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Market Watch: Fab Four, promo issues pick up steam at online auctions

Beatlemania is alive and well, if this week’s Market Watch is any indication.

By Susan Sliwicki

Beatlemania is alive and well, if this week’s Market Watch is any indication. More than one-third of the listings are for Beatles-related albums, although one of those might not be exactly what it seems (but we’ll get to that later.)

Beethoven Opus

11. Beethoven Opus 135 and 18 No. 2

11. $1,890 — Stross Quartet and Markl Quartet, Beethoven opus 135 and Opus 18, No. 2, LP. The seller had little to share about this classical record: performers were the Stross and Markl quartets, the music was recorded in 1965 and it was pressed on Germany’s Aarton Label (8277). The record earned a grade of Mint/M- from the seller.

Hank Mobley's "Hank Mobley"

10. Hank Mobley, "Hank Mobley"

10. $1,900 — Hank Mobley, “Hank Mobley” LP. Jazz great Hank Mobley appears on our countdown again with a mono pressing of his self-titled album on Blue Note (1568).

“This is the one and only original Hank Mobley $1568 that is so highly sought after,” the seller wrote. “Don’t miss out on a chance to own this holy grail of jazz records as it does not come up for sale very often.”

The label addresses don’t match on the album; Side One shows the 47 W. 63rd NY address, while Side Two expands on that to show 47 W. 63rd New York 23. A record the seller graded as “near new” with this same label mismatch showed up on our countdown in summer 2010 and brought $5,101. However, this copy has had a lot tougher use. It only earns a VG/VG+ for the cover, which has stains from long-gone tape, plus writing. Each label bears a former owner’s name written in permanent ink, and while the vinyl is super glossy, it tops out at VG+/Ex condition.

13th Floor Elevators Acetate

9. 13th Floor Elevators "Easter Everywhere" acetate

9. $1,981.56 — 13th Floor Elevators, “Easter Everywhere,” acetate. So… Is it politically incorrect for a seller to refer to an acetate from The 13th Floor Elevators as “insanely rare,” given the band’s lead singer, Roky Erickson, has spent most of his adult life battling mental illness, including a 3-1/2-year stint at the Texas State Hospital for the Criminally Insane?

Regardless of the seller’s intent, this mono acetate in VG++ to E condition was an original U.S. pressing from the 1967 NRP Studios in Nashville. According to the seller, the acetate features “significantly different (and way better) mixes from the original commercially released stereo version.”

“This acetate is a proverbial Loch Ness monster of record collecting: everybody knows that it exists — or has heard of its alleged existence, but hardly anyone has ever seen, let alone snapped a photo of it,” the seller wrote.

An original black and white publicity photo of Roky Erickson accompanied the acetate, which was housed in its original plain, white-cardboard cover.

Wings Gold Record

8. Wings, "Wild Life."

8. $2,000 — Wings, “Wild Life” 1972 RIAA Gold Record award on white matte. This is that “not what it might seem” entry we talked about earlier —the first gold record award for Paul McCartney’s post-Beatles group, Wings. “Wild Life” achieved gold status on Jan. 13, 1972, a little more than a month after its release. This presentation was given to Capitol records and is in VG++ condition, the seller wrote. The White Matte setting, used by the RIAA from 1964 to 1975, is considered by many collectors to be the most desirable, according to “Goldmine’s Price Guide to Collectible Record Albums, Fourth Edition."

And now for today’s trivia tidbit — those record awards hanging in artists’ homes, record label offices and radio stations around the world can, in fact, be played — but you probably won’t get what’s advertised on the label.

A few years back, a pair of California deejays at KLOS-FM played gold records that had been on display in their station’s office only to find that the award and the record’s actual tracks were quite different. Legend has it that when David Crosby was busier freebasing than making records, he decided to sell one of his gold records to fuel his drug habit. Before closing the deal, though, he thought he should play the record, and discovered that it was not his music. Bob Shane of Kingston Trio had a similar result with his gold record award for “Tom Dooley,” which played Dean Martin singing “Volare.” The RIAA doesn’t go into any kind of detail about how the awards are manufactured on its Web site.

Grumiaux Bach sonatas

7. Arthur Grumiax, Bach sonatas 3-LP set.

7. $2026.98 — Arthur Grumiaux, Bach sonatas three-LP set. Here’s the first of three promo/sample entries in this week’s countdown. This set of three LPs on the Philips label (835-198 AY, 835-199 AY and 835-200 AY) feature violin performances by Arthur Grumiax. Each has its own cover and “sample record” stickers. The covers, which do bear some discoloration, are in EX condition, while the play-graded LPs rate between VG++ and EX+.

“A great set of rare records in fantastic condition given their age,” the seller writes. “A collector’s dream and almost impossible to find.”

Pretty Things S.F. Sorrow

6. The Pretty Things, "S.F. Sorrow" LP

6. $2,499.99 — The Pretty Things, “S.F. Sorrow,” LP. This record’s new owner was happy to pay the “buy-it-now” price to add this copy of OP-8640, complete with obi strip, to his collection. The record and sleeve both earned grades of EX from the seller.

