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]

317X

317X

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]

Mybeatles.net

Mybeatles.net

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    

Ac/dc Paris 12/9/79 Lp Pic Disc Vg+ Bon Scotts Last Ac/dc In Power Lp Fan Club Live 76 Yellow Vinyl Vg++Ac/dc In Power Lp Fan Club Live 76 Red Vinyl Vg++ Blue Cover Print On LblShamek Farrah First Impressions Strata-east Lp Sealed Arzachel ~ S/t ** 1969 Uk 1st Evolution Lp PsychBilly Parker's Fourth World Freedom Of Speech Strata-east LpThe Damned Damned Damned (stiff Seez 1 Uk Original Lp) Eddie & Hot Rods MispressThe White Stripes - Icky Thump - Mono - Third Man Records 2lp Set Tmr 002Guardians Of The Galaxy Soundtrack Lp Purple Vinyl Rocket Raccoon Handbill MondoThe Jimi Hendrix Experience Are You Experienced Og Uk Track Record Lp 612001 1/1The Kinks Something Else Original 1967 Uk Pye Lp . Superb Example Tina Brooks-true Blue-jazz Lp On Blue Note Mono, Dg, Rvg, 63rd, 4041, Freddie HV/a The Bullet Hits Lp Uk Pama 1969 Mono Ska Hippy Boys Clan Dennis WalksPharaohs Awakening Scarab Lp Shrink Kaaos / Cadgers Ep Rare Original Riistetyt P-tuotanto1 Finnish Kbd Hardcore PunkLove Forever Changes Lp On Elektra Vg++ Gold Label ShrinkV/a Crab's Biggest Hits Lp Uk Pama 1969 Mono Tartons Viceroys Versatiles Cosmic Twins The Waterbearers Strata-east Lp Sealed Public Image Ltd (pil) - Metal Box (virgin Uk Orig 3 Lp Box Set 1979 + Inserts)John Coltrane Giant Steps Atlantic LpRare Fabio Fabor "aquarium" Lp 1980 Hard Italian Underwater Electronics LibraryLou Donaldson-wailing With Lou-jazz Lp On Blue Note Vg++, Mono, Dg, Rvg, 63rd,The Velvet Underground And Nico Torso Cover Emerson Orig.verve Ex Lp Stereo Fairfield Parlour Home From Home Swirl Vertigo Lp 1970 N/mint Prog First PressBlue Note 1588 Sonny Clark Cool Struttin Orig Us Lp 47w 63rd Dg ExAc/dc Live From Atlantic Studios Lp--super Rare--promo With Letter & PostcardZombies Odessey And Oracle 1st Press Original 1968 Nr Mint Mono Lp Top CopyPearl Jam Binaural 2 Lp Original 2000 Release With BookletPharoah Sanders-pharoah / Self-titled-jazz Lp On India Navigation Nm, White LabFairport Convention Unhalfbricking Og Uk Stereo Pink Black Eye Island Lp A1/b1Jethro Tull "this Was" Uk 1968 Pink Island Lp + Poster Fold-out Ilps 9085Iron Maiden 7" Picture Sleeve Single Not Lp The Soundhouse Tapes Rock Hard **sealed** Dave Matthews Band - Before These Crowded Streets Us 1998 Og Dbl LpQueen Made In Heaven - Rare 1995 Uk Ivory Colour Vinyl Lp (7243 8 36088 1 2)Hole - Live Through This Lp Original German Black Vinyl Pressing City Slang OopAmon Duul "para Dieswarts Duul" German M-/m- 1971 Ohr 1st Vinyl Lp Kraut ProgHarold Vick Don't Look Back Strata-east LpBob Marley & The Wailers - Catch A Fire Ilps 9241 1973 Zippo Uk Lp Sleeve OnlyHole Live Through This City Slang Efa 04935 1 German Pressing Vinyl LpV/a Hey Boy Hey Girl Lp Uk Pama 1969 Mono Ska Soul Cats Derrick Morgan Max RomeoMega-rare Raskovich "background Music N.1" Lp Experimental Space Sonor LibraryOrig. Gianni Oddi "style" Lp 1974 Rca Sp 10048 Monster Funk Breaks Promo LibraryThe Velvet Underground And Nico 1967 Uk 1st Press Vinyl Lp Verve Lou Reed Ex+ Kate Bush~aerial~double Vinyl Lp~24 Page Booklet~180 Gram Audiophile~near Mint!Steve Reid Rhythmatism Mustevic Sound Lp Vg++ Gracious ~ S/t ** 1970 Uk 1st Swirl Vertigo LpSoundgarden Superunkown Double Lp Clear Vinyl Nirvana Pearl Jam Foo Fighters Juicy Lucy ~ S/t ** 1969 Uk 1st Swirl Vertigo Lp Philips CreditJimi Hendrix: Axis Bold As Love. Orig. 60s Uk Mono Track Records Lp. 612 003White Stripes Live In Mississippi 2x Lp Vinyl #8 Vault Jack Rare Oop Dvd + 45rpmThe Rolling Stones Let It Bleed Unboxed Mono Poster Red Decca Orig. Uk Press LpRare Spiritual Jazz Lp/ Alkebu-lan "land Of The Blacks" ~ Orig Strata-east ~vg++Alex Harvey "roman Wall Blues" Uk 1969 Fontana Top Copy Lp Psych Vinyl Stl 5534V/a The Lovely Dozen Lp Uk Pama 1969 Mono Ska Lloyd Tyrell Termites VersatilesBooker Little Out Front Candid Lp Vg++ Ronnie Foster Two Headed Freap Blue Note LpPrivate Spiritual Afro Jazz Ndikho Xaba Natives '69 Trilyte Lp 12" Holy GrailRare ! Sun Ra Lanquidity Orig 1978 Philly Jazz Lp Paste Cover Sci Fi Out Jazz7" +ps Ice And The Iced Rock&roll -tampax , Hitlerss Rare Ep Kbd 79 #idea 1001Jazz Lp/ Horace Tapscott Quintet "the Giant Is Awakened" ~ Orig Flying Dutchman

