44 Days in ’91

Music flashpoints are an exceedingly rare phenomenon. Even when considering a mainstream genre like Rock you can count these transformational convulsions on a single hand. Some of the reason for their scarcity comes from the difficulty involved in packing all the necessary ingredients into a single coalescent moment. The required elements are a creative environment that has gone stale, the sudden emergence of a new sound, a large audience, and a means for reaching them.

Historically, television has exploited those moments more effectively than any competing medium. A few examples spring instantly to mind: Elvis‘ first appearance on the Ed Sullivan show, The Beatles‘ first Sullivan performance… and the day in 1991 that Nirvana‘s Smells Like Teen Spirit broke on MTV. 

Those who experienced that debut in real-time remember it vividly. ‘Everything will be different now…’, the screen seemed to convey with mysterious certainty. A new era had sprung to life before our eyes.

I was at the top of the rock world… then next thing I know it’s ‘Hey Joe’s Crab Shack, it’s great to be here!!’ Really, it was that fast, man. Nirvana murdered my career, and everyone else’s. Everything that came before was over.

Sebastian Bach, Lead Singer of Skid Row

The Long Winter of Hair Metal

If you weren’t of a certain age in the early 1990s, it may be difficult to understand the dominance that MTV enjoyed when it came to defining music trends. It was the most powerful visual platform music had ever seen. The problem was that it had become a wasteland of cheesy sound-alike hair bands. The programing had slowly devolved into a relentless parade of awful music and vapid videos filled with men in makeup, hairspray drenched teased hair, scantily clad women, spandex, studded leather, pointy guitars, and musical cliché. It had been that way for what felt like a lifetime, with no end in sight.

Then suddenly, in the waning days of the summer of 1991, seven landmark albums were released within 44 days of each other; with startling immediacy Rock was reborn!

  • Metallica – Metallica (The Black Album), August 12, 1991
  • Pearl Jam – Ten, August 27, 1991
  • Guns N’ Roses – Use Your Illusion I & II, September 17, 1991
  • Red Hot Chilli Peppers – Blood Sugar Sex Magik, September 24, 1991
  • Soundgarden – Badmotorfinger, September 24, 1991
  • Nirvana – Nevermind, September 24, 1991

An interview scene from the recent SXSW premiere of the Ronnie James Dio documentary Dio: Dreamers Never Die captured the moment perfectly. Veteran Rock-radio DJ, and former host of VH1’s Metal Mania, Eddie Trunk, recounted how the program director of WDHA, ‘The Rock of New Jersey’, walked into the booth minutes before the start of his show. Trunk was told to put all the Metal discs on the console in a cardboard box. After doing so, he was handed Nirvana’s Nevermind.; “This is what we play now,” the program director said as he walked away. Trunk recalled that he had never seen a moment like that in Rock music before or since. 

Sebastian Bach of Skid Row displayed self-effacing humor after the film screening as he shared a memory of that period. “We had just released an album and were huge! I was at the top of the rock world… then next thing I know it’s ‘Hey Joe’s Crab Shack, it’s great to be here!!’ Really, it was that fast, man. Nirvana murdered my career, and everyone else’s. Everything that came before was over.” 

But Nirvana didn’t do all of this single-handedly; it was a unique joint effort from a truly unlikely confederacy of albums.

Seven Albums

Metallica‘s eponymous album was first, accompanied by a series of darkly themed videos beginning with the nightmare hell-ride, Enter SandmanThe band had previously enjoyed a committed cult following, but all that changed after The Black Album. They made the hair metal bands that preceded them look ridiculous. Their breed of metal was pulverizing, ominous, and entirely unlike the sound that had saturated the airwaves for years on end. And it was suddenly mainstream; one had the feeling that something was stirring. 

Qobuz: https://open.qobuz.com/album/ysw33p1clm4kb
TIDAL: https://tidal.com/browse/album/197137267

Pearl Jam‘s Ten was branded “grunge” but there’s a substantial classic-rock aesthetic to their sound. The spirit of Hendrix, Page, and other late ’60s / early ’70’s guitar heroes can clearly be felt. Eddie Vedder’s words resonated with a whole new generation of listeners looking for deeper subject matter to identify with. Their video for Even Flow captured the raw energy of the new sound and scene.

