Tangled Web: A weekly column featuring intriguing online music-related issues & destinations. This Week: Soul-Patrol.net, AllHipHop.com and BlueBeat.com.
SOUL ON PATROL: The enduring legacy of Ray Charles that powered a several posthumous Grammy awards also is responsible for the resurgent interest in the music style he pioneered: soul. Those looking to explore this genre beyond the limited offerings on today's radio playlists or most online music services, Soul-Patrol.net Radio is waving the banner high with what it calls an Internet-based "experiment" in music listening and appreciation.
Although slim on design, the multifaceted site offers archived links to themed radio shows, live concerts and online listening parties, as well as news, concert and CD reviews, upcoming events and links focused on soul music, as well as R&B, funk, Motown and jazz.
Fans can find in-depth tributes to such artists as Bo Diddley, Jimmy Castor and Barry White and such live recordings as the 2002 Montreux Jazz Festival, a 1981 Rick James concert and the original P-Funk lineup at the Roxy in Boston. There are also guest DJ-hosted tributes to musical legends such as Quincy Jones, Ron Holloway, Etta James, the O'Jays, Maceo Parker and Ray Charles himself.
In addition to the classics, Soul-Patrol.net makes a point of featuring new music and acts as well. Of the 40 most popular shows played last year, 12 feature new music, according to the site's year-end survey.
An events calendar offers localized listing of soul-music related activities in a given area, including local chat sessions and CD listening parties, as well as various offline events. Also available are interviews with leading musical artists and authors and a free bi-weekly newsletter. The site requires RealNetwork's RealPlayer multimedia software to access streaming content.
NOTHIN' BUT HIP-HOP: For those whose interests skew to the more contemporary, AllHipHop.com has become the destination site for a wide variety of rap and hip-hop oriented music and information on the Web. Daily news, rumors, celebrity interviews, editorials and community-based bulletin boards are among the offerings, as are music videos, interviews and in-depth "making-of" features.
The self-described "World's Most Dangerous Site" also features streaming live music, exclusive tracks and underground samples from such artists as R. Kelly, the Game and Fantasia. Visitors can sign up to have daily news alerts send to them via e-mail or on mobile phones, and can browse or purchase hip-hop themes ringtones, master tunes and wallpaper images.
REMEMBERING BOB: Among the many celebrations of Bob Marley's 60th birthday, free online digital music service BlueBeat.com has posted a playlist entitled "Marley Immortal," in tribute to the massively influential reggae artist. The playlist includes various Marley originals, covers and several tribute songs contributed by artists from various genres.
The BlueBeat.com site offers free streaming access to more than 340 custom playlists and more than 600,000 tracks spanning various genres. The site exists primarily to showcase its proprietary MP3 content-control software, but offers free membership to surfers interested in sampling the music accessible via the service.