Nina Simone

Vinyl Me, What? Vinyl Me, Please!!

Good things come in 12 inch packages. Delivering limited edition pressings of new and classic albums directly to your doorstep, Vinyl Me, Please operates under a simple philosophy: The Album Lives. With a carefully curated catalog of new and hard to find releases, the subscription service is more than just a record club…it’s a lifestyle choice for folks who wish Record Store Day could happen every month. In their living room.

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The Skinny

Here’s how it works. You supply Vinyl Me, Please with $23 a month and they supply you with one meticulously selected album worthy of your time and attention. Stupid easy, right? Each custom pressing (often in color!) also comes with special features like original artwork and even a recipe for a companion cocktail. Best of all, you get access to the VMP online store. That means you’ll have a chance to grab a copy of previous VMP selections from the archives – including November’s stunning reissue of The Lemon of Pink by the Books – plus additional rare and exclusive releases. The store is now open, and there are some serious goodies in tow this month.

That includes a VMP Exclusive pressing of Jim James’ politically charged new album Eternally Uneven (hot pink) and Fela Kuti’s even more politically charged jazzy afro-beat classic Zombie in green. There’s nothing overtly political about the music of Moses Sumney. I’m guessing you’ve never heard of him. But Sumney has just been named VMP’s latest rising artist. His music is lavish and lovely and impossible to classify. So I won’t. But you can scoop a copy of his new EP Lamentations on gold wax this month if you like. FYI – you should.

On that note, you probably haven’t heard of Mica Levi or Oliver Coates either. But the neuvo-composers have just released one of the most beautiful collections of experimental classical music you’ll ever hear. It’s called Remain Calm. It’s on clear vinyl. And it’s still in stock. Don’t miss out. And if you’ve got a little extra loot left over after your holiday shopping is done, you might want to spend it on The Decemberists’ 10-year anniversary, 5LP The Crane Wife box set.

Trust me, there’s more. And if you’re on the fence about relinquishing control of your record collection over to complete strangers, just know that the VMP’s Swaps Program is in full effect. That means you can flip any VMP pick you don’t like for something a little more your speed. And if you want to get up close and personal with fellow VMPers to talk it over, keep an eye out for Vinyl Me, Please’s road-show, The Spins. They may be coming to a bar near you in the future. But don’t overthink it. Do yourself a favor and sign up today.

Before you do, let’s see what’s inside this month’s box.

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Nina Simone

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The great thing about shopping the VMP Online Store is that sometimes you forget you’ve added a Curated Disc to your monthly delivery. That limited pressing (#155 of 500) of SUUNS’ Hold/Still sat in the sale section of the store for a couple of months. I scooped it up for $14. And I regret nothing. 

For the Love of Music, Please DO NOT BEND

She was born in rural North Carolina, the daughter of a preacher. She grew up in the church, but aspired to become a concert pianist. So she left her life in the deep south and headed to New York … to train at Julliard. She tried to continue her education at the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia, but was denied entry – likely due to the color of her skin. So she went to Atlantic City. She changed her name and made a living playing the “devil’s music.” Nightclub owners told her she’d have to sing her own accompaniment. What she lacked in range, she made up for in style and power and unfettered vocal grace. She became a singer, a songwriter, a piano impresario, a master composer, and a staunch Civil Rights activist. She could play jazz. She could play gospel. She could play R&B. She could play Bach. And she could sing her ass off. Her name was Eunice Kathleen Waymon. The world came to know her as Nina Simone. Between 1958 and 1974, she recorded upward of 40 albums of music – including 1967’s Nina Simone Sings the Blues. You will hear everything that made Nina Simone who she was in the 13 songs collected here. And your life may never be then same when it’s over. So, the question is – “will Nina Simone Sings the Blues move you?” The answer better be yes.

But What’s in the Box?!

Every picture tells a story. Nina Simone’s eyes tell about a million. If you need me to explain the power of this cover, well, you may not have a soul. Ditto for that back cover, which also features some insight from Soul Train Narrator and Jazz Guru Sid McCoy. 

Nina Simone

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Alright, let’s start digging. But before we do, have a gander at this all important sticker. Another month, another Exclusive pressing from Team VMP. Check that polyvinyl sleeve too. Kinda feels like you dug this disc right out of the back bin at your local record shop. Nice touch.

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Nina Simone

Don’t forget to check that little wrap sleeve, ’cause there’s some really important info there. Like the artist and album name, the VMP vol. number, and even the initials of the staffer that packed your box. Thanks for taking such great care, SDS!

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Of course, no VMP release would be complete without its companion cocktail. And Bourbon Milk Punch makes a most excellent pairing for Miss Simone’s blues.

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You’ll find a couple of extra gems in that box too. Like a few kind words from VMP’s Tyler Barstow about why Nina Simone’s music is so important. There’s also a dazzling 12″x 12″ print from Chicago mixed media artist Melana Bass. 

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Nina Simone

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And if you’re curious about what else is coming to the VMP store, there’s a little teaser included. Yes, they’ve got a reissue of Blind Melon’s mid-90s classic Soup in stock this month. Go get it. 

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Now, let’s get inside that sleeve and see what’s what. But please take a moment to appreciate the striking photography inside the gatefold before you do. 

Nina Simone

And whatever happens, do not overlook this magnificent 8-page booklet that’s inside. Complete with forward from scholar/activist/social critic Salamishah Tillet. Not to mention a full lyric list. Side question – did anyone ever take a bad photo of Nina Simone?

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Nina Simone

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Now, what about that disc?

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Nina Simone

Nina Simone Sings the Blues could only come in one color variant. Just so happens that shade of blue pays subtle homage to Miss Simone’s North Carolina roots. And it looks great with that old school RCA Victor label. You better believe it’s gonna look just as lovely spinning at 33 1/3 too.

Nina Simone

How’s it sound? Like you got lost on the way to see your friends at the bar. You step into the nearest door with a neon sign to get directions. The place is packed. You try to get the bartender’s attention, but he’s too busy. There’s music coming from the backroom, so you make your way through the crowd. A woman sits at a piano with a motley crew of session players surrounding her. She sings songs that are sad and sweet, soulful and stoic. Her voice is sovereign and sexy and projects a feeling you’re incapable of understanding. You cannot ignore it. You do not want to. Your plans no longer matter. The voice is the only friend you need. You stand and listen and try to imagine how your life existed without it. And when the show is over, all you want is hear to it again. 

Give It a Spin

Look, no record collection is complete without a little Nina Simone. If you’re already familiar with her music, then you understand. If you’re new to Miss Simone’s work, then get ready to find out what it means to love, to lose, to feel invisible, and to feel invincible. I’ve got a couple of Nina Simone discs on my shelves already. Nina Simone Sings the Blues is not one of them. And this exclusive pressing is going to look oh so sexy alongside its mates. Thanks Vinyl Me, Please for making that happen. And thanks for making every new selection both an adventure and a lesson … ’cause that’s the whole point of music. Happy Holidays, all!

A big THANK YOU to our friends at Vinyl Me, Please for sponsoring this subscription. Don’t forget to check out the official Vinyl Me, Please website and sign up to get some choice wax delivered right to your door each month! Can’t wait to see what crunchy treat they send our way in the new year.

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