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    

Led Zeppelin~mega Rare Sealed 2lp~physical Graffiti~usa 1st Press~wmet Promo44 Lp Lot Vinyl Metal Hard Rock Rush Kiss Black Sabbath Ac/dc Ozzy Motley CrueRyan Adams: Live At Carnegie Hall Vinyl Lp Box Set (6 Lp) (180 Gram) New! SealedThe Who - My Generation - Very Rare Orig Uk 1965 -1b/-1b Brunswick Mono Ex+ Lp.Alex Harvey Framed Very Scarce Orig Uk 1972 Vertigo Spiral Ex++ Lp. Super Sound.**uk Vertigo 1st Press** John Dummer Band Blue Lp 1972 Vertigo Swirl Rare NmTamam Shud-goolutionites & Real People-1st Pressing Australia Prog Vinyl Lp 1970Pretty Things Lp Sf Sorrow Emi Columbia 1st Press Near Mint VinylJimi Hendrix Experience - Electric Ladyland - 1970 Uk Double Lp - Vg/excellent!Pink Floyd Dark Side Of The Moon Vinyl Lp 1st Pressing Solid Blue Prism Mike James Kirkland Hang On In There Bryan Private Soul Funk Original Lp ShrinkThe Velvet Underground Lp "andy Warhol" Original Verve Mono W Torso & StickerPearl Jam Binaural Epic E2 63665 Us Pressing Vinyl 2lpYes Time And A Word Lp 1970 Atlantic 1st Press + Insert!! Brilliant Example!!!!Rare Jazz Rock Lp Ian Carr "belladonna" Uk Swirl Vertigo Original Ex++Bubbha Thomas / Lightmen-country Fried Chicken. Rare Funk Lp On Lightnin. ShrinkToxic Reasons War Hero 7" Ep Rare 1st Press Vinyl Banit Black Flag Necros Kbd The Undertones - Teenage Kicks Ep - Uk 1978 Good Vibrations 45 - N. Irish Punk Cluster - Cluster Ii 1972 German Lp Brain 1st Prog/kraut RockThe Beatles-the Collection-mobile Fidelity-14lp Box With Shipping Carton Superb!Beatles Butcher Cover 2nd Lp Capitol Yesterday And Today Stereo #5 L.a. Plant Depeche Mode "songs Of Faith And Devotion Live" 1993 Mute Uk 12" Lp, Lstumm 106 Demon Fuzz - Afreaka - Soul Funk Lp - Shrink WrapBlack Sabbath Lp "vol 4" Uk Swirl Vertigo Orig. **awesome Copy** Nr Mint-Have Heart 'the Things We Carry' Lp Blue/yellow Swirl 1st Pressing/260Sun Ra Arkestra Lp On Jupiter Private Jazz Funk Avant Garde Saturn 101679Rare Soul Funk Lp Frankie Zhivago Alwa 104 The Age Of Flying HighThe Beatles Yesterday & Today Partially Peeled 3rd State Butcher Cover Lp StereoGrant Green Back On The Scene Lp Blue Note Blp 1587 47 W 63rd Rvg Ear Dg Vg+Pretty Things Lp S.f.sorrow Uk Columbia Black & Blue 1st Press45 Lp Lot Vinyl Stones Pink Floyd Hendrix Who Doors Grateful Dead Fleetwood MacWolf Alice - My Love Is Cool Limited Edition Gold / Signed / 12" Lp / Vinyl / Judge New York Crew 7" Ep Rare 2nd Press Schism Youth Of Today Cro-mags Nyhc SxeThe Beatles Yesterday And Today Butcher Cover Lp 1966 Stereo Genuine!!Psych Lp The Druids Of Stonehenge Uni 73004 CreationBuddy Holly Lp First Pressing Brunswick Bl 54038 Digable Planets Reachin’ Lp Vg Original Rare Hip-hop Jazz Rap Ish Ladybug MeccaThe Rolling Stones-original Master Recordings-mobile Fidelity-11lp Box Great!!Frumious Bandersnatch Original 1968 Sf Psych Ps Ep Rare Red Wax PressSun Ra Arkestra Lp Sleeping Beauty Original Private Jazz Funk Saturn 11-1-79The Blossom Toes If Only For A Moment Very Rare Orig Uk 1969 Marmalade Ex+ Lp. Carl Perkins Lp Sun 1225 First Pressing Teen Beat Lp Sun 1225 Rare Stereo 6 Eye Debut Lp For Bob Dylan Columbia 8579Soul Funk Lp Quinn Harris “statements” Cantilever Private Press Ultra Rare Nice!Factory Sealed Original Rare Soul Funk Lp Marva Whitney King 1062 It's My ThingKiss Lot Of 23 Lps 45 Cd Lester Love Gun W/ Gun The Originals 3 Lp Posters Nirvana All Of Us Lp 1968 Island 1st Press! Earliest Ever!! Superb!!!!Led Zeppelin Iv Lp Excellent Condition 4 Plum Label Uk Vinyl Johnny Burnette & Rock 'n Roll Trio - Orig Uk 10" Vinyl Lp Vogue Coral 1956Wire "pink Flag" Post Punk Lp Emi Harvest W/ Insert NmThe Jimi Hendrix Experience - Are You Experienced Lp 1st Press, Mono!!!Tractor - S/t Orig. Uk Lp Mega Rare Heavy ProgElectric Wizard The Processean Lp Ltd 500 Doom Metal Orange Goblin Sleep OmRoy Orbison Lp First Pressing At The Rockhouse Lp Sun 1260 13th Floor Elevators-psychedelic Sounds Of-rare Original Psych Lp-ia Mono No.1Iron Cross Hated And Proud 7" Ep Rare 1st Press Skin Flint Warzone Cro-mags NyhcDanzig Ii Lucifuge Lp Rare Def American Def 24281 With Lyric SleeveSun Ra Lp Lanquidity '78 Philly Jazz Pj666 Metallic Cover In Shrink! Avant GardeThe Beach Boys~pet Sounds~mega Rare Orig’66 Lp Capitol ”rainbow” Mono 1st PressCeltic Frost Morbid Tales Lp - Metal Blade 1985

