There is something about holding a vinyl LP in the palms of your hands, touching only the platter’s edges lest you smudge, soil, or scratch the grooves incised in its inky surface. As you tilt the disc so that it catches the light, the tracks show up as fuzzy concentric bands, each delineated by a darker, thinner bar of dead space. That wide band in the middle of side one of The Doors must be the seven-minute version of "Light My Fire." Flip it over, and the last band on side two is even fatter, the 11-plus-minute opus, "The End." It’s time to give this vintage vinyl a spin.

Records as we know them today (or knew them, before the rise of CDs and digital music) have been around since 1930, when RCA manufactured a 12-inch vinyl disc that was meant to be played at 33 1/3 revolutions per minute (RPM). RCA’s vinyl records produced a lot less playback noise than the shellac records that dominated the market, but the Great Depression was no time to introduce a new entertainment product with limited manufacturer support, so vinyl didn’t catch on.

It took until 1948 for that to happen. That’s when Columbia introduced its own 12-inch, 33 1/3 vinyl monaural record, which it branded as the LP for Long Play. Today, the letters LP are treated like the word "Kleenex," which is to say that it’s technically a brand name, but we use it as if it was the generic description for vinyl records.

For fans of early rock ’n’ roll, key vinyl LPs to collect include 1955’s Rock Around the Clock, the first 12-inch LP that Bill Haley & His Comets cut for Decca. The following year, a teenage singer named Frankie Lymon, who was sort of the Michael Jackson of the 1950s, released The Teenagers Featuring Frankie Lymon, which included their hit "Why Do Fools Fall In Love."

Other pioneers of rock include Chuck Berry, whose 1957 LP called After School Session on Chess Records is a classic of the genre. Another Chess artist was Bo Diddley, whose 1958 Bo Diddley included such early hits as "Who Do You Love?"

And then there was Elvis Presley, whose eponymous 1956 debut was the first rock ’n’ roll album to top the charts and sell a million copies. Tracks included the King’s famous cover of Carl Perkins’s "Blue Suede Shoes."

For jazz fans, collectible LP choices range from Dixieland to West Coast Cool. From 1952 on, Chet Baker recorded numerous albums, many of them live, accompanied by the likes of Charlie Parker and Gerry Mulligan on labels with names like Fresh Sound, Pacific Jazz, and Blue Note...

Another early jazz LP pioneer was Louis Armstrong, whose trumpet work and vocals on the soundtrack for the 1956 film High Society contributed to its brisk sales (Bing Crosby’s duet with Grace Kelly, plus other tracks by Frank Sinatra, didn’t hurt, either). Armstrong had another film-related hit in 1963, when an LP version of Hello Dolly! was released to capitalize on his best-selling single from the movie.

During the 1960s, a painful (to the ears) transition from mono to stereo took place. In many cases, monaural recording sessions were turned into stereo LPs during post-production, with predictably poor results. For collectors, some of the "pure" mono recordings of that decade are therefore highly prized. These include the 1963 Parlophone release of Please Please Me by The Beatles, the first Rolling Stones album in 1964, mono versions of Pink Floyd’s 1967 The Piper at the Gates of Dawn, and the Grateful Dead’s first album, also from 1967.

In fact, LPs by psychedelic bands like Floyd and the Dead are a genre of collecting unto itself. Known as Psych Rock, bands include 13th Floor Elevators, The Chocolate Watchband, and H.P. Lovecraft. In some cases, particular LPs are considered classics of this trippy art form, such as the Jefferson Airplane’s 1967 After Bathing at Baxter’s, which was reportedly mixed based on how well it would sound while the listener was on LSD.

Yet another highly collectible genre of vintage LPs is Progressive Rock, also known as Prog Rock. This late-1960s to 1970s phenomenon includes bands like Gong, Tangerine Dream, King Crimson, Yes, and Rush.

Regardless of genre, one of the best things about LPs is their generous size, which gave rise to a flood of covers with gorgeous and/or provocative artwork. There are the colorful covers of 1960s Psych records, to be sure, but go back in time a little bit and you can collect Mid-century Modern graphics disguised as 1950s and 1960s jazz albums.

Some album covers are simply legendary: Andy Warhol designed a cover for The Rolling Stones’s Sticky Fingers that featured an actual working zipper. The Who’s Tommy came with a cover-size booklet filled with art and lyrics. Robert Rauschenberg designed a clear plastic cover for the Talking Heads’s Speaking in Tongues. And if you want a copy of The Beatles’s infamous "butcher" version of Yesterday and Today, you’ve got to go back to the original vinyl.

Today, numerous contemporary musicians are choosing to release their music not just on CD and digitally but on vinyl, too. In 2007, Radiohead famously offered music files of its In Rainbows album to its fans for whatever they wanted to pay. The potentially risky gambit did not seem to hurt sales of the vinyl version of the 10-song collection—In Rainbows was the best-selling vinyl LP of 2008.