Qobuz: https://open.qobuz.com/album/0884977724745
TIDAL: https://tidal.com/browse/album/195069318

Guns N’ Roses rewarded fans who had patiently waited for a follow-up to their debut Appetite for Destruction with two full-length releases, Use You Illusion I & II. G&R wasn’t new to the scene. They were frequent fixtures on MTV and rock radio who withstood the sea change thanks to their skill at cranking out pure unadulterated Rock. Use Your Illusion I & II debuted at the Number 1 and 2 slots of Billboard’s Album Chart. Several songs from the record morphed into some of the most cinematic, and expensive, rock videos to ever appear on MTV. 

Use Your Illusion I
Qobuz: https://open.qobuz.com/album/0072064244152
TIDAL: https://tidal.com/browse/album/629051

Use Your Illusion II
Qobuz: https://open.qobuz.com/album/b5huv2vxfiqcc
TIDAL: https://tidal.com/browse/album/89413071

September 24, 1991, delivered a devastating triumvirate of albums whose combined impact, and individual merits, are unlikely to be repeated. 

The Red Hot Chili Peppers Blood, Sugar, Sex, Majik sees the funk-rock tribe expand their sonic horizons thanks to production from Rick Rubin. The video releases for Breaking the GirlGive It Away, and Under the Bridge are surreal scenes plucked straight from an Orange Sunshine fueled reverie. They played music with a warrior’s intensity, the RHCP were the only band who sounded like that.    

Qobuz: https://open.qobuz.com/album/0093624932147
TIDAL: https://tidal.com/browse/album/288404

Soundgarden was always too singular sonically to fit comfortably under the “grunge” banner. On Badmotorfinger, their eclectic influences and musicianship are on full display. Full of inventive arrangements, unusual time signatures, and sludgy guitar heaviness – the album cuts its own trail across the musical landscape of that summer. The crazed neon desert visuals of Jesus Christ Pose proved too controversial for MTV, earning a ban from the network. MTV hasn’t played the video in its entirety to this day.

Qobuz: https://open.qobuz.com/album/0060255722974
TIDAL: https://tidal.com/browse/album/67019132

Nirvana‘s Nevermind struck the final deadly blow. I don’t know if I’ll ever see another album redirect the arc of rock music the way that one did. No doubt, the six albums that preceded it had done their work in weakening the target; but Nirvana’s heavy sonic attack and subject matter recalled punk’s go-to-hell abandon with delirious ferocity. But it was the imagery of their videos that proved lethal. 

Qobuz: https://open.qobuz.com/album/0060253749865
TIDAL: https://tidal.com/browse/album/77610756

The final nail: Smells Like Teen Spirit

On September 10th, 1991, Nevermind‘s first video Smells Like Teen Spirit exploded before an unprepared audience. Everything in that 4 minutes and 39 seconds was the mirror opposite of the soul-sucking drek we had endured in the long winter of Hair-Metal. The only makeup and spandex seen were buried in the greenish mire that obscured the Anarchy Cheerleaders thrashing in the foreground. Nirvana wore striped shirts, torn jeans, doc martens, and converse, with guitars slung low and set to destroy. Kobain with hair in his face tearing away at the guitar, Novoselic head down, driving the bass, Grohl a hurricane of blurred arms and bass drumming. The kids rocking out in the video were representative of the musical liberation we all felt. Everything that had previously assailed us musically was swept away in its aftermath.

In celebration of these records, we’ve built 44 Days in ’91; a playlist featuring the heaviest tracks from these albums. Together again, just as they were on MTV and the airwaves in the days that followed. You can find it on your Home Page in Roon.

If you were a member of Hair Nation who was sad to see those earlier Metal bands go, we want to hear your side of the story. Head over to Roon Community and submit your favorite metal songs of the mid-’80s to early ’90s to our thread entitled Glam-Metal: Roon Listeners’ Playlist. We’ll compile the best and share a playlist of your favorites. 

