol. 4: Wishing You A Peaceful Holiday Season
- above six compiled by Atlanta rock station WNNX
2005 image buy  
Peeing In The Snow: New Carols For Modern Times
- compiled by Austin-based recording studio Tequila Mockingbird
2001 image buy  
PLG Holiday Sampler
- 14 tracks from catalog of the Polygram Label Group; real ribbon attached to cardboard slipcase
1993 image buy  
The Right Stuff Christmas Sampler/Holiday Guide
- 10-track catalog survey from EMI-distributed reissue label
1996 image buy  
Sampler Claus: A Columbia Stocking Stuffer 1992 image buy  
Return Of Sampler Claus 1993 image buy  
Return Of Sampler Claus: Hits From The North Pole
- not the same as above, with different tracks and artwork
1994 image buy  
Sampler Claus Volume III
- note that this is actually the fourth volume...
1998 image buy  
Sampler Claus 2006
- above five issued by Sony-distributed Columbia Records; series includes a few rare or previously unreleased tracks
2006 image buy  
Seasons Greetings From Warner/Chappell Music
- great CD sent to business associates by music publishing giant
1998 image buy  
Sleigh Me: A Collection of Retro Holiday Classics
- neo-swing presented by Atomic Magazine
2000 image buy  
So This Is Christmas
- 8-track alternative rock CD from Atlantic Records; cover art by Daniel Johnston
1996 image buy  
Something Festive
- A&M Records sampler sold through B.F. Goodrich tire dealerships
1968 image buy  
Sounds Of The Season: The Country Collection (2003) 2003 image buy  
Sounds Of The Season: The Country Collection (2004) 2004 image buy  
Sounds Of The Season: The Country Collection (2005) 2005 image buy  
Sounds Of The Season: The NBC Holiday Collection (2003) 2003 image buy  
Sounds Of The Season: The NBC Holiday Collection (2004) 2004 image buy  
Sounds Of The Season: The NBC Holiday Collection (2005) 2005 image buy  
Sounds Of The Season: The R&B Collection (2003) 2003 image buy  
Sounds Of The Season: The R&B Collection (2004) 2004 image buy  
Sounds Of The Season: The R&B Collection (2005)
- above nine initially sold exclusively at Target stores; most have several exclusive tracks; after 2005 the company switched to albums dedicated to individual artists
2005 image buy  
Sub Pop Holiday Sound Spectacular
- five track sampler hosted by Combustible Edison's The Millionaire; includes songs from Sub Pop's "Happy Holidays" series of promo CD greeting cards featuring Combustible Edison (1994), Thornetta Davis (1995), and Mike Ireland (1997)
1997 image buy  
Sweet Tracks 2003 2003 image buy  
Sweet Tracks 2004 2004 image buy  
Sweet Tracks 2005
- above three sold only in Best Buy electronics stores; all tracks exclusive, rare, or previously unreleased; packaged in specially-designed tin cannisters; series moved to digital-only in 2006, then discontinued
2005 image buy  
A Taste Of Triple A, Vol. 1 2004 image buy  
A Taste Of Triple A, Vol. 13 2005 image buy  
A Taste Of Triple A, Vol. 25 2006 image buy  
A Taste Of Triple A, Vol. 37 2007 help buy  
A Taste Of Triple A, Vol. 47 2008 image buy  
A Taste Of Triple A, Vol. 58 2009 help buy  
A Taste Of Triple A, Vol. 70 2010 image buy  
A Taste Of Triple A, Vol. 82
- above eight holiday-themed radio promos from "adult album alternative" series
2011 image buy  
Universal Records Christmas Sampler
- four previously unreleased alternative rock songs
1997 image buy  
Virgin Christmas CD
- UK 2-disc set promoting holiday catalog of Virgin Records
2000 image buy  
VPRO De Avonden Xmas 1998 1998 image buy  
VPRO De Avonden Xmas 1999 1999 image buy  
VPRO De Avonden Xmas 2000 2000 image buy  
VPRO De Avonden Xmas 2001 2001 image buy  
VPRO De Avonden Xmas 2002 2002 image buy  
VPRO De Avonden Xmas 2003
- above six are very limited edition indie rock collections issued by Netherlands radio station
2003 image buy  
Westwood One: A Holiday Happening
- part of syndicated radio network's 'Rarities On Compact Disc' series; 24 tracks, some still quite rare, others now common
1992 image buy  
White Christmas Album
- Doctor Dream CD sampler packaged like the Beatles' White Album; 10 exclusive tracks featuring Tiny Lights, Walking Wounded
1991 image buy  
Winter Warnerland
- exclusive tracks and holiday greetings from Warner Brothers; released as 2-LP set and single CD
1988 image buy  
Wishing You A Way-Cool Yule
- produced by EMI Special Markets for Standard Federal Bank (MI)
1999 image buy  
You Sleigh Me
- early 9-song promotional version of 12-song 1995 Atlantic album; track selection varies considerably from officially released version; cover art by Daniel Johnston not used on commercial release
1994 image buy  
Yule Fuel: 1992 Rhino Christmas Sampler
- 28 tracks taken from the label's varied, voluminous catalog
1992 image buy  
- Warner Brothers radio promo with holiday greetings from artists; exclusive songs from Aztec Camera, Los Lobos, and Book Of Love; 12-inch red vinyl LP, never issued on CD
1987 image buy  

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