Jason Heller

When, exactly, was disco born? Was it when Billboard magazine began tabulating a chart devoted specifically to dance music in 1974? Or is that the tail wagging the dog, since armies of club DJs had been playing dance-conducive rock and pop music in discotheques since the '60s? And to put a finer point on it, what was actually the first disco song? We know all the big artists and hits of the original disco era, from The Bee Gees' "Stayin' Alive" to Donna Summer's "Hot Stuff." But where did that sound come from: those sweeping strings, the lush funkiness, the hi-hat-heavy beat?

Roky Erickson was rock music's ambassador to inner space.

Note: NPR's First Listen audio comes down after the album is released. However, you can still listen with the Bandcamp playlist at the bottom of the page.

Note: NPR's First Listen audio comes down after the album is released. However, you can still listen with the Bandcamp playlist at the bottom of the page.

Note: NPR's First Listen audio comes down after the album is released. However, you can still listen with the Spotify and Apple playlists at the bottom of the page.

Note: NPR's First Listen audio comes down after the album is released. However, you can still listen with the Bandcamp playlist at the bottom of the page.

Ever since Led Zeppelin took it up on themselves to sing songs about hobbits, rock music and fantasy literature have had an intimate relationship. But rarely has anyone explored that overlap as effusively as Nicholas Eames.

Note: NPR's First Listen audio comes down after the album is released. However, you can still listen with the Spotify or Apple Music playlist at the bottom of the page.

In the 2010 documentary Agadez, The Music And The Rebellion, director Ron Wyman explores the culture of the Tuareg people of North Africa — specifically their music. As pointed out in the film, one name has become synonymous with Tuareg music. The guitarist and singer-songwriter Bombino, born Omara Moctar, grew up amid the social, political and economic unrest in the Sahara in the 1980s and '90s.

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