Black Trailblazers


At Roon our passion for music is illustrated by a growing selection of eclectic playlists featuring a diverse mix of genres, instrumentation, and voices from around the globe. As music lovers we’re fortunate to live in a time when music is so plentiful and easily accessible; when you sync a Qobuz or TIDAL membership with your Roon subscription the selection is practically limitless. An all encompassing palette of sound is at your fingertips, accompanied by the freedom to listen to, and enjoy, anything you desire. 

It’s easy to forget that this wasn’t always the case. But we’re not talking about the relatively new emergence of streaming music and its transformation of the music industry; we’re talking about a time in history when there were strict racial boundaries in music. When black music was heard only in black churches, black clubs and theaters, black radio stations, and when black musicians were relegated to Race Records Charts and Race Label catalogs. American Music was just as segregated as American society and culture.  But Black Jazz, Blues, Folk, and Gospel music was relentlessly working their magic; building enclaves in white record collections, fighting rhythmically for acceptance. Beauty, determined to be appreciated – like a rose growing through concrete to find the sunshine. 

The list below is a roster of the black trailblazing musicians who broke through the race barrier with music that was too beautiful to be ignored or denied. It makes sense that music would be a force that helped tear down racial discrimination in The United States. Music is a universal language, but one that speaks to us in ways that exceed our full understanding. Tonal color, pitch, tempo, texture, timbre, harmony, melody, rhythm, they communicate something deeper than language. They resonate with an emotional core that recognizes and reminds us of our commonalities – it’s a nonverbal language of brotherhood.

Racial division doesn’t have a chance when one group of people can recognize themselves in the art of another group of people. We’ve all had our lives enriched through that musical kinship. We hope you’ll find something that resonates with you in our Black Trailblazers playlist in Roon, Qobuz, and TIDAL music; offered in honor of the musical visionaries who first opened our ears, and our hearts.

Ethel Waters

Firsts in Black Music:

  • First African-American Ensemble to play at The White House (1882) – 
    • The Fisk Jubilee Singers, a choir from the Fisk School in Nashville, Tennessee became the first African American choir to perform at the White House for President Chester Arthur.
  • First Commercially Recorded African-American Singer (1890) – 
    • George W. Johnson – The Whistling Coon
  • First Black Musicians in a Motion Picture (1923) – 
    • Eubie Blake & Noble Sissle in Noble Sissle & Eubie Blake performing Affectionate Dan.
  • First Black Performer on US Television (June 14, 1939) – 
    • Ethel Waters on The Ethel Waters Show
Fisk Jubilee Singers
  • First Black Emmy Award Winner
    • Outstanding Performance in a Variety or Musical Program or Series (1959) – Harry Belafonte for Tonight with Belafonte 
  • First Black Grammy Recipients
    • Best Jazz Performance, Soloist (1958) – Ella Fitzgerald for Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Duke Ellington Songbook
    • Best Female, Pop Vocal Performance (1958) – Ella Fitzgerald for Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Irving Berlin Songbook
    • Best Jazz Performance, Jazz Group (1958) – Count Basie for Basie (The Atomic Mr. Basie)
    • Best Performance by a Dance Band (1958) – Count Basie for Basie (The Atomic Mr. Basie)
    • Album of the Year (1974) – Stevie Wonder for Innervisions
  • First Black Oscar Winners
    • Best Music, Original Song (1972) – Isaac Hayes for Theme From Shaft – First African-American winner for Best Original Song. First African-American to win a non-acting award.
    • Best Original Song Score (1984) – Prince for Purple Rain.
Prince
  • First Black Tony Award Winner 
    • Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical (1954) – Harry    Belafonte for John Murray Anderson’s Almanac
  • First Black Musician to achieve an E.G.O.T (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony) (2018) – 
    • John Legend
  • Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, First Black Inductees (1986)
    • Chuck Berry
    • James Brown
    • Ray Charles
    • Sam Cooke
    • Fats Domino
    • Little Richard
  • Country Music Hame of Fame, First Black Inductee (2000)
    • Charley Pride
  • MTV
    • First All Black Band to Appear on MTV (1982) – Musical Youth with Pass the Dutchie
Musical Youth
  • First Black Billboard Record Chart Toppers
    • Best Selling Popular Record Albums Chart Number 1 (Billboard’s First Album Chart) (March 24, 1945) – The Nat King Cole Trio
    • Billboard Hot 100 Number 1 (September 29, 1958) – Tommy Edwards with It’s All In The Game

Due to the scarcity of some of the recordings in this list, some selections had to be substituted for representative pieces from the same time period.

