Vault News

Springfield News-Sun Logo

Springfield News-Sun, February 23, 2006

Site Gives Alternative to Radio

There are moments when I'm ready to pawn off my belongings, pack up the old lady and flee into the woods.

Almost always, it's when I'm listening to the radio.

When you consider the Black Eyed Peas' "My Humps," anything by Gwen Stefani, Sean Paul's rasta-gibberish and some song I just heard that goes, "I'm in love with a stripper," it makes a pretty good case for bailing out of civilization.

I guess if anything, all this dopey music is going to make for one amusing Time-Life infomercial 30 years from now.

"We've compiled all your favorite hits from the '00s! Remember when you shook your laffy taffy?!"

Local musician Jeff Davis recently pointed me to a cool new Web site,, where laffy taffy isn't something to shake.

It was meant to be ingested halfway through the Dead's first set.

If you're a fan of vintage sounds, Wolfgang's Vault is as good as it gets.

Through some big-dollar deal, Wolfgang's Vault owns thousands of master recordings of concerts taped by legendary San Francisco promoter Bill Graham.

At the Vault's site, click on Vault Radio, and through the magic of streaming audio, presto, you're transported to Winterland on March 10, 1968, listening to Cream thud through "Tales of Brave Ulysses."

The best part? Other than the fact it's free to listen, you don't have to smell any hippies.

The worst part? Other than the fact it's too much for dial-up, you can't pick the songs you want to hear.

They promise to change up the playlist every Tuesday, which isn't bad considering each one supposedly contains about eight hours of music.

And the music is the stuff of legend, largely unheard except on bootlegs and mostly recorded by the late Graham at his fabled '60s rock palaces, the Fillmore West and Fillmore East.

One minute you can be jamming along to a funked-out Miles Davis doing "It's About That Time" in 1970, and the next you're hearing Grace Slick do "White Rabbit" as a member of the Great Society in 1966, before she brought the song to Jefferson Airplane.

Proving there must have been something in the air, most of the songs crackle with the kind of electricity that made the Allman Brothers' "At Fillmore East" and Hendrix's "Band of Gypsys" two classic live albums.

I mean, I found myself even digging Chicago doing "25 or 6 to 4" at Fillmore West in 1968. In my defense, they didn't yet have keyboard-guitars.

And while I'm not much of a Led Zep fan, it's hard to deny the live power of their big and unforgiving bronto-rock � I had "Dazed and Confused" (Fillmore West 1969) cranked to capacity.

The music on the site isn't limited to the love-in era, either.

A young and snotty Elvis Costello was represented earlier in the week with highlights from a '78 gig at Winterland.

The Sex Pistols are on this week's playlist with a song from their infamous final show at Winterland 28 years ago.

If you're wondering, the site apparently makes its money by hawking memorabilia it bought up from Graham's estate.

If you're in the market for an original Airplane concert poster from '66 - only costs about $4,000 - then you're in luck.

Everybody else will find a worthy alternative to songs about, well, just what is Gwen Stefani singing about, anyway?

Back to Vault News