I have the good fortune to live near a good record store, where I shop often. One of my best scores this year was Highlife on the Move: “Selected Nigerian & Ghanaian Recordings from London & Lagos — 1954-66”.

Highlight on the move Album

On Record Stores · So, there are two things you find in record stores. The first, what with vinyl’s resurgence, are lots of foot-square packages advertising the music they contain, often with eye-grabbing visuals. The second, almost every time, is some pretty fucking cool music on the sound system. Record stores, they’re a good thing, and let’s hope we have ’em with us for a while.

The Music · I now know a lot about West-African pop music of the mid-Twentieth century, just from reading the voluminous liner notes. Lauren raised her eyebrows when I brought it home: “Huh?” I said “African music, I like it because it’s light”, and I’ll stand by that. There’s a lot more that could be said about rhythmic depth and good singing and all that stuff, but it’s the essential lightness of touch in Afri-pop that’s uniquely charmed me.

This is good stuff; 38 tracks by a bunch of people I never heard of, and three by the very young Fela Kuti. There’s nothing terribly shocking or soul-charging here, but if you can listen to this stuff without smiling, you need treatment.

Media · Been buying a lot of vinyl these days; my reasons are here. Every new LP I’ve bought recently has included a download code so you can get decent-quality MP3s too. These are appropriate for travel and as housecleaning beats.

Well, they would be if it weren’t for shambling undead drooling inflicters of pain otherwise known as Apple’s elite iTunes product management unit.

It’s like this: I have a whole lot of music. I regularly think “I feel like listening to X while I do dishes.” So I sit down in front of iTunes, type in X (for example “Highlife on the Move”) and hit Play. Right? <Insert hollow cynical laughter here.> Wrong. Well, sometimes it works; just to get my hopes up.

I’m not giving a detailed route map through this particular trail of tears; suffice it to say that the single most common operation a music manager ought to support is now crippled in iTunes, as a matter of policy.

How do I know it’s even possible? Because over at our cabin, we keep an ancient Blackbook running OS X 10.8, hasn’t been connected to the Net in years and listen to the tunes off a USB disk. That version of iTunes can search for a fucking album and play the fucking tunes on it.

There has to be an alternative.


Comment feed for ongoing:Comments feed

From: Hanan Cohen (Jul 02 2015, at 01:05)

I don't have a Mac so I don't have a personal experience with any of the software that's listed here.



From: Blaine Cook (Jul 02 2015, at 02:40)

Spotify spotify spotify; not sure how the catalogue is in Canada, but I typed "Highlife on the move" into the search bar, and four seconds later I was listening to the album at 320 kbps. ;-)


From: James Troutman (Jul 02 2015, at 04:43)

Your comments about iTunes have me perplexed. I have the latest version (12.2.0) and I can search for an album or track and play it just fine.

I'm actually pleased with this iteration of iTunes because it's a lot more responsive than the previous few versions were. When I click on something, there is no longer a lag of a few seconds before it responds.

That's not to say that iTunes isn't still a bloated mess, incorporating way to many functions. But as to your specific complaint, I just can't reproduce it. <scratching my head>


From: Ian (Jul 02 2015, at 08:08)

Soundcloud has a fantastic search feature. Type a song, such as Gallow's Pole, and listen to twenty different versions from Irish pub bands, Georgian folk singers, etc.


From: Jay (Jul 02 2015, at 12:12)

Not sure what the issue is, I had no problem with the music query that you cited. Leftover Google angst, perhaps? :)


From: James Troutman (Jul 02 2015, at 12:48)

OTOH, you aren't the only one dissatisfied with iTunes 12.2:

Why you might not want to upgrade to iTunes 12.2



From: Jim Ancona (Jul 03 2015, at 08:53)

Evidently you're not the only one having problems: http://www.macobserver.com/tmo/article/itunes-12.2-and-icloud-music-library-a-disaster-for-your-music-collection


From: hawkse (Jul 04 2015, at 11:34)

What baffles me is that you actually use iTunes at all. Any software that tries to do everything at once and leans towards 'automagically' performing tasks on behalf of the user isn't suited for use by a knowledgeable user.

(On a slightly related note; tried Apple Music for a few days and, well, I won't be subscribing. I don't even think I'll use it until the free period runs out. Ghastly.)


From: Kevin Spencer (Jul 04 2015, at 22:09)

While iTunes has its issues (Match is a disaster), I'm slightly baffled by your comment. All searches work for me and I can't reproduce the problem.


From: Michael Norrish (Jul 05 2015, at 17:28)

Apple Music also finds Highlife on the Move for streaming. And this is in Australia, where no doubt Apple's licensing energies have been less assiduously applied.


From: Zach Fine (Jul 05 2015, at 18:43)

Not meaning to be a contrarian, but I generally enjoy your thoughts on all manner of things, and am mystified by this gripe as it doesn’t jibe with my iTunes experience at all. I just typed “Highlife on the Move” in the search bar of the latest iTunes (v12.2.0.145), clicked to select the result, and clicked play, and now I’m listening to it. Sweet album.

Here’s a simple example of how album searching works when I’ve done it:

Step 1 - Search for an album name (fig A)

Step 2 - Click clearly-labelled album name in result list (fig A)

(fig A: http://zachfine.com/home/www/httpd/htdocs/zachfine/dropzone/im/itunes_search.jpg )

Step 3 - Click to play album (fig B)

(fig B: http://zachfine.com/home/www/httpd/htdocs/zachfine/dropzone/im/itunes_play_album.jpg )

Maybe there’s some set of circumstances that makes the process more convoluted and I’m just not hitting that edge case?


From: uno (Jul 08 2015, at 21:17)

AppleScript Editor

tell application "QuickTime Player"

open URL "http://playerservices.streamtheworld.com/pls/CBC_R1_VCR_H.pls"

end tell

and it does files and playlists too. It is the underpinning of iTunes audio player


From: StanD. (Jul 15 2015, at 18:21)

The third thing you'll find at a record store, if it's a good one, are employees that know a lot of great music and can point you at it.


From: Doug K (Jul 17 2015, at 11:36)

no experience with Mac, but iTunes on Windows behaves like a virus: installs multiple hidden autostart services, several of which will automatically consume substantial fractions of CPU doing things that are no use to me at all, including but not limited to vainly trying to find Apple devices to sync with; rambling about the internet on its own, soaking up bandwidth for indiscernible purposes. This is so irritating I've never tried to manage music with it, in which application it doubtless has many other ways to annoy.

I subscribed to Spotify mostly in order to support furia.com and the interesting things that he does, although I'm still conflicted about Spotify's artist payment system. The application is generally reliable on both Windows and Ubuntu.

For my own music, it is in folders on disk.. can find anything I need in 10sec or so, and start playing it..


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July 01, 2015
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