By Susan Sliwicki
If you feel like you’re having deja vu with this week’s column, there’s good reason. You’ll see a lot of offerings that have been pulling in frequent flyer miles on the Market Watch countdown this year. Makes us wonder if people are trying to flip records instead of real estate.
1. $6,100 — Led Zeppelin Classic Records 45 RPM Test Pressings in a road case. This entry has all the makings of a holy grail: it’s still sealed, it’s a very limited product (this box is no. 2 of 5 produced), it’s a top-notch, 200-gram pressing, and it’s from one of the most popular rock bands ever. It doesn’t hurt that the seller had a good sense of humor, either: “If you are a Led Zeppelin nut (you know who you are) then this set is essential — if not then go listen to some Barry Manilow!” he wrote.
The seller’s explanation of why these recordings are superior to their 33 RPM counterparts seemed enough to sway bidders, who swapped 34 bids before a winner was declared. The 45 RPM format allows the records to “reveal all the nuances that are nearly impossible to retrieve from a 33 RPM disc,” the seller said.
Although the information in each groove is exactly the same as in the 33 RPM records, the 45 format means the same information is imprinted over a longer distance, which provides superior-sounding playback, the buyer said. “Rest assured that you have never heard ‘Stairway to Heaven’ until you’ve heard it at 45 RPM!” the buyer said. “This is as close to the master tape as we are able to get with an LP.”
This is the fourth issue in a row some version of this set has made the Market Watch countdown; a $3,150 for a set in an unopened road case drew $3,150; a set that was only played once pulled in $3,500; and an opened case containing mint-condition, unplayed records, brought $3,850.
2. $4,154 — Calm Before..., “The Rising Storm” LP. This original pressing, private-pressing psych-garage band record from 1967 on the Remnant Records label (BBA-3571) is rumored to be one of just 500, thus earning it the title of “holy grail” in the seller’s description. The jacket, which has a light stain, comes in at VG+ condition, while the play-graded vinyl earns a VG++.
According to the seller, the owner of this LP attended Phillips Academy in Andover, Mass., and was a classmate of the band members. He bought it because knew the band and played it sparingly.
3. $4,034.15 — The Beatles, “Please Please Me” LP. This is the first of two countdown appearances by this Beatles album. This one is a U.K. mono first pressing (PMC 1202), which features the black and gold “mint Dick James label, superb vinyl, flawless audio,” according to the seller. The Dick James labels that appeared on the first version of the record incorrectly credited four titles to Dick James Music, when in fact, the credit was to go to Northern Songs, a fact that later was corrected, but both versions made their way to shops, the seller said. A stereo version of this record sold for $15,845.52 in last issue’s Market Watch, and another stereo copy sold for $5,166.66 in the countdown before.
4. $3,664 — The Admirations, “I Want to Be Free” b/w “You Left Me” 45. Despite a little wear and tear, this Northern Soul 45 still cleaned up nicely at auction. This VG record on the Peaches label, which has a small chip at the edge of the disc that doesn’t affect play, attracted 24 bids before a winner was declared.
5. $3,250 — Neil Young, “I’m Glad Y’All Came Down” double LP. This four-sided issue in a plain white jacket was recorded live at the Los Angeles Music Center on Feb. 2, 1971 and released by Rubber Dubber Records. (Purists, feel free to read between the lines here.) Both the record and cover rate VG++, and the buyer touts it as “one-of-a-kind vinyl for your collection,” which was pretty much the entire sales pitch, save for a track listing.
6. $3,161.98 — Lazare-Levy, “Mozart: Deux Sonates Pour Piano,” 10-inch LP. This French classical music pressing on the Ducretet Thomson/Selmer label (LP 8518) was apparently unplayed before the seller found it on a shelf, where it had been for some 50-plus years. The cover comes in at Excellent Plus condition, and the record, which was played once by the seller, grades NM.
7. $3,000 — Leonid Kogan, “Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto,” LP. Here’s another classical music record, this time a 1960s U.K. pressing on Columbia. This is one of about 8,000 records, many of which are promotional copies, that the seller acquired from a classical music critic in Hamburg, Germany. Apart from a bit of light groove hiss and few hairlines visible under strong light, the record plays well and earns a NM to NM- grade. The cover, which bears a tag mark and slight wear, earns a NM- grade.
8. $2,811 — Terri Goodnight, “The Fighting Is Over” b/w “They Didn’t Know” 45. The seller had little to say about this record, other than calling it a “mega rare northern soul masterpiece.” The 45, pressed on the Phelectron Records label (PH-701), earns a strong VG++ grade and “plays great,” the buyer said.
9. $2,769.03 — The Beatles, “Please Please Me” LP. The Fab Four are back again with a U.K. first pressing of PMC 1202, which was released in the U.K. in March 1963 and weighs 155 grams. Just like our No. 3 entry, this one bears the gold and black label, and it has the Dick James credits, too. But the Side 1 label bears an EMI red and white “Factory Sample - Not For Sale” sticker, plus a WOZT purchase tax code around the Side 1 center hole, the seller said. The labels earned grades of Very Good, and the cover scored at VG+, but the record doesn’t fare quite so well, only earning a visual grade of Good and play grade of VG to VG-.
10. $2,575.75 — Music Emporium, “Music Emporium” LP. What is it with this Music Emporium LP that keeps drawing buyers? This is the third copy of this privately pressed psych rock record on the Sentinel label to make it to our countdown in four months; previous copies sold for $2,650 and $3,050. This record earns a grade of NM-, and its die-cut unipak cover clocks in at EX- condition.