This Week in Music History (October 23rd-29th)

What’s music history got for us this week? Learn up and boogie down!

10/23- On this day in 1963, Bob Dylan recorded his hit album The Times They Are A-Changin’ at Columbia Recording Studios in New York City. The album, Dylan’s third, was his first to feature only original compositions.

10/24- On this day in 1962, soul legend James Brown recorded his world-famous Live at the Apollo album. In 2003, the album was ranked No. 24 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.

10/25- On this day in 1968, Led Zeppelin played their first show after changing their name from The New Yardbirds. The show took place at Surrey University in England, and a poster for the gig later sold at auction for £2400!

10/26- On this day in 1970, a wake was held in San Anselmo, California to celebrate the life of late singer Janis Joplin. Joplin, who passed away after an accidental drug overdose, had left money in her will specifically for throwing a party in the event of her death.

10/27- On this day in 1975, after releasing the incredibly popular and successful album/single combination Born to Run, Bruce Springsteen was featured simultaneously on the covers of Time and Newsweek magazines. Born to Run was a huge commercial and critical success, selling six million copies by 2000!

10/28- On this day in 1978, Queen played the first night on their 79-date tour for their album Jazz. The first show took place at the Dallas Convention Center in Dallas, Texas. The tour became famous for the spectacle and showmanship Queen displayed at the shows.

10/29- On this day in 1965—speaking of tours—The Rolling Stones kicked off their fourth North American tour. The 37-date tour began at The Forum in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

Are you looking to own a piece of music history, or download it in lossless format? Check these albums out on our marketplace!

What Makes a CD Collectible, Part 2

Before we begin, there’s something key to point out here: any CD can be collectible, in the sense that it can be a part of your beloved Bob Dylan collection or your neighbor’s endless collection of ‘80s dance music. What we’re really talking about here is what makes a CD valuable. Although someone may be highly impressed by that ‘80s dance music collection, they’re unlikely to pay top dollar for it. We dug up what makes CDs the most valuable when being sold, traded and archived.

In the internet age, music aficionados have noticed a troubling trend: with so many CDs being sold online, it’s become increasingly easy to slap a “collectible” label on a CD and jack up the price. While there are lots of questionably valuable CDs floating around on the internet, there are four tried-and-true criteria that guarantee that that CD you have your eye on is the real deal.

1. Artist signature or inscription

If the CD is signed by the creator his/herself, you’re looking at a valuable, collectible CD. Just make sure the signature is authenticated!

2. Limited edition packaging/pressing

Occasionally, artists will release copies of a disc with rare, limited-edition packaging in just a select few copies. This is especially common with anniversary releases, like a “40th Anniversary Edition”. Verifying that the artwork matches that limited edition release is another surefire way to know you have a collectible.

3. CDs originally released on vinyl/other formats with limited release on CD

Many albums were originally released on vinyl, and had only a limited release in CD form. As a result, the few CDs available are considered collectible! One example is the album Love, Love by Julian Priester, which was only released in CD form in Germany.

4. Import-only albums

A CD that can only be imported into the US, rather than released here, is considered a collectible. For example, Japan-exclusive editions of albums—often including bonus tracks on major label releases—are common.

What does this mean for me?

If you’ve identified any of these types of valuable CDs in your collection, that’s awesome. That’s also where we at Murfie can help you out. When you send your CD collection to be ripped for downloading and streaming, we keep your same physical copy of your disc in our warehouse. That means that if you send us a collectible, you don’t lose that signed disc or other feature that makes it valuable (unless you decide to sell it in our marketplace!). It’s yours to keep, sell or trade as you choose. Happy collecting!

Special shout-out to John Kruse for his help with this blog post!

Home State Loyalty: A Review of Bon Iver

Murfie has an admitted love for all things Wisconsin, given our location and the fact that Madison really is an absolutely wonderful place. That being said, I certainly didn’t need any bias to appreciate Bon Iver’s 2011 album Bon Iver, created by the Eau Claire-based Justin Vernon. Although my hometown loyalty was what prompted me to listen to this album the first time, it certainly isn’t the reason for listens 2, 3, and 100.

This may mean that my attention span is stunted, but it’s rare for me to find an album that I consistently listen to all the way through. Bon Iver creates the perfect combination of hushed and complex, relaxing but not the least bit boring. It would be easy to dismiss the first few mellow notes as background music, but Vernon’s tracks feel more like escapism. He made the album alone in the woods, and it shows. His songs are deeply intimate, but yet not remotely limited by his low-key recording style.  Vernon may have retreated to his cabin in the woods to hash out his feelings, but he did so in a way that built a whole new, intricately layered sound.

Vernon’s voice alone could carry this album, with his incredibly earthy sound and beautiful upper registers. The biggest improvement from previous album For Emma, Forever Ago, however, is Vernon’s newfound emphasis on his band; he has taken Bon Iver from essentially a one-man project to the work of a group. The addition of instrumentation like strings, horns and electronic sounds makes this album that much more ambitious, and that much more of an accomplishment.

