Vinyl Me, Please April ’22 Unboxing: Lightnin’ Hopkins – Lightnin’ Strikes
Good things comes in 12 inch packages. Delivering limited edition vinyl pressings of new and classic albums directly to your doorstep, VMP operates under a simple philosophy: The Album Lives! With a carefully curated catalog of new and hard to find releases, the subscription service is more than just a record club, it’s a lifestyle choice for folks who wish Record Store Day could happen every month… in their living room.
Here’s how it works. You send Vinyl Me, Please some of your hard-earned money (a 3-month membership will set you back about $119) and they send you one carefully selected album they feel is Essential to any record collection. Yes, it really is as easy as it sounds. You even get FREE SHIPPING. Each custom pressing (often on colored vinyl!) also comes with killer extras like original artwork and informative listening companion booklet.
You’ll have membership privileges in the VMP store too, which means you can grab a copy of previous VMP selections from the archives – including March’s crunchy reissue of Modest Mouse’s sophomore masterpiece “The Lonesome Crowded West” – not to mention a slate of super-limited releases pressed exclusively for Vinyl Me, Please. The store is open, and Team VMP are dropping fresh new selections to their stock every single week. Do not miss out.
Word to the wise, while the store is open to the public, most of the more covet-worthy stock is only available to subscribers. Members are privy to reduced “Members Pricing” as well, so joining the club definitely has its rewards. If you’re peckish about relinquishing control of your record collection to complete strangers, know that VMP’s Swaps Program is in full effect. That means you can flip any VMP pick you’re not interested in for a past featured album from any track (including Essentials, Country, Classics, and Rap/Hip Hop). My advice? Don’t overthink it. Do your turntable a favor and sign up today.
As for March’s box, I went and got my hands of the new pressing of Lightnin’ Hopkins’ blues classic Lightnin’ Strikes.
For The Love Of Music, Please DO NOT BEND
If you’ve been following the various doings at Vinyl Me, Please of late, you probably know Lightnin’ Strikes is not the Essentials pick for March 2022. That honor went to the third and final album from the late-great R&B legend Aaliyah. It’s a great R&B album. It really could not be more worthy of the Essentials treatment. And if you’re into Aaliyah, it’s as essential as a record can be. It is not, however, an essential to my own, personal collection. Which is okay, ’cause it gave me a reason to swap into the Classics track and further bolster my burgeoning collection of blues albums.
For the record, Lightnin’ Strikes has instantly become the favorite record in my blues collection … which is cool because I’d really only known Lightnin’ Hopkins by name prior to hearing this album. Please believe Hopkins’ name is one I’ve heard plenty since moving to Houston, Texas a few years back. The man is, after all, a legend in these parts, having cut his teeth in every sweaty club and dive the city’s historic Third Ward neighborhood had to offer during his heyday.
Hopkins also cut Lightnin’ Strikes in Houston back in 1962, doing so in the hallowed halls of Gold Star Studio, and as a one-off release for VeeJay Records (who also released albums from blues legends like Jimmy Reed, Memphis Slim, and John Lee Hooker). As it is, Hopkins diehards would likely be quick to tell you Lightnin’ Strikes is not the bluesman’s finest recorded work, but they’d also tell you it’s as solid a collection of folk-talky blues numbers as you’ll find in his vast recorded oeuvre.
Yes, there’s some crackling electric guitar work in the Lightnin’ Strikes mix too, with Hopkins dropping two full-band recording into the tracklist, and thus lending some serious credence to the album’s title. Still, it’s the stripped back, bare-bones blues numbers on the album that really shine, with Hopkins’ distinctive playing style, and singular voice driving the action here. Coupled with some savvy production effects, the 10 songs on Lightnin’ Strikes don’t just play more than they crawl inside your brain and reverberate until your head is nodding and your foot is tapping in time. And once they start, they won’t stop until the album’s over.
I fully dig the overt obviousness of what’s happening not the cover of Lightnin’ Strikes. But yeah, it’s arguably just a touch too obvious. Thankfully, the music inside that sleeve more than makes up for it.
Flip it over, however, and you’ll find a few intriguing words about the recording of the album, a full track list, and, of course, that shiny VMP Classics foil-stamp.
And for those in doubt of this pressing’s credentials, the info on the hype sticker should put those doubts to rest.
Now, before we get too far into this vinyl unboxing, we should take a moment to dig on the month’s VMP sticker contest winner, ’cause this one from Greta Huang Skagerlind is pretty darn groovy.
Moving on, we should also take a moment to absorb the info on the album’s OBI-Strip. And yes, it’s hard to believe Vinyl Me, Please has been running Classics game for almost 5 years now. Just wow.
And on the back, you’ll find a brief excerpt from Lightnin’ Strikes‘ accompanying listening companion.
As for that booklet, VMP’s Classics curator Andrew Winstorfer put together a 13-page deep dive into Lightin’ Hopkins’ legacy as a bluesman, and the recording of this legendary album.
And as is the case with every VMP Classics release, the vinyl inside the sleeve is a glossy black beauty.
And yes, it’ll seriously blues-up any turntable it graces.
How’s it sound? Like the f***ing blues, my friends.
Give VMP a Spin
Look, I’m not gonna get all preachy here about why you need to get on the Vinyl Me, Please Classics trainer as soon as you can … because album’s like Lightnin’ Hopkins’ Lightnin’ Strikes are exactly the reason you need to. And yeah, if you count yourself a blues fan, well, the name Lightnin’ Hopkins alone probably did more to further your interest than any words I could muster. Either way, I cannot thank the VMP team enough for not only putting this record out into he world, but putting it onto my turntable too. Hopefully you’ll have it yourself soon enough.
A big THANK YOU to our friends at Vinyl Me, Please for sponsoring this subscription. Don’t forget to check out the Vinyl Me, Please website and sign up to get some choice wax delivered right to your door each and every month! Be sure to check back next month to see what vinyl treasure Team VMP sends our way!