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Collectors Hand Guide To Collecting LPs

Collectors Hand Guide to Collecting LPs

 Collectors market for LP's from the 50's up to the 90's, can be
explained only by what was available then, and what we have today. Many
people wonder why it is so hard to find things they are looking for.
Perhaps this guide will show why some records are considered valuable
and others are not. We don't want to mention collectable since really
all music is collectable, depending on each collectors interests. This
guide will show the market as it appears today. Rating the music styles
of the past up to the present.
 Anyway I will list the categories and then rate them based on the
demand and also the value of each music interest. The ratings will be
used with a plus (+) symbol representing a star (like critics use).

    ++++ = Excellent (or the most collectable/having value)
    +++1/2 = Very good (highly collectable/having value)
    +++ = Good (collectable/having value)  
    ++1/2 = Average (some moderate collectible/less value)
    ++ =  Fair (not as big, but not bad either/not all that valuable)
    + 1/2 = Poor (very little market for this stuff/having little value)
    + = Terrible (almost no market at all -not a good investment)

Categories and their collectible rating  

Part 1: ROCK

 I start with this category since it is by far the most collected field
of music among LP collectors. However it doesn't mean it is the most
valuable category. With out a doubt, Jazz is and that will be explained
 Music in the 50s produced more Adult oriented music. Rock and Roll
attracted the younger crowd. For that reason LPs were not bought by
younger people. The 45 rpm single was more affordable to them. For that
reason many Rock and Rollers had very few LPs produced by them. For
that reason only, they are more scarce and they as compared to the 60s,
are of the most valuable. Elvis changed all that in the 60s. He almost
single handily sold more LPs than any other Rock group, prior to the
British invasion. Soon the younger generation was now buyer more LPs.
The Adult listening crowd stopped going to the music stores, since
stores were now being populated by teenagers, as opposed to the 50s,
teens went there maybe once or twice a month.
 Finally in the 70s, the Rock LPs dominated the market and that is why
it represents one of the most overstocked and least valuable
categories. Then the 80s brought the CD into the market and LP sales
gradually began to fade. This was not by popularity. (The record labels
pulled the plug on LP's in order to force people into buying CD's.
Because of this, most LP titles during the 80s are harder to find and
by the end of the 80s,most releases did not even have a LP (vinyl)
 The early 90s brought back a small amount of titles yet they are
scarce and are considered, instant collectibles. Once they gone from
the retail, the only way to find them is through resale. That almost
instantly drives the prices up, within months of issue dates and can
in some cases create a false market among collectors. Still if you
were not on the band wagon when the record came out, wanting to get it
later will be costly.
 This has driven the collector to the import market. At least a good
amount of vinyl LP's were still being made around the world. They will
cost more to American collectors, yet even common titles from the 70s
should be picked up when you can find them, since they are often
superior to American pressings.

Doo-wop  ++++  
 Early doo-wop is extremely hard to find, yet is highly sought for. Of
the best and most desired, such groups as the Five Satins and Five
keys. Not to mention Penguins, Del-vikings and many others. These
artists can be worth anywhere from hundreds to thousands. NM items will
almost always sell for more than book prices since price guides become
outdated quickly when it comes to rare NM gems.

Early Rock n Roll  ++++ 
 Bill Haley is still hot. Elvis and other early Rockabilly stars (Carl
Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, some Johnny Cash) are still in big demand,
such as Johnny Burnette, and Marvin Rainwater.  Rockabilly may be the
single most valuable category in the Rock category. Not just because
they are scarce, but because they represent a join a mix of Country and
R&B collectors seeking this style of music. Rock and Rollers such as
Buddy Holly and Little Richard are very collectable, and valuable, yet
Rockabilly for the very obscure titles and artists can command
thousands in the open market. Find them in NM condition will be costly
unless you strike a great find in some flea market. That is to say the
least, a very rare occurrence. Be prepared for years of searching or
else paying top dollar for them when they are available from sellers
and dealers who know what they have. They just don't come cheaply and
perhaps never will.

Late 50s-early 60s RNR  +++1/2
 Chuck Berry is a legend and remains at the top of this category.
Followed by other legends such as The Everly's, Duane Eddy, Belmonts,
Orbison and The Platters. Etc., the list could go on and on.

