Vinyl Me, Please has built a name as skilled curators of a music experience, whether through monthly record club releases, immersive multimedia box sets, or selected special pressings. This month, the online club has announced several new projects continuing in that vein.
For this month’s Essentials selection (one of three monthly “tracks” available to subscribers, along with Classics and Hip-Hop), VMP will press up a special, all-analog-remastered edition of Billie Holiday’s Lady Sings the Blues. A gem from her Verve years, the 1956 album sees the inimitable singer revisiting key tracks from across her career. At 41, her world-weary yet deliberate vocals made each new performance special: lived in, meditative, and even more emotional.
Joe Nino-Hernes at Sterling Sound has remastered the music from the original analog tapes. The resulting lacquer was then plated at RTI and pressed on 180-gram “trav’lin light blue” vinyl at GZ. The disc is housed in a foil-stamped, tip-on sleeve alongside a striking new art print by Laura Tinald. You’ll also find a booklet with an essay by Emily J. Lordi, author of Black Resonance: Iconic Women Singers and African American Literature and The Meaning of Soul: Black Music and Resilience Since the 1960s. In her notes, she explains the historical context of the album, the many emotional twists and turns of Holiday’s life, and how Holiday’s music – her performances on Lady Sings The Blues in particular – remained shaped by her experiences.
Lady Sings the Blues isn’t the only legendary album receiving the reissue treatment, though. VMP has picked Donny Hathaway’s Everything Is Everything for this month’s Classics track. The debut LP by one of soul music’s brightest, Everything Is Everything is still counted as a soul landmark. His skills as a songwriter, singer, producer, and arranger are on full display here, especially impactful in this rare mono mix.
For this reissue, the album has been remastered in an all-analog process with lacquers cut from the original mono master tapes by Ryan Smith at Sterling Sound. The album is pressed on 180-gram black vinyl at QRP and is presented in a foil-stamped, tip-on sleeve with a liner notes book written by music and culture writer Oliver Wang, creator of the Soul Sides audio blog and contributor to NPR, Wax Poetics, and more.
December’s Hip-Hop Record of the Month is Big Boi’s Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty, the 2010 debut from former OutKast member. The ambitious double-album saw Big Boi freed from his label struggles and away from the spotlight of a budding film career. With production assists from Organized Noize, Boom Boom Room Productions, Scott Storch, and Lil Jon, he delivered a shape-shifting listening experience that spanned all his influences yet remained uniquely Big Boi. Promoting the album in a Blues and Soul feature in 2010, Big Boi declared it “a funk-filled extravaganza! You know, layers and layers of funk with raw lyrics and a lotta honesty.”
Ten years on, it’s worth reappraising this landmark record. Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty arrives on vinyl for the first time in an authorized form. It’s been pressed on purple galaxy-hued vinyl, housed in a foil-stamped gatefold sleeve alongside an exclusive Big Boi logo-emblazoned stencil.
Finally, VMP has just announced the next installment in its Anthology box set series that has previously encompassed releases from the ladies of Motown, the Grateful Dead, Herbie Hancock, and others: an immersive look into Tribe Records through seven essential albums. Each has been newly pressed in partnership with the Now-Again label.
Spiritual jazz collective Tribe Records was co-founded in Detroit by trombonist Phil Ranelin and reed player Wendell Harrison. It quickly became renowned among the jazz underground, who saw it filling a void in the black arts community in the city following Motown’s move to LA. In its five years, the collective maintained a haven for soul-jazz and free-jazz. In the decades since, the label has gone on to acquire a cult following, with original pressings of Tribe albums going for top dollar on the secondary market. As VMP’s statement makes clear, there has yet top be a comprehensive reissue plan for the label’s sought-after recordings – until now.
Vinyl Me Please Anthology: The Story of Tribe Records brings together six essential albums originally released from 1972 to 1976. Inside you’ll find: Wendell Harrison and Phil Ranelin’s mission statement, Message from The Tribe from 1972; Harrison’s own 1974 free jazz/spiritual jazz/poetry album, An Evening With the Devil; Ranelin’s politically charged 1974 effort The Time Is Now, and its funkier 1976 follow-up Vibes From The Tribe. Detroit jazzman Harold McKinney’s soul-jazz album Voices and Rhythms of the Creative Profile (1974) also has a spot here (you can listen to it below!), alongside a sparse vocal jazz set by Doug Hammond and David Durrah, the 1975 album Reflections in the Sea of Nurnen.
Listen on YouTube: Harold McKinney - Voices & Rhythms Of The Creative Profile (1974)
The box set closes with an album you can’t find anywhere else. Entitled Farewell To the Welfare, these Wendell Harrison recordings were prepared in 1975 But, aside from one 7″ single, they went entirely unreleased at the time. Some tracks would find a new home on his later albums, but they’re collected here as originally intended as the perfect closer to this Anthology.
VMP Anthology: The Story Of Tribe Records goes onsale today here on the Vinyl Me, Please product page. While the box set is available to anyone, VMP members who have purchased previous volumes will get a $50 discount. This box set is limited to only 1,000 copies, so you’ll want to act fast to add it to your jazz collection. You can enjoy a brief promo video, featuring label co-founder Phil Ranelin, below!
So, whether you’re in for a box of hard-to-find spiritual jazz, a key album by one of jazzes finest vocalists, a landmark soul statement, or a long-awaited vinyl issue of a hip-hop instant classic, Vinyl Me Please will be sure to please this December.