40 Most Collectible Records
Okay, so it's not really the 40 most collectable records (if it was it would contain nothing but doo-wop, northern soul and classical music). It's actually the 40 most collectable records that have half-decent stories appropriate for Mixmag readers.
1. FRANK WILSON – DO I LOVE YOU (SOUL 7-INCH) (£15,000)
There are music fans and there are record collectors. And then there are northern soul collectors, the Al-Qaeda of vinyl hounds, hardliners who take no prisoners and think nothing of sending their children up chimneys in order to finance a particularly rare Ric-Tic 45. Frank Wilson’s Do I Love You is the Holy Grail of many northern collectors, mainly because it is so darned rare (you may recognise from its appearance on a KFC ad a few years ago). Originally recorded in 1965, it was shelved without ever being properly pressed when Motown decided that Wilson would be better served as a producer rather than artist (he went on to write and produce many great Motown songs). The first copy was discovered in 1978 when record dealer Simon Soussan got it from Motown employee Tom DePierro (depending on which story you prefer to believe, he was given it by DePierro, or he stole it from his collection). The 45 passed through various hands before being bought by collector Tim Brown for £5,000 in 1989. The following year another copy was found in the collection of American Motown collector Ron Murphy who sold his entire collection for $20,000. It’s rumoured that Martin Koppell, who bought the collection, then sold the second 45 to Scottish northern soul fan Kenny Burrell for £15,000. There are now known to be three copies around but there have been persistent rumours of other copies and last year an untouched box was said to have been unearthed, but if it has it’s been well hidden. A book idea for Dan Brown, perhaps?
2. CLARENCE G – HYPERSPACE SOUND LAB (FLOURESCENT FOREST 12-INCH/1991) (£5,400)
Clarence G is the first release of James Stinson, more commonly known by the recording alias of Drexciya, who tragically died in 2002. All releases associated with Detroit’s Underground Resistance have always been collectible due to the label’s mystique, shying away from publicity and photos, although they have occasionally been snapped in militaristic poses that look make them look more like a Techno Dad’s Army than Al-Qaeda. (The name Drexciya, incidentally, is apparently also an underwater country peopled by the unborn children of African slaves ejected from ships, who have learned to breath underwater. Just so you know.) The Clarence G has continued to rise in value over the past few years and is now fetching sums well into the hundreds. Last year, however, something rather strange happened. The same EP suddenly went for £5,400 on eBay. No one knows why for sure, though there is a suggestion among collectors that an account was more than likely hacked or someone had lost their marbles (or, if not their marbles, then certainly their savings).
3. ARTHUR MONDAY – WHAT GOES AROUND (STAGE MUSIC 7-INCH/1969) (£2,332)
DJ Shadow once said to me: “45s are the crack cocaine of record collecting.” To become truly sought after on the deep funk scene, a 7-inch single has to be on a local label from a small town in Virginia, recorded in a garden shed by five Vietnam veterans who promptly disappear into the Blue Ridge Mountains to set up a drug-based religious sect, never to be heard of again. Ideally, only three copies should exist, all owned by the bass player’s aunt Bess. Collector and drummer Malcolm Catto found the first copy of this for £15. Dealer Jazzman Gerald found a further copy that sold for a then record sum (for a funk 45) of £700 to Keb Darge. Then it went mad when a Japanese collector bought one from eBay for $4,293. Jazzman Gerald managed to track Arthur Monday down and found him residing in a nursing home in the Deep South, blissfully unaware of his new-found fame. Subsequent copies have come up for sale and the price has plummeted down to a more manageable (but no less absurd) $900. What goes around, comes around. And down.
(Available on CD: Keb Darge’s Legendary Deep Funk Vol. 3)
4. RAMMELZEE VS. K ROB – BEAT BOP (TARTOWN/1983) (£1000)
Although this has been reissued a few times, the original pressing is fiercely prized because it’s suitably scarce, but more importantly it was issued by deceased artist Jean-Michel Basquiat and features his original artwork on the sleeve. Coincidentally, it’s also a great early hip hop record.
5. WILLIE HUTCH – LOVES RUNS OUT/THE DUCK (DUNHILL/1965) (£1,000)
Northern soul fans are a fiendish lot, fiercely guarding their secrets with dirty tricks and lies. The favourite trick is to ‘cover-up’ a record, in other words place a false label over the original and make up a name and title to throw rival DJs off the scent. For several months in the 1970s everyone thought this tune was by Richard Temple and was called Do The Duck.