Early 60s teen idols  +++
 Value wise they are not of the highest, yet some teen idols still
command decent prices. Anka, Avolon, Ricky Nelson, Rydell and so on.

60s Girl groups  ++++
 Still  very hot and some getting harder to find in decent condition.
The Angels, Crystals, Ronnettes, Chiffons, are of some very desirable
girl groups.

British invasion  +++1/2
 The British invasion has some winners and losers. The market is mostly
for Stones, Beatles, Dave Clark Five. Some lesser demand is for
Herman's Hermits and Freddy and the Dreamers and Chad and Jeremy.
Beatles  ++++
 They alone are the single most collectable group of this century. Say
what you will about them having made a lot of records, yet finding the
NM gems of the fab four, has become more difficult than ever before.
Still the number 1 group in the market. Plenty of people have Beatle
records. Only a handful have a unique collection. Which is all NM
items. (P.S. I have one of the most complete collections of original
commercial 1st pressings. I myself have been collecting them for over
20 years. Many are still not NM items. I have the best that I could
find, and believe me, I have searched very hard!)
 The doors stay open for new finds. Prices are not getting lower.
They will be hot for a long time to come. Even the new Anthology issues
will become instant collectibles, only because they were limited in
pressings. The BBC release is already commanding more than double the
original retail prices, for the US release. Sealed copies are already
getting 3 times book value! This may be hard to believe, but is quite

Elvis  ++++
 What  more is there to say. He is after all 'The King.' Collectors
(just like those of the Beatles) are all over the world. The demand
for Elvis is as high as it ever has been. Value wise, prices vary, yet
even after his death, reissues are commanding top dollar. Collectors
seem to want it all, when it comes to Elvis. Duplicate copies,
originals, and rare imports. They just can't get enough of him.

The other British groups  +++
 Take away the Beatles and the market for other groups drops a bit.

Mid 60s And Surf  +++
 Beach Boys, Jan and Dean, Dick Dale, Astronauts, Surfaris, etc... Still
a great investment for the popular ones. some will not be valuable, yet
if demand stays high, the market prices will either remain stable or
gradually increase over the next few years. Once again the serious
collector is looking for NM, so although the Beach Boys sold better
than most, they are still valuable if Mono and NM.

Folk Rock  ++1/2
 Sorry Dylan fanatics. Although Dylan is priced high in most guides, the
Folk Rock music overall is not in as big of a demand. Groups like the
Byrds, Simon and Garfunkel and Joni Mitchel, are only so-so
collectibles. Value wise, they are still easy to obtain.

Late 60s Early 70s  +++
 The Doors, Jimi Hendrix, Jefferson Airplane... They are all still
desirable and still in demand. Some are valuable and some not, but
still popular in today's market.  Remember, Hendrix only made 5 LPs up
until his death. There are over 300 LPs by him, since his death.
Originals from his first 5, will command big prices in a serious market

70s mainstream  ++
 Frampton, Styx, Seger, Chicago, Doobies... Although there was some good
music here , they are rather easy to find, and so not much interest or
value here. Best to just pick them up for the music. As I mentioned.
Too many of these titles were produced and so the market is only for
the music, not for originals, or rarity.

Soft Rock  ++
 Well you know who was around. Carly Simon, America, Bread, etc... Part
of the 70s overstocked titles.

British Progressive Rock  ++1/2
 Although such groups like Pink Floyd are still a great sound to collect,
most Prog rock is not in heavy demand. Most titles from early Genesis,
Yes and ELP, are rather easy to find in good shape. Floyd can be scarce
at times, yet there are plenty of their Dark Side of the Moon reissues
out that it makes most collectors wanna gag.

Hard Rock  ++
 Black Sabbath, Scorpions, etc... Not a whole lot of interest here,
However Kiss stands alone as one of the few that still are collectable.

Heavy Metal  ++
 Maybe not now, but someday. 

Speed Metal  +++
 Metallica heads the list. Garage Days being harder to find, and one of
the most counterfeited metal LP's around. Motorhead, Slayer, Possessed,
etc... There is a demand for these groups.

