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Vinyl recordings

Related: gramophone - playback - twelve inch single records - records


The vinyl record is an audio storage medium, most commonly used for preserving music.

Vinyl records are commonly made in the following formats:

Although replaced by digital media such as the compact disc as a popular mass marketed music medium, vinyl records continue to be manufactured and sold in the 21st century.

Vinyl is important for DJs.

See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vinyl_record, Apr 2004


For DJs, mostly in the electronic dance music or hip hop genres, vinyl has another advantage over the CD: the direct manipulation of the medium. While with CDs or cassettes one normally has only indirect manipulation options (the play/stop/pause etc. buttons), with a record one can put the needle a few tracks farther in- or outwards and accelerate/decelerate the spinning or even reverse the direction (if the needle and record player is built to withstand it). However some professional CD players now have this capability. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gramophone_record [Aug 2005]

Record collecting [...]

There are, of course, expensive records beyond the reach of most collectors, but they are few in contrast to the hundreds of thousands available for almost nothing. And among those thousands of recordings are some gems (which to this day I still find, to my continual amazement). They may feature forgotten artists or material, but they offer sound to rival or exceed any re-issue. Unless you are looking for really rare recordings, record collecting is one of the least expensive hobbies, and the records you purchase will always be worth something. --Lloyd Flemming in http://www.innerear.on.ca/vinyl/index.html

Record collecting has been around probably nearly as long as recorded sound. In its earliest years, phonographs and the recordings that were played on them, firstly wax cylinders, and later flat shellac discs, were mostly toys for the rich, out of the reach of the middle or lower classes. By the 1920's, improvements in the manufacturing processes, both in players and recordings, allowed prices for the machines to drop. While entertainment options in a middle to upper class home in the 1890's would likely consist of a piano, smaller instruments, and a library of sheet music, by the 1910's and certainly the 1920's these options had begun to include a radio and a gramophone or phonograph and a library of recorded discs.

By the late 1910's, the first Jazz recordings were made. By the 1920's, the first recordings made by and for African-Americans were manufactured. The number of available recordings mushroomed and the number of companies pressing records skyrocketed. These were 78 r.p.m., double-sided, ten-inch shellac discs, with about 4 minutes of recording time on each side.

Growth in the recorded sound industries was stunted by the Great Depression and World War II, when the country was hamstrung by a dearth of raw materials. By the time World War II ended, the economy began to gear up again. Once again independent record labels by the dozen sprang up, issuing thousands of recordings, for both black and white audiences, as well as many speciality genres, including Latin, European, and Jewish music.

The modern music industry as it exists today largely resulted after the introduction of both the 33 1/3 r.p.m. 12-inch LP record and the 7-inch 45 rpm record. These both came on the market in 1949-50. These also featured vinyl replacing the previous shellac materials. Further groups of small labels came into existence with the dawning of the rock and roll era in the early to middle 1950's, and the market among post-war teenagers with disposable income to spend on 45 rpm singles. Some of these labels, such as Atlantic Records, actually turned into mainstream major record labels later on in the 1960's.

The record collecting hobby probably did not take shape as such until the 1960's. With the folk-music boom in the late 1950's to early 1960's, there was suddenly a demand for archival material. Record collectors (mostly men), fanned out across the nation, searching small towns, dusty barns and mountain cabins from Texas to Chicago to Virginia for rare, dusty, 40-year-old discs. Initially, the most-desired items were pre-World War II shellac discs containing "race records", that is blues, country blues and hillbilly music, the precursors to then-current rock-and-roll and country styles. Later generations of record collectors found their passion in digging up obscure 45's in the genre of doo-wop, or LPs in the late 1960's "garage rock" and "psychedelic" genres.

The pop music scene changed forever in January 1964 with the arrival of The Beatles in the United States. In their wake, thousands of musical bands inspired by their fresh, lively take on rock music with a sharp British sensibility, picked up guitars, and many released records. Many of these acolytes released 45 records in small batches to sell at local concerts and to their friends and families. Due to their relatively small pressings, these obscure local records became highly prized and valuable.

The most infamous "collector's item" in record collecting is not a record at all, but merely an album cover. The Beatles themselves accidentally contributed what is probably the most well-known and valuable "collector's piece" of the rock-and-roll era: "The Butcher Cover". This is an informal title for the piece, which was an album cover for the album "Yesterday and Today." Until 1967, the LP releases of the Beatles in their home country of the UK were substantially different from the LP releases in the USA. These American albums were shorter, had different songs, album titles and artwork.

