In May, members of Vinyl Me, Please Classics will receive an exclusive reissue of Call Me, Al Green’s sixth album, which is widely considered his masterpiece and one of the best soul albums ever made. Cut directly to lacquer by Ryan Smith at Sterling Sound, pressed at QRP in Salinas, Kansas, and featuring Listening Notes from Robert Gordon, this new edition is the defining reissue of Call Me.
You can read an excerpt of the Listening Notes booklet included with the album here, and sign up to receive it here.
Below, read why we picked Call Me and the details of our reissue.
Not to toot my own horn, but this is a record I picked, sometime last summer.
Cameron Schaefer, Head of Music & Brand: Toot away, man.
Two years in a row, me and my wife took trips to Memphis, and when I was at a record store there, I was like, “Wait, why don’t I own every Al Green record? This seems like a terrible oversight.” So I bought a bunch of them used in Memphis, and on that trip and at a local store at home, but I couldn’t find Call Me for a really long time in the wild. So I cracked and looked at Discogs, and realized that, despite most of the rest of his earlier catalog being reissued, Fat Possum — who has the rights to Hi Records, Green’s longtime label — hadn’t done a new pressing of Call Me. And since I work at a place that does vinyl reissues, that got my brain working (laughs). This is widely considered one of the best soul albums of all time, and it’s probably Al Green’s best overall album — it’s a masterpiece. It needs to be reissued. So I reached out to our friends at Fat Possum — who we worked with most recently on our Townes Van Zandt Record of the Month last fall — and asked them about this. They basically just hadn’t gotten to the album in their Al Green campaign, and were stoked to work with us on this. And then you came in for the crazy remastering we did.
Yeah, when you zeroed in on this title, assuming the answer would be, “We do, but we don’t want to risk them,” I asked Fat Possum if they had the original master tapes of this. They said they’d have to look in the space they have by Memphis. So they drive out, and find the original tapes. And I remember getting a text where it was just a picture of these tapes in a box, that were labeled “Al Green — Call Me” on them. So they took the tapes to Ryan Smith in Nashville at Sterling Sound, and had him cut direct to lacquer. Then we had him send the lacquers a couple states over to QRP in Salinas, Kansas, and they did the metalwork and the pressing.
When we first listened to the test pressings, when you get 10 seconds in, I thought, “This is the best sounding record Vinyl Me, Please has ever pressed.” We’ve pressed a lot of great sounding records, but you can hear his tone so clearly, and you can hear when Al Green leans in and away from the mic, that’s how good the tapes are. I’ve tried to think if there is a better possible combination of people and processes to put out the highest quality record, and I can’t think of any. We have one of the top mastering engineers in the world, and pressed at a plant putting out some of the best sounding records out right now. I can’t think of how we could have done this better, or more top of the line.
And you said that Chad at QRP did some A/B testing and is convinced this sounds better than the original, right?
Yeah, Chad Kassem, the owner of QRP and Acoustic Sounds, we worked closely on this project. He has a machine where he can queue up two records at once and can switch back and forth in real time and do really fine-tuned A/B testing. He found a mint copy of the original, and compared them, and he said he thinks this remaster sounds better, and was really proud with how this came together. We are too.
And, like always, this is on 180-gram black vinyl. All-analog reissue. And features Listening Notes booklet from Robert Gordon, an amazing writer who has done some other Al Green liners, and also written whole books on Muddy Waters and Stax records, among others. This is one of the craziest packages we’ve put together for Classics, and it’s awesome to celebrate the two-year anniversary of the sub this way.
Andrew Winistorfer is Senior Director of Music and Editorial at Vinyl Me, Please, and a writer and editor of their books, 100 Albums You Need in Your Collection and The Best Record Stores in the United States. He’s written Listening Notes for more than 30 VMP releases, co-produced multiple VMP Anthologies, and executive produced the VMP Anthologies The Story of Vanguard, The Story of Willie Nelson, Miles Davis: The Electric Years and The Story of Waylon Jennings. He lives in Saint Paul, Minnesota.