Our next three Essentials Records of the Month — which you’ll receive if you sign up for VMP Essentials in April, May and June 2023 — feature a band’s final album, a bluesman’s debut and the transatlantic sound of an indie rock favorite.
April: Sublime’s Sublime
In April, VMP Essentials members will receive a pivotal record in alt-rock history: Sublime’s self-titled album, the band’s third and final release. Sublime’s heavy lyricism is at the fore against the blended background of samples and covers spanning multiple genres, and, despite being recorded in multiple studios across the U.S., it pays clear homage to their Long Beach origins. In the album’s Listening Notes, author Marty Sartini Garner writes, “How you hear Sublime — and how you think about it — probably has a lot to do with how you think about Southern California generally. Like the Beach Boys before them, Sublime are inseparable from their surroundings; it’s virtually impossible to think about them without thinking about where they’re from.”
“It’s hard to remember when this Sublime project got its start, because my own personal history with the band is as long as this album has been out: I got this CD from Columbia House when my parents let me pick out three CDs in 1996,” said VMP Director of Music Andrew Winistorfer. “And I’ve had it in the back of my mind as a possible Essential since I started here more than seven years ago, especially since it feels like it’s a rare ’90s alt-rock hit album that has actually aged like a fine wine. Every passing year, the omnivorous musical experiment that was Sublime — which merged rap, flamenco, rock, reggae and the Grateful Dead into something new — feels like more the norm than the left-field outside vibe this had at release.”
Winistorfer added, “Bradley Nowell absorbed all the music that made him, and with his two best friends, pumped it back out into something that could only be called Sublime. Getting to this one is a dream come true for me personally, and for VMP in general, as we got to give this one the audiophile treatment it deserves.”
The VMP exclusive edition of Sublime’s self-titled album is pressed on 2LP “Burning Sun” Galaxy colored vinyl. The lacquers are cut by Ryan Smith at Sterling Sound from the highest-quality master sources available: He transferred A1-A3, A5 and D2-D3 from analog tapes; used existing hi-res digital transfers of B1, B3, B4, C2-C5 and D1; and 44.1kHz/16-bit WAVs of A4, B2 and C1. The package includes a Listening Notes booklet written by Garner and an art print by Opie Ortiz.
Sign up now to receive Sublime.
May: Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble’s Texas Flood
Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble’s Texas Flood, the band’s 1983 debut album, is the May 2023 Essentials Record of the Month. Prior to the blues band’s debut, they had earned a name for themselves touring across the Texas circuit, joining blues giants on stage with raucous performances.
The VMP 40th-anniversary edition of Texas Flood is pressed on exclusive 180g “Pride and Joy” vinyl with AAA lacquers cut from tapes by Ryan Smith of Sterling Sound. It includes a Listening Notes booklet written by Winistorfer and an art print by Don Hunstein.
“It occurred to me, sometime last year, that we haven’t featured a blues album in our Essentials track in more than seven years,” Winistorfer said. “And what better blues album to feature than the most important blues album of the last 40 years, the debut of Stevie Ray Vaughan. It’s a blues album that kicks ass like a rock record, and swaggers with the attitude of ’80s hair metal, but, at its center, is a Texas blues album played through a pair of jet engines.”
“It’s the only blues album to get regular promotion on MTV, and to enter the classic rock pantheon,” Winistorfer added, “and it was an honor to get to do the album’s 40th-anniversary edition in Essentials.”
Sign up here to receive an email notification when Texas Flood becomes available starting April 20.
June: Death Cab For Cutie’s Transatlanticism
Our June Essentials Record of the Month is the 20th-anniversary edition of Death Cab For Cutie’s fourth album, Transatlanticism, which is the album that launched the indie rockers to a mainstream audience. In the Listening Notes, Sean Nelson dives into the record’s concept, writing, “Transatlanticism is popularly understood to be a collection of songs about distance and the longing to close it. Mostly because it obviously is one — but only in widescreen. Close up, these songs aren’t just about distance, they’re a dialogue with it, a diatribe against it, a dissection of it.”
On its selection, Winistorfer said, “Some of the best projects at VMP come out of something the staff wants to buy, looks up on Discogs, and realizes is really expensive and hard to get. And that happened here, as Kathleen Moloney from VMP’s production team realized this masterpiece album, arguably the Big Bang for indie rock in 2003, was out of print, and we jumped at the opportunity to make it happen for Essentials.”
The 20th-anniversary edition of the album is pressed on exclusive 2LP Red Marble vinyl with lacquers cut by Ryan Smith of Sterling Sound. It comes with a Listening Notes booklet written by Sean Nelson and an art print by Adde Russell.
Winistorfer added, “Though it’s only 20 years old, it feels like it came out in an entirely different world, and helped shape our current one: It blew up being on The O.C., which was only available at the time on basic TV, and via reruns, and established that even indie rock bands could sell out arenas. As a bonus, the band is touring in celebration of this record this year, so make sure you see them on tour too.”
Sign up here to receive an email notification when Transatlanticism becomes available starting May 18.