Good things come in 12 inch packages. Delivering limited edition pressings of new and classic albums directly to your doorstep, Vinyl Me, Please 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 (plans start at $25/month) and they send you one carefully selected album they feel is an Essential addition to any record collection. Easy, right? Each custom pressing (often on colored vinyl!) also comes with killer special features like original artwork, informative booklets, and even a recipe for a companion cocktail. You’ll have membership privileges in the VMP shop too, which means you can grab a copy of previous VMP selections from the archives – including their impeccable VMP Classics selection of Jazz Impressions of Japan by The Dave Brubeck Quartet – not to mention a bevy of rare releases pressed exclusively for the folks at 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 its more covet-worthy stock is only available to members, so you’ve gotta sign up to get your mitts on them. If you’re peckish about relinquishing control of your record collection over to complete strangers, know that VMP’s Swaps Program is in full effect. That means you can flip any VMP pick you don’t like for a past AOM (or other VMP Exclusive pressings) that’s a little more your speed. My advice? Don’t overthink it. Do yourself a favor and sign up today.
So what’s on deck for December? Get ready to show a little R-E-S-P-E-C-T to a stunning, AAA pressing of Aretha Franklin’s timeless album I Never Loved A Man The Way I Love You.
For the Love of Music, Please DO NOT BEND (or, how I learned that nobody can bring the soul quite like the queen herself)
By no stretch of the imagination do I think I need to school any of you on who Aretha Franklin was. Nor am I possessed of the sort of hubris that might lead me to think I have any new insight to offer regarding her life in music, or the towering body of work she delivered over her decades-long career. After all, Aretha Franklin isn’t referred to in the music biz as “The Queen of Soul” for nothing. It’s a title that was earned by an artist who’s career essentially set the standard for every female soul singer who came after.
Assuming you know what you really should already know about Aretha Franklin, I’ll offer that many consider her 1967 release I Never Loved A Man The Way I Love You to (anchored by it’s chart-topping, gender-swapping take on Otis Redding’s “Respect”) to be the crowing achievement of her early output, and it’s regularly listed on “Greatest Albums of All Time” type lists – even claiming the #83 spot on Rolling Stone‘s 2003 ranking of 500 essential albums.
Accolades aside, it might surprise you to learn that I Never Loved A man The Way I Love You was actually Aretha’s 10th full length release. As such, Aretha (who began her career as a teenage star in her father’s gospel choir) had already become a staple on the soul scene prior to I Never Loved A Man The Way I Love You‘s recording. Perhaps sensing that the preternaturally gifted singer/pianist/arranger (in her mid-20s when the album was recorded) was on the verge of a breakout, Atlantic’s Jerry Wexler scooped Franklin up after she left Columbia Records, took her to the iconic FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama to record with the famed Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section.
Produced by Wexler, and engineered by the legendary Tom Dowd (see 2003 doc Tom Dowd and the Language of Music for more on his incredible career), what Franklin and the Muscle Shoals conjured on I Never Loved A Man The Way I Love You was nothing short of soul music sorcery – the sort of sorcery that resulted in the exact sort of breakthrough Atlantic Records brass had anticipated, with “Respect” becoming Franklin’s first #1 Billboard hit, and proving a powerful anthem for the late-60s feminist and civil rights movements. That it was the lead track on an album full of potent rhythm and blues bangers was icing on the cake for everyone involved.
Simply put, from opener “Respect” to album closing standard “A Change is Gonna Come,” there’s not a bad song or a single filler track on I Never Loved A Man The Way I Love You. It’s inarguably one of the most important soul records ever produced. And it’s as Essential an album as anything Vinyl Me, Please has ever released. If you didn’t already know that, there’s no better time than now to find out.
