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 their killer VMP Country reissue of Merle Haggard’s I’m A Lonesome Fugitive – 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 yourself a favor and sign up today.
As for August’s box, I got back on the VMP Classics train to grab a soul classic from the one and only Bill Withers. Here’s a quick look.
For The Love Of Music, Please DO NOT BEND (or how I stopped worrying and learned to embrace VMP Classics as the new Essentials)
Right then, you may or may not know, but Bill Withers +’Justments is not the Vinyl Me, Please Essentials pick for August. That honor went to Beverly GlennCopeland’s unclassifiable, self-titled 1971 stunner. I’d never heard of Beverly Glenn-Copeland before, and after giving the album a couple of listens was admittedly very on the fence about Swapping it this month as said album could not be more in tune with VMP’s “Lost Sounds Found” ethos. I finally decided to swap because Beverly Glenn-Copeland is also a truly wild piece of work that I just don’t think would get a ton of spins in my house. Of course, it didn’t hurt that the August Classics selection was a Bill Withers album.
It also didn’t hurt that I’d never heard even a single track off of Withers’ 1974 full length, his third after 1971’s “Just As I Am,” and his 1972 masterpiece “Still Bill.” You should be well aware of those works as they are documents as vital to the ’70s soul scene as works by Marvin Gaye, Al Green, and Stevie Wonder. Released in the Spring of 1974, Withers’ +’Justments is generally not held in quite as high a regard, largely because of a bungled release at the hands of his soon-to-be bankrupt label Sussex Records. Those who did hear +’Justments back in its day, however, hailed it as a work on par with his prior two releases, if not stronger.
Even as the album lingered on the fringes of pop culture consciousness for the better part of the past four decades-plus, the term masterpiece has often been applied to +’Justments. If you’ve heard the album, you know better than to argue that point. Having finally given it a spin myself, I’m fully on board with that label too.
Perhaps complicating matter further, +’Justments is an in intensely introspective affair in comparison to Withers’ past work as it was largely written and recored in the wake of a painful divorce. But if history has taught us anything, it’s that a little bit of heartache is often the impetus for great art. Withers’ +’Justments is further proof of that, with the artist mining his own emotional carnage in service of an album overflowing with wistful, raw-nerve confessionals about heartaches, regrets, humiliations, and ultimately hopes.
Yes, +’Justments is a breakup album. And yes, there are sad songs aplenty on deck here. But it’s also a far cry from the sort of mopey balladry one might expect, with Withers infecting much of the album with soulful, funkdified grooves typically reserved for sunnier subject matter. That uncompromising mix of heavy hearts, heady concepts, and head-nodding grooves makes for a soul-piercingly reflective album steeped a bracing honesty rarely glimpsed in the realm of pop music. If you doubt me, please feel free to listen to Bill Withers’ +’Justments and judge for yourself.
Just FYI – if you can do so via this Vinyl Me, Please pressing of the album, you absolutely should because it’s legitimately one of the best sounding vinyl reissues these ears have ever heard.
Most album covers strive for some sort of visual representation of the music within. In the case of +’Justments, Withers savvily uses the cover to explain how the album’s name came about. In doing so, he also lays bare exactly what +’Justments is all about.
Here’s a breakdown of Withers’ album cover mission statement: “Life like most precious gifts gives us the responsibility of upkeep. We are given the responsibility of arranging our own spaces to best benefit our survival. We have the choice of believing or not believing in things like God, friendship, marriage, love, lust or any number of simple but complicated things. We will make some mistakes both in judgement and in fact. We will help some situations and hurt some situations. We will help some people and hurt some people and be left to live with it either way. We must then make some adjustments, or as the old people back home would call them, + ‘JUSTMENTS.”
There’s another shot of Withers scribbling those words the back too… not to mention this shiny foil-stamp hailing +’Justments an official Vinyl Me, Please Classics selection.
If you want to know exactly what makes this vinyl pressing of Bill Withers’ +’Justments the definitive pressing, check out this info on the album’s hype sticker, ’cause its Classics credentials are straight legit.
Before we go any further, we should also take a moment to admire this month’s VMP sticker contest winner as this hot buttered beauty from Charles Conkle is pretty damned tasty.
As with every Vinyl Me, Please release, +’Justments comes with an informative little OBI strip with a few more vital stats for this release. Flip it over for a short excerpt from the album’s listening notes explaining why this Bill Withers classic made the cut for the Classics track.
As some of you might know, every VMP Classics selection comes with a companion listening notes booklet. Usually, I’d drop a couple of shots of said booklet into the mix right about now, but unfortunately the folks at Vinyl Me, Please ran into small production delay on those this month. Thankfully, rather than hold up delivering the album to listeners, they decided to ship the books separately. As it is, I haven’t gotten mine yet, but if you want to read all about +’Justments, you can check those listening notes on VMP’s site right here.
The good news is, sans listening notes picks, we can jump right ahead and have a look at the precious vinyl inside that sexy tip-on sleeve. But before we do, let’s take a moment to gloss over the album’s slick inner sleeve, ’cause there are pics and production notes galore printed there.
Without further adieu, let us gaze upon the glossy black beauty that is the Vinyl Me, Please pressing of +’Justments.
And yes, that disc will bring some seriously soulful vibes to any deck on planet Earth.
How’s it sound, like you reached directly into Bill Withers’ chest, removed his still beating heart, and pressed directly into the wax.
Give VMP Country a Spin
If you’re a regular-ish reader of these Vinyl Me, Please unboxings, you know me to be a pretty big soul music fan. And as such, I am indeed a fan of Mr. Bill Withers, whose 1971 hit “Ain’t No Sunshine” is arguably the greatest soul song ever recorded. As it is, I remain a bit embarrassed in admitting I’d never given +’Justments a listen before. I’m betting a lot of you are also in that boat too, however, if only because Withers’ first two albums are so damned perfect, it’s pretty hard to look past them.
I cannot urge you to look past them enough, as this unjustly overlooked soul classic may be Withers’ finest musical hour (or 38-minutes if you will). It also fits the Vinyl Me, Please “Lost Sounds Found” mantra to the T. And quite frankly, Team VMP really could not have done a better job bringing this beauty to the vinyl-loving masses.
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!