The Beatles Box Set Challenge

Beatles Box Set LPs Stereo

“I bet that I can buy the original Beatles records on vinyl for less than the cost of the new stereo box set on Amazon.”

Part 1/6

The announcement made on the 27th September that The Beatles are to re-release all their albums on vinyl on the 12th November in a deluxe box set has got people of a certain age (me) slightly excited at the thought of getting those re-mastered records in 180g vinyl all shiny and new.

There are a couple of insects in the ointment of course. Firstly, it appears that these are not remastered versions. Presumably the logic being you don’t need to digitally remaster an analogue recording if you are releasing it in an analogue format. Fair enough. I think.

The other problem is that when I looked up the set on Amazon when they announced the launch, the price was £445. That’s right. Four hundred and forty five English pounds. During a recession. We’re all darting about diving in bins or foraging for mushrooms to feed our families and rummaging through charity shops to find an old pair of winter boots and here comes Ringo and Macca meekly seeking another few hundred notes.

It’s almost the cost of a ticket to see The Rolling Stones

I was telling my friend Chris about this problem on the day of the announcement.

“There’s always the option of not buying it, of course” he helpfully suggested.

“That seems somewhat dull, and not really entering into the spirit of the thing” I countered, “It’s probably cheaper to buy the originals though…”

“No chance” said Chris with a knowledgeable air. “Some of those records fetch hundreds on eBay. You’ve got as much chance of saving money buying the originals as I have of enjoying Mariah Carey‘s next record”.

The words sprung forth from his lips, as if thrown like a gauntlet at my feet.

“You’re on”.

“What?”

“You’re on. I bet that I can buy the LPs in that Beatles Albums Box Set for less than it costs on Amazon.”

We did a quick bit of maths. Fourteen albums divided by £445 was less than £30 each. Surely that was possible?

“And the loser has to buy a Mariah Carey album and listen to it. A lot. At least ten times.”

The stakes were getting higher. The consequences of losing were becoming pretty dire.

Carey. Dire. Terrible consequences. Oh God, No.

We shook hands, and agreed the fine print. I had until we saw each other again (the 20th of October) to complete the task – just a few weeks. No stealing or borrowing records. And no bootlegs or knock-offs. They had to be original releases. “There’s a book as well. You need to get the book”.

“But it’s exclusive to the box set! I can’t get the book!”

“Then you need to find an acceptable replacement. You have to factor that in, otherwise it’s not the same”.

The Rules were starting to get more strict.

“The records have to be in decent condition too. No jumps. And they have to have a cover”.

The Challenge: Buy all the Beatles’ records on vinyl for less money than the cost of these re-issues.

I raced home and flicked through a copy of the 2012 Record Collector‘s Rare Record Price Guide to see if my impetuous bet stood a chance. How much do vinyl Beatles records cost? I didn’t want to listen to any more Carey than I had to. Sadly, it didn’t make for good reading. Here’s a brief run down of the value of the original first pressings of Beatles records:

  • A first pressing in stereo of The Beatles’ first album Please Please Me in mint condition was worth……£3,500. A mono copy is £750.
  • With The Beatles is £120 in mono, although a later 1965 pressing is £50.
  • A Hard Days Night is £80 in mono and £140 in stereo for a first pressing Beatles For Sale is the same: £80 mono and £150 stereo.
  • Help: £80 mono £120 stereo
  • Rubber Soul: £150 mono £200 stereo
  • Revolver: £100 (mono or stereo)
  • Sgt Pepper: £130 (mono or stereo)
  • White Album: These were originally individually stamped with a unique number. Numbers below 1000 are £1200. Below 10,000 are £700. Others are £250 for mono and £200 for stereo.
  • Yellow Submarine is £80 for a stereo copy.
  • Abbey Road is £50.
  • Let it Be is £300 for a mint box set.

A full set of Beatles records might therefore set me back at least £2,000!

