VMP Announces 11 LP The Story of Herbie Hancock Anthology Box Set

Today (September 21), record club Vinyl Me, Please formally announced the latest in their VMP Anthology box set series, The Story of Herbie Hancock. Bernie Grundman cut all-analog from tape where possible, GZ pressed the eight albums over 11 LPs on 180g black vinyl and packaged in tip-on jackets. The set retails for $349 and includes a “deluxe” booklet. Curated by Hancock himself, the chosen titles are: Takin’ Off (1962, all-analog), Maiden Voyage (1965, AAA), Head Hunters (1973, AAA), The V.S.O.P. Quintet: Live Under The Sky (1979, digitally recorded), The Piano (1979, AAA), Future Shock (1983, AAA), 1+1 (1997, digitally recorded), and River: The Joni Letters (2007, digitally recorded). Live Under The Sky, a 1979 Japanese CBS/Sony Master Sound live album recorded digitally, is newly re-sequenced and amended at Herbie Hancock’s request. The box set shipping this winter is housed in a two-piece box hand-numbered to 1500 units.

Accompanying the box set is a five-episode podcast series, hosted by Touré and featuring interviews with Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Ron Carter, Corinne Bailey Rae, Robert Glasper, Grand Mixer DXT, Bernie Grundman, and Larry Klein. Buyers will also gain access to two exclusive “Ask Me Anything” (AMA) video sessions, one featuring a “special guest” (code for “everyone expects Herbie Hancock, but they see the VMP curator instead”). Marcus Moore wrote the booklet, which also includes archival photos. Current VMP members get a $60 discount on the box.

Now for some personal opinion: despite their 47% subscription price hike, some odd reissue choices, and occasional false advertising, VMP’s product is typically excellent. From them I’ve gotten the only complete pressing of Outkast’s Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik, a high-quality deluxe edition of Dirty Projectors’ Bitte Orca, and a beautifully packaged reissue of El-P’s I’ll Sleep When You’re Dead. With some exceptions, they clearly aim for definitive audiophile quality, and venture into titles that most reissue labels deem “off-limits” (ie, digitally recorded). Considering the no-expenses-spared appearance of The Story of Herbie Hancock, it should be worth the hefty price.

As for the actual album picks, I see the logic behind many but find some questionable. Herbie’s debut album Takin’ Off is important here, but Blue Note already did an AAA BN80 reissue last year. Maiden Voyage and Head Hunters are his most popular records that up until recently had audiophile reissues in-print, though as an owner of a Music Matters SRX Maiden Voyage I probably shouldn’t comment on those (that pressing sold out in minutes and is extremely rare). Those peak era records are good primers, and should still sound great here, but most jazz fans already have them (and newcomers probably won’t spend $349 on a massive box set). The set leans heavy on the later years, as those records have rarely been reissued (1+1 with Wayne Shorter gets its first LP pressing here) and probably deserve more attention. What’s most unclear is how The Piano turns out; the original (and only previous) pressing is a Japanese CBS/Sony Master Sound Direct Disk (D2D), but VMP says theirs is from tape. Anyway, come winter, those plunking down the cash should receive a lavish, sonically satisfying, and visually pleasing box set.

(Malachi Lui is an AnalogPlanet contributing editor, music lover, record collector, and highly opinionated sneaker enthusiast. He’s currently analyzing the March 2013 “New Slaves” leak. Follow Malachi on Twitter @MalachiLui and Instagram @malachi__lui.)

MalachiLui's picture

when concerts were still a thing, i saw herbie hancock perform at the oregon zoo last summer (kamasi washington opened). the volume was a bit too quiet, and there were a ton of whining little kids, but herbie and kamasi were ON FIRE and both of them playing "chameleon" at the end was magical. one of the best (of many) concerts i've ever seen.

afarooqui's picture

it was awesome. Herbie and Kamasi together on Chameleon was magical

jazz's picture

I have quite exactly your opinion. This time in detail about the choice of albums and „the piano quest“.

Nathan Zeller's picture

Malachi, if you don't mind me asking, how did you convince your parents to support you with vinyl?

I'm like you. I'm sixteen years old and incredibly into vinyl. Everything from pressing plants, mastering, equipment, etc. My parents... well they think it's silly. Each time I show even the slightest bit of excitement towards all this they belittle me in the sneakiest ways.

Did you experience this too? If so I'd greatly appreciate some advice as I intend on doing as much as I can with vinyl throughout my life.

MalachiLui's picture

doing bullet points here to make it manageable to read:

-in pre-k, the teacher showed my class vinyl records and having only known CDs, i was FASCINATED. i was 5 at this point. mentioned record players to my parents occasionally, and they were like "records take up too much space!!!"

-2nd grade, age 8. i got an AT LP60 for my birthday, and started collecting. i almost COMPLETELY abandoned CDs, and would just spend whatever money i got on vinyl.

-at age 9.5 or so, i got OBSESSED with EVERYTHING jack white/third man records. kept talking nonstop about all the crazy vinyl releases he did. the first package i ordered from TMR was just 2 7"'s ("love interruption" and "that black bat licorice" - i didn't have money for anything more at that moment) and i just played them endlessly. in february 2016 (i was 10), my family and i went down to nashville for winter break so i could see third man headquarters and promptly stfu... didn't happen lol. instead, my excitement caught the attention of everyone there that day, and... this happened: https://www.instagram.com/p/BB8RlFkjhal/ (my outfit sucked that day lol). then last year: https://twitter.com/thirdmanpress/status/1150787521418342400?s=20

-my parents have always known that i've loved music in some capacity or another, and they just let me do it as long as other things get done... as for your parents, idk, maybe have them sit down and hear a record and an MP3 compared lol. and if that's not gonna happen... well, some ppl are just rude.

MalachiLui's picture

even if your parents aren't supportive, don't be afraid to take your own path in life if you wanna do something related to vinyl and hifi. and the market's big enough now that it has all of the essential aspects but still has room for improvements and interesting additions.

Grant M's picture

Malachi, I did not have your writing skills at an early age, (maybe I still don't at age 52) Looking back, when I was 8 years old, I was also buying records in 1976. Within a year or two I had a technics record player and receiver, and later a cassette deck to make mixed tapes. I don't think 7 or 8 is "too young" for kids to begin a musical journey in life. And not "kids music", I was listening to The Beatles, Queen, The Who, lots of 70's music, it was around me at the time.

PeterPani's picture

Don't let yourself get distracted. Listen to your parents advices, but deep in yourself you know always better and follow that instinct of yours. In vinyl collecting, but also in all your other interests. Your parents and nobody else anywhere in the world can know, what you know, about your inner urges.

Alfredo58's picture

This is concerning because it’s the first anthology box not pressed at QRP. This one will be pressed at GZ!