If you’d like to know more about Roon, simply get in touch with us. We’d love to help you get set up.

Alternatively, you can try the free 14 day trial here.

Get Back to The Beatles with Roon

The last few months have been an interesting time for 60s music fans. After all, how often do we see a decades-old sour story about a band or album evolve in such a way that history, and our beliefs, are permanently reconstructed? Rarely. All the more so when it involves a band like The Beatles and their final (released) studio album Let it Be. When it comes to Beatle lore, the icey saga of Let it Be was chiseled into stone as cold as the West London film studio where the band that created The 60s had allegedly unraveled. Those of us who saw the original film remember what it was like all too well. Dreadful stuff: frustrated and agitated Beatles bickering with each other. It was memorable for all the wrong reasons. I, like many Beatles fans, was certain that it would never see an expanded reissue, let alone a deluxe treatment. The album title itself seemed to confirm it! 

And yet, the word got out that they were doing just that. A multi-disc box set was released last October, and about a month later there they were, in restored color, for Get Back – a three-part documentary series. It’s been absolutely dizzying, mesmerizing, and revelatory to witness. Still a bit uncomfortable to watch, in places, but, on the whole, a complete regenesis with plenty of musical and brotherly love. It’s certainly the most revealing and most human vista we’ve ever gotten of them. Seeing the Rooftop Concert in its triumphant entirety had me immediately Focusing on the Fab corner of my Roon Library, and I wasn’t the only one.

TIDAL: Get Back (Rooftop Performance) https://tidal.com/browse/album/213891547

Qobuz: Get Back (Rooftop Performance) https://open.qobuz.com/album/x9pgg6gsai8vc

Roon, as a microcosm, reflected the impact those releases had on dedicated fans and curious onlookers alike. Within days, The Beatles were the most listened-to band in Roon. Admittedly, they’re never too far outside the top ten anyhow; but, as John Lennon once said, they were toppermost of the poppermost again. It was easy to understand why, the Let it Be Super Deluxe Set remastering is very tastefully done, and sonically rewarding – as expected. But it’s the twenty-seven previously unreleased studio jams, outtakes, and rehearsals that provide a fascinating wellspring of ‘what-ifs’. What if All Things Must Pass had been born with three Beatle voices instead of just George’s alone? What if John Lennon’s brooding broadside Gimme Some Truth had landed on Let it Be instead of kicking off side two of Imagine?! What if Glyn Johns’ raw mixes had emerged as the finished product instead of Phil Spector’s strings and high sheen approach? The head swims, and those are just a few of many questions the set spawns! And it would be rude not to take a moment to just say the words, “thank you Billy Preston”, and smile. His contribution was such a transformational force in the entire proceedings.

The Roon ripples reverberated from Let it Be into the other Super Deluxe sets in the band’s reissue roster. Abbey Road, The Beatles (aka The White Album), and Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band were getting a lot of residual play time on customer systems. But, in true Roon fashion, it was the stuff that was percolating under those sets that was most fascinating. 

The Beatles were/are masters of marketing and product. Over the years there’s been a staggering parade of Beatles releases, some official, some not – all of it well documented, meticulously indexed, and obsessively collected. Those factors make for a catalog that is perfectly irresistible to Roon customers and naturally suited for Roon’s music library superpowers. Much of The Beatles’ massive discography isn’t available on streaming sites. But because of how easy it is to import a personal music library, it was on full display in Roon and getting loads of play time: The Beatles in Mono, The E.P. Collection, The US Albums Box Set, Beatles Ballads, Love Songs, Anthology 2, Twist and Shout, The Lost Album, Reel Music, Hey Jude, Beatles Bop – Hamburg Days, Introducing… The Beatles – just to name a crate full.