“Mega rare Japan original, red wax,” the seller wrote. “Beautiful condition.”

Beatles Revolver

5. The Beatles, "Revolver" promo LP

5. $2,803.99 — The Beatles, “Revolver” promo LP. This LP has it all for die-hard Beatles fans in search of something “different” — it’s still sealed, it’s the original 1966 Capitol pressing, it’s in mono, and it’s a promo LP.

“Mono pressing of this title is much rarer, and by far more preferable to its stereo counterpart,” the seller wrote. “We think that the mix is more natural, humane, ‘organic’ and that the mixes are somewhat different than on the stereo version.”

Despite protection from the original shrink wrap, the cover grades Near Mint and shows a hint of yellowing from aging. The cover is clearly punch-marked with Promo. T-2576. The seller suspects the vinyl is in Mint condition, but obviously, that’s anybody’s guess given that it’s still sealed.

“Finding a still-sealed original mono promo copy of what many believe is the single greatest rock album of all time? Not in this lifetime, you won’t!!!” the seller wrote. “This may be the last one you will ever see.”


4. $3,299 — The Beatles, still-sealed Mobile Fidelity Sound Labs box set. Can continued play of your albums make them sound better over time? Possibly, if this seller’s pitch for this 11-album Beatles boxed set can be believed.

“This limited edition is an audiophile collectors’ item that simply gives the feeling of being directly in the studio with the artist,” the seller wrote. “The more you play the LP, your stylus will polish the grooves and actually improve the sonics of your MFSL LP.”

The albums featured in this collection are: “Please Please Me,” “With The Beatles,” “Hard Day’s Night,” “Help,” “Rubber Soul,” “Revolver,” “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band,” “The Beatles” (aka The 2-LP White Album), “Magical Mystery Tour,” “Abbey Road” and “Let It Be.”

3. The Velvet Underground, "The Velvet Underground & Nico"

3. The Velvet Underground, "The Velvet Underground & Nico"

3. $3506 — The Velvet Underground, “The Velvet Underground & Nico,” (aka The Banana cover), LP. This yellow-label, 1967 deejay copy — in mono, to boot — comes with the cover’s yellow banana sticker still intact, albeit with a tiny tear at the banana’s tip. It’s an orginal Verve pressing (V-5008) that features a first-state “torso” back cover. (In later pressings, a photograph showing Eric Emerson’s upside-down torso projected behind the band was altered due to legal issues.)

We love detailed descriptions as much as the next record buyer. But there comes a point where some sellers lose touch with reality. These are sales descriptions, people, not arguments for Supreme Court confirmation.

We had to wade through a 5,000-word essay —we copied and pasted it in to Microsoft Word because even we couldn’t believe how long it was — as well as text in a rainbow of retina-singeing colors before condition information related to the actual record being sold was ever disclosed. For the record: the vinyl is VG++ to EX and the cover grades VG+++ to EX.

This lot attracted 23 bids before a winner was declared. Makes us wonder how much higher the bids might’ve climbed if this seller had put more time into organizing the sales information and less trying to persuade buyers that this was “the single most important album in Rock history and the single most influential Rock session of the 20th Century.”

2. Sex Pistols "God Save The Queen" b/w "Did You No Wrong" 7-inch picture sleeve.

2. Sex Pistols "God Save The Queen" b/w "Did You No Wrong" 7-inch picture sleeve.

2. $3,716 — The Sex Pistols, “God Save The Queen” / “Did You No Wrong,” 7-inch picture sleeve.
This gem comes to the countdown via South Africa and includes the original 1977 Virgin prssing (PD 1471).

“Ultra rare,” the seller writes. “Never seen before with picture sleeve!”

The EX sleeve is free of writing but bears a 3 cm seam split on the top right side. The record checks in at EX+ condition.

1. $3,999.99 — The Beatles, Mobile Fidelity Sound Labs still-sealed Japanese-pressing box set. No, you’re not seeing double — it’s another Beatles box set from Mobile Fidelity Sound Labs in the countdown. This time, though, it features 13 titles — neither “Beatles For Sale” no “Yellow Submarine” soundtrack were part of the No. 4 lot.
Touted by the seller as “a sonic work of art,” a Japanese-pressed Beatles box set tops our countdown this week.

“This is a MFSL super virgin vinyl (so pure that you can see through it if held up to the light) JVC half-speed Japanese vinyl pressing,” the seller wrote.

The set, which has been out of print for 25 years, was mastered from the original session tapes and includes faithful recreations of all of the liner notes, photos and artwork from the original LPs, the seller said.

Fourteen Beatles records are included: “Please Please Me,” “With The Beatles,” “Hard Day’s Night,” “Beatles For Sale,” “Help,” “Rubber Soul,” “Revolver,” “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” “The Beatles” (the 2-LP White Album), “Yellow Submarine” original soundtrack, “Magical Mystery Tour,” “Abbey Road” and “Let It Be.”