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.
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