Punk  +++
 Ramones, Sex Pistols, Dead Kennedys... Punk is hot, and could get
hotter yet. Many recorded for obscure record labels and were issued in
stores that could handle vaster varieties of music. The pop music
stores were turned off by Punk and thus they are a bit more scarce and
will command more value in years to come.

Late 70s-Early 80s
New Wave:  ++1/2
 Some good music from these time periods. Elvis Costello, The Clash,
Talking Heads, Pretenders. Yet all these titles are easy to find and
collectors are not paying much for them these days.

Alternative  +++
 R.E.M, Depeche Mode, Cure, Red Hot Chilly Peppers Green Day,
Cranberries... Although some alternative can easily be described as
folk rock and some as punk, this is hot among younger collectors. What
is now is what counts, at least to the Generation-X crowd. Finding
titles became scarce during the late 80s and early 90s. Whether they
will be of value in years to come, depends on if the music survives.
Some groups have been around since the early 80s, so it looks like it
is only growing in popularity, rather than declining.

Garage and Psychedelic Bands:  ++++
 These were groups that can vary in interest. Book prices are not up to
date when it comes to Garage Bands. Many were only regionally released.
Some are impossible to find on LP. Some made it to bigger labels but
only sold marginally or were discontinued since there was little
interest at the time. Some got no air play assistance from DJ's or
Radio in itself. Some bands wrote their own music and these original
scores are highly sought after. The one problem has been, lack of
information on these low key (shadowed) groups. People are looking and
if you got Garage or Psychedelic rarities, you should test the market.
The reward (financially), may surprise you!

Latest and New Indies:  +++
 These are our groups of tomorrow. Many more labels exist for the sole
purpose of releasing industrialize sounds and noise. The names of
groups are often obscure, since they are mostly regional artists, much
like the Garage band era of the 60s. Probably more popular with
younger people than those who grew up in the 70s and 80s. Prices
almost always start out at collectors prices. retail, many are selling
for as much as $5 for the 45s. LP's are even more scarce. Hang on to
your hats. If these groups make it to a bigger label, their original
indie labels will draw mega bucks in the open market. Nirvana's
Sup-pop indie titles are already collecting top dollar. Pearl Jam is

Part 2: SOUL

 One of the best categories in collecting is Soul music. Foreign
markets are one of the biggest for this style of music. Because of the
foreign market, even titles of only a few years ago, are proven harder
to find. It appears that most of the people in the US have taken Soul
for granted over the last 5 to 10 years. Because they feel they are
easy to find, they are not valuable. This simply is wrong! Original
Soul records are selling for 2 to 5 times what American price guides
quote them as. Don't get your hopes up though. Unless you are selling
these records in a global market, here in the states, you still will
only get marginal prices for your collections. It is best to open up
and test the world market rather than fall into a backyard sale. Only
then will you see the interest. Keeping that in mind, we will now
explain what is hot and what is not...

50's Rhythm & Blues  ++++
 Lavern baker, Chick Willis, Etta James, Ray Charles, Ruth Brown...
Before the Motown sound there was the very good black R&B that circled
the stateside. Some are very obscure today since most of them were
limited in release either by region or because of the control that
white R&B had on the market. With out a doubt, rare black R&B will be
harder to find than most any  LP's styles from the 50s. Perhaps even
more scarce than Rock and Roll.

60s Soul  +++1/2
 Once again Ray Charles, Sam & Dave, Aretha Franklin, Isley Brothers,
Gladys Knight... These are some of the more well known people. There
are some very obscure artists on independent labels (regional releases)
that will command even more in value than these artists. For the
record, if it did not chart in the pop charts, it is probably a good
bet that it is wanted today. Songs that sold millions are easier to
find. But those non-charted singles and LP's will be in higher demand,
in todays market.