Album covers are typically designed to convey visually what listeners can expect from the sounds inside. As such, the pensive, powerful, and undeniably glamours cover for I Never Loved A Man The Way I Love You is the very definition of spot on. Flip that sleeve over to find a track list, and a few fine words about Aretha Franklin from Mr. Jerry Wexler. If you don’t know who he is, please Google the name immediately, ’cause Jerry Wexler was one of the most important names in music for the better part of a couple of decades (re: Bob Dylan, Ray Charles, Dusty Springfield, Led Zeppelin, Wilson Pickett, and yes, the Queen of Soul herself).
Don’t forget to dig on that shiny, gold foil stamp that forever declares I Never Loved A Man The Way I Love You a bonafide VMP Essential.
Now, before we get too far ahead of ourselves, we really should digest the vital stats about this particular pressing of Aretha Franklin’s I Never Loved A Man The Way I Love You, because Vinyl Me, Please really pulled out all the stops this month. VMP exclusive pressing? Check. AAA pressing cut from original tapes by the fine folks at Sterling Sound? Check. 180g pressing on colored wax? Check. Vital musical document from one of the most important artists in music history? Check. Yeah, you’d better believe this is about as Essential a release as Team VMP has ever put into the world.
As we move along, you’ll probably want to note of the info on the special VMP OBI-strip as well. Info like album and artist name, and the catalogue number of this particular Vinyl Me, Please release. Hard as it is to believe, this is actually the 84th release from VMP.
There’s a few carefully chosen words about why Team VMP chose this album as their December Essentials pick … not that you should need much convincing when it comes to an Aretha Franklin album.
For those of you who like to indulge in an adult beverage while you spin, there’s also a recipe for the I Never Loved A Man The Way I Love You tucked inside that strip as well. I’ve generally been a firm believer that simpler drinks are better drinks, so I can’t say I’m too excited about the egg white required to make a “Dr. Feelgood,” but I’m absolutely willing to give it a shot.
As I Never Loved A Man The Way I Love You is an official Essentials selection, it also comes with original artwork. This glorious moment of Aretha in the studio circa the mid-60s comes was captured by famed music photographer David Gahr. Please feel free to Google Mr. Gahr’s work as well.
Now that we’ve ogled the exterior goodies in this month’s box, let’s get inside that sleeve already, ’cause that’s where we’ll find this full lyric booklet for every single track on I Never Loved A Man The Way I Love You. Be sure to take note of the writing credits on those songs, by the way, because aside from Aretha Franklin herself, you’ll also see names of a few legends from the era in Otis Redding, Sam Cooke, Chips Moman, and Dan Penn.
As for the what else is in that sleeve, well, you’re probably gonna need to pick your jaw up off the floor when you get a gander at the purple and white galaxy colored wax inside. And yes, those colors deftly match those found on the cover of I’ve Never Loved A Man The Way I Love You.
And rest assured knowing it’ll bring a galaxy of soulful sounds to your deck.
How’s it sound? Like sitting at the mixing board in Atlantic Recording Studios in 1967, and knowing there’s almost nothing you can do to quell the sonic genius being created the sound both. So you sit back, relax, and dig on the passion, and the fury, and the flavor coming from within.
Give It a Spin
Look, I’m fully aware that most of you already adore the music Aretha Franklin created in her storied career. I’m also pretty sure that far too few of you actually have a copy of one of her albums in your collection. I know I didn’t. So I cannot tell you how stoked I was when I found out that Vinyl Me, Please was once again stepping up to fill an embarrassing, Aretha-sized hole in my own. That they’ve done so with one of the best looking I’ve ever seen, and one of the best sounding albums I’ve ever heard is just the sort of bonus I’ve come to expect from the folks at Vinyl Me, Please. Though it’s really more of the status quo for Team VMP these days.
A big THANK YOU to our friends at Vinyl Me, Please for sponsoring this subscription. Don’t forget to check out the official Vinyl Me, Please website and sign up to get some choice wax delivered right to your door each and every month! While it’s gonna be hard to beat Aretha Franklin come January, Team VMP is gonna give it their all with a sexy new pressing of The Dirty Projector’s indie-pop classic Bitte Orca. So be sure to stay tuned for our unboxing of that indie gem!