Monday, December 20, 2004


Here's what's going to happen over the next few weeks:

I have a huge post today that covers Christmas etc.

Then I'm going to take the rest of the week off. I'm working a lot, and then family is coming to visit on Wednesday, so it's time to give the internet a rest. (Incidentally, I just switched to Firefox -- it takes a NY Times article to get me off my butt -- and I'm already hooked.)

Next week my guest host Sleeve will be back. If you've been reading for a while, you may remember that he did an amazing stint here a few months ago, with lots of not-on-CD rarities and such. I'm really looking forward to this.

Ok, first thing up: The Wombles. I'm getting a lot of hits from people looking for that Wombles Christmas song that I posted last year. As far as I know, the Wombles Collection CD is hard to find these days, so here once again is Wombling Merry Christmas. Until someone else takes over (I haven't looked too hard, so maybe someone already has), I'll make it my yearly Christmas job to keep this song available.

Second thing: only slightly related to Christmas. Maybe it's all the talk about the recent Cristina reissue campaign, but I've had her producer August Darnell aka Kid Creole on my mind lately. I'm also in the midst of your standard Christmas nostalgia, which is making me reminisce about the wonderful pastel-hued video for the irresistibly bouncy Kid Creole & The Coconuts song Endicott, which used to play on U68 all the time back when I was young and livin' in New Jersey. I kick myself for not having used the VCR more often back in those days. Endicott comes from the In Praise Of Older Women & Other Crimes album, and the Kid Creole website (he's still around) is here.

Cristina once covered a song called La Poupee Qui Fait Non. It was also covered by Luna, years and years later, and I really like the Luna version. Here it is...very different than Cristina's take. You can read about the song's writer, Michel Polnareff, here.

Ok, last thing.

I don't generally listen to "Christmas" songs, since I'm pretty sick of most of them at this point, but around this time of year I do tend to gravitate towards the softer side of things, and Claudine Longet often ends up in heavy rotation. If you don't know her, or only know about the SNL sketch, be aware that her albums often have really wonderful songs and arrangements, carefully designed to set off her tiny little whisp of a voice. "What's wrong with her voice?" asked my wife, passing through the kitchen, and some people may have that reaction, it's true. I really like it, and I think that it does what needs to be done. But if you're a big fan of American Idol, you may not get what the fuss is all about.

As it happens, Claudine recorded a great, rhythmically complex, Christmas song called I Don't Intend to Spend Christmas Without You. The song was originally written by soft-pop songwriter Margo Guryan, whose demo version is probably better than (and not very different from) Claudine's. Margo's demo appears on the 25 Demos collection, as well as on some (not all) versions of her Take A Picture CD. Much later, Saint Etienne covered the track for a fan-club single. Here's that.

The Claudine Longet song that's currently thrilling me the most is her fairly radical reworking of the Rolling Stones' Let's Spend The Night Together. ("Mama needs you more than ever.") The great Claudine Longet website is here. Don't skip the "mail" page which includes all sorts of interesting stuff, including a tribute from someone from The Henry Rollins Band, and links to a pretty neat French twee-ish pop group called Watoo Watoo (their mp3s are well worth a listen).

Whew, hope that's enough to keep you occupied for a while! See you in a few weeks.

[Having given it some thought, I've decided to also post Claudine's Wanderlove, from her first album. I posted it once before, but it's been a while, and it may be the prettiest song I know. Do not expend much effort tracking down the version by the song's writer Mason Williams. It is blah.]

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