Most people with digital music files will tell you that the bugbear of owning large collections has always been figuring out how to organize and use them in an intuitive and enjoyable way. Our customers have discovered that Roon solves the problem. Let me explain, for the non-Rooner, how this is done with just a few mouse clicks.

Scene opens: you’ve launched your Roon trial, installed the Roon software, synced your streaming services, detected and enabled all the audio devices that are connected to your local internet network, you’ve queued up some music to play and everything sounds great! But there’s your external hard drive with several terabytes of music on it. ‘Ugh’, you think, ‘I’ll mess with that later’. But, with Roon, there’s no need for dread. Especially not in your scenario, you’re importing an extensive collection of Beatles files and albums. This is heavily documented and easily recognized music. Roon utilizes data from several metadata providers and adds some secret magic that makes this process painless. When you link your collection in Roon, the metadata engine goes into high gear comparing your files against our data and in less time than you can imagine your music is in Roon, identified and ready to enjoy. And none of that processing alters a single bit or byte on your hard drive; Roon metadata is simply a nice set of clothes for your music files.

Roon does the same thing with all the other music on your drive. If an obscure vinyl rip or import compilation isn’t recognized, simply tell Roon to use your embedded artwork and file tags instead. It’s that easy. Your streaming favorites, digital music library, and live radio station presets are all integrated and ready to explore & enjoy in bit-perfect, high-resolution, lossless audio. That’s Roon through the fish-eye lens of a Beatle collection, but it functions the same way no matter what you listen to. If this sounds like something that would help you bring order to your digital collection and facilitate filling your listening space with your favorite music then we invite you to take a look at Roon. If you’d like to know more, simply get in touch with us. We’d love to help you get set up.

Alternatively, you can try the free 14 day trial here.

Autumnal Acoustics

Every year an interesting shift occurs in my listening preferences at about the middle of October when the evening air turns crisp and the autumn sun flames out in fallen-leaf orange behind the trees on the hill. The tones from my speakers reliably reflect this seasonal change, with pastoral hues of wet earth and black trees, as the hypnotic strains of British Folk drift through my space. I can’t quite explain why my mind equates colder weather with that genre; perhaps it’s an ancestral memory that has been stripped of all its features but sound. Whatever the cause, my default fall selections are always a familiar narrow rotation of Brit-Folk favs. Just as routinely, I have vowed that I’ll investigate the golden era of British and Irish Folk music more thoroughly. And, despite never having managed to keep that promise in the past, I’ve always meant to.

The problem has been that as much as I love this music, and recognize a smattering of artists and albums outside of my favorites, exploring the genre can feel at times like getting turned around in the forest. There’s so much stylistic similarity in the landscape, ensembles absorbed and discarded personnel frequently, and groups embraced new sounds so often that it’s quite difficult to find your footing on the path of discovery. But if one is fortunate enough to have Roon, and a synced streaming service as a guide, the same challenge suddenly becomes an inspired adventure of autumnal acoustics.

This time I tried something different by beginning with a favorite selection and then allowing Roon to influence my new route – the scenery promptly changed and offered a wealth of surprise and variety I’ve never encountered previously. A few hours later I’d been reacquainted with a few forgotten gems and had acquired a handful of new discoveries. Each one of them linked to my original selection by Roon’s unparalleled understanding of the web of sound. All the listener must do is simply follow the notes.

