Vinyl Me, Please Drops Perfect Al Green Call Me Reissue

If you'd have told me a few years ago when Vinyl Me, Please launched, that within a few years the curated based vinyl subscription service would be at the top of the vinyl reissue heap, I'd have said you've been inhaling too many PVC fumes. But here we are with a vinyl reissue that's perfect in every way.

Sourced from the original analog master tape, cut analog by Ryan K. Smith at Sterling Sound, Nashville, plated and pressed on 180g vinyl at QRP and housed in a beautiful laminated "Tip On" sleeve, reissues simply can't be any better produced. Add to all of that a nicely produced mini-booklet enclosed in the jacket containing a thoughtful essay by Memphis based author Robert Gordon that gives you the background on Green's career and you have a full, satisfying listening, learning and touching experience.

I'm not sure what's more fun: listening to this record or imagining a vinyl "newbie" hearing Howard Grimes' and Al Jackson's meticulous time keeping expressed "crunch-free" as only analog manages to do. Each rim shot is a symphony of color and precise transient textures, though of course Willie Mitchell's economical arrangements are as well. As Gordon points out in his notes, the string arrangements by Mitchell's brother James are often overlooked but here, in RKS's mastering they get their full sheen and beauty expressed. The Royal Recording Studio sound is close-miked, intimate and deliberate. The pleasingly dry sonic precision perfectly matches the time keeping and tidy arrangements for horns and strings behind that mesmerising beat over which Green cooly and soulfully croons.

This 1974 release, Green's fourth in two years, is an eclectic mix of Memphis soul and C&W that includes Willie Nelson's "Funny How Time Slips Away" and Hank Williams' "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry". Never has the soul/country connection been better expressed and of course side two opens with one of Green's best known hits ""Here I Am (Come and Take Me). For me though the highlight is side one's closer "Your Love Is Like the Morning Sun". If you don't know this album and you're thinking thematically there's a Green/Ray Charles connection going on here musically, you're correct. Like Charles, Green crossed over into the mainstream (white) musical world.

Green exudes cool sex and sensuality on this record, with his voice direct, unadorned and often responding to himself off to one side. It would have been tragic had an inept producer bathed it in reverb. It's so direct here, and transparently recorded, it occasionally may make you jump if your system has the chops.

Sublime music making, perfectly presented and a "must have" reissue! If this one doesn't get your significant other in the mood, no record in your collection will. At that point it might be time to go full Tammy Wynette!

Chemguy's picture this purchase is a cinch!

Thanks, Michael! Do you really think they’re at the top, though? I’m thinking AP and Mofi, here.

Michael Fremer's picture
Is on that level.... however for those who don't like Mo-Fi's approach of having their band across the top and their label on the record, this would be better. I don't have an issue with that myself....
jmcox00's picture

I love Al Green - have you by any chance heard Speakers Corner's issue to compare?

Michael Fremer's picture
Always cut from tape but what gen? If you know who mastered we’d have a better idea. But it can’t be better than this one. Might be as good but packaging won’t be. If u have this one from SC what’s in lead our groove area?
jmcox00's picture

Hi Michael. Bear with me, as I'm not conversant regarding the reading lead out info . . . . But it says the following. . . . . . side one ACLZ 3516 then 180 degrees around 23956- side two ACLZ 3517 then 23956- (again) 180 degrees around.

Vinyl On Tubes's picture

Just forget about the deadwax. It's doesn't tell you anything. Well it doesn't tell you anything you need to know.

I just picked up the VMP because I had to hear perfect (your words), when I though the SC pressing was pretty good. So let's describe the SC pressing first. The SC pressing is cut louder, more bass and heavier cymbals. An obvious smiley face EQ was used, where as the VMP Smith cut is flat. The soundstage on the SC pressing is also just a bigger presentation. On a lot of the songs, Green overdubs additional vocals into the mix. On the SC pressing, each voice claims its own space in a huge 3D soundscape. This description sounds great, but it's actually the biggest problem. With his cut, Ryan chose wisely. Instead, these overdubs float in space much closer together, they weave together to form these beautiful chords. The background singer are woven into the leads, as well. It is perfect as you stated. It's an amazing presentation.

If I had to throw out an analogy I could use Pink Floyd. Wish You Were Here is the kind of album you listen to, and the more you let it wash over you, the more you become immersed. Now take The Wall, it's a piece that demands you listen to it. It grabs you and you're thrown into this dystopic landscape. Each is great in it's own way, but I prefer Wish You Were Here. Call Me is a Soul album, so you really want this stuff to soak in, rather than it be beaten into you. This is the advantage of the VMP pressing over the SC pressing. If you want to impress you friends with how good your stereo sounds, you could play them SC pressing. You can point out the expanse and separation. Me, I'm not so impressed. Give me a record like the VMP pressing and I just forget there's stereo playing back the grooves.

DigMyGroove's picture

I joined Vinyl Me Please in order to get their excellent reissue of Fiona Apple’s “Tidal” cut at 45 rpm on two LPs. Since then I’ve been most impressed by their Record of the Month offerings, and have discovered many artists and recordings I was unfamiliar with. I really appreciate that members have a choice to swap out the Record if the Month if it’s not to their liking, there’s always a fine choice to be had instead.

VMP are particularly strong in their offerings of Soul and R&B from the 60’s and 70’s, along with a few great offerings in the Gospel genre. These titles are often offered under the VMP Essentials or Classics moniker.

As for quality, I’ve only experienced one release with an issue, Feist’s “Let it Die” which had some non-fill. In that case I contacted VMP who sent me another copy (they don’t take returns). The second copy also had non-fill, but in different spots, so I had to let it go.

I’ll be sure give the Al Green album another spin today, it impressed greatly when I received it.

Tom L's picture

that Nick Lowe would be a fan of this site.

Michael Fremer's picture
Where do you see that?
Steve Edwards's picture

Per the NUTRITION FACTS section of this title on their website, it was pressed at QRP.

Michael Fremer's picture
I'm surprised Chad hasn't come down with the hammer. I'll fix!
Hackmartian's picture

Picked this I’l up and thrilled with the sound. It blows my original away. I just wish (as is almost always the case) they spent more time to get the jacket right. I don’t care for the super glossy cover (the original wasn’t printed that way) but more importantly, the art is dark and the type on the back cover is muddy and hard to read. This stuff ain’t hard to get right but it seems most labels don’t care beyond the marketing point of saying it’s packaged in a tip-on sleeve.