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.

Vinyl Me Please

The Skinny

Here’s how it works. You send Vinyl Me, Please some of your hard-earned money (plans start at $27/month) and they send you one meticulously selected album worthy of your time and attention. Easy, right? Each custom pressing (often on colored vinyl!) also comes with special features like original artwork and even a recipe for a companion cocktail. You’ll have membership privileges in the VMP shop too, which means you can grab a copy of previous VMP selections from the archives – including February’s beyond Essential reissue of Van Morrison’s Veedon Fleece – not to mention a bevy of rare and exclusive releases. The store is now open. It’s chock full of sexy new discs that need a loving home. And Team VMP are dropping fresh new selections to their stock every single week. Do not miss out.

Whatever styles or artists or limited edition pressings you’re looking for, you’re bound to find something worth your time and money in the VMP Store. While that store is open to the public, many of the more covet-worthy selections are only available to members, so you’ve gotta sign up to get your mitts on them. If you’re peckish about relinquishing control of your record collection over to complete strangers, know that VMP’s Swaps Program is in full effect. That means you can flip any VMP pick you don’t like for a past AOM (or other VMP Exclusive pressings) that’s a little more your speed. My advice? Don’t overthink it. Do yourself a favor and sign up today.

So, what’s in March’s box? No less than a flawless reissue of Buddy Guy’s long out of print classic Left My Blues In San Francisco.

For the Love of Music, Please DO NOT BEND (or, how I learned that if you wanna get the blues for real, you gotta get on that Classics deal)

If you’ve been paying attention to what Vinyl Me, Please has been up to of late, you probably know that Left My Blues In San Francisco is not the VMP Essentials selection for March. That honor went to iconic hip hop group De La Soul’s landmark debut 3 Feet High and Rising. That was a major coup for Team VMP, and left the jaws of hip hop fans the world over firmly on the floor. Unfortunately, I was not one of them. Not because I don’t dig a little De La Soul now and again, but if I’m being completely frank, there are maybe 5 to 7 hip hop albums in history that I would deem essential to my own collection, and 3 Feet High and Rising isn’t one of them. That being said, if it’s on your must own list, this dazzling new pressing from Vinyl Me, Please is the legit must own version.

Of course, one of the best things about being a VMP member is that if their Essentials pick isn’t on your want list, you can click on that Swap button and dig a you-specific essential out of their Swaptions crate. That includes offerings from the vast back catalogue of official VMP selections across their Essentials, Classics, and Rap & Hip Hop series’. If you’ve been following my unboxing over the past few months, well, you probably already know which series I swapped with, ’cause VMP’s jazz/blues/soul-centric Classics selections are quickly becoming my essential. This month I opted to snag their stellar reissue of a lesser known album in the vaunted canon of blues legend Buddy Guy, and I must tell you that I regret nothing.

Before you berate me for swapping a bona fide game changer in the hip hop realm for a lesser know blues release, I would offer that 1) blues music is sort of just what hip hop was before the beats and bombast, and 2) Buddy Guy is one of the greatest guitarists and bluesmen that ever lived, and nothing he recorded deserves to be qualified as “lesser known.” Now, to be a little clearer on point 2, I can tell you that whether or not you know Guy’s name, or his music, fans of virtually any band that ever dabbled in blues based guitar rock (Cream, The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, and The Who amongst them) you’ve heard Guy’s loose & loud playing style, and his primal howl of a vocal approach mimicked (though never replicated) a million times over.

But if you really want to get into it, many of the songs that brought those late ’60s, ’70s rock gods to the style that would ultimately define them can be heard on Left My Blues In San Francisco. Less a proper debut album – that official honor goes to Guy’s legendary 1968 Vanguard release A Man and the Blues – than a collection of Buddy Guy’s best singles for Chess Records, Left My Blues In San Francisco was Guy’s final release via the iconic Chicago-based blues label.

Of the 11 songs that comprise Left My Blues In San Francisco, I should tell you that there isn’t much of the reckless, wildly adventurous style Guy was known for in them. That’s because much of his time with Chess Records was spent playing session man to other greats like Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf. Even as a solo artist for Chess, Guy’s temperamental playing style was often stifled by a label who failed to see the ingenuity in what he was doing. Instead of turning Guy loose to make the raucous music he was born to make, the Chess Records brass tried to turn him into a run of the mill balladeer, or a jazzy soul man.

What they say about not being able to keep a good man down is true, and even in that slightly stifling environment, Guy still managed to produce a handful of beautifully orchestrated soul stunners, rollicking R&B numbers, and booming blues bangers. The fact is that even if Left My Blues In San Francisco doesn’t claim the same vaunted legacy as A Man and the Blues, and even if it never even really feels like a cohesive album, it’s still one of the most important rock/soul/blues releases of the 1960s … and it remains a stunning testament to the brazen blues-breaker that Buddy Guy was about to become. If you’re not yet aware of that fact, it’s high time you found out.

Cover Matters

So, one of the few drawbacks about swapping into the Classics Track on any given month, is that those Classics Tracks don’t come with original, album inspired art prints. In regards to Left My Blues In San Francisco, I would simply point out that this particular album cover is a legit work of art in and of itself. And there’s simply nothing I can add in terms of words or interpretations to make it any lovelier.

I will, however, advise you to take a good look a the back cover as well, ’cause there’s some important information back there. Like this lovely, foil-stamped denotation forever marking this version of Left My Blues In San Francisco a true classic.

Not to mention a full track list and production credits.

Now, I know you’re eager to get that protective sleeve out-of-the-way and see the goods inside, but before you do, take not of the info on this little sticker as well.

Once you’ve got that sleeve out-of-the-way, you’ll want to spend another moment or two studying the details on this specially designed Vinyl Me, Please Obi Strip. If you can believe it, Left My Blues In San Francisco is already the 21st edition of their Classics series.

Flip that string cover if you want to know why this Buddy Guy release made the Classics cut.

Now, in lieu of a cocktail recipes and original art prints, Team VMP offers an alternate goodie for their Classics releases – i.e. a booklet of exclusive listening notes from some of music’s best writers. This month’s notes – via VMP’s own Andrew Winistorfer – offer historical insights to Buddy Guy’s early career, as well as track breakdowns for Left My Blues In San Francisco, as well as some compelling insight from the artist himself. Here’s a little taste.

Right then, let’s have a look at that wax already, shall we? What else can I say about this 180g pressing except that it’s black, it’s beautiful,

and it’s gonna bring all kinds of bluesy goodness to your turntable. Just be sure to dig on that old school Chess Records label as well, kids.

How’s it sound? Like a f***ing freight train full of woe barreling down the line from the sticky swamps of Louisiana, through the mean streets of Chicago, and right into your wide open ear hole. Obviously.

Give It a Spin

For the record, I never, ever take the decision to Swap a VMP Essential pick for a Classic lightly. This month was harder than most, mainly because that De La Soul release is just jaw-droppingly beautiful. What makes Vinyl Me, Please such a unique record club experience is that they fully acknowledge that one man’s Essential is another’s, “well, that’s cool and all, but I don’t really want it.” Thus, their Swaps program is a true game changer in the record club racket. And as gorgeous as that De La Soul release is, I’m already getting far more pleasure out of discovering this immaculate reissue of Buddy Guy’s Left My Blues In San Francisco. After all, discovery is a big part of what makes la vita e vinyl so much fun. Thanks to Vinyl Me, Please for helping discover this truly classic blues release, and for making every single month another musical adventure.

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 and every month! Here’s hoping they send another crunchy nugget our way for April!

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