October: Sam Hunt Montevallo

Our Country Record of the Month for October is one of the biggest country albums of the 2010s, Sam Hunt’s debut LP, Montevallo. Released in 2014, the album features 10 songs co-written by Hunt, a rarity in modern country for young performers, as the singer had bounced around Nashville as a songwriter before getting the shot at making his own album. He didn’t waste the opportunity, delivering an album that was both of its time — its heavy R&B influence is easy to hear — and made concerted nods to country’s past. It’s remained on the Top Country Albums list since 2014, an album whose hits — like “House Party” and “Break Up In A Small Town” — are still modern country radio staples.

“Since VMP Country was an idea on a proverbial whiteboard, I’ve wanted us to do an album by Sam Hunt,” said VMP Country Director Andrew Winistorfer. “Sam’s music struck me, from the moment I heard Montevallo in 2014, to be as daring, genre-pushing and forward-looking as any great country album from the last 60 years you can name. Country should always sound like the people who listen to it, and to pretend like country fans only listen to fiddle and mandolin anymore is disingenuous. And there isn’t any musician in the genre who blends modern touches of R&B and pop radio into country better than Sam. Plus, his songwriting is unreal, and ultimately underrated: the moment I became a Sam Hunt fan for life was when he sang about the marks his ex’s car used to make in his lawn during ‘Break Up In A Small Town.’ It’s an honor to get to present this album in this deluxe form.”

Our deluxe edition comes, for the first time, on 180g vinyl, and also for the first time, on color vinyl (this comes on Crimson Tie-Dye). It comes with new Listening Notes by Natalie Weiner, and the album also sounds like it never has before: new lacquers were cut by Ryan Smith at Sterling Sound in Nashville, and the album was plated at Nashville’s own Welcome to 1979.

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November: Gram Parsons Grievous Angel

The Country Record of the Month in November is a AAA, deluxe edition of Gram Parsons’ landmark sophomore album, Grievous Angel. Recorded in the last few months of Parsons’ life, and featuring VMP Country artist Emmylou Harris heavily, the album has been extremely influential in the evolution of alt-country and Americana music.

“We knew that when we featured Emmylou, we also needed to do a Gram Parsons album,” said VMP Country Director Andrew Winistorfer. “And I immediately gravitated toward Grievous Angel because it feels, nearly 50 years on, like the album where Gram came closest to his vision of cosmic American music, a blending of soul, rock and country that sounds, still, so ahead of its time. Add the music to this album’s ultimately tragic story where Parsons would die before it could come out, and this is an album that deserves to be remembered, and part of the story we’re telling with VMP Country.”

Our edition of Grievous Angel comes on 180g Turquoise Galaxy vinyl, and was remastered AAA from the original tapes by Ryan Smith at Sterling Sound. It was also plated at Welcome to 1979 in Nashville, and features new Listening Notes by Rolling Stone contributor Jonathan Bernstein.

Grievous Angel will be available for sign-ups starting October 26.

December: Buck Owens And His Buckaroos Carnegie Hall Concert

And finally, our Country Record of the Month in December is a deluxe AAA reissue of Buck Owens and His Buckaroos’ landmark performance at Carnegie Hall, Carnegie Hall Concert. Recorded in March 1966, Carnegie Hall Concert is a landmark moment in country music, because it proved, once and for all, that country music was not just a regional music; a figure like Buck Owens could sell out the most iconic venue in America’s biggest city. The album is something of a greatest hits, as we listen to Owens and the Buckaroos rip through a dozen of their ’60s smashes, from the era of country absolutely dominated by Owens. A progenitor of the Bakersfield Sound, you can hear echoes of Carnegie Hall Concert, and Owens’ music as a whole, echo out through Merle Haggard, Dwight Yoakam and many more.

“There’s always this perception that people in the North or on the coasts don’t listen to Country Music, that’s something only Southerners listen to,” said VMP Country Director Andrew Winistorfer. “But Buck Owens and His Buckaroos rolled into NYC, and took the city by force, delivering a perfect, flawless concert — and it’s worth remembering — in a single take. They played one night, and didn’t do overdubs because they didn’t really exist yet in a country context. You’re hearing a band at the top of their powers, just killing it, from beginning to end.”

Our edition of Carnegie Hall Concert, the first-ever vinyl release of the full set, comes on Yellow 180g vinyl, and was pressed at Third Man Records. It features new Listening Notes by Andrew Winistorfer, and was remastered AAA from the original tapes by Kevin Gray.

Carnegie Hall Concert will be available for sign-ups starting November 23.

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