13 March 2011

rock on

These are covers from the first few vinyl albums I bought in the 1970's. I still own half of them and have all of them on CD in various formats. I occasionally play the Supertramp and Mott the Hoople but mostly they just take up shelf space. No matter, I not only listen to music, I collect it for the sake of collecting too.

Lately I have been ploughing through my Excel database and updating values (or at least replacement costs) for music. These days most mainstream CD albums can be bought for a tenner or less (ten Great British Pounds Sterling!) but I have plenty of less common pieces in my collection, maybe a quarter of which are no longer in print or at least not available in their original form.

Remember I'm talking about modern CDs here not crackling vinyl. You'd think the older something is the more costly it would be to replace... not so in the muic world. It's all about supply and demand. Sometimes an album is released with a limited print run and stocks disappear within a year. It's not always lesser-known bands this happens with. Take Bowie's "Ziggy Stardust" an album which has been around for almost 40 years and has seen more than a dozen releases with anniversary editions, remastering, new packaging and bonus tracks. In 2003 EMI put out a Super Audio CD version (SACD) which, as many will know, contains not only a stereo layer but also a 5.1 surround sound layer, all remixed using modern technology. Out of print for seven years, it will now set you back a cool $75.

It is alarming to find albums in my collection like Wizzard's "Eddy and the Falcons" commanding prices of $90, or Supertramp's live release "Is Everybody Listening" going for $40. The gorgeous Mott the Hoople Box set "Anthology" is impossible to find for under $200. The Libertines' 2003 single "Don't Look Back into the Sun" sells on eBay for $50. Ian Hunter's releases sold to a small cult market and I have a dozen or more that show up from resellers on Amazon at over $50 and his poorly received 1981 two-disc set "Short Back and Sides" can't be replaced for under $120. Green on Red's pairing of "Gas Food Lodging" with their eponymous first album will cost $40. Even mediocre reviews and ratings don't matter, it's rarity that counts.

Of course none of this is in the same league as pink vinyl pressings, picture discs or sleeve art printed in reverse by mistake but nevertheless time is passing and the seemingly ordinary is slowly becoming extraordinary.


Russell 'C.J.' Duffy said...

I had Bowie's "The Man Who Sold the World" album, it was then his third LP. I had the cover with him reclining on a chaise Loungue (is that how you spell it?) with a set of playing cards scattered on the rug before him. It cost me £3. I sold it (times are hard guv) for £300!!

Perfect Virgo said...

Yes that's the one. ('longue' I think). I have it on CD but it's not on any regular playlist.

A good investment there! I am so surprised at the crazy prices for recent CDs that have gone out of print.

Elena said...

Wow, you're Ziggy Stardust Album sure brings back memories of the copy I once had. Unfortunately I sold most of my vinyl collection after college, opting to use the pittance I received on purchasing jazz, classical, and the likes of Talking Heads and Phillip Glass etc.. How stupid was I!! And come to think of it, I sold my entire Beatles collection. Now that's just plain pathetic!!