Record subscription service Vinyl Me Please has announced the latest batch of reissues for this month, February, and March. These are split into three tracks: Essentials, curated from an array of genres; Classics, which focuses primarily on soul, jazz, and R&B; and Rap & Hip-Hop, which spotlights favorites These include lost classics from the Stax and Motown vaults, John Prine’s masterful self-titled album, overlooked hip-hop gems, and a landmark rock album from the turn of the new millennium.
January’s Essentials selection (available now) is John Prine’s self-titled debut, which arrives newly remastered in an all-analog chain from the original master tapes. The audio was mastered by Ryan Smith at Sterling Sound and plated at QRP, then pressed on 180-gram orange vinyl to match the haystack on the iconic artwork. This edition features a liner notes booklet featuring a new essay by New York writer Amileah Sutliff and photos from the vault. It also comes with an exclusive art print. In all, it’s a fitting tribute to John Prine, whom we lost to COVID last year. Whether you’re new to Prine’s unique brand of storytelling and music or a longtime admirer, you’ll no doubt enjoy this remaster of one of his finest works.
In February, the Essentials track will continue with The Strokes’ Room on Fire, the band’s sophomore album from 2003. As editorial director Andrew Winisdorfer said in a statement, “When we were talking about doing Room on Fire for Essentials, it kept coming back to this record being really underrated both at the time, and in retrospect; people didn’t know what to expect after Is This It. It was like they were prepared to throw the ‘Sophomore Slump’ tag around, but with the benefit of hindsight, this is one of the best rock albums of the ’00s!….Our edition celebrates an album that deserves another look, and a reconsideration of its greatness – the very purpose of VMP as a company.” Their pressing will arrive on 180-gram bathroom tile-hued color vinyl using lacquers cut by Ryan Smith at Sterling Sound and plated at QRP. It’s paired with an art print exclusive to this pressing.
The following month, the March Essentials pick will be Kid Cudi’s Man on the Moon: /The End of the Day, his 2009 major-label debut (and a concept album, at that!) which featured the hits “Pursuit of Happiness” and “Day ‘n’ Night.” The ambitious effort crossed genre lines between hip-hop, electronic, and synthy new wave to create something unique and often emotionally weighty. The double album will be pressed on an exclusive galaxy colorway and was pressed from lacquers cut by Barry Griny at Alchemy Mastering. It’s presented in a gatefold sleeve alongside a new art print by comic book legend Bill Sienkiewicz (Elektra: Assassin, The Sandman: Endless Nights), who designed the striking original album art.
The Rap & Hip-Hop selection for January is Killer Mike’s R.A.P. Music, the Southern hip-hop legend and former Outkast collaborator’s breakthrough LP, originally released in 2012. Jamie “El-P” Meline handled the production of this universally acclaimed album, marking the duo’s first collaboration. (They’d go on to form Run The Jewels, who released their anticipated fourth album in the summer.) The double-album will be pressed on green and black “Big Beast” splatter vinyl and paired with an exclusive stencil. This will be the last Rap & Hip-Hop Record of the Month to feature a stencil. VMP has confirmed that starting in April, all the monthly releases will come with a liner notes booklet.
February’s Rap & Hip Hop release is set to be the 2005 double-LP The Further Adventures of Lord Quas, by Quasimoto, the alter ego of California psych-hop producer Madlib. The album will be pressed on an exclusive “day breaking” and “night falling” colorway. Featuring a kaleidoscope of Alain Goraguer-inspired loops and samples and assists from M.E.D and the recently departed MF DOOM, was hotly anticipated when it was released (a full five years after the artist’s debut) and has become a cult favorite.
In March, VMP will spotlight Eyedea & Abilities’ First Born as the pick for Rap & Hip-Hop album of the month. The long out-of-print 2001 underground rap favorite will celebrate its 20th anniversary with its first vinyl reissue, on a VMP-exclusive maroon and silver colorway (one color per disc). Like the January and February releases, this pressing will come with an exclusive stencil.
As for the Classics track, VMP has selected Isaac Hayes’ lost soundtrack to the Blaxploitation film Tough Guys to start off the year. The 1974 Enterprise Records release will be issued on 180-gram black vinyl alongside a new liner notes booklet with an essay by Andrew Winisdorfer. The audio has been remastered from by Ryan Smith at Sterling Sound in a AAA chain using the original master tapes. The result is what promises to be definitive presentation of this often-overlooked gem in Hayes’ storied career.
The Classics selection for February will be a lost classic from the Stax vault: Frederick Knight’s self-produced album I’ve Been Lonely for So Long. This will be the album’s first-ever U.S. vinyl release since its original press in 1973. The VMP edition will be remastered by Ryan Smith at Sterling Sound in an all-analog chain from the original master tapes and pressed at QRP on 180-gram black vinyl. It’s housed alongside new liner notes by Memphis music authority Jared Boyd, who penned the essay for Light In The Attic’s recent The Gospel Truth compilation.
In March, VMP will feature the late Leon Ware’s Musical Massage as its Classics Record of the Month. This marks the first U.S. vinyl reissue since its original release on Motown in 1976. “Musical Massage is of the body, and beyond the body,” writes Amileah Sutliff. “Far past merely the physical or the sexual, or even the romantic – the engine of Musical Massage is a spirit, a cohesion, a rhythm, a way of life, and a shared understanding. It’s in Bobby Womack and Marvin Gaye’s vocal features on ‘Holiday,’ in the steady, toe-curling percussion on ‘Turn Out The Light,’ in the wandering, thrilling bass line on ‘French Waltz.’ Most unmistakably, it’s in Leon Ware’s performance. From the wistfully whispered questions of ‘I Want To Be Where You Are’ to the funkier snarls of ‘Body Heat,’ Ware lived, created, and preached sensuality in every vocal phrase, and every pause between them.”
So no matter your favorite genre, you’ll find something to love in VMP’s quarter one selections for Records of the Month. Which ones are you excited to hear? Leon Ware? The Strokes? Cudi? Sound off in the comments!