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Boomkat Product Review:
It's Christmas again in case you didn't notice all the garish decorations and the appearance of small European markets in our otherwise dull, grey town centres and Christmas in music-land means one thing - compilations. Yup it's the time of year when record labels put the brakes on and instead of encouraging their artists to produce more music they instead throw together cheap cash-in compilations and 'best of' records. A wonderful way of making money, but they're almost always of no-interest to actual music fans. It's so nice then to see ex-Red House Painter Mark Kozelek bucking the trend a little; 'Little Drummer Boy' is a seasonal best-of compilation of sorts but instead of collecting up a bunch of tracks we already own, he presents us with a compilation of rare live recording. So in essence we have a best of album which is made up of versions of the tracks you haven't heard before - what a stunning idea! Over two cds we hear Kozelek perform songs from throughout his entire career; Red House Painters ('Katy Song', 'Bubble'), Sun Kil Moon ('Salvador Sanchez', 'Duk Koo Kim') and Old Roman ('Void', 'Cruiser') and every one is performed with Kozelek's intense charm and heart. There's a reason why he's stayed so close to us since the early 4AD days and that's because he has such a gift for not only songwriting but for interpretation. His last album 'Tiny Cities' took the songs of Modest Mouse and re-configured them to suit Kozelek's style without sounding trite or damaged in any way. In fact many of the tracks sounded better than they ever did, with Kozelek bringing a new-found emotional core, and that's exactly what he does here. We hear sadness, happiness, love and regret all performed in one take, in front of an adoring crowd - and what better representation of the man's work could there be than that?