Our next three Country Records of the Month — which you’ll receive if you sign up for VMP Country in July, August and September 2022 — feature two albums that have never been on vinyl from stars from the ’90s and ’00s, and a legend’s absolute masterpiece. Read below to find out more.
July: John Michael Montgomery’s John Michael Montgomery
Our July Country Record of the Month is the self-titled mega-smash from John Michael Montgomery. Montgomery was one of the many “urban cowboys” who followed in Garth Brooks’ wake, but his sense of humor and way around a ballad made him a mega star in the mid-’90s. This album, which has never been on vinyl before now, is his finest; it has some of his most indelible hits (“Sold” and “I Can Love You Like That”) and showcases his clear, powerful voice, one of country music’s finest in the ’90s.
A weird curio about John Michael Montgomery is that it features a song that was simultaneously a hit for an R&B group. All-4-One also hit the Billboard charts and sold many copies of their album with “I Can Love You Like That,” a song that proves the gap between mainstream country and R&B isn’t as vast as radio programmers would have you believe. Our edition comes on 180g Red vinyl, and from lacquers cut by Barry Grint at Alchemy Mastering at AIR.
“So much of the classic ’90s country albums — when country was arguably at its highest breakthrough peak ever, as most of the biggest hits were inescapable — has never been on vinyl, which is a shame,” said VMP Classics & Country Director Andrew Winistorfer, who also wrote John Michael Montgomery’s Listening Notes. “But I guess late is better than never, and from the beginning, one of the aims of VMP Country was to put albums that deserve a vinyl release out on the best format. We’ve definitely done that with this album, a personal favorite from ’90s country and John Michael Montgomery.”
You can sign up to receive it now.
August: Waylon Jennings’ Honky Tonk Heroes
The Country Record of the Month in August is one that has been most requested since VMP Country launched a year and change ago: Waylon Jennings’ Honky Tonk Heroes, his masterpiece LP that kicked off outlaw country in a big way. With AAA lacquers cut from tapes by Ryan Smith at Sterling Sound and plated at Welcome to 1979, our edition comes on 180g Rust vinyl. It’s never sounded this good.
The album was a moment of freedom for Jennings, as his manager had negotiated for the creative control the singer sought for years. “On Honky Tonk Heroes, Waylon Jennings had no one else to answer to, and the joyful mess of the album testifies to the kind of magic that can happen when you finally cut a lifelong misfit loose,” writes Jayson Greene in our Listening Notes. “This was the music Jennings wanted to make, and the takeoff is joyful. You can hear Jennings speeding away from the Nashville establishment sound with the gleeful abandon of a teenager with his first license.”
You can sign up to receive our new edition of Honky Tonk Heroes starting on July 21.
September: Brad Paisley’s 5th Gear
And, finally, our Country Record of the Month in September 2022 is Brad Paisley’s mammoth fifth album, 5th Gear. Paisley was one of country’s biggest rising stars in the early ’00s, but 5th Gear cemented him as one of the genre’s most fun modern hitmakers, with songs like “Ticks” and “Online” becoming country karaoke staples ever since. Our 15th-anniversary edition, which is also the first time the album has ever appeared on vinyl, is on 2LP Yellow & Blue vinyl, and was lacquered by Barry Grint at Alchemy Mastering at AIR.
“I knew when we started VMP Country that Brad Paisley was an artist we needed to feature,” said Winistorfer, who also wrote the Listening Notes for this edition. “He was one of the few country stars of the ’00s who didn’t do the whole ‘boot in your ass’ thing, and just wrote songs about everyday people with everyday problems. He wasn’t trying to be a party boy, and he wasn’t trying to be some tough guy; he was just Brad from West Virginia, who could turn a song about checking for insect bites into a horndog classic.”
Winistorfer added, “That this album hasn’t been on vinyl was a shock to me, and I’m honored we get to do the first vinyl edition this year for the album’s 15th anniversary.”
You can sign up for it starting on August 18.
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