Picture Discs of the World

picturediscsoftheworld
Format: book
Publisher: BIOdisc
Country: US
Dimensions: 8.5 X 11″
Year: 1990
Purchased at: Knuckleheads, Syracuse NY

 

Picture discs often get a bad rap, usually due to their purported inferior sound quality. But if you’re buying a picture disc primarily for the listening experience then you’re kind of missing the point…

I love picture discs. There’s just something about those vivid image-infused objects that, when sent spinning on a turntable, fill the soul with hypnotic joy. You’ll be seeing a lot of blog posts on them in the future as I slowly unearth them from my collection.

Although dated, ‘Picture Discs of the World’ is still an invaluable resource for information on this niche vinyl, exhaustively covering just about every disc known to man up until the book’s publication in 1990. Purely by chance I’m sure, the 1990 date is a perfect termination point for the first edition (there was never a second) as it documents the last fading moments of vinyl in the popular consciousness.

Picture discs were really prevalent in the late eighties, garish baroque expressions of a collapsing industry desperate to squeeze out a few more dollars from those loyal enough to still cling to the vinyl format. Although not the book’s primary focus, it’s immediately apparent that good portion of this flavor of vinyl hails from the decade where style often eclipsed substance. I have no problem with that.

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sample page

The book appears to be a ‘vanity’ publication, that is, it has all the earmarks of a publication that was put together and then farmed out for printing by a press that would print anything as long as you paid them in advance for the honor. What’s often lacking with books of this sort are the hand of a good editor and layout artist. The book idea may have been shopped around to the ‘legit’ publishers of the day, but being such a niche title, going the self-publication route was probably the only way this thing was going to see the light of day.

Evaluating the book from this perspective it’s clear that it’s a labor of love. Naive in many ways, such as the odd font choices and sizes, it nonetheless is a well-organized and extremely thorough. I find its dense presentation, littered with many photos (most black and white, but a few color plates thrown in), a very satisfying experience. It’s a tome you take your time with and explore.

Rather rare and pricey today (going for $50 and up on AbeBooks) it’s a must-have if you’re into pre-nineties record collecting

The table of contents are worth sharing:

  • Picture Discs, By Definition and Scope
  • A Goal toward Completeness
  • Laser-etched and Other Pseudo Picture Discs
  • Picture Discs Included
  • A Word on Record Numbers #
  • Conflicting Release Dates
  • How to Use and Misuse This Book
  • What about the Prices?
  • The Dollar versus the Yen versus the Pound
  • Condition & Value
  • Grading
  • The Value of Cut-Outs
  • The Pre-shaped, Pre-cut 12 Inch Record
  • Interview Picture discs
  • About Plinths, the Stand-up Displays
  • Bootlegs
  • One-of-a-Kind Oddities, Private Pressings
  • Alphabetical Listings
  • Chronological History of Picture Discs
  • List of Discographies
  • Coming in the Second Edition
  • General Listings (Microgroove)
  • Various Artists Section
  • Radio Station Promo (Compilations)
  • 78 RPM Section
  • Index (For General Listings)
  • Index (78 RPM for Section)
  • Photo Identification
  • Directory of Buyers/Sellers

 

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Bette Bright and the Illuminations: When You Were Mine / Soulful Dress

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Format: 7″ picture disc

Label: Korova

Country: UK

Year: 1981

Price paid: $3.86 (incl. shipping)

Purchased at: eBay

 

When you were mine

You were all I ever wanted to do

Now I spend my time

Following him whenever she’s with you

‘When You Were Mine’ was a single from Bette’s 1981 ‘Rhythm Breaks the Ice‘, released in a standard sleeve version as well as this picture disc format. Sadly and surprisingly it failed to chart.

This is a cover of a Prince song, off of his third studio album, 1980’s ‘Dirty Mind.’ What woman artist of the 80s HASN’T Prince worked with or touched in some way? Professionally, I mean. Sheena Easton, Shelia E, Wendy and Lisa, Dale Bozzio, Vanity, the list goes on.

bettebright_whenyouPDbDespite being covered by well over a dozen artists- Cyndi Lauper, Ani DiFranco, and most recently ‘Tegan and Sarah’- as far as I can tell it has never charted significantly in the US or UK. Arguably this is the best version; it has a certain wistful bubbly 60s feel that even the original lacks.

