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Our next three Classics Records of the Month — which you’ll receive if you sign up for VMP Classics in January, February and March 2023 — feature an early ’60s release from a folk icon, an ice-cold funk album and a southern rock record built around an unexpected cover.
January: Dave Van Ronk’s Folksinger
Dave Van Ronk considered himself a jazz singer, but that doesn’t stop him from going down in history as a folk icon — and his 1962 release of Folksinger certainly helped cement that legacy.
As Van Ronk’s friend and memoirist Elijah Wald wrote in the album’s Listening Notes: “Dave Van Ronk was bemused by the title of this album. He didn’t think of himself as a folksinger and had mixed feelings about what he wryly called ‘the Great Folk Scare’ of the 1960s. And yet, he was a central figure on that scene and this album was instrumental in shaping a new sense of what it meant to be a folk musician.”
In January, VMP Classics members will receive our edition of Folksinger, pressed at GZ on 180g black audiophile vinyl, with AAA lacquers cut from the original master tapes by Ryan Smith at Sterling Sound — the first reissue of the record since the ’60s.
“Like the Forrest Gump of folk music, Dave Van Ronk was basically everywhere; he was at the Hoots, he was at Washington Square Park, he was hanging with Dylan, he was busking, he was at the Gate of Horn — he was at Stonewall during the riots, even,” VMP Director of Music Andrew Winistorfer explained. “But apart from inspiring Inside Llewyn Davis, he’s not been given the flowers he deserves, and it was meaningful for us to put this in our Classics subscription, where it can be enshrined alongside other artists who maybe didn’t get their proper due.This record is raw, bluesy and clearly inspired most folk albums that came immediately after it. A Classic.”
Sign up now to receive Folksinger.
February: Black Nasty’s Talking to the People
Black Nasty — better known later on, with some personnel changes, as A.D.C. Band — were an overlooked group from Detroit, who made one underappreciated album for Stax Records: 1973’s Talking to the People, our VMP Classics Record of the Month in February. The VMP edition of the record is pressed at GZ on 180g black audiophile vinyl, with AAA lacquers cut from the original master tapes by Ryan Smith at Sterling Sound. Talking to the People feels modern due to its experimentation with genre, yet also fits seamlessly with the work of other Detroit musicians in the ’70s and Black Nasty’s Memphis funk contemporaries.
Winistorfer, who also wrote the Listening Notes for this reissue, said of the record: “One of the most ice-cold slabs of funk ever put out under the Stax banner, the debut album from this Detroit funk group — which in an earlier version featured Ted Nugent — is a lost gem of funk music, and part of the story of Detroit music, which cratered when Berry Gordy left the Motor City for L.A. Managed by the mom of some of the performers, who also worked with the Temptations, Black Nasty made this single LP before changing into a disco band with a minor hit, this album being their only dispatch as a weird cross between a rock band, Parliament and a psychedelic trip to urban Detroit.”
“Overdue for a loving reissue,” Winistorfer added, “This version absolutely smokes.”
Talking to the People will be available for sign-ups starting January 19.
March: Wilson Pickett’s Hey Jude
In March, VMP Classics members will receive Wilson Pickett’s Hey Jude, the soul singer’s ninth studio album from 1969. On Hey Jude — the final album he made in the ’60s, a decade he dominated as a soul performer — Pickett unwittingly brought about the start of southern rock, all based around the titular Beatles cover. The VMP edition of Hey Jude is pressed at GZ on 180g black audiophile vinyl, with AAA lacquers cut from the original master tapes by Ryan Smith at Sterling Sound, and comes with new Listening Notes from Winistorfer.
“Witness the creation of southern rock on, of all things, a Wilson Pickett LP built around a Beatles cover,” Winistorfer said. “This album features Duane Allman on the axe, playing off one of Wilson Pickett’s final superlative albums, as he shrieks, wails and hollers to keep pace with the band at Muscle Shoals backing him up. This album is as good as Pickett’s canonical albums, and I couldn’t believe the playing and the singing on this when I first heard it.”
As Winistorfer mentioned, the album is particularly noteworthy due to Allman’s playing; Allman’s guitar on the title track is credited for garnering the attention of Eric Clapton, resulting in Clapton hiring Allman to play in Derek and the Dominos — before his fame as founder and original leader of the Allman Brothers.
Hey Jude will be available for sign-ups starting February 16.
As detailed above, Classics is moving back to GZ for the time being, with the Track being the first subscription VMP will likely produce at its own plant. “In 2023, the VMP plant will open, and when we’re ready, Classics will move there as the first subscription we’re going to press in house,” Winistorfer said. “In the meantime, we’re going to be going back to GZ — who pressed the stellar (and sold out!) albums we did in the subscription in 2022, like Boogaloo Joe Jones and Lightnin Hopkins. We’ll have an update sometime in 2023, and you can follow this space each announce quarter to get the latest.”