Recent News: LP Records

Source: Google News

Passings: Lynn Anderson (1947 - 2015)
VVN Music, July 31st

Lynn Anderson, the singer who released 33 studio albums and had five country chart toppers, died on Thursday night from an apparent heart attack at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville. She had been hospitalized earlier in the week with ...Read more

Terror "Mind at War" (video)
Exclaim!, July 31st

The video blends vintage wartime clips of bombings and ground battles with a newer narrative that includes the sight of an emotionally fraught man in a straitjacket, and another masked man brandishing sharp objects. There's also a possibility that this...Read more

12 of the best free things to do this Bank Holiday Weekend
Newstalk 106-108 fm, July 30th

Staying in the marketplace and on Lower Liffey Street in Dublin the Ha'Penny Flea Market has a huge variety of things on show from vintage clothes to vinyl records it's always well worth a look. It's held in the Grand Social every Saturday from 12 til 6...Read more

SIFASIC sessions go public; Artists gather for Alton band's EP release
Alton Telegraph, July 29th

SIFASIC's release date for its new EP, “Basement Sessions,” is Saturday, Aug. 8, and a release party will start at 9 p.m. that night at the Heavy Anchor in St. Louis. The EP will be available at Vintage Vinyl, Slackers, Euclid Records, Dead Wax Records...Read more

Barrence Whitfield and the Savages Get Primal on 'I'm a Full Grown Man ...
Wall Street Journal (blog), July 29th

The song was originally recorded in 1970 by Timmy Willis, a forgotten Midwest soul screamer who is, however, remembered by collectors of vintage vinyl. “We always find one or two good gems to cover, a 45 that nobody has really put their arms around...Read more

Grandmaster Flash lost crates of vintage vinyl in car park mix-up
BBC News, July 28th

Hip-hop pioneer Grandmaster Flash says he lost three crates of irreplaceable vintage vinyl when a valet mistakenly gave his car to the wrong person. Speaking to BBC Radio 4's Today programme, he said some of the collection dated back decades. "Records ...Read more

Cohan Chew :Vinyl - An Authentic Vintage Rebirth or a Pretentious Hipster ...
Huffington Post UK, July 28th

For hipsters, whose trend setting outlook relies on rebirthing vintage gems to compliment their image, vinyl is thereby the perfect source of nourishment. It's 'cool' to own records and a record machine. It's a hobby that fosters a great deal of...Read more

Johnny Mathis' 80th Birthday Celebrated With New 4-CD Box Set
VVN Music, July 28th

Johnny Mathis is one of the longest-running artists on the Columbia Records label, with 17 million RIAA certified album and singles sales in the US alone. A sublime vocalist whose approach to pop music transcends passing fads and trends, Johnny Mathis ...Read more