In February member of Vinyl Me, Please Essentials will receive the first ever vinyl reissue of the Roots’ landmark 2002 album, Phrenology. Coming on 2LP 180g dark brown vinyl, lacquers cut by Ryan Smith at Sterling Sound, and with a silver-foiled cover, the album has been overdue for a vinyl reissue. Read more below for why we picked this album as our Essentials Record of the Month for February 2020.
Why We Picked This Album
Andrew Winistorfer: For me, personally, The Roots are a band — in sort of a classic rock way, like the Beatles or the Rolling Stones or Led Zeppelin — it feels like the album you get into them on is your favorite album by them forever. They make incredible records, and you can acknowledge that all of them are good, but the one that you discover the group on is always the best one to you. For me, that’s Phrenology: I remember watching MTV2 around my sophomore year of high school and seeing the video for “The Seed 2.0” and being like, ‘Holy shit, there’s this rap band, and they’re so good.’ I went and bought Phrenology on CD, and was obsessed with that for a really long time before I even thought to go backwards [in the discography].
So for me, this is a huge dream ROTM; I brought it up as a possible right when I started at VMP four years ago. And it kinda was on the backburner for a really long time; Phrenology only came out once on vinyl in 2002, and it resells for a pretty penny. We thought we’d get to it eventually, and was one that was out there as a possible Record of the Month forever, and now we have this opportunity after doing How I Got Over as well. It’s a huge honor to do the first vinyl reissue of this super-incredible rap album that’s still my favorite Roots album.
We actually did a lotta cool stuff with the cover on this one: we printed it on brown chipboard that’s a different texture than normal record sleeves. It’s this softer, cooler paper with gold foiling around the Phrenology head. The jacket looks really, really cool; every time I think we’ve topped out on what different stuff we can do to a vinyl jacket, something like this comes along and it’s like, ‘Oh yeah, we can still push the boundaries’
It’s on very dark brown vinyl as well, and it sounds really incredible: the lacquers were cut by Ryan Smith at Sterling Sound, who’s done most of our Classics records for about a year. It sounds really good, and it was pretty rad to listen to “The Seed 2.0” on vinyl for the first time when I got my sample of this.