i was alarmed to find this morning--while hoping to do a routine search for a song title--that reggae-riddims.com, long the most comprehensive (& free, online, & searchable) database for reggae recordings and their various metadata, is no longer there. the domain name is expired, "pending renewal or deletion."
i (used to?) use the site frequently for tracking down original versions, covers and re-licks, odd connections of all kinds, and--best of all--long, lovely lists of songs that employ the same well-worn riddims. moreover, alongside my more qualitative methods, folks like pace have crunched the data to explore various avenues of quantitative analysis. no, reggae-riddims wasn't perfect. it had its (implicit) biases and lacunae, and it had seemingly been working with a static data set for a long time. but it was still the best thing out there: no libraries are collecting this information, and few folks are making it publicly accessible or so searchable. (of course, for a small price...)
sure, there's always jamrid, which has the benefit of offering audio samples (but far less info), and one can make a query on various message boards 'round the net, but no other site--far as i know--provides as much sheer information as reggae-riddims.
i guess i'm still waiting for the great big audiowiki in the sky, when we can all upload audio, text, metadata, etc., and even annotate the sound itself. i can imagine quite a collective document shaping up, making connections and opening up into countless narratives about music and society and culture. until then, we're stuck with privately maintained archives which run the risk of going under or are sometimes saddled by a paucity of data or perspective.
yes, sites like the-breaks.com--for all their ethical ambiguity (e.g., is this helping or hurting samplers' cause?)--remain valuable resources. but wouldn't it be better if they could be at least semi-publicly maintained, edited, and expanded?
who maintains reggae-riddims.com? what can be done to bring it back? would the previous keepers of the data mind if others put it back up, and allowed others to contribute to it? there is much to be learned here, and much to be lost.
[update: bass.de points us to a reincarnation of reggae-riddims, bigger and more up-to-the-time, too: riddimbase. gotta love those germaicans.]