The enthusiasm for vinyl recordings doesn’t just stop at the warm sound and tangible experience, a major chunk of the vinyl lifestyle is taking appreciation for the visual artwork of the sleeve and disc itself. Great effort is taken into designing these visual masterpieces, and sometimes picture discs or coloured vinyl make for an even more interesting spinning-pattern.
For some artists though, a picture disc or a pink blob on their record just simply doesn’t do their craft justice, and so in the name of art, publicity, quirkiness and just plain insanity, a number of bands and singers have gone above and beyond during their vinyl pressing process.
10. Karen Elson – Vicious
Karen Elson is an artist who likes to take a spin on things (pun pun pun) with her vinyl printings. The 2011 Record Store Day special pressing of her 7″ ‘Vicious’ single was limited to 1000 copies, and a clear vinyl, housing an arrangement of real peach rose petals. Limited to 1000 pressings.
9. Gibby Haynes – Paul’s Not Home
Gibby Haynes’ ‘Paul’s Not Home’, was once pressed entirely on old x-ray films with a silver flake label as the finishing touch. Each unit was unique and only contained an A-Side, Limited to 100 pressings.
8. Dead Weather – Blue Blood Blues
The Dead Weather released album ‘Blue Blood Blues’ in a unique fashion, designed by none other than Jack White himself. The grooves of the 12″ vinyl LP are found on either side of the vinyl as one would expect, but embedded within the LP itself is a 7″ record, complete with its own set of songs. In order to be able to listen to this additional content, one would have to cut the LP open and sacrifice the content of the other disc. Basically, it’s one or the other… Limited to 300 copies.
7. Karen Elson – The Ghost Who Walks
Karen Elson’s ‘Vicious’ isn’t the only quirky pressing in her discography. A limited number of the singer’s ‘The Ghost Who Walks’ were pressed with a marbled peach design, with a peach scent to top it off! Lovely. This version of the album was only available via a secret link and was originally limited to a specific number of pressings, but in order to meet with orders, an undisclosed number were printed. Originally limited to 300 copies, but more may exist.
6. Split Enz – True Colours
Split Enz’ True Colours album featured a bunch of different sleeve designs, as well as a truly unique record pressing design. The record was pressed by means of laser etching, giving it a similar appearance to a CD in that holding it to different lights would result in a polychromatic display of colours. Awesome.
5. Breakbot – By Your Side
A limited run of Breakbot’s By Your Side 12″ featured a tasty twist on traditional vinyl pressing, in that it’s not printed to vinyl at all… But rather, chocolate. The unit included a special card that enabled the listener to download two bonus tracks and an extremely limited run of these were made. We can only assume that number to be even more limited now, as the restraint to not eat the record and the effort of keeping it cool enough to last must be more of a challenge than printing the thing. Limited to 120 copies.
4. Nik Colk Void – Gold E
Nik Colk Void recorded Gold E in September, 2011 at Mono House, London. In a true dedication to the art, an added element was joined to the sleeve of the release. The sleeve itself is a hand-cast, polyurethane plastic version of the single. Her reasoning for including this unique aspect to the record was that the material itself will degrade over time, with the sound changing as time passes. The concept is that the record itself is a ‘living sound piece’. Artsy.
3. Third Man Records – The First Three Years of Blue Series Singles on One LP at 3 RPM
Many of the innovative record pressings within this article are published by Third Man, the record label run and fronted by Jack White. In order to celebrate their third birthday as a label, the company put out a compilation record, containing every ‘Blue Series’ single that the they had released until that point. This means that the record has a total of 56 songs from 28 bands! The only catch is that due to the huge track-list and quirky ‘3’ recurrence; the record could only be played at 3 rotations per minute, and therefore had to be rotated by hand – an extremely tricky process indeed. 1 record was pressed for everyone who attended the Third Man anniversary party, but an unknown, very limited number exists. It only made sense to put this unique disc at number 3 on the list.
2, Jack White – Sixteen Saltines
Jack White released a special version of ‘Sixteen Saltines’ for Record Store Day. The weirdly wonderful 12″ record contains blue water, that one could watch slosh and splash around as the record spins on the turntable. It’s said to be the first record ever to be ‘filled with a liquid’.
1. Shout Out Louds – Blue Ice
If you thought records made of chocolate were pretty neat, this next one should impress you. Audiophile’s revere vinyl records for their ‘warmth’, so a very limited number of the Shout Out Louds ‘Blue Eyes’ recordings redefine the entity of sound that your turntable is capable of. In order to play the record, fans were required to construct the record themselves using supplied water and their freezer. These records were completely playable, but only for a short while (depending on the temperature of the listening environment), and it’s really not advised to leave the record on the turntable for too long. The kits needed to make them were limited to 10 units.