Over time I’ve collected various records that are either unique, a bit odd or simply on the interesting side. I’ll do my best to show them here and show you some of the things that I’ve uncovered.
This is probably one of the most amazing records that I own, it’s Jack White’s 2014 Lazaretto vinyl LP. This record was nothing short of crazy (and I mean that in a good way) when it came to everything they added to the record. If you read the “Grooves” section above, you’ll appreciate this record. Here’s a list of things that were incorporated to this record.
1) Side A plays from the inside out. Therefore you have to start the needle at the typical “end” of side A.
2) There are 2 hidden tracks hidden beneath the center labels. So basically you have to play “into” the center LP label to hear them.
3) One of the hidden tracks described above plays at 78 RPM’s, while the other plays at 45 RPM’s, making this a 3-speed record.
4) This record has dual-groove technology which is somewhat similar to the parallel groves I described above. On the song “Just One Drink”, it plays either an electric or acoustic intro, depending on where needle is dropped. The grooves then meet for the body of the song to complete the track. I don’t recall ever hearing that being done.
5) Both sides end with locked grooves that will repeat the final seconds until the needle is picked up.
6) The vinyl is pressed in a flat-edged format. So instead of the record having the “rounded” outside edge like most records, it has a flat edge.
7) Side B of the record as a Matte finish, giving the appearance of an un-played 78 RPM record.
8) The dead wax area on Side A contains a hand-etched hologram by Tristan Duke of Infinity Light Science, the first of its kind on a vinyl record. As the record spins, if you look at the proper angle, you see a hologram of an angel that appears to be flying.
9) Finally, the record was recorded, mixed and mastered with absolutely no compression.
I’ve put together a video showing you some of the features on this record. Click HERE to see the video.
It’s also interesting to note that Jack White has also released a liquid filled record as well as one pressed on black vinyl with a playable “etched” side B. Hats off to Jack White for his love of vinyl and his dedication to keep things interesting!
This is another record from Jack White’s Third Man Records. It’s not a music record (although there is some background music on side B) but an interview between Jack White and old-time burlesque dancer Tempest Storm. I’ve listened to the interview and did actually find it quite entertaining. Besides the interview, there was also a very fun effect incorporated into this 45 record. Click HERE to see it. The image below shows both sides of the 45.
This is my single most favorite record that I have. It’s the 2012 Third Man Record release of Public Nuisance, Gotta Survive. This is called the triple decker (white wall edition) record and was limited to 300 copies. Designed and trademarked by Jack White, the Triple Decker Record has the 12-inch version of the single embedded with a previously unreleased 7-inch vinyl, which can only be listened to once removed from inside the sealed 12-inch record…but who would ever want to do that to this sealed record? So bottom line, White’s messing with us on this one since you’ll basically never hear it. What else could I possibly want after this…the Dead Weather triple-decker record from 2010, of course. Unfortunately, that one is even more difficult (and costlier) to get your hands on.
I struggled to get my hands on a copy of this album. It took me about 4 years, but I can now proudly say that I own one of these. This is another Jack White/Third Man Records release. This 2012 limited edition 12′ vinyl was given away to attendees of the Third Man Records 3rd Anniversary Party where Jack White played. This record has every blue series single that Third Man Records released in its first 3 years. Given the many songs on this record, to make them all fit, they were pressed at a incredibly slow 3 rpm’s. Yes, you heard that right. 3! There are 28 bands an 56 total songs on this single album.
Staying on the topic of Jack White, here’s another rather interesting release from him. The White Stripes had a limited release of seven single sided 3″ mono vinyl singles which were sold during the White Stripes 2005 tour. The tiny record is playable only on “Triple Inchophone” record player which plays at a custom rpm. This was one of the seven 3″ record set.
Ok, let’s go even smaller. This is the smallest “playable” vinyl record that I’ve been able to find. It’s the Mighty Tiny 2 inch record. The Mighty Tiny was promoted as the worlds smallest record player and was manufactured for the Ohio Art Company in 1967. The player operated on one AA battery and had an adjustable speed control. The actual speed of the cheap motor was unknown although it’s believed somewhere around 100 rpm. The record only played for around 15 seconds. I found the artwork on these records amazing compared to the very poor sound quality of the record. The system was essentially a steel needle attached to a thin steel bar. The bar vibrated against a thin inverted plastic dome, which acted as the speaker. There was no volume control to the unit. The power was activated when the record placed on the turntable and the lid was closed. The records played acoustically with no electronic amplification, and there was no earphone jack.
