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King of Pop’s ‘Thriller’ tops online sales, but why?

Whose records did Michael Jackson's epic bypass to claim the top spot on our Market Watch countdown?

By Susan Sliwicki

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1. $10,000 — Michael Jackson, “Thriller” LP. This 1982 pressing of Michael Jackson’s landmark “Thriller” album sold for a cool 10 grand at a “buy it now” price. But looking over the seller’s description got us asking “Why?” The record is the original 1982 Epic pressing (OE 38112), but it isn’t sealed, and it isn’t autographed. It’s not even a more unusual variety, like the picture disc (8E8 38867), valued at an estimated $20, or the half-speed mastered edition (HE 48112), which still would only carry a value of $40, according to Goldmine’s brand-new “Standard Catalog of American Records’ 7th Edition.” Our honest guess? Either an uninformed buyer made an impulse buy, or the seller may find a “sold” sign in the online store, but still be stuck with the album when $10,000 fails to show.

The seller describes the record as being in excellent used condition and says it was played very few times.

“The album is not a reproduction but the real thing from 1982. I would love to keep it but I need the money moreso at this time,” the seller wrote. “I know this sounds like a lot to ask for this album, but please keep in mind that this is an original album from 1982 and one day this will be worth a lot more than my asking price. Thanks and happy bidding.”

Caveat emptor, folks.

2. $8,000 — Bob Dylan test pressing, “Blood On the Tracks”. In our No. 2 spot is a more believable price for a more believable record: an unreleased test pressing of Bob Dylan’s “Blood On The Tracks.” The seller grades the record, which comes in a plain white jacket, at VG+ to NM and states that only three other copies are known to exist.
The seller says the record was purchased several years ago from a recording engineer who picked it up in Hollywood in the late 1970s. It features five different tracks: “Tangled Up in Blue” with different lyrics; “You’re A Big Girl Now” alternate take; “Idiot Wind” with different lyrics; “If You See Her, Say Hello” with different lyrics; and an alternate take of “Lily, Rosemary and The Jack Of Hearts” with an extra verse. According to the seller, the metal stamped matrix in the lead-out groove is PAL-33235-1A on Side One and PBL-33235-1A on Side Two.

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3. $6,000 — A collection of 160,000 45 RPM records from the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. At an average price of 3.75 cents per record, this sure looks like one sweetheart of a deal. Unless, of course, you have to rent a storage facility or add on to your house to store all these records, which were sold on a pickup-only basis in Arkansas. No individual record grades, labels or artists were listed, but the seller indicated that the records appear to be in very good to excellent condition, and, as far as can be observed, in the original sleeves.
The collection came from a father-son jukebox company, and it was categorized and organized by artist and stored in custom shelving in a climate-controlled storage space, the seller said.

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4. $5,166.66 — The Beatles, “Please Please Me” LP. This stereo, U.K. first-pressing copy of “Please Please Me” with a black and gold Parlophone label (PCS 3042) attracted 20 bids before a winner was declared. Other than some slight audible crackling, a few spindle marks and some light hairlines and paper scuff marks in the vinyl, the record is in “brilliant” condition, the seller says, and clocks in at VG+ condition. Even the flipback laminated “E.J. Day” cover is in nice condition, save for slight corner wear and one corner crease, the buyer said.

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5. $3,174 — The Admirations’ “I Want To Be Free” b/w “You Left Me” 45. This VG+ 45 on the Peaches label is touted as a “very hard to find jewel” by the seller, who had little else to say except to warn bidders not to bid unless they could pay for records within three days, or their bids would be canceled. A very fuzzy photo of the record showed a writing credit for Childs and Myrles on “I Want to Be Free,” followed by the number 6721.

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6. $3,150 —Led Zeppelin, Led Zeppelin audiophile 45s in an unopened road case. Here’s an offering we saw last in our last edition of Market Watch, except it’s selling for $700 less this time around.

This collection of 48 audiophile-quality 45s pressed on 200-gram vinyl has never been opened. It comes complete with the original books, covers and road case that was produced as part of a limited-run Classic Records set.


7. $2,801 — Freddie Keppard’s Jazz Cardinals, “Stock Yards Strut,” b/w “Salty Dog” 78. The seller had little to say about this E+ copy of Paramount 12399. “This one speaks for itself. You may never see a more beautiful copy,” the seller said.

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8. $2,680 —The Beatles, set of three 78s made in India. It’s no surprise the Beatles rocked India, too. They rocked the entire planet, back in the day. And the fact that a set of three records, two of which are chipped, can pull in this kind of coin is testament to The Beatles’ continued collectibility. Featured are DPE 159: “Hold Me Tight” / “I Saw Her Standing There”; R 5160 “A Hard Day’s Night” / “Thing We Said Today”; and R 4983 “Please Please Me” / “Ask Me Why”.

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9. $2,560 — Music Emporium, “Music Emporium” LP. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen this album on Market Watch in recent months. Three months ago, a Mint-Minus copy of this “garage psychedelic” rock record sold for $3,050. The attraction appears to be the die-cut gatefold cover. According to the seller, this is one of a handful of sealed copies found years ago, and it has only been played a few times. The labels are in Mint condition, and the record and cover are in Near Mint condition, the buyer said.

10. $2,551.99 — Michele Auclair, violin, and Genevieve Joy, piano, Franz Schubert’s “Integrale de L’ouevre Pour Violon & Piano” on 2 LPs. Bringing up the rear of this week’s Market Watch is a classical music entry on the Erato label. Other than promoting these stereo pressings — STE 50136 and STE 50137 — as “a collector’s dream,” the seller had little to say about these offerings. Both records clock in at Near-Mint Minus, with labels and jackets at Near Mint.

Click here to check out the latest price guides from Goldmine.