Following recent releases celebrating The Comedy Store, Ghetto Records, and the Philadelphia International label, the Vinyl Me, Please record club has announced the next title in its lavish Anthology series. The Story of Cadet Records, with eight albums spanning the halcyon era of 1968-1972, is available for pre-order now.
Cadet Records emerged in 1965 as the successor to Argo Records, the jazz imprint of Chicago-based rhythm-and-blues label Chess Records. When brothers and co-founders Leonard and Phil Chess discovered that another Argo label existed, they took the opportunity to rebrand Argo as Cadet. The new imprint continued Argo's numbering series for both jazz and blues artists such as Etta James, The Ahmad Jamal Trio, The Ramsey Lewis Trio, and Kenny Burrell. As the decade progressed, however, Cadet began to embrace the innovative sounds of psychedelic soul, soul-jazz, jazz-rock, and beyond. VMP's Anthology traces the label's musical progression across these eight seminal LPs, including five from the watershed year of 1968. All eight titles are pressed on 180-gram black vinyl:
- Etta James, Tell Mama (1968), recorded at FAME Studios and featuring the title track which brought the blues legend her highest Hot 100 chart placement ever;
- Dorothy Ashby, Afro-Harping (1968), the jazz harpist's genre-bending journey featuring songs from Freddie Hubbard, Neal Hefti, Bacharach and David, and Andre & Dory Previn;
- Harold Land Quintet, The Peace-Maker (1968), on which the saxophonist is joined by Joe Sample, Bobby Hutcherson, Buster Williams, and Donald Bailey;
- Muddy Waters, Electric Mud (1968), a radical, rock-oriented departure from the bluesman which found him backed by members of Rotary Connection;
- Ramsey Lewis, Mother Nature's Son (1968), an album of Beatles covers produced and arranged by Charles Stepney and featuring Cleveland Eaton on bass and Earth, Wind & Fire's Maurice White on drums;
- Shades of Brown, O.B. (1970), a lost gem that's the one and only album from this Chicago vocal group;
- The New Rotary Connection, Hey, Love (1971), the final, jazz-oriented album from Rotary Connection, led by Minnie Riperton, Charles Stepney, and Phil Upchurch; and
- Terry Callier, Occasional Rain (1972), the folk-soul-jazz guitarist's Stepney-produced sophomore album.
The Story of Cadet Records has been produced in association with Marshall Chess, the son of Leonard Chess who spearheaded Cadet's adventurous Concept line. Marshall writes the foreword in the set's 36-page booklet, and also appears on the accompanying podcast hosted by VMP's Stephen Anderson. The first edition of the box, adorned in Cadet's familiar blue and white colors and logo, is limited to just 1,000 units.
Six of the albums have been mastered in AAA fashion by Bernie Grundman; Side B of Ramsey Lewis' Mother Nature's Son was transferred from the master tapes and cut from digital to amend a passage of tape degradation. The eighth album, Electric Mud, was cut AAA by Barry Grint at Alchemy Mastering at AIR.
The Story of Cadet Records is expected to ship in mid-May, though titles are subject to delay. This ultimate tribute to the far-reaching sounds of the Chicago label is available for pre-order now, directly from Vinyl Me, Please. As always, the title is open to all but VMP members receive a discount.