Well let’s go from the smallest record to the hands down largest record ever produced in the world! This is an unbelievable 20″ (50cm) record which was manufactured by Pathe Frères. Wow! My first thought when I initially laid eyes on this was, “Who in Gods name has a turntable large enough to play this gigantic thing? Anybody? Nobody? Pathé Records was a France-based international record label and producer of phonographs. They were active from the 1890s through the 1930s. For some reason they decided to produce this large lateral record. From what I’ve been told, these records were likely used in coin operated machines in cafe’s. Pathe developed many different and unusual technologies to prevent against the patent infringements of the time. One of them was this 20” disc that played at 120 rpm. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately), due to the fragility and high costs to produce these monsters, they were not produced for long. Thank you Guido for taking the time to get this photographed for me! I’m so happy to have this on my site.
Back to the small records again. This small 3 1/2″ record is interesting not due to it’s small size, but because of it’s unique use. This record is from 1951 and came with the #450 Noma Electronic Railroad Station. The toy station housed a record player that plays station announcements and train sounds when activated. The station is 8 1/2″ tall x 16″ long x 6″ wide.
This type of record was known by various names, but the most popular was Music on Ribs or Bone Music. It has a very interesting history. These were originally developed in the mid to late 40’s, but were most popular in the 50’s and 60’s in the Soviet Union. Following World War II, the Soviet Union has banned many forms of art, including music (especially “foreign” music). There was actually a law passed in 1958 banning what they called “Hooligan” music. The consequences for possessing such records often met with severe consequences, even though the content was not anti-Soviet at all. Anyone interested in hearing new music from the West like The Beatles, Rolling Stones or others, resorted to smuggling and were required to go underground for the music. Since records could not be produced, using the new technology of a recording lathe, a person with the proper equipment and some film could record music by writing grooves on the film. The most readily available material that could be used for these recordings were old x-rays. The x-ray films would be either purchased or dug out of medical trash bins. The records played at 78rpm, were one sided, and were 7” in diameter. The center hole of the record was normally made by burning a hole with a cigarette. The quality of the recordings was bad at best, but I guess they figured that it was better than nothing at all. Such an interesting history!
Although technically not a record, I’m really happy I found this as I find it quite interesting. This is the plated copper disc that is used to press records from. Normally, they are recycled and as a result, destroyed. Few survive, so it’s nice to own one of these. The content is unknown, but the envelope is marked “Kamakila” or “Kamakild” (it’s hard to read the writing) and “KC-102-B” and 4-18-49. The disc has the words “AUDIODISC” at the center. It is 11 1/8 inches in diameter. It appears to be silver plated and shows some patina.
This is the 1980 LP “True Colours” from Split Enz. This record was initially released in four different color combinations – yellow and blue, red and green, purple and yellow, and blue and orange. They were eventually given another four color makeovers in lime green and pink, hot purple and burnt orange, gold and platinum, and yellow, blue and red. These were released to commemorate various sales milestones. When it was later released on the A&M label, they used a technique known as “laser-etching”. By doing this, when the light hit the record, these various designs etched into the records would reflect the light, resulting in a spinning motion around your room. Although the real intent of this was to discourage the production of counterfeit copies, to the consumers, it was just a cool design and effect.
This is a 1938 Brahms Violin Concerto in D Major op.77 Fritz Kreisler Victor Red Seal set VM-402 Spider-Web Design record. This is the last record of the set only with one side of music and the blank side is the very cool RCA spider-web embossed design. It was actually quite common practice to emboss company logos on the back of discs, particularly in the 1920s.
Here’s a 1984 limited edition release that I find interesting only due to it’s size. It is by Alien Sex Fiend and was marketed as the “First ever 11″ disc”. The 11″ vinyl was sold in a 12″ clear plastic sleeve.
Sometimes you just gotta say Oooops!
This was a rather unusual find. This is a somewhat rare Russian Propaganda news serial. It’s kind of a combo book and flexi-record. The book has 17 pages and 6 records roughly the size of a 45 and plays at 33 rpm. I wish I could tell you what it all says, but I’m a little rough on my Russian.
This is a flexi-record that came with the Yugoslav music magazine called Džuboks. Džuboks magazine was founded in 1966 and covered rock music issues. Although not the first Yugoslav music magazine, Džuboks did became the first Yugoslav magazine dedicated to rock music, and the first rock magazine in a socialist state. During three years of the magazine’s existence, posters of foreign and domestic stars and these flexi-discs featuring current international rock hits were often published with the magazine.