Recent News: LP Records

Source: Google News

Joining the vinyl revival
Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, January 31st

Vinyl is more intimate — you take your time with it.” So, like others who had never known the ritual of putting needle to groove, I decided to join the vinyl revival and buy a record player. How hard could it be? The vintage music world was...Read more

The Blackstone Group L.P. (BX) Q4 2014 Results - Earnings Call Transcript (BX)
Seeking Alpha (registration), January 29th

The Blackstone Group L.P. (BX) Q4 2014 Results - Earnings Call Transcript. Jan. 29, 2015 7:40 PM ET | About: The Blackstone Group L.P. (BX) by: SA Transcripts. The Blackstone Group L.P. (NYSE:BX). Q4 2014 Earnings Call ... After breaking several asset...Read more

Remembering Rod McKuen, the accidental hipster
Los Angeles Times, January 29th

And I've seen fans of the serious sounds of William Basinski and Glenn Branca salivate at record fairs over the rare 1959 LP "Beatsville," McKuen's first and perhaps best work. "I tried to be a good beatnik," his (perhaps) tongue-in-cheek bohemian...Read more

Weekend Planner: 21 Things To Do in Los Angeles
LAist, January 29th

Wear your finest 1940s fashions while taking retro photos in the Aero's ticket booth, all while munching on popcorn at vintage prices. The festivities and .... The project is an exploration of our relationship with vinyl records and nostalgia. If you...Read more

The Week in Fresh Tracks [Adia Victoria, Stone Jack Jones, Jessie Baylin, The ...
Nashville Scene, January 29th

Back in October, Stone Jack Jones announced Love & Torture (due March 17 via Western Vinyl) with the spooky, Kurt Wagner-assisted "Circumstance." This latest sample of the record, featuring guest vocals by the unsinkable Patty Griffin, was inspired by ...Read more

Hear a New Track From LA Techno King John Tejada's Latest Album (PREMIERE)
LA Weekly, January 29th

John Tejada: I try to keep it so that music-making feels like extra free time for me, because there's still a lot of music-related things I have to do to make this my job, and the main part of that is usually not making fun records for myself. I feel...Read more

Vintage record label to reclaim its position
Times of India, January 13th

"As technology transformed, we also had to shift from LPs to CDs. But somehow, we did not get noticed. We still continue to bring out albums in several languages. Now, we are ready to re-position Hindusthan Records as a brand with a new marketing and ...Read more

Autographed Led Zeppelin Albums, Other Vintage Records Stolen From ...
CBS Local, January 5th

CORONA (CBSLA.com) — A podiatrist is offering a $5,000 reward for the return of vintage record albums he says were stolen from his Corona practice. Jeffrey Katz says someone broke in through the roof of his office over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend ...Read more