A Sampler of Sounds: ESP Records (rel. 2010). With its incredibly weird catalog of music from the late 60s and early 70s (as well as some odd contemporary electronic sounds), this ESP sampler is a lot of fun. Includes Timothy Leary, Ayler, Sun Ra, the Godz, Charles Manson (although fuck that guy), among others.
Samurai Champloo Music Records (2004). I'm a fan of the anime Samurai Champloo, but four soundtrack albums seemed quite extensive to me even before I heard them. Afterwards, it is definitely too extensive. I mean, there is some good music on here, maybe an album's worth, but a lot of it is just soundtrack loops, beats meant to be paired with a scene, but without the visuals, are just beats that go nowhere. The four albums are Masta, Departure, Playlist, and Impression. The 2nd and 4th are the best.
The Sandinista Project (2007). A long tribute to the Clash's weirdest album, documented here.Worth a listen! Contributors include Jon Langford and Sally Timms of the Mekons, Steve Wynn, the Sex Clark Five, Wreckless Eric and Amy Rigby, Ethan Lipton, Camper Van Beethoven, and The Lothars, a mostly-theramin band with my pal Jon Bernhardt.
Schoolhouse Rock! (1973-84). Those of you who are parents in your late 30s through early 50s understand.
A Second Tribute To Jandek: Down In A Mirror (2005). Another very strong tribute album, with Jeff Tweedy, Six Organs of Admittance, Okkervil River, the Mountain Goats, and the Dirty Projectors, among others, kicking out the mondo-depressive-weirdo-recluse-shut-in blues. Hey, I love Jandek, and some days are perfect for being melancholy.
Skybucket Records Sampler 2011. Skybucket is an excellent Birmingham, AL-based label with a smattering of artists on the alt-county and lush guitar-pop side of the rock genre. This sampler includes Through The Sparks, which is a band I like very much, along with other interesting Alabama bands like Vulture Whale and Delicate Cutters.
The Slaughter Rule Original Soundtrack (2002). Jay Farrar of Son Volt & Uncle Tupelo made the incidental music and curated this soundtrack, which has some first-rate alt-country tracks, like Vic Chesnutt playing the Carter Family's "Rank Stranger" and Freakwater playing the Louvin Brothers' "When I Stop Dreaming." Good stuff.
Smithsonian-Folkways Anthology of American Folk Music Sampler (rel. unknown). Since I have the Anthology of American Folk Music, why have the sampler, too, you might ask? The answer is I don't know!
So Blue So Funky: Heroes Of The Hammond, Vol. 1 (1991) and 2 (1994). These are compilations of organ-based blues-jazz-funk on Blue Note from the 60s. Solid.
So Indie It Hurts: ROIR Rocks Volume One (2008) and Two (2009). Through the 70s and 80s, ROIR put out cassette-only albums of classic protopunk and punk bands usually playing live. And it may still be a going concern? I don't know. Anyway, good stuff on here, even if the sounds quality is not always the best.
Sō: Japanese Traditional Music (rel. 1994). Interesting in the abstract, but a little dull for these Western ears in practice.
A Soldiers Sad Story: Vietnam Through the Eyes of Black America, 1966-73. This 2003 compilation collects sad soul tracks that are directly or indirectly related to Vietnam, as the title clearly states. This is an excellently curated collection, definitely worth picking up at the right price.
Something Wild Soundtrack (1986). I don't understand how Jonathan Demme could make a movie prominently featuring The Feelies and yet include no Feelies music on this soundtrack. Given the choice between Oingo Boingo or Fine Young Cannibals and the band that actually appears in the movie, I know which one I would want to appear on the soundtrack, but apparently, I am alone in preferring timeless music to dated 80s pop. Here is a clip of what this soundtrack should have been.
A Sound Legacy: 60 Years of Folkways Records and 20 Years of Smithsonian Folkways (rel. 2008). I think this was a free Amazon sampler? Anyway, it is a pretty cool freebie.
The Squidbillies Present: Music for Americans Only Made by Americans in China for Americans Only God Bless America, U.S.A. (2012). Another freebie sampler from [adult swim] with an absurdly strong list of contributors. I've never warmed up to the Squidbillies cartoon, but this collection makes me want to. This clip includes half of Nashville and half of Austin and it makes me laugh like hell.
Stay Awake: Various Interpretations of Music from Vintage Disney Films (1988). This is one of Hal Willner's many, many tribute albums, and I've had it since the late 80s because it has the Replacements on it. First place I ever heard Sun Ra or Ken Nordine.
Step Right Up: The Songs Of Tom Waits (rel. 1995). This is the Tom Waits tribute album that doesn't have Screamin' Jay Hawkins on it, and it is, accordingly, the shittier of the two.
The Stiff Records Box Set (rel. 1992). "If it ain't Stiff, it ain't worth a fuck" was one of their slogans, and this box makes a good argument for this statement, at least until the third disc is taken over by the British proclivity towards the soggy cheese of overemotive vocals and plink-plonk keyboards. But the first two discs, with Nick Lowe, Elvis Costello, The Damned, Wreckless Eric, The Adverts, and on and on, is fantastic. I mean, even after the Brit-pop erupts, there's still The Pogues.
Stroke: Songs for Chris Knox (2009). Merge put out this compilation to benefit the recovery of NZ-based Chris Knox of the Tall Dwarfs and Toy Love, and the incredibly strong contributor list indicates how beloved his music is among the American indie-rock set. Besides his countrymen (and sometimes collaborators) David Kilgour, The Chills, The Verlaines, The Bats, Peter Gutteridge, and (full-time collaborator) Alex Bathgate, this comp features Jeff Mangum of Neutral Milk Hotel, Stephin Merritt, Yo La Tengo, Portastatic, Jay Reatard (one of the last songs he recorded before his untimely death), Lambchop, and the Mountain Goats. Fantastic album, fantastic cause.
Studio One Rockers (rel. 2001). Excellent comp of 60s and 70s rock-influenced reggae.
The Sun Story (rel. 1990). Solid comp of Sun singles.
Supraphon Selections (2008). Compilation of classical music from the Supraphon label. Pretty good for a dabbler like myself.
SXSW 2007: Breakout Bands That Tore Up Texas. This must be an eMusic comp. Not the best, but not the worst, either. There are a few strong cuts.