Our Record of the Month for April is a special edition of Arctic Monkeys’ Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not, the fastest selling debut LP in British music history. Our edition comes on 180 gram smoke vinyl, and comes with a 16-page booklet. Read below to find out why we picked Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not.
#Why We Picked It
Cameron Schaefer, VMP Head Of Music: There was this period in the early 2000s after Is This It came out, when the Strokes, Kings of Leon, and Arctic Monkeys were at various points of their arc, where it felt like rock n’ roll was going to be OK. There were these three bands that felt like they could be really huge, and be a big deal.
Andrew Winistorfer: The interesting thing with the Arctic Monkeys in that lineage is that--and I don’t know if people really draw this line--is that they’re one of the first bands that was like, “We listened to Is This It and wanted to be in a band.” They’re in some ways the first band that was a generation inspired by the Strokes and that New York rock n’ roll revival.
Yeah, it was like the last wave of that rock revival with them putting out Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not. But at the same time, this is an album where there’s different perspectives on it based on where you were living at the time it came out, or how aware you were of it. I’m not sure if people in the States completely understand how massive this album was in the U.K.
It’s the fastest selling U.K. debut in all of history. Faster than the Stones, the Beatles, or whoever else.
And it was this massive moment that is hard to draw an analog to in American rock music without going back like 20-25 years.
For sure. The narrative of rock music in America is that real rock died in 2000-2001 when rap-rock took over. The Strokes and Kings of Leon were a big deal, but the mammoth rock n’ roll band was kind of gone from the landscape by then. Really the closest thing to Arctic Monkeys in the U.K. here in recent public memory is Nirvana’s Nevermind; a debut album that feels era-defining. The last time it felt like a band took over all of culture in America like that, this new band just being something you have to deal with, was really then.
Not to be all I was there, man, but I bought this album the first day it came out on CD. Here, they were kind of more notorious for being the first band I ever heard of becoming famous for songs they posted to a MySpace. I’m fairly certain they were the reason I even heard about MySpace.
This is an album that’s also a coming-of-age Internet story; this was an album that went from the teens and Internet kids finding this and loving it, and then that filtering up to record labels and music journalists. That was the first time I remember that happening from the Internet.
I also think they were first band I looked up on YouTube too. They had the “I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor” on YouTube, and I remember hearing that YouTube was a thing that exists, and looking up music videos immediately, and that was on there. I got on dial-up and tied up the phone line for an hour to watch that. (Laughs)
Beyond that, we picked this album because it feels like, in some ways, the Arctic Monkeys just broke through in the U.S. in a big way in 2013 with A.M., and this is an opportunity to remind people that their debut is a major moment, and they need to revisit it.
Yeah, it’s a major album and a piece of music history. I know the debate, especially with our forums, is “Is this really essential?,” and this one couldn’t be clearer: if you’re a fan of rock music in the 2000s, it is absolutely an essential album.
We feel really honored to be doing this album because we know how big of a deal it was for the band and the label. The challenge of doing this one was making sure we presented this with a lot of respect, and weren’t going to be doing something that didn’t feel in-line with the ethos of the band. It was almost like a “What are your intentions with my daughter?” talk, like they wanted to make sure we were going to be doing right by the album.
As a band, they haven’t gotten into colored variants, and the collectible, special edition end of vinyl; they’ve just pressed their albums on black vinyl, and done a really great job of making a solid package that they keep in press basically in perpetuity.
We wanted to bring something new that both fans and people who are not familiar with the band can get new context. So we have a 16-page lyrics booklet with photos from that era, and it’s on 180-gram vinyl. Because of the iconic cover, we did a smoke vinyl effect that really references the cover.
Yeah, it looks like it’s a closeup photo of the air above the dude on the covers head, or something. It’s like faint smoke in a room’s corner.
And as far as remastering goes, what’s the story there?
When we agreed to do the project, we talked to the band about remastering the album, and they really felt satisfied with how it had been mastered originally. I fall into this category too, but sometimes people are like, “If this is a reissue, there must be a new remaster,” but sometimes things are great as they are and everyone’s already happy with the album, and the person who mastered it the first time did a great job. There’s something to be said about when you’re happy 100% with the originals.
But we did redo the plates, right?
Yeah, it’s all fresh metal work.
I feel like this is a good time to announce our new packaging/obi strip rollout for Essentials, and eventually Classics.
Members maybe caught it with Ayalew, but we rebranded the “original” subscription as VMP Essentials, so you’ll see the new stamp or logo on those records. People have really liked the obi strip we’re doing on our Rap & Hip-Hop releases, and we decided to carry that over, because when we took away the white wraparound we used to have around our albums last year, the thing that was immediately lost was the uniformity if you line up your Record of the Months across your shelf. The OCD in all of us as collectors was really pinged, so we’re doing that across the board. Classics will have it in May, and Essentials has it in April.
And in the Essentials packages, all the things will be together now. The art print is packaged inside the album on the back cover, and the obi strip will actually have the cocktail print on its inside.
Yeah, the cocktail recipe is now behind the back of the obi strip, and you can you tear it away from the obi. People have asked for a while to have the cocktail cards in a way that’s easy to organize and collect, and this solves that.
Andrew Winistorfer is VMP’s Classics & Country Director 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 20 VMP releases, co-produced VMP Anthologies The Story of Philadelphia International Records, The Story of Quincy Jones, The Story of Impulse and the VMP Classics release of Nat Turner Rebellion's Laugh to Keep From Crying, and executive produced The Story of Vanguard and The Story of Willie Nelson. He lives in Saint Paul, Minnesota.
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