A vanguard is, by definition, a position at the forefront of new ideas or developments. And in the fertile musical stomping ground of the early 1960s, some of the newest, most avant-garde ideas were being espoused on the Vanguard Records label. Yet these so-called radical, even "dangerous" thoughts were being espoused in forms so traditional, they might have seemed as old as time. Vanguard was formed in 1950 by Maynard and Seymour Solomon as a classical label and later moved into jazz. The Solomons dived headfirst into the flourishing folk music scene in 1956 with The Weavers at Carnegie Hall, bravely defying the blacklist to issue the Pete Seeger-led group's 1955 Christmas performance. The label was rewarded with a best-selling title, and continued on a dogged path of recording albums by artists both socially and musically significant. Now, that landmark album opens Vinyl Me, Please's upcoming 6-LP Anthology volume dedicated to Vanguard's early folk years.
VMP Anthology: The Story of Vanguard follows the record club's past Anthology volumes for both labels (Motown, Stax, Metal Blade, Tribe, Blue Note, Ghostly International) and artists (Grateful Dead, Herbie Hancock). The immersive Anthology features six original albums in a sturdy slipcase, copious liner notes in a 36-page booklet, and a companion multi-episode podcast series delving into the music and its place within the cultural landscape. The six albums are all acknowledged classics from the independent label's first decade of folk music:
- The Weavers: At Carnegie Hall (1957)
- Odetta: My Eyes Have Seen (1959)
- Joan Baez: Joan Baez (1960)
- Buffy Sainte-Marie: It's My Way! (1964)
- Doc Watson: Doc Watson (1964)
- Skip James: Today! (1966)
VMP's Classics and Country director Andrew Winistorfer comments in the press release, "The folk explosion of the '50s and '60s had an incredible impact on pop culture and musical history, its ripples still reaching shore 70 years later. And it's not just in the songs, the artists, and the incredible stories: Folk in the '50s was in many ways the first youth-oriented pop culture movement, as a generation of kids picked up acoustic guitars and tried to will a better world into existence via the power of song. And, for a while, they succeeded, thanks to Vanguard, a label that realized that the kids and their guitars were making music of lasting social importance, and recorded a who's who of folk performers in the late '50s and early '60s. Serving as a chronicler of folk music, Vanguard is virtually unparalleled, and we're honored to present these six albums in a new, deluxe way."
VMP Anthology: The Story of Vanguard promises to live up to VMP's high standard of presentation and sound. All six albums have been remastered in an all-analog chain (AAA) by Ryan Smith at Sterling Sound from the original mono master tapes, and pressed on 180-gram multi-colored vinyl at GZ. The set is limited to just 1,000 units. It's available now for pre-order from VMP with a planned release date of October 2021 (subject to change). The set can be purchased by members and non-members alike, though those belonging to the club receive a substantial discount.
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