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In October, members of Vinyl Me, Please Essentials will receive an exclusive 20th-anniversary edition of The Flaming Lips’ The Soft Bulletin. Made in close collaboration with Wayne Coyne, this new edition comes on color vinyl, and is pressed from new lacquers cut by Ryan Smith at Sterling Sound, and comes with a lenticular cover insert. The art print was also picked by Wayne Coyne himself. Read below for the details of our release, and read our new interview with Wayne here. You can sign up to receive it here.
Andrew Winistorfer: You said before I called you in our New York office that you were listening to this album and tearing up before this call. This record is obviously 20 years old, but is still capable of making you tear up. Why?
Alex Berenson, A&R for VMP: That run from “Suddenly Everything Has Changed” to “The Gash” and “Feeling Yourself Disintegrate” is just devastating. It’s so good, but it’s heartwrenching. This is the record I used to listen to when I went through big life changes: When I moved from New York to Denver to work at VMP, this is all I listened to. I listened to “Suddenly Everything Has Changed” over and over because that’s how my life felt. I get really emotional when I listen to this album. Like a crazy person… (laughs)
No, no, not like a crazy person: I think that really speaks to how personally we feel the projects we’re working on. This wasn’t a, “Oh, this album has an anniversary coming up” type of deal; we did this because you, and all of us, really, have really personal stories with this album. I remember finding it the first time when my mom was really sick when I was like 19-20, and the songs are like a big blanket of reassurance, in a way.
You worked on this album for a long time to make it happen this month, how long ago did we start this one? A year ago?
Yeah, at least a year ago, but I know that I had it in the back of my mind since I started working here. So I guess call it three years.
If somebody doesn’t have any Flaming Lips records, why should someone listen to this one?
To me, this is their magnum opus. I love all their albums for different reasons, but everything on this album works with each other to deliver this whole experience. They worked on this a bunch to make it sound as good as it does. It has so many layers, and every time you listen there’s a new part that’s your favorite, or you learn more about.
Yeah, because in some ways, this album was their last chance; they were this major label band that hadn’t had a hit except for “She Don’t Use Jelly,” and the album before this was Zaireeka, an album basically impossible to listen to in full unless you had 4 CDs. That this personal, wrenching album was their breakthrough is kind of miraculous.
Yeah, normally, you get to make this record after the hit.
We worked really closely with Wayne Coyne to make this happen, right?
Yeah, Wayne and the folks at WEA have been great partners on this. Wayne picked the color of the vinyl, suggested the holograph lenticular cover, and gave us the art print. We have some special things planned with VMP subscribers and Wayne, so get ready for that.
And this one was remastered, right?
This one was recorded straight to DAT, so there aren’t master tapes to remaster, but we did have new lacquers cut by Ryan Smith at Sterling Sound, and it sounds amazing.
This sounds like the definitive edition of this album.
It is. You can say what you want about it, but this is the definitive edition.
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.