6. VASHTI BUNYAN – JUST ANOTHER DIAMOND DAY (PHILIPS LP) (£600-£900)
So what if she has a name that sounds like a rare strain of verucca, Vashti Bunyan’s Just Another Diamond Day has become a holy grail for many UK music lovers. Vashti, after recording some early songs, became disillusioned with the music industry, and set off on a horse and cart (as you do) for the Isle of Skye to join a commune set up by hippie singer Donovan, encountering producer Joe Boyd on the way. Together they cut this wistful album full of pastoral references and Philips released it in 1970 to general indifference. She quit the business. When Bunyan acquired a computer about eight years ago, she was shocked to discover her forgotten album was passing hands for up to £900. The album was reissued a few years ago and the inclusion of the title track on a recent T-Mobile advert (and a new CD) has completed the renaissance. She still has a name that sounds like a foot disease, though.
7. FAMILY TREE – FAMILY TREE (ANADA/1977) (£400-£700)
A rump-shaking disco tune that’s so rare on 12-inch some folks didn’t believe it existed. The masters, so the story goes, were taken illegitimately and pressed. As a result, the single never got a full release. Sharon Brown, who later had a hit with I Specialise In Love, is the featured singer. UK label OST licensed it three years ago and released it legally for the first time, with a Fatboy Slim remix (a good one, too).
8. MIGHTY RYEDERS – SPREAD THE MESSAGE (SUN-GLO LP/1978) (£600)
Beat-diggers love this album a) because it’s dead groovy and b) because it’s darned rare. producers have hammered it for samples over the years, from Wagon Christ to Rza, but it’s most famously been used by De La Soul who took Evil Vibrations for A Roller Skating Jam Named Saturdays. The Rebirth also did a fine cover version of Evil Vibrations last year.
9. PAUL NICHOLAS – RUN SHAKER LIFE (POLYDOR) (£250-£600)
Discovering Paul Nicholas had desirable records is a bit like finding out that Cliff Richard and Judith Chalmers were once in Finnish death metal group Lordi. Paul Nicholas is better known as the star of such questionable sitcoms as Close To Home and Two Up, Two Down, alongside Su Pollard (you may be relieved to note Su has no sought-after recordings). Richie Havens cover version Run Shaker Life (on the B-side of Freedom City) was recently unearthed by mod DJs and the last copy to go on eBay went for $620.
10. PRINCE – BLACK ALBUM (WARNER BROS LP/1987) (£450)
Many years before he found God, joined the Jehovah’s Witnesses and began selling The War Cry door-to-door in Minneapolis, Prince was a regular guy who liked nothing more than knocking out brilliant album after brilliant album in between polishing his purple buttons and counting his money. The Black Album was intended as the follow up to his meisterwerk Sign O’ The Times, but before it was ever released Prince decided its overtly direct message of sex was wrong and he blamed it all on a side of his personality he called ‘Camille’. Only 100 promo copies remained. Instead he swiftly released Lovesexy. The Black Album was later released in 1994 when Prince was producing an album every other week in order to get himself released from his Warner Bros contract. No one knows whether ‘Camille’ has also joined the Jehovah Witnesses.
11. AFX – ANALOGUE BUBBLEBATH (REPHLEX LP/1995) (£250-£600)
AFX is one of Richard James’ – aka The Aphex Twin – many pseudonyms. The fifth in the Analogue Bubblebath series is particularly sought after because it was withdrawn at the white label stage (it was never released) when James decided it was substandard. It semi-regularly crops up on eBay, but contrary to some stories has never reached the preposterous levels of bidding that excite the more demented northern soul and funk collectors into penury.
12. DERRY HALL – JUST FOR THE WEEKEND (IN OUT) (£300-£500)
It is the early 1990s, wildebeest stalk the great plains of Salisbury, while dinosaurs march purposefully along Morecambe beach looking for free parties. At Shelleys nightclub in gleaming, downtown Stoke-on-Trent, a phenomenon is taking place each week courtesy of a young DJ called Sasha whose pony tail is so satin-esque he must surely use Silvikrin. DJ Sasha serves up a menu of piano-led screamers that demand the listener place both arms in the air upon hearing any breakdown. Many years later, and those screamers have long since fallen silent apart from a few very collectible ones. Derry Hall is one of them. If Les Dawson had made rave records, they might have sounded like this.
