It seems like everything has a lucky dip subscription service theses days. I’ve found myself tempted by the introductory deals these companies offer, but I’ve never taken the plunge. You see, most of them have collectables and clothing as part of the bargain, but quite frankly I buy enough figurines and tat without needing to be sent extra stuff for franchises I might not even care about. I doubt I’d even have the space to display them.
There’s two exceptions I can think of, food subscriptions (since you’ll eat the food so won’t end up with an abundance of junk) and vinyl subscriptions. If you’re anything like me, you’ve got a section of your pay packet which you put aside just for buying vinyl. Maybe that means you have to eat beans on toast more than you’d necessarily like to, but it’s worth it. It would make sense then to sign up to a subscription service which would sent you a limited edition of a classic or new album for your collection every month.
Vinyl Me Please, based in America, is one such service. The monthly subscription fee is about about £33 or less if you sign up for a multi-month package. Armed with a discount code, I went for the three month option was £28/month. That gets you one exclusive pressing of record and some extra items to fill the box.
This months album was Demon Days by Gorillaz, not much to say about that release which hasn’t already been said. Personally, it’s one of my favourite albums both musically and personally at the time. Growing up listening to “guitar music”, I never really considered hip-hop or electronica something I was interested in before I heard this album. “Rapping is just talking. Electronic music requires no talent. It’s not real music unless it has a guitar”. These are all things I probably said as an edgy teen.
The record comes as a 33 1/3 RPM double LP in a well finished gatefold sleeve. On the inside of the sleeve, all the artwork which came in the CD insert of the original release is displayed. A bit of a pet peeve of mine, the paper sleeves fit very snugly into the gatefold which means you have to really get a good grip to pull the record out of the case. Doesn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things, but I don’t like getting greasy fingerprints on my nice stuff.
The discs themselves look really cool, they’re printed on red translucent vinyl and sound fantastic. I’ve seen reports of a skip on All Alone, I didn’t experience that issue myself but if you’re looking to buy this second hand, that might be something to keep in mind. This is a remastered version which can always be a bit of a wild card, but it this case it seems to have been mastered with the utmost care and respect. One quirk I noticed is that the tracks don’t flow one into the next like they do on other releases of Demon Days. Instead, there’s a gap of a second or two between each song. This is particularly noticeable on the last three tracks which I always considered being three parts of the same song.
As well as the record, you get three 12 inch pieces of card. One has a cocktail recipe on it. When I signed up, I thought it would be a bit of fun to make the drink and have it while listening to the album, I’m sure that’s the thinking behind the decision. But the ingredients required aren’t exactly the kind of things you’d have lying around the house and I’m not buying tequila for this. Or any reason really, too many bad memories. I’m sure the cocktail is lovely though…
The second piece of card has some records which are available to buy on their shop printed on it. Cool, I guess. Finally, the last one has a printed piece of art on it. I’ll be honest, I’ve never been a great appreciator of art. I spent more of my youth going to punk shows than contemplating Pollock. I don’t think being mass printed on a piece of matte card has done this particular piece any favours. I wouldn’t say any of the extras increase the value of the package as a whole. If you can afford to make cocktails or really like modern art then your mileage may vary.
Speaking of mileage, I’m currently living in the UK. This company is based out of the US and use DHL and Yodel. Yodel are awful. Google “Yodel courier” and you’ll see what I mean. Suffice it to say that my copy got knocked around in transit. The corner of the cardboard packaging was completely bashed up and the damage transferred through to the sleeve as well. The disc is fine and the damage isn’t much worse than normal shelf wear, but buyer beware.
So does Vinyl Me Please represent good value for money? I guess the answer is a predictable “it depends”. £28 is a good deal for this particular release, but if I look back at their previous offerings I’m not quite as convinced. The price point for me should really be reserved for collectors items. I’m all for being exposed to artists I might have missed out on, but the cost is really too high for that. For my money, I would say one in three of the albums sent out are worth the investment. So the question for me would be is it worth paying £75+ for one vinyl I like and two others I don’t care about but might be worth something? Probably not.