Wednesday, January 31, 2007

"How to get thousands of hours of free (and legal) music online, with free record guides to boot."

Soundz: T.S. Minton's Guides to Music...

"One likes to believe in the freedom of music
But glittering prizes and endless compromises shatter the illusion of integrity."
"The Spirit of Radio" - Rush

"Listening for the secret, searching got the sound
But I could only hear the preacher, and the baying of his hounds."
"Unbroken Chain" - The Grateful Dead

Here's what I'm trying to accomplish with this music blog:

Goal #1:
First, just to have fun vigorously discussing the music I love and immerse myself in, with others who have similar (ahem) refined taste; to form a community of happy bloggers blissfully confirming our own biases; and occasionally, to encounter wise guys who will challenge my assumptions (fat chance changing my preferences, but sometimes it's fun to engage educated, opposing points of view), much like I will do on these blogs, from time to time, to self-appointed sacred cows of the rock critic world like Robert Christgau and Greil Marcus; and to offer a great launching pad for lots of amazing free (and legal) streaming music.

To become less long-winded. Just kidding.

Goal #3:
To strongly promote the concept of rock history canonization for a new generation which both benefits and suffers from the easy access to whatever fractionalized form of music strikes their fancy. The Wired Generation enjoys obvious conveniences: ipods, free downloads and streaming music, cheap CDs, satellite radio, etc. But I want to help ensure that this new crop of eager beaver music seekers won't go through life unaware of, e.g. those rare gems of rock music from past decades, which have achieved near universal critical consensus, but little commercial exposure: the melodic hippie heaven of Love's Forever Changes (1967) and the self-titled first album by Moby Grape (1967); the eponymous Manfred Mann's Earth Band (1972) ("Living Without You": the creme de la creme of non-pretentious art/jazz rock, an amazing feat); Steely Dan's Pretzel Logic (1974): twist your mind around lyrics soaked in the jaded despair of the Watergate era, immersed in virtuoso musicianship with every note and jazz-rock noodle logically calculated; Television's Marquee Moon (1977): strangled vocals of visionary punk poet Tom Verlaine and searing, ecstatic guitar duels with Richard Lloyd on the title track; and Freedy Johnston's indelible singer-songwriter workhorse Can You Fly (1992).

I owe my exposure to all of these sleeper classics to their canonization by list-making mavens like Marcus and Christgau. IMHO, you owe it to yourself to check them out if you haven't already. Of course different critics have different canons, but when music aficionados (of the styles I'm promoting on this blog) see overlaps, they should really take heed, and scramble off to their nearest CD store or go online to, say, the link below and buy 'em up ASAP...

I'd recommend you check out the following versions of "The Canon," compare notes and look for common denominators. There's a reason certain vaunted albums have caused so much fuss over the decades: they are uncategorically great. To go through life without hearing, say, Pet Sounds or London Calling would be, IMHO, a form of insanity. Yes, of course there can be intelligent differences of opinion and taste. But to muddle along without a visceral, gut-level appreciation for, say, the indisputable pillars of rock like Dylan, The Beatles, Motown, and The Clash is a reality-tunnel I do not care to visit, let alone live in. Some of my other faves like The Grateful Dead, Shawn Colvin, and Burt Bacharach are admitedly more acquired tastes -- but I still feel the same way toward their greatness, i.e. if you don't love 'em, what planet are you from??

First though, here's some links to more free music than you could stuff in your ears if you had nothing to do but listen...for the next decade. Note: Some require free registration.

Pinch yourself, you're not dreaming: free access to thousands of hours of "over 6,000 shows with new shows added daily" in Windows media streaming format, plus over 1500 shows of "the original SugarMegs RealAudio collection" -- decades of free concerts by The Grateful Dead (and new music by Phil and Friends and Ratdog), and free musical gems from The Allman Brothers to Frank Zappa.

Vault Radio from
"Bill Graham and his concert promotion company, Bill Graham Presents, produced more than 35,000 concerts all over the world. His first venue, the legendary Fillmore Auditorium, was home to many of rock's greatest performers - Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, The Doors, The Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, Otis Redding, Marvin Gaye, Led Zeppelin, Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan, Prince - and the list goes on and on...Graham taped thousands of live performances and stored the tapes in the basement of the BGP headquarters. These tapes and the concerts they captured lay dormant until the Bill Graham archive was acquired by Wolfgang's Vault (Bill Graham's given first name was Wolfgang) in 2003...Vault Radio is now playing selected tracks from these concerts in an FM-quality, 128K digital radio stream. Songs will be added to and removed from the radio show on a regular basis. We will be broadcasting unaltered live performance music from many of the greatest bands of the last 40 years. The music you hear on Vault Radio has not been sweetened or polished. You'll be listening to what the band played that night - nothing more, nothing less."
Don't do it! Don't go through life without hearing 107.1 KGSR Austin, Texas: true blue community radio.
Live Music Archive or "is a community committed to providing the highest quality live concerts in a lossless, downloadable format. The Internet Archive has teamed up with to preserve and archive as many live concerts as possible for current and future generations to enjoy. All music in this Collection is from trade-friendly artists and is strictly noncommercial, both for access here and for any further distribution. Artists' commercial releases are off-limits. This collection is maintained by the community."

Yahoo Music:
"Internet radio, Music Videos, Artists, Music News, Interviews, Performances." If can deal with sitting through the annoying little ads, there's lots of good free videos available.

My latest discovery: open up a separate window to log on to You Tube and use it as a self-programmed radio...i.e. minimize the window to just hear the music (and not necessarily watch the video) while you're doing other things on the desktop and online. Most of the videos are short, so it pays to have a list of your favorites you want to hear, to keep the music flowing.
Coming up next: "The" Canon.

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