Memphis Sound  +++
 Bar-kays, Sam and Dave, Otis Redding Booker T & the MG's, Wilson
Picket, etc... A good bet on these artists are not their hits, but the
songs that just would not make any dent in the pop charts. They may
have done well in the R&B charts, but that was not a basis to tell how
well they sold nationwide in the US. If you find them and don't
recognize the song, you will have a winner (if it's a good song, of
course).  Although some Soul music which was considered not that
good, may be the most valuable items to find! If it did not go
anywhere in any chart, it may be a big demand item. Not all
collectable music has to be good. You will learn about this when we
discuss Celebrity vocals, later in this guide. Celebrity LP's have a
cult following that will more than surprise you... But that will be
later when we discuss them.

Motown  +++1/2
 Temptations, Four seasons, Supremes, S Wonder, Marvin Gaye, The
Miracles, Mary Wells, etc... These are still hot artists. Value wise
only the very early material is hard to find. Once the groups started
putting out hit after hit, they would then be easier to find. Still if
NM, they are a great find. NM soul from 25 to 30 years ago is still the
desired interest here.

Chicago Soul  +++1/2
 Impressions, Chi-lites, C. Mayfield, Jerry Butler... Still in good
demand, however value wise, they begin to fall once we find them from
the 70s. Late 60s are good finds still.  Remember, they are not going
to be worth a lot. They are only hot because people are looking for

70s Soul  +++
 Kool and the Gang, EW&F, Barry White, Stylistics, Joe Simon, Chaka
Kahn... Not really hard to find, but still popular. They are not
collectable in a value sense. They are, however, still seek by Soul
collectors. Financially they're not going to be money makers, but
enough of a supply will bring in good sales.

Phillie Sound  +++
 Fantastic Johnny C., O'Jays, Spinners, Harold Melvin... Yes they are
hot as well. Value is not important and whether they are rare or not,
makes no difference. They are still in demand. 

Funk  ++++
 Parliament, Funkadelic, George Clinton, Bootsy, Ohio Players,
Sly Stone... Oh yes, with out a doubt, Funk is very hot. They sell well
just about anywhere. Got em? Hang on! This music has regained some
steam among collectors. Value will increase.

80s Soul  ++1/2
 What's wrong with the 80s, you ask? Prince, Cameo, Peabo Bryson,
Rick James, Luther Vandross, New edition, Bobby Brown, Whitney Houston,
 Prince has been said to be very collectable. I believe that market
trends have tapered on him. His sales for new releases have dropped.
His earliest LP and singles are drastically over priced in price
guides. O.K., I'll stop picking on him. Prince collectors should
realize that his material for the most part, is rather easy to find...
 Only a few items of his, could be considered rare. The rest of this
era, goes hand in hand. The artists may have been too popular when they
first came out. They are in less demand today. In other words, if you
can find a water bubbler at every corner in town, you won't worry about
being thirsty. You will hold off on storing water, since you can get it
at will. Too many 80 releases have caused the demand and value of these
titles to drop, and become less desirable to collectors. Good for the
music, but not for the pocket book.

Disco  ++1/2
 I can't say this will always be this way.  It was laughed off the
market during the 80's but when the word "Dance" replaced "Disco", it
made it's slow comeback. It is starting to gain some force in the
market, yet most LP titles are rather easy to find, and are not
considered valuable by any means. It is definitely worth keeping your
eye on though. KC and the Sunshine Band, Donna Summers, Irene Cara,
Village People... These are not scarce. Probably there are too many to
go around. If Disco makes a comeback, the big name artist will only
draw minor attention to the market. If it's easy to find any type of
record, prices will never get very high. Although people may desire
them for the music, don't expect to get much for them. Garage sales
and Flea markets have a hard time dumping these over-produced titles.
What can your chances be of making anything off them? Let's wait and

Rap  ++
 Even though rap is definitely a hot category, there are few who buy
LPs for it. CDs and that's about it. So Rap is not a good investment.
Never mind whether you like it or not, just don't pay the mint on LPs
just because there out there. This is a very selected area of interest.
Who listens to Rap? We all hear it, and artist come and go. If it fades
for a while, only then to make a comeback then perhaps the market will
pay a bit better for the obscure LP's. CD's are massed produced and
thus the market has shown little or no interest in LP titles. New or
older, makes no difference. Look in the stores. Who is buying what?
They either want the CD or the Tape. Most people who want Rap, don't
even own a turntable.

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