13. MIRAGE FEAT. CHIP E – JACK TRAX (HOUSE 12-INCH/1985) (£250-£350)
Back in the days when a house was somewhere you broke into and a garage was where you hid your porno mags, Chip E was one of the early Chicago house pioneers. Even though he made it on his own, he called it Mirage featuring Chip E so people would think there was a production team behind it (bless). This was later licensed to TSOC and then DJ International.
14. KENNY DIXON JR. – MOODY TRAX (KDJ 12-INCH/1994) (£100-£300)
Mainly known as Moodymann. Kenny is also quite keen on DJing behind a white sheet like a bad man on Scooby Doo (‘and I’d have got away with it if it wasn’t for you pesky kids!’). This is his first release, though many of the Moodymann cuts also go for money, too. Don’t let the fact it’s not very good put you off paying lots for it, though.
15. BARRABAS – WOMAN/WILD SAFARI (RCA/1977) (£120-£300)
‘Discovered’ by David Mancuso, resident DJ at the Loft and one of the founding fathers of modern clubs, while on a trip to Amsterdam in 1973, he loved the two songs so much he bought albums from the record company and sold them to dancers and DJs himself. The really collectable version is the 12-inch, a promo that was only issued in Mexico in 1977.
16. JOHN FORDE – DON’T YOU KNOW WHO DID IT (SIDEWALK 12-INCH/1977) (£100-£200)
When this summery pop-dance tune was originally released in the UK it sank without trace. Six months later, a DJ called Mozart began playing it at the most glamorous discotheque in Italy, Baia Degli Angeli (Bay of Angels), and, since it was so scarce, it was bootlegged several times. Fast-forward 20 years and LA-based DJ Harvey puts it on a mix called Sarcastic Disco. Suddenly, everyone wants a copy. Bidding currently rising faster than a Canary Wharf tower.
17. RARE PLEASURE – LET ME DOWN EASY (CHERI 12-INCH/1976) (£70-£200)
This classic New York disco tune was released on the cusp of the creation of the 12-inch (its relative scarcity comes from its promo-only status). Its collectability comes from an appearance on the Disco Spectrum compilation and, moreover, after it was sampled by David Morales on his 1998 chart hit Needin’ U by The Face, memorable mainly for its preposterously Ibizan video.
18. UNDERWORLD – MOTHER EARTH/THE HUMP (TOMATO 12-INCH/1991) (£70-£160)
Recorded in 1991, shortly after Darren Emerson joined the band, this self-financed single was released on the band’s own Tomato Records and limited to a run of 500. The cachet of collectability is further enhanced by the fact that DJ Sasha played it. Also look out for the pink vinyl promo of Rez that also fetches good money (and some bad).
19. RUFUS HARLEY – RE-CREATION OF THE GODS (ANKH/1972) (£150-£250)
You want obscure? How about an album by America’s finest jazz bagpipe player? No, come back, really, it’s true. A privately-pressed album (in other words Harley released it himself) it became an unlikely jazz-funk classic. Best bit is the sleevenote that claims Harley is one of the best jazz bagpipe players in Philadelphia, as though there are thousands of ’em!
20. MAYDAY – WIGGIN’ (PHEERCE CITI 12-INCH/1988) (£100-£250)
Produced by techno legend Derrick May and released on the dyslexically-correct Pheerce Citi, Kevin ‘Inner City’ Saunderson’s own label, it gets the collectors juices flowing as much for its errors as the music. The music is identical on both sides of the first pressing and the label details are wrong on the second pressing. Saunderson’s night classes in incompetence clearly paid off.
21. ARPADYS – ARPADYS (POLYDOR/1977) (£100-£200)
The rule of thumb for any collector worth his salt is to buy any album that contains tracks using the words ‘funky’, ‘star’, ‘monkey’ and ‘bass’. This album has them all (and it also has ‘pharaoh’). Arpadys was a French disco album that sold badly at the time but has since become a collector’s item, especially in Italy where it was popular among Afro Cosmic DJs like Daniele Baldelli. Arpadys is also an anagram of Pray Sad.
22. JESSE SAUNDERS – ON & ON (JES SAY 12-INCH/1984) (£100-£170)
Jesse Saunders, who has the modesty of Chris Eubanks though sadly not the dress sense, claims this as the first house record ever made. It was called On & On in tribute to a bootleg credited to Mach that all the Chicago DJs used to play (it was a cut up of Funkytown by Lipps Inc with the beep beeps from Donna summer’s Bad Girls thrown in). To say it’s basic would be like describing Jordan’s chest as ‘meagre’.
