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Our next three Classics Records of the Month — which you’ll receive if you sign up for VMP Classics in October, November and December 2021 — begin with Philly R&B royalty, move on to a blues King and wrap with an undeniable vocal legend.
Our Classics Record of the Month for October is the second solo studio album from the superstar R&B vocalist, Teddy Pendergrass. Released in 1978, the record contains Quiet Storm radio classic ballads, with their smooth and romantic string sections, like "It Don't Hurt Now" and "When Somebody Loves You Back.” Initially getting his start as the drummer for Philadelphia International Records’ soul group Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes, Pendergrass kicked off his solo career just a year before Life is a Song Worth Singing with his self-titled debut. He quickly proved himself worthy of the spotlight: Between 1977 and 1981, Pendergrass put out four consecutive smash-hit albums, each selling over a million copies. Life Is a Song Worth Singing was an essential release in solidifying his icon status.
“For anyone who had lingering doubt about his powers, Life Is a Song Worth Singing, Pendergrass’ second album, came with the receipts. Recorded at the famed Sigma Sound Studios in Philadelphia and released in June of 1978, the album was an artistic and commercial triumph and, creatively, a work of art,” wrote Listening Notes writer Melissa A. Weber. “It positioned him as a sex symbol, but not just that. The album also contained groove-filled excursions for the mind and for the dancefloor. It showcased Pendergrass’ versatility and robust voice to even greater range than its predecessor, and it quickly rose from the level of fan favorite to TSOP masterpiece.”
Our release of the album comes on 180g black vinyl, was remastered AAA from tapes by Ryan Smith at Sterling Sound and includes a new Listening Notes booklet.
Sign up now to receive Life Is a Song Worth Singing. Can’t get enough of The Sound of Philadelphia? Check out VMP Anthology: The Story of Philadelphia International Records, available here.
In November, VMP Classics will feature the solo studio album from the blues legend — and one of "Three Kings of the Blues Guitar" (alongside Albert King and B.B. King, who are not related) — Freddie King. Released in 1969, it was produced and arranged by saxophonist King Curtis.
“For a brief two-year period, during which the best of his recorded output would come — including this album — Freddie would be shepherded by a legendary saxophonist who made him one of the first signings to an Atlantic subsidiary he helped select artists and record for,” writes VMP Classics & Country Director Andrew Winistorfer in the album’s Listening Notes. “King Curtis would serve as producer and arranger of Freddie’s greatest recordings, including his finest album-length statement, My Feeling for the Blues. It wouldn’t be any more of a hit than his other studio albums, but again, Freddie is about a sound, and the sound Freddie conjures up on My Feeling would echo out across blues and rock for generations to come. Record sales are a box score that don’t tell you the finer details of the game. The game Freddie King played here was eternal.”
Our release of the album comes on 180g black vinyl, was remastered AAA from original mono tapes by Ryan Smith at Sterling Sound and includes a new Listening Notes booklet.
My Feeling for the Blues will be available for sign-ups starting October 26.
Rounding out our Classics lineup for 2021, we have Roberta Flack’s third studio album, Quiet Fire. Initially released in 1971 by Atlantic Records, our reissue of the album celebrates its 50th anniversary. A nuanced and remarkable vocal performance throughout, the album includes Flack’s delicate, yet powerful takes on “Will You Still You Love Me Tomorrow” and “Bridge Over Troubled Water.”
“Like many icons, and I do not use that term loosely here, Roberta Flack and her classically grounded, operatic, gospel, soul-infused music on Quiet Fire was running ahead of us into a future that many could not — and cannot — quite imagine yet. Musical giants like Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Alice Coltrane, David Bowie and Sly and the Family Stone pervaded the airwaves simultaneously with Flack,” wrote Listening Notes booklet author H. Zahra Caldwell. “Even within the radical, lovely and transgressive fusion and experimentation of early ’70s music, we could not perceive a music less marked by race, gender, class and rigid categorization and genre. Her music may hit different notes, but does not stand apart in its aim. It must be added to the collective push in that musical moment to give us all a glimpse of an unfettered future somewhere.”
Our release of the album comes on 180g black vinyl, was remastered AAA from the original analog tapes by Ryan Smith at Sterling Sound and includes a new Listening Notes booklet.
Quiet Fire will be available for sign-ups starting November 23.
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