Here’s a first-world problem I face several times a week. I’m out and about and I want to listen to a specific song. That song comes from one of several albums not available on streaming services. In this situation, I have three options. First, I can check to see if I have the song stored locally on my phone. A second option, I can search YouTube for an upload. The third, and last-ditched effort – go without listening to the song until I can find a copy at home (usually on vinyl or CD).
As a music blogger, another problem emerges from albums not available on streaming services. I am constantly thinking “this song would fit great on my weekly playlist.” Albums not available on streaming services are harder to share with the rest of the world. However, while I’m not able to change the fact that, say, Joanna Newsom’s “Inflammatory Writ” will not grace my Literature Rocks! playlist, I can at least spread some love for the song here. So, that’s what I’m doing with this article. Here are several albums not available on streaming services that need to be heard.
The Innocence Mission – Umbrella
The Innocence Mission’s sophomore release, Umbrella, is their only album that is not available on Spotify or Apple Music. Still, if you get a chance, listen to Umbrella. Umbrella is full of songs rich in story and personal experiences. Songs such as “Beginning the World” talk about the repeated process of “starting over.” Be it starting a new job, the first day of school, or what have you, we are always Begining the World. The opening track, “And Hiding Away,” talks about the simple joys of staying at home, and reminiscing about your childhood.
As far as the music of Umbrella, it’s pleasant. That’s the best word to describe the sounds of the album. The Innocence Mission has never been a rock band or an easy listening band, but somehow their songs tend to capture the positive qualities of both genres. Listening to The Innocence Mission, particularly Umbrella, is a pleasurable and relaxing experience.
No one seems to have any answers on why Umbrella is unavailable on streaming services. Umbrella was on the same label (A&M) as The Innocence Mission’s first album (self-titled) and third album (Glow). I guess we just have to accept the fact that Umbrella is unavailable for streaming.
Brigid Boden – Must Go On
If you look up Brigid Boden on Spotify or Apple Music, you’ll find one song. That’s it. Boden’s music has never been easy to get ahold of in the United States, but her first album did find its way into several record shops in the 1990s. I stumbled upon one of these CDs in a late-night record shop one day circa 1994 and instantly fell in love with Must Go On.
Must Go On mixes traditional Irish instruments and singing, with mid 90s house and trance music. The results: intelligent dance music that’s a treat to listen to. The title track, “Must Go On,” features a lot of synthesizers, but the driving force on the song is an Irish fiddle playing a traditional melody. The song “I’ll Always Stay” is a love ballad that mixes drum and bass music with Irish pipes. The song “Spirits Never Part” features traditional melodies sung in Gaelic, with house beats and even a reggae interlude.
Must Go On, and all of Boden’s music, is rare. So if you’re thumbing through albums at a record store and you find anything by her, buy it!
Zeitgeist – The Smashing Pumpkins
Zeitgeist is the only album by The Smashing Pumpkins album not available on streaming services. Peaking at #1 on Billboard, and the first album by TSP in seven years, Zeitgeist showed a lot of promise. Still, Zeitgeist is the album that time forgot. Possible reasons: the reviews were not great, and two band members (D’arcy Wretzky and James Iha) were absent from recording. I’m sure the association of the lead single, Doomsday Clock, with the Micheal Bay Transformers franchise didn’t help either.
Still, with all this in mind, Zeitgeist had its moments. Despite it’s association with Transformers, Doomsday Clock is a good, solid rock song. Oh, but the real gem of Zeitgeist is the song “United States,” a sprawling 9-minute track that cries for revolution and social justice.
Zeitgeist just rocks. End of discussion.
The Violet Burning – Strength
Strength has a weird history of being an album which thousands loved, but could never find. Strength went out of print a couple of years after release and seemed to not ever come back to shelves. It’s no wonder why we can’t find any legit copies of the album, much less on streaming services.
As far as the music, what can I say? It’s timeless. Yes, it’s CCM, so if you’re not into that, you might not appreciate Strength. Still, Strength is probably the best CCM album of the early 90s. Band lead Micheal Pritzl and company do not skimp on guitar riffs. The compositions of Strength are tightly put together. And the music? It’s just as much art as it is praise and worship.
Joanna Newsom – Every song she’s ever recorded
Joanna Newsom famously does not want her music available via streaming services. Newsom’s main reason has to do with the low payouts Spotify and such services offer artists. I can respect that, but it still sucks that I can’t pull up “Good Intentions Paving Company” or the aforementioned “Inflammatory Wit” on the go. To be fair, Newsom does say the idea of streaming is brilliant and she doesn’t with the actual idea. She just wants to get paid for her hard work. Again, I can’t blame her.
Side note, I have to wonder if she and her husband (Andy Sandberg) ever argue about this issue. Every album recorded by The Lonely Island has done is on every major streaming service. Opposites attract I guess.
Listen to Joanna Newsom’s “Good Intentions Paving Company” below, or her music on Bandcamp.
My Bloody Valentine – MBV
My Bloody Valentine reunited in 2013, to release their third album entitled “MBV.” You could download the album from the band’s website, or you could buy it on vinyl. With the self released nature of MBV, maybe the band just never got around to releasing the album via streaming. Maybe they just don’t need to, they’re My Bloody Valentine after all.
Anyways, MBV is chock full of amazing tracks. “Wonder 2” is a noise rock symphony with so many guitars pressing through at once, its hard to take it all in. “Only Tomorrow’s” guitar solo at the end of the song can only be described as transcendent. If you’re a fan of My Bloody Valentine, dream pop, or shoegazer music, you need to hear MBV if you haven’t already.
Devo – Smooth Noodle Maps
Full disclosure. I’ve never listened to Smooth Noodle Maps in its entirety. I have, however, liked everything I’ve heard from the album. I cannot say that about any other Devo album. Not “Q: Are We Not Men A: We Are Devo.” Not “Something for Everybody.” I cannot even say that about “Freedom of Choice.”
Let’s talk specifically about the song “Post-Post Modern Man.” The song heavily references “If I had a Hammer,” though somehow arrives at the same thesis as “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)” by The Proclaimers. Regardless of the thesis, it’s danceable. “When We Do It,” is a sweet and subtle song about lovemaking. “The Big Picture,” “Spin The Wheel,” “Stuck in a Loop,” – I’m not sure there’s a bad song on Smooth Noodle Maps. The more I listen to Smooth Noodle Maps, the more I’m convinced it truly is Devo’s best album.
Honorable Mentions: Other albums not available on streaming services
I’ve only listed 7 albums (well, 6 albums, and one artist) in this article. The list of albums and artists not available on streaming services is huge. Be it a rights issue, a moral stance, or they just haven’t gotten around to it, so many amazing pieces of music are ignored by Spotify, Apple Music, and all. America by Havalina Rail Company comes to mind. Most of Iona’s catalog (though there are rumors that this is in the works). I Predict A Clone (a tribute to Steve Taylor) which features Sixpence NTR’s amazing retooling of the song Bouquet. The list goes on, and on, and on. I can even name a few of The New Pornographers’ songs that can’t be found anywhere but in excentric music collections. I guess if there’s one thing I’m trying to say with this article, don’t forget those songs that aren’t convenient to listen to. Search your LPS, CDS, MP3s, Cassettes, 8 tracks, and any other format you have laying around. Find those songs you love, but you’ve forgotten about.