23. PLEASURE WEB – MUSIC MAN (EASTBOUND/1973) (£150)
This treasured funk 45 became even more desirable when Jurassic 5 sampled it for their outrageously funky Jayou in 1997. Music Man itself was not entirely original, the sampleable part offering their own tribute to Get Up Stand Up By Bob Marley.
24. LABI SIFFRE – HEAR MY SONG (EMI LP/1975) (£60-£120)
Labi is most well known in the UK for It Must Be Love, famously covered by Madness. Among beat-diggers, however, this 1975 album is prized for two songs, The Vulture and, especially, I Got The…. Sampled several times in the 1990s by hip hop artists like The Beatnuts, Jay-Z and Noreaga, its most famous biter is Eminem, who used it on My Name Is (the rhythm track is I Got The… basically). Even funnier is the fact that the drummer and piano player on Labi’s original track are none other than Chas & Dave. Gertcha.
25. VARIOUS - NORTHERN EXPOSURE (MOS LP/1996) (£60-£140)
Let’s face it, when it comes to John Digweed and Sasha, if you could bottle their farts they would sell on eBay for big money. This compilation, released when Sasha/Digweed mania was kissing-my-girlfriend stage rather than the goat-sacrificing dementia of the late ’90s, reflects their mid-90s sound perfectly, blending Underworld with Rabbit In The Moon and Future Sound of London. It’s the unmixed vinyl issue that’s worth the moolah, by the way.
26. COOKIE MONSTER & THE GIRLS – C IS FOR COOKIE (SESAME STREET 12-INCH) (£100)
Were it not for this being the debut remix of legendary New York DJ (resident at possibly NYC’s greatest ever club, the Paradise Garage) Larry Levan, this historical curio may well have drifted into anonymity. As it is, the best mix is actually on the flipside by disco DJ Roy Thode.
27. BFC – THE CLIMAX (RETROACTIVE 12-INCH) (£75-£100)
BFC (it stands for Betty Ford Clinic) is one of Carl Craig’s many pseudonyms. Craig is yet another of Detroit’s producers whose work is shrouded in mystique (or is it mist?) and several of his releases fetch good prices, including several early releases on this label. Only ever 100 copies pressed. Allegedly. Comes with Carl Craig’s autograph etched on to run out groove (like, wow).
28. BLOSSOM DEARIE – THAT’S JUST THE WAY I WANT TO BE (FONTANA LP/1970) (£60-£110)
DJs fiend for this thanks to the rare groove/jazz classic I Like London In The Rain. American singer Blossom Dearie (her real name, fact fans) recorded it in London and the weather patently went to her head. Listen, Dearie, the only reason you like it is because you don’t bloody live here.
29. PAUL MCCARTNEY – TEMPORARY SECRETARY (PARLOPHONE/1980) (£70-£100)
Every so often in dance music something so bizarre happens that not even Nostradamus or Patrick Moore can make sense ot it. In 2004, DJ Erol Alkan began playing Paul McCartney’s Temporary Secretary at his night Trash. Someone at the label got wise to the story and a promo (with a Radioslave edit) was issued (500 copies only). Cue Macca in trendy record shocker.
30. VARIOUS - HISTORY OF HOUSE MUSIC (STREETWAVE 14LP/1988) (£50-£80)
Like an opium-addled Victorian gentleman striving to collect every pebble in the world, this was a preposterously valiant attempt by label boss Morgan Khan and compiler Jazzy M to bring together every major house track of the era. 114 tunes were whittled down from 250 candidates. It took six months to select them and it was released as a fourteen album boxset. Collecting pebbles sounds easier.
31. BLACK DEVIL DISCO CLUB – DISCO CLUB (OUT/1978) (£50-£80)
Big in Italy, ignored everywhere else, this bizarre French disco album – imagine Kraftwerk stuck in a lift with Black Sabbath – was almost unheard of outside of mainland Europe until someone at Aphex Twin’s label Rephlex found one at a car boot sale and loved it so much they licensed it for release in 2004.
32. U2 – SALOME (ISLAND 12-INCH/1992) (£50-£70)
Take a mega rock group, add a limited pressing (only 1,000) and throw a sought-after mix in and you’ve got a collector’s no brainer. Done in the early ’90s when U2 briefly got into bed with dance music and gave it a big sweaty love embrace, Farley & Heller’s mix also happens to be worth every penny.
