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    

Jandek Six And Six Lp Corwood Orig. Press! Outsider Rock 80s Vg++ Nice!Led Zeppelin Led Zep 1 Lp Turquoise 1969 Uk 1st Press!!Relatively Clean Rivers Pinnacle West Coast Acid Folk Psych Lp Original Us NmQueen Rocks , Megarare Pheonix Sleeve, Double Lp.Beatles - Please Please Me (black & Gold Parlophone Uk Original Lp) Dick JamesPretty Things, ‘s.f. Sorrow’ 1st, 1968 -1/-1/1g/1g,uk Columbia Records Sample LpNegative Approach ~ 10 Song Ep. 1st Press W/insert. 1982 Us Hardcore Kbd. RareRarest Two Tone Ttp1 Promo Ep-uk 7"-specials Madness One Step Beyond Ska 2toneBill Evans new Jazz Conceptions Lp 1st White Label Riverside 12-223 Dg Mono Pungent Stench - For God Your Soul.. For Me Your Flesh Lp 1990 First Press Nb029The Velvet Underground & Nico Lp Self Titled S/t Verve Unpeeled Banana Warhol Cannibal Corpse - Tomb Of The Mutilated Lp 1992 . OriginalCannibal Corpse - Eaten Back To Life Lp 1990 . Original “best Of Bob Marley +wailers” Lp Coxsone Silkscreen ’74 Orig Ja Nice! Hear Donald Byrd Off To The Races Lp Original Blue Note 4007 Dg 63rd Nyc Rvg Ear NmJimi Hendrix - Are You Experienced (track Uk Original Lp) A1/ B1 Textured LabelsBo Diddley Rhythm And Blues Original Uk Tri Centre London 45 EpJohn Coltrane Giant Steps Lp Atlantic 1311 Mono Black Label 1st Press ChambersnmVg+/ex- The Litter -distortions Warick Pokora 4* Holy Grail Psych Fuzz Garage Lp#music Machine Private The Ultimate Soul Funk Jazz & Rare Groove Lp Hear#John Coltrane Tommy Flanagan The Cats Lp Original New Jazz 8217 Mono Dg Rvg Nm+1969 Uk Orig. Rolling Stones ‘mono’ Lp “let It Bleed” (1st Press) Ex+1st Edition 1955 Johanna Martzy Violin Concert In E Minor 33cx 1497 Lp - Vh L48Jackie mclean 4, 5, And 6 Lp Prestige 7048 Dg W. 50th Nyc Rvg Hank Mobley NmPink Floyd Saucerful Of Secrets Og Uk Blue Text Columbia Lp Sx 6258 1/1 + InnerThelonious Monk Brilliant Corners lp 1st Riverside 12-226 White Label Dg Nm+Ultra Rare Eddie Cochran Ep Hallelujah, I Love Her So Red London Re 5080 1958!Dexter Gordon " Go " M- Us 1962 Mono Blue Note Lp Ny Adr / Rvg / Ear / DgBig Star 3rd Lp Original Pvc Pressing Alex Chilton pop-psych Classic Third Nm+Grateful Dead Lot Of 47 Lps 45 Cd White Label Promo Terrapin 3lp Heads Net DecalUltra Rare Buddy Holly Ep That'll Be The Day Decca Ed 2575 Usa 1957 1st Press!The Beatles Yesterday And Today Lp Orig 1966 Butcher Cover Unpeeled 2nd State NmSoundgarden "superunknown" (1994) Lp : Mint / SealedHeath Brothers Marchin' On Original Strata-east LpEric Dolphy out To Lunch Lp Orig. Blue Note 4163 Ny Mono Rvg Ear 1st Press Nm+Ultrarare Eddie Cochran Ep 20 Flight Rock Red London Label Re 5002 Sweden 1958!30 Lp Lot Metal Black Sabbath Kiss Ozzy Motley Crue Metallica Twisted Sister ModThrobbing Gristle 20 Jazz Funk Greats 1st Press!! Nice Audio!! Ir008 1979 Uk Lp Kester Iyemere And The Gs Patience Is The Answer Monster Afro Funk Lp NigeriaQueen ‎– Made In Heaven Uk Lp Mint Looks UnplayedUncle Acid The Night Creeper 2 Lp Splatter Vinyl /250 Die Hard Electric Wizard Fairport Convention Unhalfbricking Uk Stereo Pink Black Eye Island Lp 1/1 MintBill Evans Trio Portrait In Jazz Lp Original Riverside 12-315 Mono Lafaro Dg Nm-Chocolate Watch Band Lp "no Way Out" Tower Psych St 5096 Orig 1967 Ex/exCeasar Frazier Hail Ceasar! Eastbound Lp Vg++ WlpThe Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society Uk Lp 1st Stereo Mint MinusSuper Rare "portrait Cover" The Beatles And Frank Ifield Lp Ex-/vg- 1964 Mono!!!Torso Back The Velvet Underground & Nico Lp Self Titled S/t Verve Banana Warhol Zik Emmy Perfect Change Killer Rare Nigeria Boogie Modern Soul Nm Lp ListenKing Crimson Court Of Crimson King Og St Uk Pink White I Island Lp Ilps9111 MintPink Floyd- The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn- Uk Lp- Nm/unplayed –columbia-stereo-Baby Huey The Baby Huey Story Living Legend Soul Lp Curtom Crude Cover OriginalThelonious Monk Monk's Music Lp 1st Riverside 12-242 White Label Flat Edge Dg NmDexter Gordon Our Man In Paris Og Nm Us Lp Mono Van Gelder Ear 4146 Blue Note Thelonious Monk / Sonny Rollins Original Lp Prestige 7075 W. 50th Nyc Dg Rvg Nm+Ultrarare Eddie Cochran Ep Singin' To My Baby Sweden Red London Re 5038 Exc/exc!Can "tago Mago" German 1971 Original Ua 2-lp Top Copy M-/ex Kraut Prog Fold-outFreddie Hubbard Lp "hub Cap" Blue Note Mono W 63rd/ny,usa Rvg Ear Vg++/nmIron Maiden Transparent Super Megarare Peru LpKenny Burrell Blue Lights Vol. 2 Lp Blue Note 1597 W 63rd Rvg Ear Warhol Nm