Even Vernon’s track listing is perfect, creating an experience that seamlessly unfolds. Opening with the quiet “Perth” and building to standout tracks like “Holocene” (Track 3) and “Michicant” (Track 5) before closing with the vintage-inspired “Beth/Rest”,  Vernon has supplied a record that has a strong sense of how it flows. That flow is what makes this album so fantastic—it transitions beautifully from one song to arrangement to story without so much as a stumble.

What Makes a CD Collectible, Part 1

What makes a CD collectible is to some degree a totally personal question. CDs play such a huge emotional role in our lives, and it’s easy for a disc that critics might not consider music’s greatest work of art to hold an irreplaceable spot in your collection. Examples of this include the Avril Lavigne CD that’s still on my bookshelf 10 years later. But from a more objective level, what really makes a CD collectible? I dug up one class of CDs that are widely classified as collectible items. What’s more, many of them can be found on Murfie!

Target CDs

Target CDs are a class of CDs that were released by Warner-Elektra-Atlantic in the 1980s. Their name comes from the design WEA used, which resembles a target. They’re also easily identifiable by the bright colors used on the label side in their jewel cases. What really makes Target CDs collectible, however, is the fact that they are original issues. In the world of CDs, these are historical artifacts.

Here’s an example of what a Target CD looks like.

In addition to being relics of the early days of the compact disc, Target CDs also caught collectors’ eyes (and ears) because of their pure sound quality. These CDs are a “flat transfer” of the original tapes, and have not been subjected to compression or noise reduction. The sounds you’ll find on a Target CD are most true to how the artist intended.

If you’re a CD collector, check out this comprehensive list of Target CDs available out there. Here are a few albums on Murfie that were once issued as target CDs, and have later been re-released in the past few decades. You can’t go wrong if you listen to them in FLAC:

4864-large
Dire Straits (Dire Straits)                         Houses of the Holy (Led Zeppelin)


Hearts and Bones (Paul Simon)                  90125 (Yes)

If we come across discs that are rare or valuable on Murfie, we’ll give you a heads up so that you know about it! Then you can know to hang onto them, or even sell them for a higher price. It’ll surprise you what gems you’ll find!

Target CDs are not the only kind of collectible discs out there, but more on that later…

What’s on Murfie: Tributes to the Beatles

The often-imitated, never-duplicated Paul, John, George and Ringo hold an unmatched place in our hearts and our music collections. Who didn’t grow up with “Yellow Submarine” and “Hey Jude” in the background? Only Paul and Ringo are still around these days, but the Fab Four remain musical icons and the face of an era. It’s no wonder that artists across the globe continue to pay tribute to their legendary tunes. We searched Murfie for four Beatles tribute albums and found these: they may span genres and time periods, but they keep their love of those guys from Liverpool at the forefront.

2159-largeA Tower Records Tribute to the Beatles
1996

There’s nothing quite like having some of music’s biggest stars cover music’s ultimate stars. Famed record company Tower Records released this 10-track collection in 1996, featuring covers of some of The Beatles’ greatest hits. Some of the 20th century’s greatest musicians pay their tribute, including Ike & Tina Turner on “Get Back” and The Beach Boys with “You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away”. Doing the Fab Four justice is a tall order, but these Tower Records stars give their classic tracks a twist that’s certainly worth a listen.

129850-largeTropical Tribute to the Beatles
1996

This album features an international interpretation of some of The Beatles’ most famous tracks using Latin rhythms like salsa, merengue, mambo and bolero. Some of Latin music’s biggest names, like Celia Cruz and Manny Manuel, take on 13 of the most famous Beatles songs, including “Can’t Buy Me Love”, “Come Together”, “Let it Be” and “Hey Jude”. If you’re looking for something that closely resembles the original, this is definitely not the album for you. But if you’re open to a rhythm-heavy, genre-bending international take on some of the greatest songs of all time? This album and its dance-hall ready sounds are a great choice.

MI0000874100Easy Star’s Lonely Hearts Dub Band
2009

Reggae collective Easy Star All-Stars have stepped in to provide their 13-track, dub-heavy tribute to Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, arguably one of The Beatles’ most influential and best-loved albums. This tribute is truly easy listening, featuring knockout performances by guest stars the likes of Matisyahu.  It’s groovy without being overly produced or ambitious—the perfect reggae interpretation of one of the best-loved albums of all time. Don’t miss “Within Without You”, featuring Matisyahu, or  Ranking Roger’s “Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite”.