My first go-to of fall is always TrafficJohn Barleycorn (Must Die). It’s something of a wonder that the record exists as a Traffic album at all. It was to be Steve Winwood’s first solo release, but it was having trouble getting started. Former bandmate Jim Capaldi was invited ‘round to collaborate, a second former partner, Chris Wood, showed up – and a trio incarnation of Traffic was accidentally formed. Winwood, at twenty two years old, reimagined an Elizabethan-era folk standard for the title track which recounts the story of John Barleycorn – a character who suffers a wrath of indignities that correspond with the phases of barley cultivation. It exhibits a staggeringly brilliant folk authenticity not found anywhere else on the album, and only rarely in Traffic’s discography. You’ll catch yourself checking the credits in Roon incredulously for confirmation that this was a trio when you hear how much music these guys put down. Winwood’s delicate acoustic guitar ties Celtic patterns through his accompanying piano chords as Chris Wood weaves flute airs around Jim Capaldi’s tasteful rustic percussion. Winwood and Capaldi’s vocals relay the story of Barleycorn’s saga with the skill of master storytellers. It might not even be British Folk by some definitions but it defies any effort to argue it otherwise.

TIDAL: https://tidal.com/browse/track/77629646

Qobuz: https://open.qobuz.com/track/15197455

From Barleycorn, my go-to is always Fairport Convention but this time I vowed to do things differently. So instead of instinctively queueing up their What We Did On Our Holidays album I scrolled to similar artists instead, and chose Sandy Denny. Her discography revealed the long out-of-print compilation I’ve Always Kept a Unicorn: The Acoustic Sandy Denny, which served up Sandy Denny with Fairport Convention She Moves Through the Fair. A favorite from the aforementioned Fairport album, but here rendered in a deft acoustic version, with guitars simultaneously articulate and percussive supporting Denny’s angelic voice to absolute perfection. Fairport Convention could strip the music down to nothing and still dig into the marrow of the listener. This track is a superlative example of that. As always, Roon makes unearthing these previously unknown alternate versions an unburdened joy. New favorites are always waiting at the end of a few mouse clicks.

TIDAL: https://tidal.com/browse/track/59412740

Qobuz: https://open.qobuz.com/track/31434205

Nick DrakeTime Has Told Me is synonymous with fall to my ears. There isn’t a year that goes by where Nick Drake doesn’t become a regular on my turntable. I’ve heard that listening to his music is permitted at other times of the year as well but I’ve never risked testing the theory. This beautifully written and performed original is the auditory equivalent of a warm fire in the cold of the countryside. And it’s a natural follow up to the previous selection because two members of Fairport Convention contribute to it. If that’s not something you knew previously, it’s no problem. Roon hips you to that stuff in the track credits. All through the software it’s that simple. This track is one to follow the lyrics on, it’s another example of Nick Drake’s poetry outshining the transcendent music that carries it along. 

TIDAL: https://tidal.com/browse/track/77611146

Qobuz: https://open.qobuz.com/track/12738446

I typically follow Nick Drake with Bert Jansch or John Renbourn, but this time I let Roon point me toward PentangleBasket of Light where both were band members. I chose the album because I recognized it’s cover from a former roommate’s vinyl collection but had only a vague memory of the music on it. The record is a spellbinding chimera, an eclectic hybrid of Indian influenced modal sounds and progressive jazz-psyche infused with British Folk originals. It provided an intriguing inroad into a band I’ve been curious about for years. In Roon the transition from curiosity to discovery is as natural as the change in seasons.

TIDAL: https://tidal.com/browse/album/64013871

Qobuz: https://open.qobuz.com/album/5414939525476

From Pentangle I was served up a selection in the Similar Albums section that yielded a thick vein of gold that cut straight through to the heart of the music. Various ArtistsAnthems in Eden: An Anthology Of British & Irish Folk 1955-1978 is an eighty four track, multi-disc collection, that reveals the complete genetic encoding of the idiom. Finding recordings that thoroughly unlock the mysteries of a genre is commonplace in Roon because the design was built with this in mind. Try to imagine another place where that’s facilitated with such ease, effortless discovery of new favorites that are informed by an intimate understanding of the interconnected storylines of the music we already love. That’s what Roon does, and it’s the reason why I’m finally able to explore British Folk in the way I’ve always wanted.