I’m a sucker for picture discs. The art design makes great use of the circle format, not simply shoehorned-in square art derivative of the standard single that many picture discs are guilty of. Well I guess it kind of is, but it works well due to the predominately white composition that allows Bette’s form to float in space. And it looks great spinning on a turntable!

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Adam Ant: Goody Two Shoes/Red Scar

Format: 7″ picture disc
Country: UK
Year: 1982
Price paid: $3
Purchased at: The Bop Shop, Rochester NY

 

 “Don’t drink don’t smoke – what do you do? Subtle innuendos follow- there must be something inside”

Adam and the Ants parted ways in 1982, although Marco Pirroni stayed with Adam in the capacity of co-wrtiter.

Drummer Chris ‘Merrick’ Hughes rejoined ‘Dalek I Love You.’

This is Adam’s first solo single after leaving Adam and the Ants. It was a
#1 hit in the UK, reaching #12 on the US charts. This would be his last #1 hit.

Interestingly some Adam solo material- such as this disc-still carry the old ‘Adam and the Ants’ name. This error was corrected with later releases.

Kuratt and Rame: Shaky Sharks (Diesel Greatest Hips series)

Format: 12″ LP

Label: Diesel

Country: Netherlands

Year: 2004

Price paid: $3

Purchased at: The Record Archive, Rochester NY

 

I had no idea what the fuck this was when I picked it up, but I loved the cover art. I believe it was incorrectly priced at only three bucks… you can’t go wrong with a three dollar picture disc!

In researching this LP I had the hardest time finding ANY information. This compilation had nothing available on eBay at all. Same for Amazon. I finally found three copies at gemm.com with huge prices. Not sure how accurate those values are though, but looking at the price tags at others in the series (see below) $50-75 seems to be the going rate!

What info I can garner is that this is a promo-only release by Diesel Marketing Strategy for Diesel Jeans. ‘Kuratt & Rame’ are types/styles/cuts of different brands of jeans. Or something. There’s a whole series of these LPs (at least 12 in the series.) I wouldn’t be surprised if this LP is a compilation of tracks that would be played in their retail shops, ala something Old Navy might do.

Anyway, weird mix of tunes. B-52’s to Wilson Pickett, Ramones to the Everly Brothers, Echo and the Bunnymen to Clarence Carter.

Voice of the Beehive: I Walk the Earth/This Weak

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Format: 10″ picture disc
Label: London
Country: UK
Year: 1988
Price paid: $3
Location purchased: Jack Wolak’s Rare Necessities

When I think of Voice of the Beehive (VOTB) I always think of England. If I ever wrote a book on the late 80’s UK music scene (something I’ve been tempted to do more than once over the years) I’d be torn whether to include them or not. The sister duo are Californian, BUT the band was formed in the UK, have exclusively UK backup musicians, performed primarily in the Britain, had most of their chart action there, and much of their ‘weirder’ vinyl output (such as this 10″) were released solely for British consumption.

VOTB had no delusions of artistic depth; even though they were known for their clever often thoughtful lyrics, they were perfectly comfortable making jangly aggressive power-pop.

‘I Walk the Earth’ peaked at number 42 on the UK charts. The band had eight top-50 hits in the UK over their three album lifespan, most from their debut album ‘Let it Bee’ (of which this single is from.)

The 10″ itself is a great example of period UK vinyl production. At the time of this single’s release UK vinyl sales in general were lagging so companies pulled out all the stops in an effort to make an impression with the consumer. If you think about it the 10″ is a pretty useless size. I suppose it has its uses… if you’re putting together an EP and need more space than a 7″ but less that a 12″. Maybe. But that’s not the case here as this is merely a 2 track single. The vinyl is clear, but instead of the usual practice of inserting a paper element between two sheets of vinyl, there’s simply two stickers laying on the surface.

Probably limited to 5,000 pressings, this is numbered 4480. The B-side is exclusive to this disc.