Ain't the Internet grand? In the 1980's and 90's, it was easy for me to discover new music, what with Danceteria, CBGB's and the like going strong, but older or more obscure music?
Then around 2000 or so, the "Golden Age Of Music Blogs," as I like to call it, began, and it's still going strong - introducing thousands to old or formerly obscure music.
To those who say that music blogs have been rendered obsolete because of torrents, just try finding an obscure Ella Fitzgerald or Lizbeth Scott LP on Piratebay or Kickass. You won't.
Today, I'd like to salute a few music blogs that continue to introduce me to great tunes of all kinds, and not because these sites merely post them - anyone can do that - but because they describe them, as well, giving me context with regards to the artist or the time period. So let's start the fun. Below, click on the banner to be taken to the blog, and the LP cover to be taken to a specific post.
Let's start with "Luigi's 50's & 60's Vinyl Corner."
I only stumbled upon "Luigi's" around 2011, and it's been a must-check blog for me ever since. Here you'll find a wide variety of rare tunes from artists like Brenda Lee, Cass Elliott, Jane Powell and The Walker Brothers. Better still, the blogger - a UK resident who goes by the name of "Espo" - peaks your interest in each artist with brief, pithy descriptions, and in most cases, posts not just the music and cover art, but a large, clickable image of the album's back cover and its internal notes (a rarity for music blogs). Oh, and get this, he even has a live comment feed which allows you to make requests!
The site recently posted an Ella Fitzgerald LP "Rhythm Is My Business." And here I thought I had everything by Ella. I was wrong.
Whenever I'm feelin' funky (and it happens), I go to "This Joint Is Jumpin."
I'm not sure who the funkmeister is behind this site - there's no "About the Blogger" section that I could find - but this is the place to discover great soul and funk from the 50's to the early 2000's. The variety is breathtaking - The Gap Band, George Benson, Tania Maria, Count Basie - and the blogger provides not just AllMusic notes, but sometimes original reviews from sources like BBC Music and other sites. Most tracks are in FLAC, but they're easy to covert to MP3 if you like, so don't let that scare you away. And don't let the secret password to unlock the files scare you away, either. The blogger welcomes new members, and if you shoot him an email, he'll help you out.
One of my favorite recent posts is "The Funk Box," a 4-CD retrospective with Barry White, The Fatback Band, Funkadelic, Teena Marie and oodles more. And a lot of them are rare alternate takes or equally rare 12" versions.
Fans of this site are legion and fiercely devoted (it has the liveliest comment section in town), which isn't surprising, because "Braniac," as the blogger is known, offers a dizzying assortment of Italian tunes you won't find anywhere else, including pop, erotica, soundtracks and lounge. Need the soundtrack to "Emmanuelle 2?" He's got it (and you so want it). Oh, and if it's by Morricone, he'll have that, too, along with a very delectable-sounding "Sleaze & Cheez Mix" which I dearly hope gets re-upped. "Braniac" seems to have taken a break from the site, but he has a habit of popping back without warning, and besides, most of his links are still good, so run - get it while you can.
The site is also the best place on the Internet to find music by Piero Piccioni, the legendary jazz composer who scored for practically every noted Italian moviemaker in the 50's and 60's, and whose cuts are frequently included in current movies - like "American Hustle" and "The Big Lebowski" - whenever a "swingin'" cue in needed. One of his best scores was for "Swept Away." The movie itself has dated badly, but the soundtrack's still a kick.
If there's one blog I wish were around when I was in my 20's, it's "From The Vaults."
A lot of blogs have great jazz and pop standards, but very few give you such a wealth of information. Each post - by "BoppinBob," as he's called - celebrates a single artist on their birthday, then proceeds to give you a complete overview of their professional and personal life, along with embedded song samples, videos and tons of pictures. It's like a whiz-bang music tutorial! In the comments, there's links to the LPs, and I'll admit, sometimes I just jump straight there. But more often than not, after I've listened to the music, I'll go back and read the post. It really does enhance the listening. "BoppinBob's" taste in music is far-reaching, so along with artists like Buddy Holly and Rod Stewart, you'll find Marlene Deitrich, Cab Calloway and Michel Legrand.
I've gone back more than once to read the post on Etta James, which includes her terrific "R&B Dynamite."
Finally, let's talk "Music For Maniacs." It's one of the longest-running music blogs around. It's also the most deranged.
I don't know of any other site that has LPs like "Sing Along With JFK!" or pre-"Velvets" singles from Lou Reed or "Golden Era Musicians Play L. Ron Hubbard" (Isaac Hayes! Doug E. Fresh!) or "Tiny Tim's Christmas Album" or "How To Pick Up Girls" or "Music Made From Pots, Pans And Toys" or...the list just goes on. Everything weird and wonderful is here, including original compilations, like the fantastic "NYC Punk/Funk '78-'84." Plus "Mr. Fab," as the blogger has dubbed himself - his avatar is Don Knotts (because why not?) - writes delightfully bent prose, both describing the music at hand or just his state of mind (or both). Better still, he's a gentleman, and he'll happily re-post something if a link's down. Trust me, it's the happiest music site in town.
Lately, I've been grooving to "Disco Sellout," a compilation with sublime what-were-they-thinking (or what-were-they-smoking) disco singles and remixes from the likes of Frank Sinatra (yes, that Frank), Teresa Brewer, The Beach Boys, Ringo Starr and many more. Horrifying? Yes. Heavenly? Oh, my, yes.
The more the merrier!
Next time, back to our regularly scheduled mayhem and mischief.