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Internet Radio Station Review: A Fistful of Soundtracks

Ralph Graves is one of Crutchfield's blog editors, and part of the company's social media team. He writes about home audio/video gear, specializing in Apple-related and wireless technologies. Ralph holds a master's degree in music composition, and his works have been released on various labels. He's served as product manager for an independent classical and world music label, produced several recordings, and worked extensively in public broadcasting. Since 1984 he's hosted a weekly classical music program on WTJU, and is also active as a blogger and podcaster.

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What's the best way to describe A Fistful of Soundtracks? How's this — if I were Quentin Tarantino, this would be my favorite Internet radio station.

If you're looking for a station that will play the theme to "Laurence of Arabia," keep moving. As the name suggests, A Fistful of Soundtracks (AFoS) is concentrates on genre and cult films. Spaghetti westerns, martial arts movies, blaxploitation films —they're all here, as well as more modern movies inspired by these genres (like those by Quentin Tarentino).

AFoS organizes its programming into the following shows:

Rock Box, which features previously released songs that have been incorporated into movie soundtracks

Chai Noon, which presents music from Bollywood films

Soda and Pie, which concentrates on movie and TV themes from the 1980's

The Street, which surveys funk and R&B tracks from various movies.

Here's a rundown of an hour's programming of the Street:

The Roots featuring Jaguar: What You Want from "The Best Man"

Robert Rodriguez: "Sin City" (end credits)

David Holms: Kensington Chump from "Ocean's Thirteen"

James Brown: People Get Up and Drive Your Funky Soul from "Slaughter's Big-Rip-Off"

Public Enemy: Fight the Power from "Do the Right thing"

Marvin Gaye: Trouble Man, from "Trouble Man"

Curtis Mayfield: Pusherman from "Superfly"

Roy Ayers: Escape from "Coffy"

As you can see, it's a pretty diverse mix. And the other shows are equally wide-ranging.

AFoS drops in movie trailers and quotes from the films, which effectively adds to the ambiance. And they aren't placed at random. If you hear the trailer for "Big Trouble in Little China," you can be sure that the next selection will be from the soundtrack of that film.

My only complaint about the station was the bit rate its streamed at. The stream comes through at 32kbps, so it's sort of like listening to an AM transistor radio. Of course, for some of  these soundtracks from the 1970's that can just add to the authenticity, but overall I would have preferred a higher bit rate to give the music a little more detail and presence.

One other thing to be aware of — AFoS plays the tracks that were originally in the films, not the versions cleaned up for radio airplay. Some of the songs have NSFW lyrics. But then, I never thought of any of these films as especially family-friendly in the first place.

If you enjoy cult and genre films the way I do, then A Fistful of Soundtracks can be a blast to listen to. Duck, you sucka!

How To Listen:

Accessible through most wireless music players

Website:  A Fistful of Soundtracks

iTunes: In the iTunes Radio menu, the station's listed in the Eclectic folder as Fistful of Soundtracks

Live365: A Fistful of Soundtracks

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