Our next three Essentials Records of the Month — which you’ll receive if you sign up for VMP Essentials in January, February and March 2023 — feature a one-of-a-kind rock release and the anniversary editions of an electronic French duo’s and modern country pop icon’s debuts.
January: The Grateful Dead’s Anthem Of The Sun
Starting off the new year, January will mark the return of a band familiar to VMP; the Grateful Dead’s Anthem Of The Sun is the first Essentials Record of the Month. An early title in the band’s catalog, the album is a patchwork psychedelic-rock masterpiece. As the band’s archivist and legacy manager David Lemieux wrote in the album’s Listening Notes: “This is not a live album. Nor is it a studio album. It is truly a hybrid, unprecedented at the time and never replicated. It is both types of album and was created through genius production techniques, exceptional musicianship and inspiration.”
VMP Director of Music Andrew Winistorfer said of the record, “When we did our Grateful Dead Anthology a couple years ago, we always had it planned to do a Record of the Month with them, and this album came up pretty quickly: It feels like the perfect VMP Dead album.”
Winistorfer explained: “It’s underrated in the band’s catalog, and came at this really interesting time as they were figuring out how to turn themselves from the prankster rock kings of the acid tests into a real live album-making band. It’s an album that maybe not every Dead-curious or even Dead Head has, and doing this 1968 mix is a way of us continuing our commitment to bringing cool Dead albums back into the world, and showing them to people who might not know where to start when it comes to the Dead.”
The VMP edition of the 1968 original mix of the Grateful Dead’s Anthem Of The Sun is pressed at GZ on 180g “Noonday Sun” colored vinyl, with AAA lacquers cut from the original master tapes by Chris Bellman at Bernie Grundman Mastering. The record comes with an art print — a reinterpretation of the album’s cover — by Jeremy Dean.
Sign up now to receive Anthem Of The Sun.
February: AIR’s Moon Safari
French electronic duo AIR blended four decades of music with their debut album, Moon Safari, which, described by Sophie Frances Kemp in the album’s Listening Notes “was a sound the two naturally gravitated toward.” Their debut arrived just as electronic music began to explode across France in the late ’90s. Even then, AIR carved their own space within the genre with the more atmospheric Moon Safari — the VMP Essentials Record of the Month in February.
“Listening to this album is like an audio version of wearing a well-tailored suit, walking the streets of your urban city, and being absolutely sure no one has ever done it better than you,” Winistorfer said. “A classic of electronic music that established AIR as one of the triumvirate of French duos who make groundbreaking music — like Daft Punk and Justice — Moon Safari is where it all began for them. This version celebrates the album’s 25th anniversary, as an opportunity to let everyone feel like the legends this album has made everyone who’s listened to it feel like for a quarter century.”
The VMP exclusive 25th-anniversary edition of Moon Safari is pressed at GZ on 180g “Sea of Tranquility” colored vinyl, with lacquers cut by Marie Piepzrownik at Translab Mastering Studios, and includes an art print by Mike Mills.
Moon Safari will be available for sign-ups starting January 19.
March: Kacey Musgraves’ Same Trailer Different Park
Ending the quarter for Essentials in March is Kacey Musgraves’ studio debut, Same Trailer Different Park. A modern country artist with major crossovers in pop, Musgraves’ first album “blends traditional country elements like pedal steel, harmonica and banjo with the polished pop sound of ’90s and early-2000s commercial country,” writes Amileah Sutliff in the album’s Listening Notes.
The 10th-anniversary edition of Same Trailer Different Park, our edition is pressed on 180g “Cactus Green” colored vinyl at GZ with lacquers cut by Ryan Smith at Sterling Sound and plated at Welcome to 1979. The record includes the booklet written by Sutliff along with an art print by Steve Richards and Karen Naff.
“If there’s an artist who bridges the modern sounds of country with the songcraft and songwriting of the outlaw era, it’s Kacey Musgraves,” Winistorfer shared. “We’re honored to be reissuing this 10th anniversary edition of her stunning major label debut, full of wit, whimsy and stories of people who have learned hard-earned lessons. A modern-day classic from one of music’s biggest stars, here’s a chance to be entranced by Kacey anew, or for her fans to remember where it all started.”
Same Trailer Different Park will be available for sign-ups starting February 16.