Our Vinyl Me, Please Essentials Record of the Month for July is Silver Bullets, the debut LP from Trojan Records reggae group the Silvertones. Reissued for the first time since its 1973 release, our edition was remastered from the original tapes by Andy Pearce, comes on vanilla sky vinyl in a heavyweight tip-on jacket, complete with a custom lyric sheet. Read below to find out why we picked Silver Bullets, and more about the remastering and package details.
Andrew Winistorfer: There are certain Record of the Months that are sort of passion projects for those of us picking these albums — one of mine was The Soul Of A Bell — where one specific person on staff finds the music and decides it needs to be a Record of the Month and then stumps for it and convinces everyone else. This Silvertones project was really that for you. You’ve been stumping for this Silvertones album for a really long time; I think you sent the music to me for the first time back in like May of 2017.
Cameron Schaefer: Yeah, more than a year ago, Trojan Records approached us about their upcoming 50th Anniversary, which is this year. They said, “We want you to look and see if there’s anything in our catalog that you think your members would enjoy that you think would be fun to build a special edition vinyl package around that we could really try to tell part of the story of Trojan Records with. The sent over some recommendations, stuff like Toots and the Maytals’ Sweet and Dandy and Desmond Dekker and the Aces’ Action —
Both of which are available now as 1,000 copy exclusives in our store right now.
Yeah. They sent a bunch, but those two were part of the group that we narrowed it down to. There was a bunch in the catalog that hadn’t had a reissue at all, or it had been a really long time.
The thing that really attracted me to their catalog in a big way was the album art. Specifically the three albums we’ll have; they all feel so iconic to me. I’m a big album art guy for these kind of albums; I’ll totally buy a copy of an album for its art. So when I was trying to narrow down the Trojan catalog to albums we should consider, I saw the cover, and then looked them up on Discogs, and saw that they’re a really obscure group in the Trojan catalog; they only made one album. The idea of doing a Trojan act that was a deep cut was really intriguing. The album had never been reissued, and the music wasn’t on Spotify either.
The Black Art pressing — the one from Lee “Scratch” Perry’s label — of the album sells for insane prices too.
Yeah, like upwards of $1,000. And then I heard the album, and I was cemented on us doing this; the cover, the crate-digger element, the music. Reggae isn’t really a go-to music for me — and I think for most of the staff too — but a cool part of this job is forcing myself into really experiencing this music and deciding what I like about it. It happened when we did Super Ape back in 2015, and it happened again here.
The songs that I heard from Silver Bullets, while they had a classic reggae sound, they also had some more melodic rock sensibilities. They’re a vocal group that was the studio band for a lot of the other Trojan artists that would record with Lee “Scratch” Perry. The most important instruments they had were their voices.
They’re almost a doo-wop group that took a wrong turn somewhere or something.
Totally. I feel like this album is going to be something that appeals to reggae heads who think they’ve heard everything in the Trojan catalog. I’ve sent it to tons of people I know in the industry who love reggae and they’ve never heard of it, so it’ll be exciting to that crowd. And then for our members who maybe don’t like reggae, this is really an interesting entry-point into the genre. You can put this on for someone who doesn’t like reggae and they’ll like it, I think.
The big question from people will be, “Why did you guys pick this one? You have access to the entirety of the Trojan catalog and you picked this one.” Want to answer that definitively?
I think it was really us trying to find both reggae fanatics who felt like they already know the big names — Desmond Dekker, Toots & The Maytals — who won’t probably know the Silvertones. While also trying to find an album that doesn’t consider reggae a top genre for them. This was one of those rare records that hit those things.
OK, for the people who want to know: Remastering and package details. Hit me.
They were able to find the original master tapes of the album, so we sent those off to be remastered. Original album art in a tip-on jacket, and a lyrics book so you can follow along.
The color of the vinyl is what’s most amazing here: We wanted to do some color that referenced the blue sky of the cover, and we ended up with this clear base with a milky blue orb in the middle. It’s really tricky when you do color vinyl and you try to match the album cover; we were all stunned how closely we were able to get the color to the album cover. Just pulling the record out and seeing it next to the album art is an incredible experience.
We’re doing a lot around the Trojan anniversary/this album this month too, right?
Yeah, we’ll have a Trojan shirt, we have those other albums and we did a mini-documentary about the album as well. Khruangbin are going to be doing a Trojan-heavy DJ set for us later this month as well.
We’re really celebrating Trojan’s 50th Anniversary with this, and trying to give our member’s a foundation for the label and that era of music.
Andrew Winistorfer is VMP’s Classics & Country Director, 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 20 VMP releases, and co-produced the VMP Anthologies The Story of Philadelphia International Records, The Story of Quincy Jones, The Story of Impulse and the VMP Classics release of Nat Turner Rebellion's Laugh to Keep From Crying, and executive produced the VMP Anthology The Story of Vanguard. He lives in Saint Paul, Minnesota.
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