Phreeworld--a rock group of fortysomethings that draws its influences from Zappa, Floyd, and, of course, Stravinsky--has been at it for 28 years. The four men are now reaching for the stars via the Internet, by marketing their self-produced albums on

Unfortunately, their quest for minor-league stardom was thwarted when retracted an offer to give the band more exposure, deciding not to link Phreeworld's latest hit to an e-mail sent out to all new users., a subsidiary of Vivendi Universal, based in San Diego, California, is a website that hosts more than one million song and audio files. was going to be Phreeworld's ticket to fame.

Phreeworld's druggie, ambient-rock sound, popular in the '70s (officially called "progressive rock" for the past, oh, 30 years now) recently made it to's Online Top 40 list. As of November 2, their hit single, "Bin Laden Goes To HELL," held the number 19 slot.

Any band that makes's Top 40 gets a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to have their "hit" air on an e-mail message that goes to newly registered users.

Stoked, Phreeworld bid more than $900 when auctioned off the spot to its Top 40 bands on October 30. Phreeworld was the highest bidder, but revoked the offer two days later, promising to refund the band and saying in a November 1 e-mail, "It has been decided that the song title/comment presents too risky of an exposure for the company at this time." Bummer. did not return The Stranger's calls at press time.

"It's our most avant-garde song yet," says Phreeworld guitarist/vocalist Dave Wheeler. Wheeler (Shoreline High Class of '73), a father of three, lives in Snohomish and works as a technology consultant for AT&T Wireless.