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 beautiful reissue of The Doors’ legendary self-titled debut – 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 what came packed into my box for July, it’s nothing short of a honky-tonk classic from one of the O.G. outlaw country crooners.
For The Love Of Music, Please DO NOT BEND (or, how I learned to stop worrying and go all in on VMP’s new Country track)
Ok, those that follow the comings and goings of Vinyl Me, Please record of the month announcements probably know that Merle Haggard’s “I’m A Lonesome Fugitive” was not the Essentials track selection for July. That honor actually went to The Mars Volta’s beloved 2003 prog rock masterwork “De-Loused In The Comatorium.” As much as I know how many music lovers out there were fully over the moon with that pick, I’m not one of them. In all honesty, I’ve never been a big fan of what The Mars Volta does, and I really just didn’t see “Comatorium” getting a lot of spins in my house. Which is ok, ’cause it gave me the chance to finally swap into the newest Vinyl Me, Please track, VMP Country.
So to all of you hyped about that shiny new pressing of that Mars Volta album, I sincerely hope it’s everything you want it to be and more. As for me, well, I fully dug my first turn through VMP Country-land, and helped bolster the burgeoning country section I’ve been slowly building in my own collection with an Outlaw Country standard from one of the hard-living icons who brought the genre to the masses.
Though his sound was undoubtedly a bit cleaner, and his voice a touch dewier than Outlaw contemporaries like Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, and Willie Nelson, the smooth production and tight instrumentation typically fronted on a Merle Haggard record hardly serve as a salve to the tone of his songs. In fact, one might easily argue they often serve as a stark counterpoint to his tales of tormented drifters, booze-ridden losers, part-time lovers, and broken-hearted loners. And polished sound aside, one could also argue there’s a touch more truth in Haggard’s songs as he arguably lived a harder life before becoming a country superstar.
That’s not to say those other icons of country music didn’t endure hard times. They undoubtedly did. But Haggard’s tales of woe would feel like the stuff of Greek legend if they weren’t so distinctly American. Like so many down-and-out families of the era, the Haggard’s moved to California from Oklahoma durning the Great Depression. They did so after their own barn burned to the ground, leaving them with virtually nothing. Arriving in California with about as much, they actually purchased an old boxcar, and converted it into a home. Baby Merle came into the world a couple of years later, quite literally born in a boxcar.
Things didn’t get much easier for Haggard either. By a young age, he was already a bit of a troublemaker with an affinity for riding the rails. After the unexpected death of his father at age 9, young Merle leaned all too easily into a life of crime, and was soon shoplifting, passing bad checks, and all manner of other petty crimes. Time in juvenile detention centers didn’t help much as he also developed a knack for escaping each and every one. Soon enough, Haggard found himself in real trouble after a robbery gone wrong eventually landed him a stint in San Quentin Prison.
Haggard had, of course, also been playing guitar and singing songs since he was 12. And while he initially broke as bad as ever inside San Quentin, he eventually saw the error of his ways. He also began to see singing songs about rabble-rousers such as himself as his salvation … a realization aided by an electrifying performance from Mr. Johnny Cash at the prison circa 1959. Haggard earned his parole a year later. And not long after, he was already releasing music.
“I’m A Lonesome Fugitive” was released to critical and commercial acclaim in 1967, not long after Haggard signed with Capitol Records. It almost instantly became his biggest hit to date, and featured a handful of numbers that would become staples in his celebrated songbook until the day he died. Among them are tales of mournful outlaws who can’t escape their past, soul-crushing laments of good love gone wrong, swaggering tales of rowdy nights on the town, and harrowing explorations of lives lived on the wrong side of the tracks. While Haggard didn’t write all of the songs (including the title track, which actually became his first number one hit) each one carries a raw-nerve authenticity that belies their progeny. And each paints as vivid a picture of life on the verge of calamity as you’ll find an any album recorded before or since.
In spite of its enduring legacy, it had somehow been four decades since “I’m A Lonesome Fugitive” had a vinyl pressing. And Vinyl Me, Please really could not have done a more spectacular job in giving this album the remaster/repress it sorely deserved.
Given Haggard’s tumultuous past and predominant tales of life on the run dominating the “I’m A Lonesome Fugitive” landscape, this cover might’ve come across a touch hokie if it wasn’t so brilliantly on point.
There’s a few glowing words about the album on the back cover too.
And please take a moment to admire the shiny gold foil stamping that forever denotes this Merle Haggard classic a bona-fide VMP Country pick.
And for those sweating the details of what makes this pressing of “I’m A Lonesome Fugitive” the pressing of “I’m A Lonsesome Fugitive,” this little hype sticker will surely put your fears to rest.
While you’re poking through the box, there’s another killer, VMP subscriber made sticker in the box. And this little pastel beauty from Florence de la Fourmiere is certainly among the best yet.
While we’re admiring the extras in the latest VMP box, we should also take a moment to explore the info on the OBI-strip cradling the album’s spine. Flip it over for a few words about why “I’m A Lonesome Fugitive” made the cut for the VMP Country track.
Just FYI – while there aren’t a ton of sexy extras included with VMP Country selections, each does come with a full listening book companion offering insight to the album within. Which is pretty cool.
And of that album, it’s pressed on glorious purple marbled vinyl. And even as I personally don’t think colored wax is entirely necessary for an album like “I’m A Lonesome Fugitive,” I must admit this one looks fantastic.
And it’ll still bring some serious honky-tonk swagger to any deck it graces.
How’s it sound? Dirty and sweaty and desperate and sweet. Which is just how a Merle Haggard record is supposed to sound.
Give VMP Country a Spin
Look, I’ve never been particularly crazy about country music as a genre. But that has more to do with the current state of Country music which, quite frankly, isn’t country music at all. For my money, if you want the real deal from the genre, you have to look back to Outlaw Country crooners from the 1960s and 1970s. To date, that’s mostly what VMP Country has been all about. And for that very reason I was more than happy to give the Country track a try.
I’m obviously glad I did, ’cause even if Merle Haggard’s “I’m A Lonesome Fugitive,” isn’t the end all, be all of the Outlaw sub-genre, you’d better believe it’s an album not only worthy of the spotlight, but worthy of any vinyl collection fronting such fare. Without the folks at Vinyl Me, Please, I’m not sure I ever would’ve known that.
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!