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Stones promo album is a gem, despite wear and tear

A Rolling Stones promotional album recently sold at auction for over $9,000. Here are the little nuances of such a rare promo release.

By Dave Thompson

Question: In perusing the Goldmine issue of Jan. 29, 2010, (Issue 770) I was pleasantly surprised (astonished might be a better word) to see that a Rolling Stones promotional album recently sold at auction for over $9,000. I happen to own a copy of this album. It is on London Records and has a catalogue number of RSD-1. The Label is blue London with the “Stereophonic” silver bar above the song titles. The label is numbered ZAL 9241 (Side 1) and ZAL 9206-A (Side 2) and the run-out grooves also have the ZAL numbers written on them.

I have been in the music industry for more than 40 years; in all that time, I have seen only two copies of this album. I have been told that only 400 copies were pressed and it was meant to augment "High Tide and Green Grass and Through The Past, Darkly" so that radio stations would have a comprehensive selection of singles and album cuts to play. This copy came into my possession about 5 years ago, and I have never played it.

The album itself has some condition issues, mainly on the LP jacket. The spine is badly cracked and split — “The Rolling Stones” is visible at the top of the spine and RSD-1 is (mostly) visible at the bottom of the spine, but the rest of the spine is split and cannot be read. The top and bottom of the jacket, however, is in good condition, and the jacket holds together well. The front cover is in good condition for a 40-plus-year-old album, and while there are a few wear marks — and a tear through poor Bill Wyman’s head has been repaired with a piece of Scotch tape — the front cover is in decent shape.

Someone has stamped the date “3 Nov 19659 twice on the front of the album and twice on the back cover. The back cover is also in decent shape, but has yellow highlighter marks on several of the songs; like the front cover, it has some wear marks but is presentable.

I think that even though this record is not in pristine condition, it is rare enough to still have value, and I would like to investigate placing it with a reputable auction house to sell.

— Jerry M., via e-mail

Answer: Well, you definitely have one of the great Stones rarities there! The Promotional Album was compiled by London Records in 1969, and sent out to the most influential rock radio programmers in the run-up to the release of Let It Bleed... the idea was that, combined with the two existing hits collections ("High Tide & Green Grass and Through The Past Darkly"), programmers would have every great Stones song they could need. It’s also worth remembering that the version of “Love In Vain” included here is often described as an alternate take... maybe you could let us know your thoughts on that?

The full track listing is — Side One: “Route 66,” 1964, “Walking The Dog,” 1964; “Around And Around,” 1964; “Suzie Q,” 1965; “Everybody Needs Somebody,” 1965; “Off The Hook,” 1965; “I’m Free,” 1965; “She Said Yeah,” 1965. Side Two: “Under My Thumb,” 1966; “Stupid Girl,” 1966; “2000 Man,” 1967; “Sympathy For The Devil,” 1968; “Prodigal Son,” 1968; “Love In Vain,” 1969.

The DJ version of this album — not to be confused with the imports of the rare promo — that was put out in 1969, is worth an estimated $3,000 in Near Mint condition, according to “Goldmine’s Standard Catalog of American Records 1950 to 1965.” The VG+ value is $2,000, while VG value is $1,000.

This is one of several Stones albums — many of which were excerpted for the promo — worth thousands. A mono copy of 12 x 5 on the London label (LL3402) that was pressed in blue vinyl and bears the Maroon label with “London” unboxed at the top, has an estimated value of $10,000 in NM condition, and a 1968 copy of "Beggars Banquet" (PS 539) that featured the original “toilet graffiti” cover slick (not on a cover), weighs in at $10,000 in NM condition, too, according to “Goldmine’s Standard Catalog of American Records 1950 to 1965.”

The only downside here is the condition of your sleeve. Although there were indeed just 400 copies of the record pressed, the top dollar is inevitably directed toward the best preserved examples — and most auction houses would probably reflect that in their interest in the record. eBay might be a more appropriate venue, although you would need to be very specific with your description, include clear photographs of both the damaged and undamaged elements, and also tell potential bidders of how you came to acquire the record... provenance is a major issue here, as the album has been heavily counterfeited over the years, and is also occasionally mixed up with a U.K. export collection housed in a similar sleeve.

Check out a listing of completed auctions on this rarity or items similar to it.

For related items that you may enjoy in our Goldmine store:
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Get a Goldmine back issue on The Beatles (June 6, 2008) via digital download
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