The Beatles Stereo Box Set Challenge 5/6

For sale at Spitalfields – the latest iPhones

Part 5: Buying The Beatles on Vinyl at Old Spitalfields Market

The story so far: A bet has been struck. It is the 19th October 2012. I have until tomorrow to buy a complete set of Beatles records on vinyl for less money than the 2012 Re-issued Box Set. The clock is ticking and the stakes are high…the loser has to listen to a Mariah Carey album. Ten times. Following a successful trip to Leigh Record Fair and Leigh Records I have nine out of 14 LPs. All my hopes rest on Spitalfields Record Fair.

The record fair at Spitalfields market in London is a twice monthly event which attracts nerds and obsessives record collectors from miles around on the first and third Friday of each month.

With over forty different stall-holders it is an Aladdin’s cave of old tat rare and valuable vinyl.

Spitalfields Record Fair

As I sped around the fair seeking out the remaining five LPs I asked a few record traders if they thought that the 2012 re-released Beatles albums would affect the market for second-hand Beatles records. They thought not. “They’re always re-releasing the Beatles on vinyl!” was the first thing they all said. One continued, “It’s a collectors mentality – it’s the same music but people always want the first pressing. As long as that continues, I don’t think these new releases will affect prices for the originals”.

Within a few minutes I found a nice copy of Beatles For Sale which was just £6. That made ten Beatles LPs  for £135.

The nice thing about the record fair (as was the case in Leigh) was that I also found a couple of other bargains whilst looking around. A stall selling books had Neil Young‘s biography Shaky for just £2 (sadly not the story of the Welsh Elvis: Shakin’ Stevens) and Diary of a Rock n Roll Star by Ian Hunter for £5 – a classic paperback for a good price in great condition. I also found Our Band Could Be Your Life – the classic alternative rock bio for just £1.

Our Band Could Be Your Life

But more importantly, there was also a glut of Beatles Vinyl. Oh yes! Looking around the stalls I found:

  • Yellow Submarine for £30
  • Please Please Me for £15 for a ’70s copy (but £60 minimum for an earlier pressing).
  • Magical Mystery Tour for £20 with an apple label.

Bob at Leigh Records had a couple of these in better condition, so I could pop back to him, but I had everything sewn up: except for Past Masters. Suspecting I had missed it, I began asking around, but no-one seemed to have a copy. This was beginning to be a serious problem – tomorrow was deadline day.

Finally a stall-holder finally said he did have one!  I breathed a sigh of relief – victory was within my grasp!

Until he said “But not here I’m afraid. I can bring it along next time though. In two weeks”.


I screamed inwardly and smiled weakly, with the air of a condemned man about to have to listen to a Mariah Carey LP.

“Out of interest, how much would it cost?” I asked, torturing myself. The stall-holder twisted the knife.

“About thirty quid”…

I would have been on budget…

That was it then. I had failed The Beatles Stereo Box Set Challenge. Let’s just say that again. I Had Failed.

With Chris coming round the following evening, I made a call, through slightly gritted teeth. So near and yet so far.

“Chris – you’ve won. But only just. You can buy a complete set of Beatles records for under £300 – no problem. I have all but one record and have spent £200. But the last one – Past Masters – is hard to get hold of, and even though it’s only £30, I haven’t got it. You can go out and buy your Mariah Carey CD to torture me with”.

“Or perhaps just take it out of your CD collection” I added bitterly.

Chris whooped with glee. I suspect he punched the air in triumph. And no little relief.

Click here for Part 6: The last instalment 

Record #114: The Beatles – I’m Down (OK this one is Aerosmith)

Categories: Music

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25 replies

  1. Wonderful story. You should put it all together and sell it to Rolling Stone or the Guardian. Can’ t wait for the Maria Carey post. Thanks for starting my day off so well.


  2. False ending I hope! Here’s hoping for your sake you didn’t have to listen to Mariah…


  3. Great post.
    I have read that book ‘Our Band Could Be Your Life’ it’s really good. Have you read it already?


  4. So close! Aargghh. You must be gutted. Agree with Jeremy, you should definitely look at selling this. It’s been a great idea/project and a really great read. Really impressed. And I’m not even that fussed about The Beatles!


  5. And I was hoping for a happy ending…


  6. Really enjoying reading about your quest. As a collector I just couldn’t help myself. I got the new vinyl box set. It is already released here in Australia. Here are some pics:


  7. My thoughts are with you at this difficult time!


  8. I’ve only this last two weeks brought me a new turntable, and had a rummage in the garage for some LP’s, and I’ve yet to get them all out, I fear that the years of neglect may not have been kind, but I’m hoping for some treasures that at least I can wave at the wife and say “that there is worth something” as she tuts and frowns at the hiss and crackle……

    All I’ve left to do is persuade here that at the vinyl price there is a lot more enjoyment than at the CD price…. so I can go and get me some more.



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