This is a record from Agoraphobic Nosebleed. What makes it interesting to me is that it’s a rather rare 6″ vinyl. Also if you look closely, you’ll see that the record is labeled with a speed of 33, when in fact it’s a 45. Oops.
This is a sample of a Hit of the Week record which were popular between 1930 and 1932. They were a standard 10″ record made of a patented flexible synthetic resin named Durium and coated on brown paper. They sounded surprisingly good for the time period. Every week a new issue featuring a current popular hit song was released, but unlike other records, they were sold at newsstands for 15 cents. It was only a one sided record, and as a result, over time the records had a tendency to curl down to the blank side. As you can see from the picture above, the record was on one side and a picture on the other.
During the 70’s, I recall making many trips to downtown Chicago and visiting a record store (can’t recall the name of the store) and looking through their racks of bootleg records. The concept was pretty cool to me in that I could purchase a unique live concert album of some of my favorite bands that weren’t available anywhere else. The 70’s were really the height of the bootleg record popularity. Many of these recordings were made by fans at the actual shows, which resulted in fairly poor quality recordings. Technology did improve over time and as a result, the recording quality improved. Although bootleg records are not as popular as they once were, digital bootlegging since the 90’s (with the expansion of file sharing), has increased.
Let’s talk about the elephant in the room for a second. The question running through all our minds is “How is that legal?”. My answer, “I dunno”. I’m no legal scholar and I haven’t researched this subject in much depth, but I’ve read that the 1976 Copyright Act extended copyright protection to all recordings, including “all misappropriated recordings, both counterfeit and pirate”. This meant bootleggers would take a much greater risk, and several were arrested. Here are a couple of my bootleg records that I still happen to have.
Although this looks like a fairly standard 12″ single record, there is one very interesting difference. Similar to Jack White’s album Lazaretto that I mentioned earlier, this also has double or parallel grooves. What that means is that depending on where you initially put the needle down, you’ll either get ‘Pop Muzik (track A1)’ or ‘M Factor’ (track A2). Unlike Jack’s album where the two tracks eventually merge, on this record, the A-side has two completely separate recordings from start to finish. I guess another interesting thing about this record is that even though there are two separate grooves, I didn’t notice any sound quality issues at all.
Record Store Day was conceived in 2007 at a gathering of independent record store owners and employees as a way to celebrate and spread the word about the unique culture surrounding nearly 1400 independently owned record stores in the US and thousands of similar stores internationally. The first Record Store Day took place on April 19, 2008. Today there are Record Store Day participating stores on every continent except Antarctica. As part of Record Store Day 2011, Singer/Model Karen Elson released her single, Vicious. What made this record unique is that the clear vinyl record was pressed with peach colored rose petals arranged inside the vinyl. This was a Limited Edition release of 1,000 copies.
This is another Record Store Day release, this time from 2015. To celebrate the 84th birthday of Elvis, the first ever recording that Elvis made was reproduced. Elvis recorded this after a friend lent him $4 to make the record. It was intended for his mother, but because she didn’t have a record player, he gave it to his friend, Ed Leek, who had originally lent him the money to create the record. After many years, in 2015 it was put up for sale and was purchased by Jack White of Third Man Records for $300,000. The original recording was digitally reproduced and was pressed into new vinyl. The original record label was copied and the new vinyl pressing even shows the scuffs and scratches of the original record. I love the work that Jack put into this to recreate the original record for all of us to enjoy!
Growing up with a Lionel train set, this one is near and dear to me. This 78 rpm record from 1952 was sold to children for .25 cents as part of a Lionel ad campaign. These were also available from Dealers who were free to give them away at their discretion. The image was not on the record itself. Instead, it was printed paper that was sandwiched between two clear records and sealed at the edges.
Ok, it’s not that this record is so rare, but it is an interesting use of vinyl for sure. From what I can tell, this is a great example of turning nothing into something. While visiting Third Man Records in Nashville, I was told that these Christmas tree stars were made from vinyl records that couldn’t be sold due to manufacturing problems. Instead of throwing them away, they decided to make use of them and create a fun vinyl themed Christmas decoration. They even used old 33 record covers for the packaging. Recycling taken to the max. Not sure this will ever make it to the top of my tree, but definitely a conversation piece!