08e09b5c-11a7-11e2-bd3a-1231381369e0Pickin’ on the Beatles
1995

This tribute is part of the Pickin’ On Series, which features some of rock’s greatest albums with a bluegrass and country style. This album is no different, with 12 of The Beatles’ most famous tracks gone country. Songs like “Strawberry Fields Forever” and “Yellow Submarine” quickly convinced me that these songs are quite a stretch from the originals. This interpretation of The Beatles, with its fiddles, banjos and mandolins, is certainly different, and I would only recommend it for die-hard bluegrass fans.

Sounds for a Bargain: Murfie Albums for $2

You might have seen my last blog post about the world’s most expensive CD, in which we had to humbly admit that you won’t be seeing many diamond-studded jewel boxes around here. Quite the opposite, in fact—Murfie is a thrifty music-lover’s paradise. If you’re not quite in the market for a record-breakingly pricey disc, all the better: we’ve compiled a quick list of great and shockingly low-priced CDs. The best part? They’re all $2, or $1 for gold members! We’ve pulled four examples, but there are thousands of $2 CDs waiting in the Murfie marketplace. Remember that every CD purchase includes free streaming in 320kbps mp3, and free downloads in mp3, aac, and lossless formats FLAC and ALAC!

60538-largeLoser by Beck

Alternative rock singer Beck is one of my all-time favorites, and “Loser” stands out as one of his can’t-miss tracks. “Loser” was originally released with this cover art as a single, but Murfie’s version packs four other songs, including “Alcohol” and “Corvette Bummer”. If you’re not already a Beck fan, this quick taste is a fantastic introduction, and it’s currently available for just $2. If you’re already a diehard, it’s an indispensable addition to your collection.

6740-largeTransmissions from the Satellite Heart
by The Flaming Lips

I was incredibly—and pleasantly—surprised to find this album for $2. I’m a huge Flaming Lips fan, and this album is up there with their best. The Flaming Lips are a rock band famous for crazy psychedelic sounds and even crazier song titles. Don’t miss tracks like “Moth in the Incubator” on this ambitious, risk-taking album. The Flaming Lips have an irreplaceable spot in my relaxed-listening rotation.

865-largeGreatest Hits by The Beach Boys

I’ll admit that I’m biased in favor of the Beach Boys. Fun, mellow tracks like “Surfin’ Safari” and “Surfer Girl” have a solid place in the soundtrack of my childhood. Even now, the Beach Boys are often still a go-to for a solo drive. This album just makes you feel good. There’s a lot to be said for a $2 pick-me-up.

22501-largeThe Mirror Conspiracy by Thievery Corporation

Thievery Corporation is a two-man DJ team, but their genre-bending music includes touches of reggae, dub, jazz, Brazilian, and more. The Mirror Conspiracy is a great-sounding, thought-provoking main act, but also blends seamlessly as relaxing background music. I saw Thievery Corporation in concert a few years back, and since then they’ve held a solid place in my chill music library. Check it out, and don’t miss “Lebanese Blonde”.

The lowest-priced copies of albums always show first in the Murfie marketplace, so get these while they’re still $2! You don’t have to go far to find other $2 gems, either!

Staff Picks: Ally’s Picks

As a Murfie newbie in an office populated by seasoned music lovers and audiophiles, I thought there was no better way to make my introduction to Murfie’s blogosphere than to make my own musical statement. Now, it’s worth noting that though I may be young, I don’t tend to be the Murfian digging up the next big thing. I’m a believer in my own tried and true—the bands that have continued to narrate my life by never failing to make music that just sounds right.  I’m the kid you went to elementary school with who just wouldn’t ditch his blankie: when something’s right, I never want to let go.

6334-largeKid A by Radiohead

As a die-hard Radiohead worshipper, it’s rare to find a Radiohead album I don’t like. Kid A, however, occupies its own musical universe. It’s music that gets under your skin, a paradoxical listening experience that’s quiet and cacophonous at the same time. Thom Yorke’s famous alien-esque vocals lend an ethereal feel to the album, giving you 48 minutes of a complicated, slightly unsettling dream. At the end of those 48 minutes and after tracks like “Everything in Its Right Place” and “Idioteque”, you’re left amazed that this album was created in a studio. What makes Radiohead the greatest band on earth is exactly that: every track sounds like the product of some unearthly time and space—and leaves you longing to learn more.

5710-largeWhite Blood Cells by The White Stripes

This album is not only at the top of my most played albums list; it so far exceeds the second place finisher that it feels like a natural, if not inevitable, fit on my staff picks. Without a single dud of a song, White Blood Cells has become as natural a part of my day as breathing (and certainly more natural than waking up in the morning). The White Stripes don’t have much instrumental variety—they love their guitar and drums—but there’s something about the way they handle them that takes this album to another level. It’s rock and it’s blues and it’s gritty and hard, but it also has the variety and sentiment to make you feel each song right along with them. And feel you do—tracks like “The Union Forever” and “The Same Boy You’ve Always Known” illustrate Jack and Meg White’s mastery of imparting endless meaning into succinct songs. Their endlessly interesting take on rock keeps me pressing “play” over and over again.