In early 1966, photographer Robert Freeman had The Beatles in the studio for a conceptual art piece entitled "A Somnambulent Adventure." One of the pictures in the series featured the four members of the group seated (with George standing), dressed in butcher smocks, smiling maniacally, while they were draped with pieces of meat and body parts from plastic baby dolls. The group went along with the adventure as they were tired of the usual photo shoots they had done for over 3 years running. John Lennon insisted that the photo be used on the cover of their latest American LP, in spite of, or perhaps because of, its disturbing nature. Other photographs from the shoot were actually published in a British music magazine with no real uproar.

The Beatles' manager, producer, and record company all objected to Lennon's insistence. But they went ahead and printed up 750,000 copies of the record. These were shipped to disk jockeys and store managers. It has recently been substantiated that the record was indeed for sale in some stores in limited areas, probably for only one day. Reaction was immediate and almost unanimous: everyone hated it. The record was immediately recalled. All copies were ordered shipped back to the record label, leading to its collectability.

Faced with so many jackets already printed, Capitol Records decided to merely paste a new cover overall the old one. Thousands of these were sent out. Many people attempted (and failed) to peel off the pasted over cover, revealing the "naughty" image below. In spite of the relative non-rarity of this item, it is one of the most valued items in the hobby of record collecting. Original non-pasted-over, fully-sealed stereo copies of this record (there are a few with all these qualifications) fetch well over USD$10,000. A copy in much worse shape might be had for about USD$500.

In the 1970's, the record collecting hobby really took off with the establishment of record collecting publications such as Goldmine, and in the UK, Record Collector. Price Guide books were published, codifying exactly how much certain "rare items" were supposed to be worth. The "grading" of records based upon condition became more standardized across the hobby with the publication of these price guides.

With the introduction of the compact disc in the middle 1980's, there began a stratification in the hobby; commonly found vinyl specimens that had been pressed in the hundreds of thousands or even millions of copies became relatively worthless, while the rarest of specimens became ever more valuable. These rare items included 45 rpm discs in the genres of blues, rhythm and blues, doo wop, garage rock, progressive rock, and psychedelic rock. Other rare and highly-valued items include pieces from highly collectible artists such as The Beatles, Elvis Presley, Madonna, The Cure, The Rolling Stones, or James Brown. Some of these are items that were pressed for promotional purposes only and sent to radio or television stations. Some are pressings from nations other than the USA or UK where they pressed in very small quantities. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Record_collecting [Dec 2005]

Expensive Records

Clifford asks - 'What criteria validate an authentic cultural or artistic product? What are the differential values placed on old and new creations?'. Recently (1999) a copy of Frank Wilson's 'Do I Love You?' an extremely rare and coveted disc which was pressed (made) in the mid-1960's but never released to the public was bought by a Scottish collector for £15 000, the most ever paid for a seven-inch single anywhere in the world, even though because of it's dancefloor popularity (within British Soul culture at least) it has been reissued on a newer labels or CDs several times since its original (non)introduction. No CD has ever been sold for more than its face value or played at any respected Northern Soul Event. Just last week I bought a CD entitled 'For Millionaires Only', an eighteen track compilation CD designed to cater for those, like me, who love this music but cannot and would not pay large amounts of money for an 'original'. The total 'value' of tracks on the CD probably nears £10 000, for which I paid the normal CD price of £12. Of course, in reality the original could be considered to be a studio 'performance', that is the live playing and recording of the music, and it's musical production and editing. This 'performance' however was in a studio, designed to be recorded and produced, and I feel therefore that the recording of the work must be included as part of the work and thus the recorded piece is an extension of the studio performance, not merely a copy, echoing the Benjamin quote above as 'it enables the original to meet the beholder halfway, be it in the form of a photograph or a phonograph record.' --Paul Wynne [...] .


Record production is more like printing (of sounds rather than images) than the mechanical reproduction of an original and unique work of art. Benjamin states that 'The presence of the original is the prerequisite to the concept of authenticity', but in the case of an 'original' in the Northern Soul sense, the original is the contemporary issue of a record, or even the pre-release DJ copy which was sent out to radio stations. In rarer cases the studio acetates (one-sided test pressings, 'drafts' if you will) have made their way into the public arena and they, like Baudrillard's 'Precession of Simulacra', are considered to chronologically precede the 'original', if an original was made after the acetate, which was not always the case. see also records, producers vinyl

Twelve Inch Singles [...]