It looked like I might have a bit of catching up with Mariah Carey to do…unless I could come up with a devious plan. It was the sort of knotty problem that Sherlock Holmes would nip off to an opium den to think through. On the basis that my opium stocks were running low, I made do with a cup of Earl Grey. The plan was this:

  • 1. Charity Shops
  • 2. eBay
  • 3. My local used record store
  • 4. Record Fairs
  • 5. Er, that’s it.

Next: A How-to Guide to Buying Beatles Records in Charity Shops

Record #109: The Beatles – Blackbird



Categories: Music

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

26 replies

  1. This sounds quite exciting! I wish you the best of luck, my friend. I look forward to reading of your progress, although, if I was a betting man, and I am, I’d give you a 60/40 shot at completing your request. Your friend was smart to include the good condition clause. You can find most of em but usually in fair to poor condition.

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  2. I am intrigued. And ditto on the condition clause.

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  3. If you don’t want it, don’t buy it. There is no rational reason to buy vinyl anyway.

    At least the Beatles don’t offer bonus tracks.

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    • Rational reasons to buy vinyl:
      1. I have a record player
      2. They look nicer than CDs and the covers are bigger, and you sometimes get posters and stuff
      3. The exercise is good for you when you have to get up and turn them over halfway through
      4. You can buy a lot of (used) records for less than the cost of (used) CDs – and they hold their value
      5. Er, you’re right – that’s about it.

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      • OK, no reason to buy vinyl which is related to sound quality. But yeah, you can’t hide porn mags in them (not that one needs to these days).

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      • Woooaahh! Never tried that one! Anyone else want to cop to that?!
        Anyone else want to argue that vinyl sounds better?

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      • Well ERTAS, Vinyl vs CD…it can be a subjective question obviously. Me personally, I do prefer the sound of a brand-new 180 gram vinyl LP, played on my main system, vs a CD. If I try the same on my USB turntable it’s not nearly as good. But of course some things are exclusive to vinyl. I bought a 180 gram copy of Appetite For Destruction and was blown away by what seemed like a lot of sound that I had never heard before…right before I scratched the bloody thing changing sides!!!

        Every Record Tells A Story commented: “Woooaahh! Never tried that one! Anyone else want to cop to that?! Anyone else want to argue that vinyl sounds better?”

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      • As far as sound quality goes I always just think of it on an album per album basis. There are some instances where the available vinyl is going to be better quality than the available CD and vice-versa. I just try to figure out what the best version of an album I want is. In this instance, I’d have thought the CD Box Set would be the way to go… are the Mono versions not meant to be better?

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      • I think mono is better for early records, and stereo for later ones – judging from the CD versions. There are some noticeable differences in mixes for later records for the real enthusiasts…

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      • Ah right… I’m not much of a Beatles fan to be honest so I wasn’t sure. I seem to remember the Mono Box being Lemmy’s choice! Did you get any of those sets or any of the remasters?

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      • You’re right – he bought it on the Lemmy documentary didn’t he? I don’t have the box sets – but it’s perhaps a matter of time. Let’s see how I get on with the vinyl…

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      • Oh yeah, and who needs to hide porn in their vinyl when you have Ratt albums?! hehe

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  4. When I was about 13 I had a Hustler in my vinyl version of Tommy.

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  5. Really like the challenge you’ve set yourself here. Can’t wait to get stuck into the rest of the posts to see how you got on. LOL at the Opium/Earl Grey.

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  6. Sorry… just one more thing. (Check out Columbo here!) The Mariah album. “Triumphant (Get ‘Em)”. What is she referring to exactly? I have an idea…

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Trackbacks

  1. Aerosmith: That “Difficult Eighth Album” « Every record tells a story
  2. How I Tried To Buy David Bowie’s Classic Albums on Vinyl For Less Than £100 « Every record tells a story
  3. How To Buy A Set of David Bowie’s Classic Albums on Vinyl For Less Than £100 « Every record tells a story
  4. Tim Burgess’ Great Vinyl Adventure – Every record tells a story

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