Phenomenal mix tapes you can (and should) download (free!)

Do you remember mix tapes? The owners of Mississippi Records—a vinyl-and-cassette-only record store located on North Mississippi Avenue in Portland, Oregon—most certainly do: They’ve put together the best mixes we’ve never seen (because you can get them only by visiting the store in person). But a Bay Area record label called Root Strata has digitized dozens of these tapes and distributed them (as free downloads) online. The series starts off with House of Broken Hearts—an hour-long collection of “Early R&B, Doo Wop, Rockabilly & Instrumentals”—and only gets better.

Other tapes are devoted to early soul music, ’60s rock, funk and hip-hop, various kinds of world music, politically minded jazz, ska and rocksteady, postwar gospel, Quebecois psych-rock, and all sorts of old-timey music (which is Mississippi Records’ sweet spot). You’ll find selections of Lullabies & Dream Songs, and a collection of Classical Music for & by the People; one of the most charming mixes contains Difficult Songs for Children. The series is addictive, but our recommendation comes with two caveats: (1) Each side of each cassette opens up as a single MP3 file; if you want to incorporate these songs into a mix of your own you’ll have to split the tracks manually. (2) Almost every one of these links works, and almost all of the downloads open without a hitch. But there are lots of them, and a few are quite old; if you experience technical difficulties, scroll down to the comments section and leave one of your own.

This post is from Observer Short List—an email of three favorite things from people you want to know. Sign up to receive OSL here.

Phenomenal mix tapes you can (and should) download (free!)