Grunge bands such as Nirvana and Pearl Jam embraced vinyl from the beginning of their careers. A rare version of Nirvana’s Nevermind was issued with a multi-colored, mottled, "splash" design on the vinyl itself. As for Pearl Jam, one of the bestsellers on eBay continues to be its four-disc recording of a benefit the band performed in 2003 at Seattle’s Benaroya Hall. The discs, which are red like the album’s cover, were issued in an edition of 2,000. The price in 2004 was $40 for the set. Today, you’d be lucky to find a sealed copy for under $500.

About our sources | Got something to add?

▼ Expand to read the full article ▼

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Vinyl Divas

Vinyl Divas

Vinyl Divas pays homage to international female opera singers of the LP era. Chronicling more than 800 singers, the… [read review or visit site]



Despite its mysterious title, 317X is plain and simple—an online gallery of vintage LPs, with a 1950s vintage fee… [read review or visit site]

Jesse Barron's collection of Beatles 45s, picture sleeves, magazines, books, and memorabilia. Browse singles and al… [read review or visit site]

Association of Vogue Picture Record Collectors

Association of Vogue Picture Record Collectors

This great site, from the Association of Vogue Picture Record Collectors, offers detailed background information an… [read review or visit site]

The Remington Site

The Remington Site

Since 1999, the Remington Site has offered classical music collectors a glimpse into Remington Records, an independ… [read review or visit site]

Clubs & Associations

Discussion Forums

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

Congos "heart Of The Congos" Rare Reggae Lp Black Art Hand PaintedMighty Ryeders - Help Us Spread The Message Lp - Sun-gloComus First Utterance Lp 1971 Dawn 1st Press + Insert!! Amazing Prog Rarity!!!!Pink Floyd Pulse 4 X Vinyl Lp Box Set + 52 Page Hardback Book Very Rare Ex++Equatics - Doin It!!!! Lp - Rare Private Funk Soul Vg++ Mp3Solid Gold Revue Love's Traffic Castanet Lp Private Modern Soul Cressida ~ Asylum ** 1971 Uk 1st Swirl Vertigo LpLove Forever Changes Mono Tan Label 1967 Garage Pop Psych Lp Shrink Top Copy!Ambassadors - Soul Summit Lp - Arctic - Rare Soul Funk PromoJimi Hendrix Expereince Electric Ladyland Og Uk Stereo Track Record Dbl Lp 1 1 1Carl Holmes - Investigation No. 1 Lp - C.r.s. SealedThe Insults : Stiff Love Ep (sick Sounds)1979 Rare Orig Kbd Punk 45 + Ps ListenBeginning Of The End Self Titled Alston LpParliament - Osmium Lp - Invictus Vg++Bobby Moore & Rhythm Aces - Dedication Of Love Lp - Phinal - Rare Soul Vg++ Mp3The Doors 1st Lp Mono Tan Label Garage Pop Psych Jim Morrison Light My Fire EndBaby Huey Story The Living Legend Curtom/buddah LpDr. Strangely Strange ~ Heavy Petting ** 1970 Uk 1st Swirl Vertigo LpFifty Foot Hose Cauldron 1968 San Francisco Electronic Psych Lp & Orig Inner SlvBoth Worlds Don'tcha Hide It Tpi Lp Sealed Private Funk Soul Linda Perhacs Parallelograms 1970 Trippy Folk Psych Lp Kapp Female VocalsPink Floyd A Saucerful Of Secrets 1st Stereo Press Lp Blue/black Columbia Ex+Vktms : Midget Ep (emergency Room Records) 1979 Orig Kbd Punk 45 + Ps ListenThompsons - I'll Get Over It Lp - Bcw - Rare Modern Soul SealedPink Floyd Dark Side Of The Moon Lp Uk Complete Posters Stickers Superb ArchiveThe Running Man Lp Same Rca Neon 1st Press Prog Monster Near Mint Vinyl A Gift From Euphoria 1969 Capitol Rural Psych Pop Fuzz Folk Lp Rare OriginalCotton Show Band - Diggin' On You Lp - Down To Earth - Rare Modern Soul SealedMinor Threat In My Eyes Dischord 5 Ep W/ Insert Gorgeous Nm Punk KbdJethro Tull Stand Up St Uk Pink Red Eye Island Lp Ilps9103 Pop Up Gatefold MintThe Growing Concern (mainstream) 1968 Garage Pop Psych Mod Lp Mono DemoKinks " Village Green Preservation Society "super Rare Uk Orig Blue Pye Mono Lp The Kinks.are The Village Green Preservation Society.1968 Mono 15 Track.18233.lpPicadilly Line ~ The Huge World Of Emily Small ** 1967 Uk 1st Cbs LpRoland Burrell/admiral Tibbett "showdown Vol. 2" Reggae Lp Sir-tommy'sJimi Hendrix Experience Electric Ladyland LpBoth Worlds - Don'tcha Hide It Lp - Tpi - Soul Jazz Funk Vg+ Shrink Mp3Beatles: (butcher Cover 2nd State Lp) **rare In Shrink!!** Mono T2553Zior Lp Same Uk Nepentha 1st Press Plays Superb Quality AudioDonna Mcghee - Make It Last Forever Lp - Red Greg PromoMaster's Apprentices Rare Lp A Toast To Panama RedLost Highway Ost Vinyl Lp David Lynch Rare David Bowie Nine Inch Nails Lou ReedEvinha Cartao Postal Geraldo Vespar Orig Brazil Samba Soul Funk Groove Lp HearMinor Threat S/t Dischord 3 Ep W/ Insert Gorgeous Nm Ian Mackaye D.c. HardcoreJohnny 'chano' Martinez Y Su Orquesta - Salsa Revolution Salsa Y Guaguanco LpSmall Faces Ogdens Nut Gone Flake 1968 Immediate Lp!! Mint!!!! The Velvet Underground And Nico Torso Mono Original Verve First Press Warhol LpHarmonia Musik Von Harmonia Green Brain Lp Cluster Eno Krautrock Neu - Top VinylDon Rendell & Ian Carr - "live" - Uk Columbia Lp Sx 6316 - Rare British JazzR.e.m. - Monster 9362 45740 Eu Lp 1st Press 1994 Warner Bros VinylHellhammer Apocalyptic Raids Lp Metal Blade Original Celtic Frost Bathory Portishead - Dummy 828 522 Uk Lp 1st Press 1994 Go! Beat VinylStone Circus (mainstream) 1968 Garage Pop Psych Mod Lounge Lp Orquesta Deejay - Forget It Salsa Y Guaguanco LpI Kong "the Way It Is" Reggae Lp Top RankingGg Players - Boss Man Dub (pre White Label Lp) Uk Blank Lp ►♫Marilyn Manson Holywood Vinyl Lp Ltd EditionSir Joe Quarterman & Free Soul - S/t Lp - Gsf Vg+1966 The Deep Psychedelic Moods Dj Parkway P-7051 Psych Lp Vinyl Record ShrinkLp Album Pink Floyd Wish You Were Here Japan Obi Postcard

