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 truly 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 June’s marvelous reissue of Madlib’s jazzed-up hip-hop classic Shades of Blue – or choose from 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 July’s box, VMP tabbed a heavy-hitting funk classic from Sly Stone for the Essentials treatment.
For The Love Of Vinyl, Please DO NOT BEND
In the late-1960s musical milieu, you’d have been hard pressed to find a band quite as universally beloved as Sly & The Family Stone. You’d be even harder pressed to find a band that boasted quite as many hits. Lead by enigmatic frontman Sly Stone, the outfit indeed became a veritable hit-machine at the end of the turbulent era, cranking banger after banger boating their signature blend of sunny, psych rock-tinged funk & soul.
Among the band’s biggest hits are era-defining tracks like “Dance to the Music,” “Everyday People,” “You Can Make it if You Try,” “I Want to Take You Higher,” and “Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin).” During their heyday, Sly & The Family Stone were easily among the best selling bands on the planet, and soon found themselves playing to packed venues the world over. Per some accounts, they even played the best set at 1969’s legendary Woodstock music festival, with their socially conscious grooves moving the peace-loving crowd long into the early morning hours.
But as the saying goes, the good times never seem to last. And by the early 1970s, both the peace & love, and civil rights movements had entered complicated new eras. So too had Sly Stone and company, with the band failing to release a hit for the better part of a two year stretch between 1969 and 1971, with Sly himself descending into a harrowing haze of drug addiction, and tensions running high with his band mates. And during that tempestuous time, Stone set about recording There’s a Riot Goin’ On.
A sort of companion piece to other socially conscious pop efforts of the day like What’s Goin’ On? by Marvin Gaye, or War’s The World Is a Ghetto, Stone largely wrote and recorded There’s a Riot Goin’ On at his personal studio (The Plant Studios), or at his Bel Air, CA home with nary a bandmate in site. Per reports, he played most of the instruments himself, and recored several vocals while laying comfortably in his own bed. He also began experimenting heavily with drum machines, tape loops, and overdubbing, resulting in a denser mix, and a considerably heavier sound than much of the group’s previous output.
The album was heavier lyrically as well, with Stone being encouraged by allies in the Black Power movement to delve deeper into the themes of social unrest and injustice that had already been present in prior works. And those themes were more than present in the album’s first single, “A Family Affair.” The track would go on to be one of Sly & The Family Stone’s biggest hits. It would also serve as their final #1 single, though the moody tone, and heavy themes of familial strife and social disillusionment made it a legit outlier among the band’s other, more openly optimistic number-ones.
That mood carries through all 12 tracks on There’s a Riot Goin’ On. And yes, coupled with Stone’s off-key recording techniques, it makes for a legitimately challenging listen throughout – one that many didn’t really know what to make of when the album was released. That was likely the point, of course, with Stone doing his best to convey the vibe of a Black America not only still struggling to find their proverbial piece of the American pie, but beginning to despair they actually never would.
Heavy tone, and challenging production aside, you should know that There’s a Riot Goin’ On is still funky as all fuck. Frankly, one should expect no less from an artist of Stone’s boundless talent and singular vision. While it may not move you in quite the same way as some of their sunnier jams, it’s an album that gets in your head and lingers there long after the final fade out.
Just gonna let this one linger, ’cause a cover like this says more than I ever could with words.
It’s also a gatefold, by the way, with more stunning imagery on the inner sleeve and back cover. Check it out.
And, of course, you’ll find the VMP Essentials foil stamp on the back, forever logging There’s a Riot Goin’ On‘s place in Vinyl Me, Please history.
Lest you doubt its worthiness, the hype sticker will confirm this pressing of the album is the pressing you need in your collection.
There’s a bit more info on the OBI strip cradling the album’s sleeve too, including an outtake from the listening guide included with There’s a Riot Goin’ On.
Before we get to that listening companion, we should gaze upon the beauty of this month’s album-inspired art print. ‘Cause Sly Stone has rarely looked so groovy as depicted by Jean Pierre Consuegra
Regarding that booklet, it’s a compelling exploration of how Sly went about making There’s a Riot Goin’ On.
And as far as the vinyl goes, it’s safe to say Vinyl Me, Please knocked it right out of the park with this colorway.
And oh boy will it bring some heat to your deck when it sets a bout spinning.
Give Vinyl Me Please a Spin
How’s it sound? I’m happy to report There’s a Riot Goin’ On sounds every bit as good as it looks … which is a minor miracle given the way Sly & The Family Stone went about recording it. One could argue this pressing is as good as the album has ever sounded. While I’m inclined to agree, this is actually the first time I’ve ever heard There’s a Riot Goin’ On on wax, so I don’t really have a point of reference. Either way, I cannot thank Vinyl Me, Please enough for helping add this heavy funk masterpiece to my collection. Should you choose to add it to yours, you’ll no doubt feel the same.
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!