  • "Because 45s were geared for radio, they were all 'middle,' and you couldn't cut a lot of [bass] onto the record, the twelve inch record allowed more bass and made records suitable for night club play"

    Disco Mix

    So "disco version" or "disco mix" means primarily that the record is longer than the version released for radio play, though it may also mean that the cut is specifically mixed for a "hotter," brighter sound. Disco DJs are much more concerned with the technical quality of the records they play than their radio counterparts, rejecting otherwise danceable singles because of the deadness of their mix or their loss of distinction at high volumes. This passion for quality has had its effect: Both Atlantic and Scepter have put selected single cuts on 12-inch discs at 33 1/3 for best reproduction at top volume. -- Vince Aletti in Rolling Stone Magazine, 8/28/75 [...]


    A machine that reproduces sound by means of a stylus in contact with a grooved rotating disk, invented in 1877 by Thomas Edison. --[...]


    Most DJs worth their name still play from vinyl because most dance-oriented music is still released on vinyl. [...]

    Herb Powers

    On Cutting Vinyl
    In the late 1970's and early 1980's, hundreds of 12-inch dance singles that were pressed at the Frankford/Wayne mastering plant in New York City contained the signature of Herb Powers, Jr. Go find an early 1980's 12-inch New York City dance club record. If you look into the dead wax and see "Herbie Jr.," along with an accompanying smiley face, you've found a record mastered by Herb Powers, Jr. [...]

    1000+ Original Disco Twelves

    Played at the Paradise Garage by Larry Levan [...]

    1000+ Soul Recordings

    Published by Solar Radio end of the 1900s ...¤

    100+ Pre-Disco Floor-Shaking 45s

  • 100+ Pre-Disco Floor-Shaking 45s

    Some Record Labels Who's Output I admire

    Record Labels If you are a vinyl junkie or want to become one, click here.


    Loft Classics

  • loft classics Loft classics are tracks that were played at underground New York private party The Loft. Ranging from jazzy, garagey house music to Fela Kuti and Manuel Gottsching's E2-E4, it is in general black soulful music in an eclectic mix.

    Jazz Funk Classics

  • jazz funk classics Chris Brown, "It was because the most danceable of these Jazz Fusion recordings contained Funk Rhythms, that the music became known within the UK as JazzFunk. This term is generally used in the UK, to describe all the different styles of what is really Jazz/Fusion music."

    House Music

    "House music's history can be summed up in 200 pieces of vinyl, the rest is derivative [...]

    Japanese Music Fan's List

  • Syncopation New York club classics by a Japanese fan

    Another Japanese Music Fan's List

  • Fumihiko Fumihiko Sato's list of New York underground club classics

    Larry Levan remixes

  • Larry Levan (re)mixes almost complete (re)mixography

    A Bluffers Guide to Dub

  • John McCready dub albums of choice

    40 Most Versioned Reggae Riddims

  • 40 most versioned reggae riddims

    Top Ten Free Jazz Underground

  • free jazz top ten of Thurston Moore


    Black-Music and Eurodisco Label Catalogues (from 1977 to 1987) http://www.zeiger.franken.de

    Vestax Vinyl Cutter

    DJ equipment manufacturers Vestax caused shockwaves at this week’s Plaza sound equipment trade fair when they revealed a prototype model of their new home vinyl-cutting lathe, the VRX-2000. Due for release next spring, the Vestax machine is the first new vinyl cutter to be released for over twenty years and could have a huge impact on the 12” dance market. The lathe works in exactly the same way as a lathe in a professional cutting house, using a diamond cutter to scratch grooves into the vinyl. At a predicted £4000, the DiY vinyl-maker doesn’t come cheap, but there will no doubt be plenty of people prepared to pay for the privilege of cutting their own dub-plates and acetates. At present there are only a handful of cutting houses offering such facilities or indeed cutting vinyl at all, but the Vestax cutter should provide a welcome shot in the arm for the vinyl market, as well as taking the bedroom production revolution to its logical conclusion. What with CDRs, MP3 and now DiY vinyl, it seems to be getting easier than ever for bedroom producers to get their music out there, all of which leaves us asking ‘why the hell didn’t someone think of this before?’

    See http://www.vestax.com/products/vrx2000.htm for more info.

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