Sip and Spin

“Music isn’t just for listening, it’s a lifestyle. Every record, every record store, and every piece of gear tells a story. Sip… Spin… Repeat..”

I sit here debating in my head about what record I should feature in my February anniversary blog. On one hand Carole King’s groundbreaking sophomore solo release “Tapestry” reached the half century. On the other, The Fugees genre bending sophomore release “The Score” reached the quarter century mark. While both are amazing works in their own right, my edition of Tapestry is a simple reissue from 1977 from the G-Archives. Unfortunately, there is not much to talk about outside the music itself (which there are a TON of write-ups on). My edition of “The Score” has much more personality. Let’s crack open a can of Cold Wave IPA from Montauk Brewing Company, and jump in.

On the 25th anniversary of “The Score”, I would like to talk about a copy from the 20th anniversary reissue. A “Vinyl Me, Please” Record of the Month exclusive released in April of 2016. This variant caught my eye in a sponsored ad while thumbing through my Facebook feed. Almost zipping past it, I stopped and realized I had to have it (kudos marketing team). Back then, I had only one VMP exclusive that was OK overall but I feel this reissue really set the bar for them at the time. The double LP comes in a nicely printed gatefold featuring all the artwork, photos, and lyrics you might recognize from your mid-90’s CD copy. But it’s all in the wax  that sold me. Standard weight and pressed on black and gold split color that closely mimics the palette of the cover art. Additionally, it comes with a 12”x24” poster (like the old days… you just don’t see that anymore) and an additional 7” pressing w/ three additional tracks. Lastly, if you are not familiar with VMP, they always include a piece of art from an independent artist as well as a cocktail recipe both inspired by the record of the month. I’ll include them both at the end of the blog. I probably should have made that cocktail but I was unprepared and didn’t have the proper ingredients. There’s always next spin. 

For now, let’s take a sip and drop the needle…

The album opens on an intro track that lays the foundation for the vibe of the album; overcoming violence in the streets. An article in “The Ringer” by Musa Okwonga labeled the theme of the album brilliantly; how to remain resilient, even as you are being violently displaced. The notion of settling the score with those trying to take what is yours. This theme is structured throughout the entire album and once you realize that and truly listen to the full work of the album, it’s in a word: chilling.

[sips ice cold beer]

The album plays like a movie with tracks weaved together, long outros leading into intros, and “skit’s” (for the lack of a better term) tying bridges in between songs. While not really looked at like a traditional concept album, the album is a completely continuous story. Don’t kill me for saying this, but listening on vinyl does this album a disservice, having to flip sides and change LP’s. This album was really made for digital formats but I love the pressing anyway. It is also worth noting  there are old record dust sounds and crackles at points in the album, a sound that vinyl audiophiles will absolutely hate. So much so that VMP called this sound effect out on the packaging.

When you listen to “The Score” as an entire work, your perception changes on the singles you have heard probably 1 million times. A song like “Ready or Not” gives all three members a voice and a take on what they are seeing in the streets. With the pulsing snap of the snare and quiet groove throughout, this song is hauntingly beautiful. A groove that was taken directly from Enya’s song “Boadicea” without permission or any credit to the famous New Age artist. She wouldn’t stand for that and started getting the lawsuit in motion… until Wyclef played her the album in which she could hear the entire body of work. This wasn’t some gangbanger shit that she originally thought. Sure there are some overtones but it is so much more than that. This album is pain, it’s soul, it’s raw emotion. Enya would let the infringement go and the members of the Fugees in return would get a valuable lesson in copyright laws.

The other singles fit the mold perfectly whether an original or cover. Speaking of, the cover “Killing Me Softly” was initially intended to be an original with only the chorus being used from the famous 1972 Roberta Flack single. However permission was only granted in the form of a cover, but the song was just too hot to pass up. The group took what they could get and in the end, “Killing me Softly” would blow the roof off. Going #1 in most charts you can think of and 3x Platinum in the US alone. The success of this track helped propel the aforementioned 3rd single “Ready or Not” as well as the first single “Fu-Gee-La” which was slow out of the gate but would quickly become the groups anthem (and my personal favorite track). The singles are rounded off with the cover “No Woman, No Cry” which provides an uplifting positive feel to the near closing of the album. Wyclef would take some liberties to the lyrics by renaming “Trenchtown” to “Brooklyn” pulling it into this urban East Coast narrative you’ve been vibing to.

As I mentioned, this Vinyl Me Please exclusive came with an additional 7” on gold vinyl. It’s a nice addition but doesn’t add a tremendous amount to the overall experience. Two Fu-Gee-La remixes and the album cut “Mista Mista” which is Wyclef with an acoustic guitar singing about a homeless guy begging for money for food but being accused of using said money on drugs. It’s… interesting.

The Fugees came at it 25 years ago with a last ditch sophomore release and completely set the bar, winning themselves a Grammy for Best Rap Album in the process and eventually selling 22 million copies worldwide to date. During the peak of the East Coast / West Coast rivalry of the 90’s, “The Score” bridged a gap in pop culture between the streets and mainstream, between hard rap and soul, between heavy samples and live instrumentals.

You rockin’ live but you ain’t saying nothing

It’s time to settle THE SCORE

Label: Ruffhouse Records ‎– 88875199831

Format: 2 × Vinyl, LP, Album, Reissue, Gold & Black Split Vinyl, 7″, 33 ⅓ RPM, Gold

Country: US

Released: Apr 2016

Store: Vinyl Me, Please. Record Of The Month – Vol. 40

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Mike D
Mike DColumnist, Recordholic, Storyteller
My name is Mike, and I am a Recordholic. I am a Long Island born and raised husband and father of 2 boys that have worked in the music industry for over 8 years. Music has always been my life. I consider myself a multi-instrumentalist but my main instrument would be the bass guitar. As a collector of music, starting with tapes followed by CD’s, I began collecting records in 2014. Every record, record store, and piece of gear tells a story. Grab a drink and join me as I share my stories with you.

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