Vinyl Me, What? Vinyl Me, Please!!
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 and lovingly assembled album art, 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. And in their living room.
Here’s how it works. Stay with me now, cause this may get complicated. You supply the Vinyl Me, Please crew with $23 a month and they supply you with one meticulously selected album worthy of your time and attention. Oh wait … that’s stupid easy, right? That custom pressing (anywhere from 140g to 180g vinyl) comes in a gorgeously designed sleeve chock full of extras too numerous to list. You’ll also get the VMP weekly newsletter The Standard, featuring music news, playlists, downloads, interviews, and other member-exclusive content. Not enough? The Vinyl Me, Please team gives away free swag at an alarming rate and your name automatically goes on their “friend” list. Still not convinced? How’s access to the VMP members-only online store sound? When the March store opens on Feb. 16, you’ll have a chance to grab a copy of previous VMP selections from the archives – including January’s release of High/Low by Nada Surf – plus additional rare or special edition vinyl. Standout selections for March include a VMP Exclusive pressing of Sonny Rollins’ jazz masterpiece The Bridge, Wild Nothing’s sultry, synthey new album Life Of Pause and a shiny red pressing of Plaza from psych-pop maestros Quilt (another VMP Exclusive). But the item I’m drooling over right now is the reissue of Henryk Górecki’s Symphony No. 3. If you’ve never heard Górecki’s stirring compositions before, you’re in for a real treat with this one. Well done team for pulling this treasure into the store.
Yep, the Vinyl Me, Please team have thought of pretty much everything. Do yourself a favor and sign up today. But first, let’s have a look at what’s inside this month’s box.
For the Love of Music, Please DO NOT BEND
February sees the VMP team digging deep into the Smithsonian Folkways vault and coming up with a golden nugget in Big Bill Broonzy Sings Folk Songs. While Broonzy’s gritty style of ‘Delta Blues’ is held in high esteem by blues aficionados, his name is not well known amongst the general populous. That wrong may be righted with this release. Recorded in 1956, Sings Folk Songs is a bustling collection of impassioned tunes sung and played with a raucous, propulsive energy. That energy sprung as much from Broonzy’s upbringing among the sweaty cotton fields of the South as from his time traversing the filthy, frozen streets of Chicago. The album’s opener ‘Backwater Blues’ is one of those tracks that makes you stop whatever you’re doing and listen. The second you hear Broonzy’s booming voice, you know you’re in for an exhilarating musical experience. As Sings Folk Songs progresses one soulful track at a time, Broonzy treats us to a complex mix of country folk and straightforward blues. Tramping through re-arranged standards ‘This Train’ and ‘Bill Bailey’ as easily as his own fervent composition ‘Tell Me What Kind Of Man Jesus Is’, there’s not a false note or phony sentiment across Sings Folk Songs‘ 12 tracks. He even gets a glorious finger-picking accompaniment from late-great Pete Seeger on ‘John Henry’. Clocking in at just over 34 minutes, each song arrives as a master class in style, substance, and brevity. You may think you know what the blues are all about, but Big Bill Broonzy Sings Folk Songs is likely to prove you wrong. You should be most grateful for that.
But What’s in the Box?!
Blues music is all about blunt honesty, sultry soul, and scars that never heal. Take note of the scarred, contemplative face that consumes the cover of Sings Folk Songs, ’cause it’s all you need to know about the music inside.
As always, the album comes tucked in an outer-sleeve chock full of important information like the artist’s name, the album’s title, month of issue … and even the initials of the person who personally handled your disc. Nice packaging, MH.
Don’t forget to flip that sleeve over and scope out Big Bill’s companion cocktail – The Sidecar. This classic, insanely easy cocktail serves as the perfect complement to Broonzy’s simple, elegant style. Well chosen, VMP.
Digging deeper, you’ll find two hidden gems – a lovely bit of poetic rambling from VMP’s own Tyler Barstow and a stunning 12″x12″ print designed by poster guru McKenzie Nelson. I won’t bother saying anything about Nelson’s work. It speaks for itself. But just in case, Nelson included a few of his own words about his approach to the design.
This month you’ll also discover an extra-special gift from the VMP team by way of HBO’s new series, Vinyl. Inside this little sleeve, you’ll find a few words about the series along with photos from the show’s production. And then, BOOM!, a kick ass 7″ of Kaleo’s single ‘No Good’ as featured on the show’s forthcoming soundtrack. Hidden goodies and frequent giveaways are just a small part of what make VMP so much fun.
And all of this before you even peel the shrink wrap off of your record. Before you rip open the plastic and start digging through that sleeve, make sure to take note of the all-important info on this sticker. Well Done, VMP. And a big thank you to Smithsonian Folkways for continuing to preserve and release music from all walks of life and all corners of the world.
Tucked inside that gatefold, you’ll find a Notes & Lyrics book that offers a peek at the making of Sings Folk Songs as well as insight to Broonzy’s life and legacy by way of Pianist Charles Edward Smith and premiere Broonzy historian Bob Reisman.
No colored vinyl this month. But let’s be honest, when a record is this damn classy, there’s no need to dress it up too much. The music speaks for itself. Just like this modest, dignified Folkways Records label.
How’s it sound? Like sitting in a rocking chair on a sweltering porch in mid-August. No breeze, no rain. Just the sound of Junebugs in the distance and a man strumming a guitar. He stubs out a cigarette and begins to sing. You smell the whiskey on his breath. You hear the soul in his voice. In an instant you understand he’s known pain that you never ever will, and you thank some unseen higher-power for that.
Give It a Spin, Eh?
Big Bill Broonzy Sings Folk Songs is another home run from the Vinyl Me, Please team. This is one of those albums that no amount of bin-diving would have produced. As much as I try to stay open to all music, I’m quite poorly versed in the blues. Big Bill Broonzy is an absolute discovery for me. With Broonzy’s unparalleled vocals and impellent guitars, I’m happy to count his Sings Folk Songs as a gateway drug to a whole new world of sounds. That’s a truly exciting prospect. And it wouldn’t be happening without Vinyl Me, Please. Props to the VMP team for digging deep and introducing Broonzy’s singular blues stylings to a whole new generation. Can’t wait to see what they throw at us next month. Of course, you may not always love the music VMP sends your way, but it will always be an experience … and that’s the whole point of music.