Philip Glass album, which I learned about via Twitter.

To my surprise, I discovered 140 other free MP3 albums on the site. I had no idea.

I’m a big fan of international/roots music, so I was thrilled to find many free albums in this genre. These are all sampler compilations, so it’s hit and miss—but there are some good songs to be discovered. I’m not too surprised about that—the point of sampler music is to get you to buy albums from the featured label, so it’s in their interest to include a solid cross-sample of their best offerings.

Back in the day (just a few years ago, really), I frequently picked up low-cost or free sampler albums from labels in music stores. These days, I tend to get my music online from two primary sources: iTunes and Mondomix (before Mondomix, I frequented the now-defunct Calabash, which was bought out by Mondomix). I haven’t bought much from Amazon.

Here’s my point: iTunes doesn’t offer much in terms of free ‘sample’ music beyond the ‘Free Single of the Week.’ Calabash used to offer a lot of free singles. Mondomix does not, but they do offer streaming radio mixes and a decent podcast (it’s in French, by the way). There are not many online sources that offer a place to pick up free sample compilations anymore. Amazon, it turns out, has some of the best free offerings I’ve come across. Who knew.

At any rate, here’s what I think are some of the best of the lot from Amazon’s current free ‘International’ collection:

- Pressure Sounds sampler: solid reggae and dub tracks.
- Rotana sampler: great collection of Middle Eastern sounds from a huge label.
- Saavn sampler: Bollywood music…you can’t go wrong with Bollywood tracks.
- Anana sampler: interesting collection of music from Israel.
- Epsa world music sampler: ‘tango & folklore’ from Argentina.
- Putamayo sampler: decent sampler of music from around the globe.
- Turkish hits: nice variety of Turkish artists.

A few other albums of note that I picked up from other collections:

- A surprisingly good, wide-ranging compilation of Baroque music.
- A great collection of old music (and I mean old…Medieval and Renaissance period sounds). If you like this sort of thing, by the way, I highly recommend Anonymous 4.
- An album with five solid blues-folk tracks from influential American artists on the Vanguard label (e.g. Odetta, Ramblin’ Jack Elliot).

Oh, and if you’re a Mojo Nixon fan (I’m not), head to the free album store now. Looks like pretty much all of Mojo’s stuff if currently free.

Whatever you’re into, the Amazon’s free MP3 collection is worth a browse.

Note: In case you’re wondering, this site is not sponsored in any way by Just thought I’d share what I found there.