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Sound Advice: Top-loading 'White Album' is original issue

By TIm Neely

Question: I have an interesting copy of the double album The Beatles. It is a British pressing with the black sleeves, the poster, the pictures and the cover that opens at the top (you have to open the top to get the records out), instead of the right side! I’ve not seen mention of these top openers. Are they common in England or was this some kind of fluke?

— Dale McQuaid, Pittsburgh, Pa.

Answer: This is no fluke. It’s an original issue. In England, The Beatles (better known as the White Album) was first released such that the records came out from the top, as you have noticed. Second and later pressings returned to the norm of records that came out from the side. The album seems to have been issued this way in many countries of the world, but definitely not in the United States and Canada.

Yet another sign of an original U.K. issue of the album is the inclusion of the old disclaimer, “Sold in the U.K. subject to resale price conditions, see price lists,” on the label.

Near-mint copies of these, with the dual catalog numbers PCS-7067 and PCS-7068, are quite collectible. Even more collectible is the mono version, with a PMC prefix. The White Album was never released in the United States in mono, though that is supposed to be rectified with the upcoming Beatles remasters (no word on whether there will be a vinyl version, however). Near-mint original U.K. stereo copies, with all the inserts, the “Sold in U.K.” disclaimer, and the top-opening cover (sometimes called a “top-loader”), are in the $200 range. Near-mint mono copies can go for $400 and up.

Question: Maybe you can help me figure out what I have. I have a 12-inch (33 1/3 rpm) record from Bob Dylan’s “gospel” era. It has four songs from Shot Of Love. Songs listed below the spindle hole on the label that are on the first side are “Shot Of Love” and “Heart Of Mine,” while the second side has “Trouble” and “Every Grain Of Sand.” The vinyl has “Demonstration Not For Sale” and “Bob Dylan” printed above the spindle hole on each side. The label is the standard red Columbia one. The catalog number is AS 1263.

— Paul Bronstein, New York, NY

This was a promotional item sent to radio stations in hopes of spurring rock-radio airplay for the album Shot Of Love. As one who has compiled discographies, I find these items hard to classify; are they 12-inch singles, which they resemble, or are they 12-inch EPs, or “mini-LPs,” which they also resemble? I’m probably inconsistent in how I categorize them, but I’d probably consider this a mini-LP, as it has four different songs, none of which seems to be singled out as the “hit.”

Most special Bob Dylan promo items have value. This one seems to be worth in the $25 range in near-mint condition.

I have a record album cover (no record) of The Real Elvis, EPA-940, RCA Victor. The front is in very good condition and the back is in good condition except written in ink is the number 97 in a circle. Is this worth anything?

— Judy via e-mail

Answer: Probably.

You have the cover to a 7-inch extended-play single. These were issued mostly in the 1950s. The 97 in a circle is probably a retailer’s marking of the record’s price, as EPs were sold unsealed.

Opinions vary on whether the cover is worth anything without the record. Here’s how I see it: It has long been established that picture sleeves that came with regular 45s have value separate from their records. From my experience looking at hundreds of thousands of used records over the years, I saw that EPs were often treated by their owners the same way they treated regular 45s. In other words, they saw the jackets as disposable. Many of these covers ended up as miniature posters or worse, in landfills, because some consumers threw them out. Therefore, I started treating 7-inch EPs like 45s in my price guides.

It is still most desirable to have the complete package, but the separate items do have value. Some years ago, I bought an empty cover for one of Elvis’ EPs because I already had the record without its sleeve. For the one you have, the cover is worth about $50 in near-mint condition.

Question: I have an LP on Audiofex Records, #AX7081, by Tyler Famularo, entitled Down Deep. It is a promo in a plain white cover that says “Advance Reviewer Copy Confidential.” I can’t find any info on the label or the artist. Any help?

— Michael Bajtka via e-mail

Answer: This album was part of a peculiar series of records sold via mail-order, most prominently through advertisements in Rolling Stone magazine. They were issued in white covers with the words “Advance Reviewer Copy — Confidential” rubber-stamped on them to make it look as if you were getting something secret or illicit. It was basically a gimmick. Two different color labels exist — red and yellow — with both variations sporting the same kind of white cover.

The music itself is no gimmick. Tyler Famularo is a Milwaukee-based guitarist who still plays in the area. He currently performs with his son’s group, the Brandon James Band, which recently performed at Summerfest, Milwaukee’s big week-long lakefront music bash.

Down Deep doesn’t seem to be particularly valuable, with prices around $10 for the copies I saw. The price is probably more a reflection of the low demand for the record rather than its rarity.

Question: I have a 45 from July 1958, “Summertime, Summertime” by the Jamies, which has a jitterbugging young girl glued to the record. Is it of any value?

— Maggie Prom, Port Washington, Wis.

Answer: This is probably a decoration that a former owner glued to the label to spruce it up. As the record was not issued with this sticker on it, it detracts from, rather than adds to, the value of the disc.

My advice would be to carefully remove the sticker. I emphasize “carefully,” because you don’t want to damage the label underneath it when you take it off. Some things are easier to remove from labels than others; if in doubt, just leave it there.

Question: You wrote an article some time ago on picture-disc misprints. I actually have the Judas Priest picture disc that plays Neil Diamond. What would you say something like that would be worth?

— Lynn Brophy via e-mail

Answer: This was tough to track down, because most people don’t buy picture discs in order to play them. Most of the copies I’ve seen for sale make no mention of what music is actually on the record. It’s even possible that more copies exist with the wrong music than with the right music!

My best guess is that it’s worth about $25 in near-mint condition. 

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