Recent News: LP Records

Source: Google News

Renewed resources: Records recycled into magnets
LancasterOnline, February 28th

MUSIC TO CHILL BY: Mix in these record label magnets with your Niagara Falls souvenir on the front of the fridge to up your “cool” factor. These are made from the center of vintage LP records, so they're about 4 inches across, and each has a super...Read more

New store is a collection dream
Edmond Sun, February 28th

The couple recently put those passions together by opening their store 3 Dachshunds, located at 2508 West Edmond Road last November. The store features a wide variety of items including vintage vinyl records, posters, collectibles, greeting cards...Read more

Record shop opens on John Bonham's childhood street
Redditch Standard, February 27th

Record shop opens on John Bonham's childhood street ... Ros Sidaway has previously operated Vintage Trax as a pop-up shop in the Kingfisher Shopping Centre but has now taken the decision to open up on the Birchfield Road in Headless Cross. ... tomorrow...Read more

Suspect sought in theft of Augusta National photos, James Brown autographs
McDuffie Mirror, February 26th

of James Brown autographs had been stolen from a storage shed behind the home, according to a RCSO incident report. Individually numbered Augusta National Golf Club photos were also reported stolen, along with vinyl records, clothing, a vintage...Read more

Grandparenting; Vintage Gifts Take Family History into the Future
Coronado Eagle and Journal, February 24th

Did you know that vinyl LP records are making a comeback? Previously I was embarrassed to admit that I still had my college records on a high closet shelf. Surely they should have been discarded, but now they have become a valued vintage gift. After my ...Read more

East Kilbride shopping centre is first in country to host vintage record fair
Scottish Daily Record, February 18th

East Kilbride town centre is set to be buzzing with record collectors and music enthusiasts this weekend when a vintage record fair comes to town. Music lovers young and old will be able to sift through thousands of rare and interesting vinyl LPs and...Read more

Music fans, design buffs move the needle in vinyl renaissance
San Francisco Chronicle, February 12th

Records require a more active listening experience that matches our aesthetic and goals. Slow food, slow music, slow clothing, slow relaxation and focused attention.” Bobby McCole, who deals vintage vinyl at Pyramid Records on 24th Street in the...Read more

Folio Weekly, February 11th

After discovering local music stores selling new and used vinyl, like Vintage Vinyl, Wag's Record Hound and Yesterday & Today, my collection hit a growth spurt that just hinted at future unmanageability, as I had to rearrange the furniture in my room...Read more