33. BRIGITTE BARDOT & SERGE GAINSBOURG – BONNIE & CLYDE (FONTANA/1967) (£50-£60)
Brilliant collaboration between two iconic French figures, one for her beauty the other for his pop genius (collaboration is a French euphemism for shagging senseless and often, by the way). Gainsbourg liked collaborations, also working with Jane Birkin and attempted a collaboration with Whitney Houston live on a French chat show when he told her, “I wanna ferk you”. She declined the offer.
34. IKE WHITE – CHANGIN’ TIMES (LA INTERNATIONAL LP/1976) (£30-£60)
When Ike thanked Superintendent Jerry Enomoto, California Department of Corrections and all the personnel of Tehachapi State Prison on his 1976, there was a good reason for it. Ike was in the clink on a life sentence. To be fair he made himself pretty useful while inside, also featuring in the San Quentin Prison Band on guitar. Well, it beats selling tobacco.
35. JUST BROTHERS – SLICED TOMATOES (MUSIC MERCHANT 7-INCH/1972) (£20-£40)
Northern soul fans know it as the fabulous instrumental Sliced Tomatoes, most of the rest of the world knows it as the Rockafeller Skank by Fatboy Slim. Yet another classic slice’n’dice from Brighton’s most famous sample master, the music is entirely based on this northern classic. This tune is a snip compared to Carlena by the same act, however, which fetches anywhere between £1,000-£2,500. Bargain!
36. CYBOTRON – TECHNO CITY (FANTASY 12-INCH/1984) (£40-£50)
Historically important (journo code for: sounds shit) because it was recorded by Rick Davis and Juan Atkins, one of techno’s founding fathers, and provides the source for techno’s name. Early electro record whose nearest equivalent is Afrika Bambaataa’s influential Planet Rock.
37. VARIOUS – METALHEADZ BOXSET (METALHEADZ LP/1997) (£40-£50)
In the days when Goldie was still known as a DJ and producer rather than Bond villain and Eastenders character, Metalheadz was the label for the drum and bass cognescenti. Featuring tracks by Ed Rush, Doc Scott and Dillinja and housed in a tin that is still highly desirable despite looking like a dustbin lid.
38. R. DEAN TAYLOR – THERE’S A GHOST IN MY HOUSE (VIP 7-INCH/1965) (£30-£40)
For about six weeks in the early 1970s, this was the most collectable record in Britain (well, it was if you were a northern soul fan). Ian Levine, who went on to produce Take That, had the only copy. A feverish search ensued all over the US, when suddenly everyone realised it was actually available on a budget price Motown compilation on sale at every petrol station. Doh. R. Dean Taylor ended up on Top of the Pops (it got to no. 3) a mere nine years after recording it and is an altogether fantastic soul record.
39. JIMMY J – 99 RED BALLOONS (JIMMY J 12-INCH/199?) (£30)
In the early ’90s there was a spate of comedy-sample dance anthems (Think: Charly, Sesame’s Treet, Roobarb & Custard). Two factions emerged. One called themselves drum and bass and began using words like ‘intelligent’ and ‘jazz’, while the other continued with the silliness and used words like ‘bonkers’ and, er, ‘more bonkers’. This is happy hardcore. Jimmy J’s anthem is unashamedly in the not-sensible tradition. Thirty quid and a dab of whatsyername, sunshine, and it’s yours.
40. TERRY CALLIER – I DON’T WANT TO SEE MYSELF (WITHOUT YOU) (ERECT 12-INCH/1982) (£20-£30)
When soul DJ Robin Salter began playing a copy of this wistful soul tune in the mid ’80s, Callier had quit the music business and was working as a computer programmer at the University of Chicago. Callier was already well known for songs like Ordinary Joe that still goes for upwards of £300 on eBay. Record dealer Max Rees found 88 sealed copies at a warehouse in Miami and sold them to all the major DJs of the day, sparking frenzied interest in Callier. Acid Jazz honcho Eddie Pillar tracked him down to Chicago and re-released the record, bringing Callier out of his retirement. Callier has subsequently recorded new material and this year provided guest vocals on Massive Attack’s latest single, as well as being championed by fan Gilles Peterson at Radio 1.
© Bill Brewster
Originally published in Mixmag, 2006
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