A stroll around the musical blogosphere can be fun, but it can also be somewhat frustrating. With so many blogs out there, some of very poor quality, how do you find something worth reading? Let me be so bold as to recommend a few musical blogs that I’ve been following.
One of my favorites is Be Bop Wino. Sporting the hefty subtitle “Honkers and Screamers, Be-boppers and Doowoppers, Rockers, Rollers, and Boogie Woogie Jukebox Chicks,” Be Bop Wino is dedicated to blues, jump jazz, R&B, jazz, and other music from the 1940s and ’50s. It’s a veritable treasure-trove of historic vinyl recordings, written, compiled, annotated, and researched in Glasgow, Scotland, by the enigmatic “boogiewoody.”
One of the first things you notice about Be Bop Wino is that there are plenty of links to MP3s, and in many instances, downloads of entire rare and out-of-print albums. And that would be vinyl albums and recordings–boogiewoody creates the MP3s and downloads from actual vinyl recordings.
Which quickly brings up the question: how does this fare on the slippery slope of ripping music to MP3s and posting them on a blog? Be Bop Wino clearly states that he won’t post music that’s currently in print, and will take down anything that violates copyright. Some selections, such as a Tiny Grimes’ Blue Note Records (78 rpm) session of “Flying Home” can be listened to via streaming recording. Other recordings are available as complete downloads , such as the Detour Records’ Still Groove Jumping compilation of R&B singles from 1953.
Be Bop Wino’s posts are a music lover’s delight. He digs deep into the history of record labels, recording sessions, and individual musicians, writing contextual, insightful commentary about the recordings. He also includes photos, album and single covers, labels from the actual LPs and 45s, as well as assorted ephemera such as Billboard charts from the 1940s and 50s.
Here’s what you’ll find in a typical post, this one from November 2011, that covers the songs “Let’s Get Together and Drink Some Gin/ Possum Hunt,” by Smokey Hogg, released on Modern Rcords in 1950. The post includes photos of the record label (the price – 79 cents!), a copy of an ad from Billboard, complete discographical information, Billboard’s reviews, and a history of the song’s place on the charts. Be Bop Wino is an excellent source if you enjoy the eclectic mix of blues, R&B, jazz, swing, and other music that were often categorized as “race records” in the 40s and 50s.
Shifting blogs and moving forward a decade or two to another musical era, Rising Storm reviews and discusses reissues of 60’s garage, country rock, folk, psychedelic folk, and psychedelic rock. A team of writers contributes these well-written reviews, and reviews include a few MP3 links to sample the tunes as well as links to purchase the CDs. Recent CD reissues reviewed include Pete Seeger’s 1977 album Clearwater II, John Mayall’s 1969 LP Looking Back, Tommy James and the Shondells’ Cellophane Symphony, Doc Watson’s Doc and the Boys, and Townes Van Zandt’s The Late Great Townes Van Zandt, plus scores of albums by lesser known acts such as Kennelmus, The Cryan’ Shames, and Suzanne Ciani.
Jazz fans will appreciate Larry Appelbaum’s Let’s Cool One: musings about music blog. Appelbaum is a Senior Music Reference Specialist in the Music Division at the Library of Congress and noted jazz writer. His blog features many YouTube clips of performances and interviews, brief columns (such as an interview with Sam Rivers), video of an extensive taped interview with Dave Brubeck, and several “Before and After” sessions with such musicians as Sonny Rollins and Jimmy Heath (where Appelbaum plays a record and the musician attempts to identify it, then comments on the recording). There’s plenty here to keep jazz fans entertained.
If you want to dig around a bit into music blogs, but are tired of wading through Google search chaff, check out BestMusicBlogs.org , a source that indentifies and categorizes over 200 music blogs.
– Gene Hyde