EverclearGearing up for the holiday gift season, record companies are unloading odds and ends on your local CD shelves. Mute/Reprise has just released a collection of remixes from Depeche Mode called Remixes '81-'04.

The CD comes in both a single-disc version and a double-CD edition and offers club mixes of its hits "Never Let Me Down Again," "Personal Jesus," "Barrel of a Gun," "Route 66," "Strangelove," "Just Can't Get Enough" among others.

Meanwhile, Capitol Records has collected 10 years of Everclear's singles and favorites on Ten Years Gone: The Best of Everclear 1994-2004. The disc includes its quirky hits "AM Radio" and "Volvo Driving Soccer Mom," as well as the more serious "Father of Mine," "Everything to Everyone" and "Santa Monica."

Columbia is trying a new concept, perhaps as a "test marketing" ploy. The label's Legacy arm has just released three live albums from Toad The Wet Sprocket, Soul Asylum and Living Colour that will be available only for ordering through the Web site www.livefromthevaults.com until the end of the year. The discs are slated for a full retail release in mid-January.

Toad - LiveThe Toad disc, Welcome Home: Live at the Arlington Theater, was recorded in the band's hometown at the end of its breakthrough tour in 1992. It includes rousing versions of its hits "Walk on the Ocean," "All I Want," "Come Back Down" and "I Will Not Take These Things for Granted," as well as a couple of rarities.

Soul Asylum's release is After The Flood: Live From the Grand Forks Prom, and features the band performing a special prom show for flood-beleaguered North Dakota students in 1997. The band offered rousing versions of its hits "Misery," "Somebody to Shove," "Black Gold" and "Runaway Train," as well as covers such as Alice Cooper's "School's Out," Smokey Robinson's "Tracks of My Tears" and Marvin Gaye's "Sexual Healing" for the prom crowd.

Living Colour's Live At CBGB's was recorded a year after its debut had gone Top 10, and features its biggest hit "Cult of Personality," as well as key tracks like "Pride" and "Fight the Fight."

Columbia also has released a live album available in stores; Train's Alive at Last offers "Calling All Angels," "She's on Fire" and "Drops of Jupiter" among its 14 live tracks, and also includes two new studio tracks, "Ordinary" and "New Sensation."

Sanctuary Records also has gotten into the "live" act, releasing a tinny, noisy and unnecessary 10-song, live album from B-list '90s hair metal band Jackyl titled Live at the Full Throttle. The label also captured a 2002 concert from Keith Emerson and a reunion of the Nice. Keith Emerson and the Nice Live, Glasgow 2002 Vivacitas, offers 13 live Nice tracks (including some of Emerson's classic ELP material), as well as a third disc that includes an audio interview on its fabled late '60s history.

Strangely, it's not a video interview and doesn't even have a proper overdubbed introduction you can basically hear the interviewer's thumb hit the record button at the beginning and end of the 20-plus minute conversation. It does have some amusing anecdotes at one point they tell of how Keith Emerson rocked his organ to the edge of a stage until he fell off and then couldn't get security to let him back onstage.

And '70s guitar rock lovers can get a two-disc live album from Frank Marino & Mahogany Rush. RealLIVE! was recorded in 2001 and is issued on Canada's Just a Minute! Label.

 

Dogs Die in Hot CarsDogs Die in Hot Cars
Please Describe Yourself
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While their goofball name is off-putting (I avoided plugging it into the CD player for days just because of that!), DDIHC's music will ingratiate itself to you instantly. This is a band with a wry sense of humor ("I wish I had Paul Newman's eyes/that would be nice" they sing in one track) and an uncommon knack with a catchy hook.

Opening with the punchy ska-based "I Love You 'Cause I Have To," Please Describe Yourself listens like a forgotten treasure rescued from the '80s. There's no way anyone who ever listened to XTC can hear this disc without scanning the label credits for Andy Partridge's name. I certainly did at first I thought this might be a secret XTC side project but no. Supposedly DDIHC is a group of youngish British boys who write fun pop songs, sing marvelous harmony, and aren't afraid of provocative titles like "Who Shot the Baby?"

Nevertheless, the urgent acoustic strumming and near-falsetto opening to "Celebrity Sanctum"sounds like a lost track from XTC's Oranges and Lemons. (Ironically, there's another song on this album called "Apples & Oranges").

If you survived the alternative '80s, this disc will bring back fond memories of XTC, with the occasional shade of China Crisis. If those bands don't mean anything to you, than this will be a refreshing dose of quirky pop that's like nothing else on the radio today.

Look this one up.

For more information, check www.dogsdieinhotcars.com or drop downtown to Schuba's on Nov. 15 for the Chicago stop of their brief 9-date U.S. tour.