by James Wallace Harris, Friday, October 2, 2020
Update 9/10/22: the Gypsy, Cock Robin, and Ricky Nelson albums are now on Spotify.
Most streaming music services have tens of millions of songs or millions of albums. That should be plenty enough music for anyone, especially at the bargain price of $10 a month. It’s actually a better deal than Netflix because usually, only one music service is all you need. I subscribe to two at the moment. Spotify because it’s the best, easiest to use, and works on most devices with its Spotify Connect system. And I’m subscribing to Amazon Music HD because I’m testing out high-definition music to see if it is worth a few extra dollars a month, plus I have three Amazon Echo devices. (Spotify plays through Echos too, so don’t think owning Echos means having to get Amazon Music.)
If music services offered every album ever produced I’d give up both CDs and LPs. Streaming music is just too damn convenient. The Rolling Stone new list of “The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time” just came out and I bet most of them are on Spotify. There’s already a playlist created for it with 7,557 songs requiring over 471 hours to hear. (Although, I prefer to play albums one at a time.)
I keep trying to give up LPs, but some aren’t even on CD, much less streaming music. I’m neither enamored with LP’s sound nor am I nostalgic for the format. I’ve given all my LPs away more than once, but once again I got a hankering to hear some favorite albums and I bought four of them as used LPs. Also, my Friends of the Library Bookstore sells LPs for 50 cents a disc, so it’s kind of fun to buy them based on the covers.
But, I really would give up my LPs and CDs, and my turntable and CD drive if I could get everything on Spotify. The future is almost here. The only downside to streaming music is they don’t pay the artists fairly. I hope that will change too.
I assume some albums aren’t available on Spotify for legal reasons, otherwise, why would all of Nanci Griffith’s albums be available but not Once in a Very Blue Moon – my favorite. There’s always a possibility that Spotify just wants to annoy the crap out of me personally. I’m hoping it will show up one day.
I just notice another album I’ve been waiting for years has appeared on Spotify, Willis Alan Ramsey’s self-titled debut album, and as far as I know his only album.
Sometimes early albums are left off of Spotify while later albums from the same group are available. I assume they are from different publishers or because of legal squabbles between band members. For example the group Cock Robin. Their early albums aren’t on Spotify, but Spotify offers to link you to places where you can buy them CDs. I recently bought a used LP to hear After Here Through Midland (1987).
Another old favorite album I can’t get on CD or Spotify is Never Goin’ Back to Georgia (1969) by The Blues Magoos. Again, some of their albums are available on Spotify, the early ones, but not the later albums.
An LP I’ve bought three times over the last forty years is Which Way to Main Street (1982) by Wendy Waldman. Some of her albums are on Spotify, but not all, and not this one. Some of her other albums are on Amazon Music, but not this one. This album is her only album from Epic Records, so that might explain why it’s not on streaming music services. Which Way to Main Street is available on Waldman’s website on CD, but I’m trying very hard not to buy any more CDs. I’ve started a tiny collection of used records that aren’t on Spotify. I hope that collection never grows very big because I’m over physical media.
There are groups that have no albums on Spotify. It’s like time just swallowed them up, or maybe they were bands I heard in my dreams. For example, the debut double album by Gypsy is called Gypsy. They have produced several albums but you wouldn’t know it from streaming music.
Interestingly, they do survive on YouTube. In fact, many of these ghost albums haunt that service. I don’t know if it’s legal or not, but it’s how they live on in our pop culture hivemind. By the way, listen to this album. I think it’s great.
I do like looking through the record bin at the Friends of the Library Bookstore. For fifty cents it’s kind of fun to try something that just looks interesting, for example, this Peter Nero album, Tender is the Night. It’s not on Spotify. Most of the albums available on Spotify for Nero are compilations. For a lot of old artists, especially ones that were never big sellers, their individual albums aren’t available.
There is one whole class of albums that are often missing from Spotify and other streaming music services, and that’s soundtracks. I can listen to zillions of Ricky Nelson albums, but not this one:
But even this is changing. I’ve waited years for the GATTACA soundtrack to show up, and I see that it has. (Update – I was wrong, only a playlist that tries to recreate the soundtrack from other Michael Nyman albums.)
I’m still waiting for The Ipcress File. I have a copy on an imported CD, but I want it on Spotify. In the early days of Spotify, I hope to hear the early James Bond movie soundtracks but they weren’t available. Eventually, they showed up. I’m hoping the same thing happens with The Ipcress File. Over the years more and more John Barry albums have shown up.
You might have noticed something by now. There’s a good chance you’ve never heard of any of these albums. There’s a good chance you could subscribe to Spotify and never search for an album you can’t find.
If you’re a music nut like me, there will be albums you hanker to hear but can’t. And patience pays off. My small list of albums not on Spotify seems to be shrinking. Please Mr. Spotify, if you are reading this, put these albums on your service, especially Nanci Griffith and Wendy Waldman.
6 thoughts on “Albums You Can’t Play on Spotify”
I struggle with the same problems you encounter: albums that haven’t made the transition to CD or to streaming-services. I was never a fan of LPs. I have plenty of audiophile friends who insist LPs provide “purer” sound. I just hear a lot of hiss and crackles and pops when I listen to many LPs. Sure, many CDs have sound problems, too. But I find them less objectionable. Streaming music comes with sound issues, too. And availability is one of them.
My problem with the streaming services is they are spooky on old (1950s and 1960s) jazz albums and even worse with classical music. Since those are my primary listening, I continue to play my CDs. I also listen to lots of soundtracks and the same is true for many from the Fifties.
That this true, it’s harder to find some jazz and classic albums on Spotify. However, in my lifetime I’ve owned maybe eight Mile Davis albums. It’s well worth the $10 a month to have access to the over 100 Miles Davis albums Spotify does offer that I don’t own.
Don’t disqualify Spotify for what it doesn’t have. Get it because of what it does. You will be amazed.
Now that’s weird because, just for the heck of it, I Googled that Once in a Very Blue Moon album and it came up with a Spotify link and voila! There it is in my Spotify! I think maybe Spotify’s search engine just sucks? Never mind. I see all the tracks are greyed out and can’t be played. Huh! That sucks!!!
Shoot… I’ve barely heard of Spotify… My music has always been so important to me that I did what I could to keep it fresh and listenable. My old Lps got recorded on a high quality (hand-me-down) Nakamichi deck to cassette for listening (’70s-90s). Later I began ripping to CD and DVD and now it’s all accessable on multiple backed up external drives, although mostly it’s there on specially modified i-pods… I feel reasonably smug. It’ll last my lifetime anyway.
Anyone who truly loves music should subscribe to a music service like Spotify/Amazon HD/Tidal/Qobus etc. You have no idea what you’re missing. It’s like owning all the records you’ve ever seen in all the record stores you’ve ever been in. Spotify is the easiest to use but has the lowest fidelity, however, for most people, that doesn’t matter. For audiophiles, you need one of the other three, but they take more tech-savvy.