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You should not have a problem using a background behind text links, just make sure that the text links have plenty of contrast and are easy to view for your readers. Spiders will crawl those links with no problem.
Oh and welcome to Webmaster World!
[edited by: OrganicPop at 11:31 pm (utc) on Nov. 28, 2006]
If CSS is not familiar then why do some rummaging in the CSS forum library [webmasterworld.com] - this will give you a decent starting point.