Recent News: LP Records

Source: Google News

Redditch indie shop Vintage Trax marks cassette store day
Bromsgrove Advertiser, October 8th

NOT to be outdone by the vinyl revival, the humble cassette tape is set to emulate the resurgence in retro music media. As part of Cassette Store Day, on Saturday, October 17, Redditch's only physical record shop Vintage Trax will be celebrating from ...Read more

Manolo Blahnik, Jaeger and Singer sewing machines? This isn't your typical ...
WalesOnline, October 8th

The shop is a treasure trove, starting with menswear and vintage home goods. Items for sale include a Singer sewing machine, a rocking horse, and a stack of vinyl records. Emporium The New Vintage Charity Shop by Ty Hafan in Royal Arcade Cardiff ...Read more

Three Chords Good: Graham Parker's Favourite Albums
The Quietus, October 8th

His tough, soulful songs married working-class anger to a finely-tuned sense of literary and musical craft, and drew heavily on a love of vintage R&B and rock & roll. Parker never stopped ... Mystery Glue is out on Cadet Concept Records. Graham Parker...Read more

Hitting the Rewind Button and Back in the Groove
Newswise (press release), October 8th

international indie cassette labels are billing Oct. 17 — Cassette Store Day. On the vinyl record front, Billboard Magazine reports that more vinyl albums were sold in 2014 than in any year since Nielsen started tracking music sales in 1991. That...Read more

Centerplate takes top honors at Signature Chefs contest
Sioux City Journal, October 7th

Hard Rock Hotel & Casino won the Best Booth award for a display decorated with vintage vinyl records. The cooking competition -- which raises funds for local research and educational programs -- had a record-breaking year, according to Siouxland March...Read more

Vinyl Records are a Hit, Again
WGRZ-TV, September 30th

Records are gaining in popularity again, and for one Buffalo man he's made his passion for Vinyl his business. Phil Machemer runs a record shop out of his garage. He is part of a small but growing group of people who buys and sells vintage vinyl...Read more

Lee Michaels Retrospective and Catalog Box Being Issued by Manifesto Records
VVN Music, September 30th

Michaels gave A&M a double live album to wrap up his contract and then moved on to a promising new deal with Columbia Records. Live, recorded on the tour to support Space & First Takes, returns to the two-piece, wailing-organ sound and the story can ...Read more

New Jersey's Coyote Records Being Revived With New Album From Speed the Plough
VVN Music, September 29th

Fallon moved to Rehoboth Beach, Delaware in 1996 and shortly after opened Gidget's Gadgets, a vintage retro emporium that soon included an expanding selection of new and used vinyl records. His continuing interest in music - and LPs in particular - led ...Read more