All Music. The daddy of all music sites. Formerly All Music Guide, and celebrating it’s 18th year, it is an authoritative and exhaustive database of band bios and music reviews. All cleverly linked to each other and (mostly) superbly written, it is by far the one website that has turned us onto more music than any other.
There are many things we love about this site.
1) The database is huge. Just about any band, no matter how small has a page. For the bigger bands, all manner of import compilations and obscure live albums are listed. Also, most different editions of the same albums get a look in. It’s huge.
2) By no means all, but there are thousands upon thousands (we would not be suprised if it’s over a million!) reviews, band bios and stories to read. Most are superbly written. Being written just for the web, some of the reviews can be quite long as the physical limitations of the printed page are thrown away.
3) The album ratings system. Want to know where to start with the Kinks? Let All Music tell you. We often use if for compilations – a bigger mine field. What’s the best Chet Baker compilation? The man has dozens of collections. All Music has an opinion – and you’d be wise to listen.
4) Similar artists. Every band page has links to similar artists, followers and influences. So when you find a new sound you love, you can read about the band, their older albums, and see what else is like that. Yes, there are plenty of recommendation search engines out there, but this is more of a literary context rather than audio match ups.
5) The front page has improved immensely over the years. We particularly like the new reviews on the right side – that reminds us what is out and read more about them, and the left column of recent recommended releases.
In teh end, we come back to the quality fo the writing. Even for big bands, like Dylan and the Beatles, we loved how All Music has written about them and framed them. But it is for the obscure stuff as well. We just read a review on the new Marshall Crenshaw album, and it made us check out what albums we don’t have, and used the rating system to decide which is the next one we should check out.
Reading reviews is not for everyone. But for those who do, you could waste the rest of your life on All Music.