Barbara Lea, Sylvester and Lightnin’ Hopkins Coming to VMP Classics

On December 16, 2021

Our next three Classics Records of the Month — which you’ll receive if you sign up for VMP Classics in January, February and March 2022 — step into the worlds of vocal jazz, disco and blues. 

January: Barbara Lea’s Lea In Love

VMP’s January Classics will feature jazz singer Barbara Lea and her 1956 album Lea In Love. While she was a relatively understated artist during her early years in music, Lea received a second wave of recognition in the 1960s and ’70s and became known particularly for her succinct singing style. Grab a cup of coffee and take a seat at the kitchen table, because VMP is bringing Lea’s music back for those quiet mornings. The album is pressed on AAA 180g black audiophile vinyl at QRP with lacquers cut from the original analog tapes by Sterling Sound’s Ryan Smith. Lea In Love includes exclusive Listening Notes written by Natalie Weiner.

“I’ve been wanting us to feature a vocal jazz artist that captures the same spirit as our Blossom Dearie release a few years ago, and found the music of Barbara Lea and fell in love,” said VMP Classics & Country Director Andrew Winistorfer. “Lea In Love is such a perfect Sunday morning, it’s snowing and you’re stuck inside record. A beautiful, atmospheric record by an artist who’s kind of been forgotten over the years. This record is excessively rare in the secondary marketplace, too, so I’m glad for us to deliver this reissue to people who might fall in love with Lea’s music like I have in picking this.”

Sign up now to receive Lea in Love

February: Sylvester’s Step II 

Take a Step or II and dance your way into the realm of disco. VMP Classics will feature Sylvester’s Step II in February. Released in 1978, Step II became his first acclaimed album and produced the two hit singles “You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)” and “Dance (Disco Heat).” Sylvester Step II will be pressed on AAA 180g black audiophile vinyl at QRP with lacquers cut from the original master tapes by Ryan Smith of Sterling Sound. The album will also include a Listening Notes booklet written by Clarissa Brooks. 

“Sylvester’s Step II has been on our radar for Classics for the better part of three years; he’s an icon of disco and funk music, and his records have only proven more influential as they’ve aged,” said VMP Classics & Country Andrew Winistorfer. “We haven’t done a disco record like this in Classics before, but Sylvester is pulling from as much of the R&B canon as any of our R&B Classics, which is why it made so much sense for it to fit into the Classics subscription. This record is like listening to a roller rink on the moon; unpredictable, fun and a complete blast.”

Step II will be available for sign-ups starting January 20.  

March: Lightnin’ Hopkins’ Lightnin’ Strikes

Following Step II, VMP Classics members will get the electrifying 1962 blues album Lightnin’ Strikes by Lightnin’ Hopkins. VMP Classics & Country Director Andrew Winistorfer shared, “Lightnin’ Hopkins was arguably the most prolific bluesman to ever live, and picking just one of his albums to feature felt like trying to describe a mountain by holding a pebble.” 

He added, “But I settled on Lightnin’ Strikes because it represented so many different things in Hopkins’ career: his inability to play even verses in the same song the same way, frustrating his band; the way he could be a country blues artist one minute and an urbane, electrified howler the next; how he hopped label to label, as this is his only album for Vee-Jay; and how he had a catalog of songs banging around in his head that was vast as it was perfect. It’s an honor for us to present this work on vinyl, and to bring Lightnin’ to our Classics subscribers.”

The album will be pressed on AAA 180g black audiophile vinyl at GZ with lacquers cut from the original master tapes by Ryan Smith of Sterling Sound. The Listening Notes are written by VMP’s own Classics director, Winistorfer.

Starting in March 2022 with Lightnin’ Strikes, VMP Classics Records of the Month will be pressed at GZ, RTI and other plants, based on capacity. Our priority is and always will be making sure VMP members have a VMP Classics record each month that you can explore, listen to and maybe love. Due to unprecedented supply chain issues outside of our control, we needed to find new pressing partners for Classics to ensure subscribers are still able to receive records each month without disruption. Each Classics Record of the Month will still be pressed on 180g black vinyl, and like almost every Classics Record of the Month since 2019, they will still be remastered AAA — all analog — by Ryan Smith at Sterling Sound. All that’s changing is the pressing plant. 

Lightnin’ Strikes will be available for sign-ups starting February 17. 

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