TIDAL: https://tidal.com/browse/album/69046725

Qobuz: https://open.qobuz.com/album/0602527958880

Tell us about your experiences! Does a certain genre, artist, band, piece of music, song, or album make you think of the arrival of Autumn? If so, we’d love to hear about them. Share them with us in our Autumnal Acoustics music thread on Community. And thank you all for your wonderful contributions in the Classical Community Conversations thread! We’re looking forward to sharing your recommendations in an upcoming playlist. Please stay tuned for that! 


Community Music Discovery: October 2021

Lately I’ve been reflecting on one of life’s greatest paradoxes: that classical music can be intimidating. It only takes a few moments of sitting with the thought for the absurdity of it to bleed through.  It’s like saying ‘I saw the most terrifying field of sunflowers the other day’….someone might think you had suffered a head injury and call for help. Yet, some of us have experienced hesitancy when approaching classical music. Fortunately, Roon cures that reluctance and makes exploration a pleasure.

Roon subscribers are uncommonly knowledgeable across an incredible range of musical forms. They’re all on display in the What Are We Listening To thread of our Community forums. They know classical music particularly well, and they love to talk about it. Many of the descriptions that accompany their listening choices are simply radiant in their perception and appreciation. Their suggestions stimulate interest, and with a streaming service integrated in Roon, they’re all right there waiting at the end of a search. It’s really that easy! It’s still somewhat stupefyingly unimaginable, to those of us who were hanging around music stores 30 years ago, that music can be found and heard so effortlessly… it’s science fiction for music heads. The next thing you know you’ll have added 160 definitive classical compositions to your Roon library. And, without even a twinge of hesitation.

My Roon classical journey was jump-started with an RCA Red Seal discovery: Gregor Piatigorsky’s Dvorak; Walton: Cello Concertos. It’s a lively conversation between Piatigorsky and the Orchestra; the cello and the symphony exchange voices in vibrant repartee. A listener doesn’t have to be fluent in classical music to know there’s something special happening on this recording. 

TIDAL: https://tidal.com/browse/album/4918900

Qobuz: https://open.qobuz.com/album/0884977773224

From there, Roon recommended a handful of other RCA Living Stereo and Red Seal classics. I selected one that featured Jascha Heifetz performing Violin Concertos by Sibelius, Prokofiev, and Glazunov. It’s absolutely stunning to me that Roon made it so easy to find an album as remarkable as this one. I can’t imagine being able to accomplish this so seamlessly anywhere else but in Roon. This album is packed with imagination and drama, richly painted as sound. I’ve listened to it nearly everyday since I added it. 

TIDAL: https://tidal.com/browse/album/62707810

Qobuz: https://open.qobuz.com/album/0886445075557

My most recent find required no effort at all. It was shared by a community member, Sjaak D, in response to last month’s Roon Rediscoveries story. It’s a Philips collection by Mitsuko Uchida, Mozart: The Piano Sonatas. Sjaak recalled an evening years ago when he returned home to find his Hi-Fi and modest collection of discs stolen, including this one. And how, despite auditioning several collections of Mozart’s Piano Sonatas over a number of years, none exhibited the same zest or excitement demonstrated by the Uchida set. His longing went unsatiated until he was able to secure another copy of this specific collection. It only takes listening to a few pieces on this set to understand why.

Immediately thereafter another community member, Christian_S, affirmed the brilliance of Uchida’s performance. An instant bond was formed between two people who have never met, but are simpatico in their deep appreciation of music. This is how friendships are born. Any album that sparks a connection like that has a place in my library. 

TIDAL: https://tidal.com/browse/album/4717063

Qobuz: https://open.qobuz.com/album/0002894683562

That’s Roon, everyday. I get to be part of that, and if you’re a Roon subscriber you know what I’m talking about. In Roon you’ll discover the Community vibe of a great record store and all the inventory you could ever want, right under your fingertips. Each great album and accompanying conversation leads the way to another. The music never stops. 

So, while we have you, what Classical performances do we need to hear? This music is too good to go unheard. If you know it well and love it, help us to know it and appreciate it too.  Tell us here, and we’ll share your recommendations in our upcoming listener-curated playlists.




