Our next three Country Records of the Month — which you’ll receive if you sign up for VMP Essentials in January, February and March 2023 — feature a controversial country classic, the first bluegrass album in the Track and the sophomore album by an outlaw originator.
January: Tammy Wynette’s Stand By Your Man
“A performer whose controversy sometimes outpaced her music, Tammy Wynette was one of country’s most popular performers in the ’60s and ’70s, as her music of traditional values, heartbreak and loss made her a superstar,” VMP Director of Music Andrew Winistorfer said of Wynette — whose landmark 1969 album is the January 2023 Country Record of the Month. “She was a complicated woman living in complicated times, but when the stars aligned, as they do on Stand By Your Man, there was rarely anyone better.”
The VMP exclusive edition of Stand By Your Man is pressed on 180g Blue Galaxy vinyl with AAA lacquers cut from tapes by Ryan Smith at Sterling Sound, and plated at Welcome to 1979. Winistorfer added, “This version puts this record out like it belongs to be considered: as a towering achievement.”
The Listening Notes booklet included in the package is written by Angela Stefano and examines the album through a modern lens. “The trouble with trying to analyze an album like Stand By Your Man — that is, a collection of songs written by men for women to sing either before or in the early years of the women’s liberation movement — is that the women singing these songs often had limited agency,” Stefano writes, “But that’s not to say that the album, which ascended to No. 2 on Billboard’s Country Albums chart and earned a Country Music Association Album of the Year nomination in 1969, isn’t worth listening to. Wynette’s mournful voice … was made for songs like these; frankly, so were her real-life experiences.”
Sign up now to receive Stand By Your Man.
February: Marty Stuart’s Busy Bee Cafe
In February, members of VMP Country will receive Marty Stuart’s 1982 album, Busy Bee Cafe — the first bluegrass album to feature in the Track. Following a series playing gigs with a number of bluegrass artists that include Doc Watson and Vassar Clements, Stuart landed a big break playing alongside Johnny Cash as part of the Tennessee Three, “initiating a creative relationship that would last the rest of Cash’s life,” as explained by Listening Notes author Natalie Weiner. During this time, Stuart would record Busy Bee Cafe, which will be reissued for the first-time ever at VMP on 180g Light Blue Galaxy vinyl, with AAA lacquers cut from the original master tapes by Ryan Smith at Sterling Sound.
“Our first bluegrass title needed to be a heavy hitter, and you can’t go much bigger than a Marty Stuart album with Flatt and Scruggs, and Johnny Cash on it,” Winistorfer shared. “At the time, a hotshot player known more for his chops than his songs, Marty Stuart was just on the verge of breaking through and being something like country and bluegrass ombudsman, a man who was around to remind you of how things used to, and still could, be.”
Winistorfer added, “This album is sort of a lost classic, hardly reissued and often forgotten. No longer.”
Busy Bee Cafe will be available for sign-ups starting January 19.
March: Kris Kristofferson’s The Silver Tongued Devil and I
The March VMP Country Record of the Month is Kris Kristofferson’s sophomore album, The Silver Tongued Devil and I, an album that kickstarted the artist into commercial success and was instrumental in paving the foundations for outlaw country as a genre and movement. Reissued for the first time on vinyl since the ’80s, it’s pressed on 180g “Black and Blue” Galaxy vinyl with AAA lacquers cut from tapes by Ryan Smith at Sterling Sound.
“The greatest country songwriter of the ’70s, it was only a matter of time before we got to Kris Kristofferson in VMP Country. His albums in the early ’70s are all stone cold classics, and in my opinion, this one is the most perfect,” said Winistorfer, who also wrote the Listening Notes for the reissue.
“Featuring songs he wrote for Waylon and others, Kristofferson transformed himself into a superstar on this album, too big for country, but also supremely of it. He’s a legend who spent the peak years of his career making blockbuster movies out in Hollywood, so he doesn’t get the same adoration as Willie or Waylon or Billy Joe, but he was the original outlaw, the first country guy with long hair to challenge all the old assumptions and follow his own muse. For that, he’ll live forever.”
The Silver Tongued Devil and I will be available for sign-ups starting February 16.
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