By Thomas Quillfeldt
Given that we’re still seeing innovation in making turntables cheaper and/or more space-efficient—like this minimalist ‘Love’ turntable or the 'autostreaming hifi turntable' Gearbox Automatic—all those newbies getting into vinyl will need some great tunes to play, not to mention some ostentatious covers, attention-grabbing gatefolds and delectable discs to gawp at.
We had a lot of fun casting about the web for entries in our initial ‘Wide world of strange and beautiful vinyl’ round-up. Here are some more beautiful and/or bizarre releases that caught our eye—just a drop in the vast vinyl ocean of remarkable releases.
Vinyl Williams – “Into” – Company Records (2015)
The clue is in the name. Purveyor of ‘somnambulant pop’, Lionel ‘Vinyl’ Williams, clearly throws everything into the design of his gatefold artwork and discs, especially with this mesmeric limited rainbow starburst vinyl.
The Flaming Lips / Tame Impala – “Peace And Paranoia Tour 2013” – Lovely Sorts of Death Records (2013)
The Flaming Lips and Tame Impala always deliver on two fronts: incredible looking vinyl and extreme wackiness. This limited edition EP has been fondly described as “fuck-around stuff”, musically-speaking, with each band covering two of the others’ tracks—but the release looks great. The vinyl colours were hand-poured by New Fumes/Daniel Huffman.
The Zombies – “Odessey & Oracle” – Varese Sarabande / Newbury Comics (1967; 2015)
It’s not easy to find mint copies of the original CBS/Date Records release, so this coloured-disc pressing by Newbury Comics of the recent Varèse Sarabande release is an eye-catching alternative. Recorded in 1967 at Abbey Road Studios, The Zombies made Odessey & Oracle whilst breathing essentially the same air as the band which recorded immediately before them—The Beatles during the Sgt. Pepper sessions.
Journey – “Escape” – Columbia Records (1981)
Stanley “Mouse” Miller—of The Grateful Dead album cover fame—designed this sci-fi sleeve (which originally had a patterned, embossed cover) for Journey’s E5SC4P3.
Don’t stop believin’ that this cover inspired Brian Gibson’s art for the (also gorgeous) Thumper Collector’s Edition vinyl:
Earthless – “From The Ages” – Tee Pee Records (2013)
This instrumental hard rock album comprises four tracks, the last coming in at over half an hour in length and the whole caboodle was recorded in just two days. I’ll wager that the extraordinary cover (by Alan Forbes) and gatefold art (by Mike Eginton) took a tad longer to produce.
Hugh Myrone – “Drift Stage” – Ghost Ramp (2016)
Kickstarted retro-style arcade racer Drift Stage may still be at the ‘public early alpha’ stage, but it has already enjoyed two car-shaped vinyl release featuring synthwave/80’s rock tracks from Hugh Myrone’s soundtrack—Drift Stage Main Theme and Exclusive Coupé.
Toto – “Africa / Rosanna” – Columbia (1982)
Just in case you didn’t know what the A-side of this single was about, Toto decided to be really, really explicit.
If bands America, Europe, Asia (and Japan) all created similar ‘continent-cut’ vinyl records, a collector could have a whole world of fun. Sadly the Manic Street Preachers’ single release of Australia was only circular. Similarly unsubtle is Skid Row’s Youth Gone Wild axe wax (Atlantic, 1989).
And this late 80’s novelty hip-hop single by Fat Boys (Wipeout – Urban Records, 1987) is just… spectacularly tasty. For some entertainingly, monumentally bad lip synching, be sure to check out the video.
Dust Moth – “Scale” – The Mylene Sheath (2016)
Seattle ‘wall-of-sound’ rock band Dust Moth have a sound as dense as this elaborate vinyl which would be ‘clear’ but for the crazy combination of a red center and black, red and yellow splatter.
There are other great examples of splatter discs where the disc label works in concert with the colours, for instance with FUN.’s Aim and Ignite (Nettwerk / Paper + Plastick, 2009):
Sometimes, artists and designers just want to poke your eyes out, as with Dan Terminus’ The Wrath Of Code (Blood Music, 2016):
Olga Bell – “Incitation EP” – One Little Indian (2015)
Alex Trochut designed the arresting art for this special edition, pressed on translucent dove grey vinyl with white marbling.
Vinnie Caruana – “City By The Sea” – Surrender / Run For Cover Records (2013)
The gold, etched pressing of Vinnie Caruana’s debut solo EP was limited to 300 and was truly a thing of beauty.
The Residents – “The White Single” – Ralph Records (1984)
Somewhat apt for a 1984 release, this 7” vinyl is always watching you... thanks to white a disc with red printed veins and a blue iris label.
Whirr – “Around” – Graveface Records (2013)
With a custom spiral die-cut jacket, shoegaze band Whirr’s Around also comes with milky clear with black splatter and milky clear in-black colour-in-colour discs.
Perturbator – “Dangerous Days” – Blood Music (2014)
A major collaborator with Dennaton Games and Devolver Digital for the Hotline Miami soundtrack (and with Laced Records for the Collector’s Edition vinyl), Parisian Perturbator’s vinyl productions—for his soundtrack-inspired ‘dystopian synth-exploitation’ sound—explore the art of the neon nighttime, replete with ladies of the night.
And what could be sexier than the cover of soft rock band Orleans’ Waking and Dreaming? (Asylum, 1976)
Split Enz – “True Colours” – A&M Records (1980)
New Zealand’s zany Split Enz, featuring a pre-Crowded House Neil Finn, released a striking laser-etched version of their fifth album, as well as multiple versions with different coloured, striking artwork.