Community Music Discovery: September 2021

Hello, 

My name is Jamie and I’m a member of Roon’s Customer Success and Support Team. I also help out with alpha testing our new features, metadata development, and assisting our customers with getting the best possible experience when enjoying Roon. And now, I get to talk to all of you about music. Which is pretty sweet for me because aside from my family there isn’t anything that means as much to me as music. Like many of my colleagues at Roon I’m enamored with all kinds of music and I’ve been privileged to work in the music industry for many years. I was the kid who bought 7-inch singles with his lunch money and later grew up to do live music production, work as a recording engineer, record store clerk, music writer, radio DJ, sound archivist, tape restoration engineer, and compilation producer. The common thread that runs through all those roles is that they provided me with the opportunity to connect with people through a shared love of music. 

One of the things I enjoy most about spending my day with Roon is the way it fosters the rediscovery of music that has moved and inspired me throughout my life. The best parts of my workday are when Roon Radio brings that well-loved but somewhat orphaned song back into my orbit unexpectedly. What always surprises me is the journey that these songs seem to have taken in their absence. They bristle with new energy, gleam with a new coat of paint, or exude some elusive quality that has made them glow a bit brighter. The real explanation for their evolution is that we have changed. Our attention to sonic detail, discernment, taste, and music listening education has grown such that these songs seem to take on a new life. I’ve had no shortage of these moments and I’d like to lay a few of them on you.

Wilson Pickett – Don’t Let the Green Grass Fool You. My CD copy of Rhino Records’ The Very Best of Wilson Pickett disappeared without a trace from my music shelf years ago and spirited away this track. Wilson took on every song that he recorded at 110%; what that means is that the songs that weren’t hits still smoke. On this one, Pickett is paired with a Gamble & Huff studio hit-squad that churns out just the right amount of grit. The fat, fuzzy, overdrive on the rhythm guitar part in the chorus was a new detail I had missed before.

Qobuz: https://open.qobuz.com/track/12220508

TIDAL: https://tidal.com/browse/track/19940807

Quicksilver Messenger Service – Mona. I had a dear friend who grew up just south of San Francisco in the late 60s and hitchhiked to the Fillmore West to see shows as a teenager. He told me that Quicksilver Messenger Service was one of the heaviest San-Fran groups he saw live, even heavier than The Grateful Dead. At some point, I ran into a used copy of their Happy Trails album. It showcased a few epic live Bo Diddley workouts that cemented my friend’s observations. Recently when I bumped into this song the beat had become even more tribal and propulsive. Bo’s primitive rhythmic chop is psychedelicized with driving lead guitar from John Cipollina while a second tremolo guitar part pushes the pulse of the song in and out of syncopation. Hearing it again after all these years was a revelation.

Qobuz: https://open.qobuz.com/track/18930964

TIDAL: https://tidal.com/browse/track/2501438

Reuben Wilson – Hold On, I’m Comin. There were a few serious Hammond organ cats at work for Blue Note Records in the 1960s. Reuban was never as highly regarded as Jimmy Smith, John Patton, or Larry Young but he could cook too. This supercharged version of Sam & Dave’s Hold On, I’m Comin really gets things boiling. Wilson roots right down in the grove on this one and carries everyone along with him. Lee Morgan and George Coleman blow like they were raised at Stax, Grant Green leans into R&B riffs you could hammer nails with, and Idris Muhammad swings it all kinds of funky on the kit. This cut feels like it was custom-made for playlists. 

Qobuz: https://open.qobuz.com/track/1781377

TIDAL: https://tidal.com/browse/track/2326663

New music discoveries are exciting but there’s something equally special about these rediscoveries – at least we think so. Tell us about your experiences! Which songs have Roon ushered back into your life and library after a long absence? Pick two or three of them and share the qualities that you noticed this time around in the Roon Rediscoveries thread on our Roon Community forum. 

We’ll curate your selections for inclusion in our upcoming TIDAL and Qobuz playlists and publish your song comments on our Music Blog next month. Roon has always been about discovery and exploration. The thing that drives those two catalysts is connections and nothing connects a community quite like music. So, let’s talk music!