A Hendrix Discogswhack

One of the great pleasures and inconveniences in a record collectors life is the discovery of a Discogswhack.

In his 2003 one man show Dave Gorman’s Googlewhack Adventure, Gorman described the concept of the Googlewhack. It was a Google Search query of two words that returns a single result: a rare thing.

For record collectors, a Discogswhack is when you find a release of an existing LP that doesn’t yet have a listing on Discogs, the record collectors’ favourite cataloguing website.

Given Discogs has 14 million listings, covering every format you can imagine, and a few you can’t, such occurrences should be fairly rare, but are not entirely unknown. After all, there were probably nearly that number of coloured vinyl variants of McCartney’s last LP.

A Discogswhack means you have found a variant that is so uncommon nobody else has yet been arsed to list it.

Of course, that is also inconvenient, because in order to get your variant acknowledged on the online database, you have to navigate Discogs’ desktop application and create a new listing, when all you really wanted to do was find the right one, mark it as being in VG+ condition and move on to something more productive and worthwhile in your life, like making tea or playing records.

My recent Discogswhack (and yes, I am persisting with the term) was an album by The Jimi Hendrix Experience.

It started when I saw a psychedelic cover of a Hendrix LP …

…one I had never noticed before. It was titled “Electric Ladyland Part 1” and was on the wall in a local shop.

The proprietor of the shop explained that when Hendrix released his double album Electric Ladyland, the record company worried that not everyone could afford a whole double album. For those people, the record company released the LP in two parts – two single albums which together created the double LP.

It was probably a popular choice for kids with a) less pocket money and b) inquisitive parents who might frown upon their child walking home with a double LP with naked women on the cover, which is what the double LP version offers.

This single LP copy was £25, immaculate, and on a Track Record co. label rather than Polydor, if you will forgive me for getting a little geeky, which means it is a coveted early pressing.

When you think that a first pressing on Track of the full double LP regularly fetches upwards of £200, not only did I feel plenty of empathy with those kids in 1968 whose pockets didn’t run so deep as to finance the full double, but the idea of getting half of it for £25 suddenly looked like a great idea.

Here’s a later Polydor label version

And what an album Electric Ladyland is! While we are all familiar with the hits, the double album format allowed Jimi to expand his horizons and stretch out a little. Stereo was still a relatively less favoured concept in 1968. For example, while The Beatles tended to be present for the mono mixes of their albums they routinely left the stereo mix to George Martin. But Hendrix saw the possibilities, and as we hear his guitar whizzing from one speaker to the next the effect is spectacular.

Finding part 2 took slightly longer. The cover is less psychedelic, the image this time merely featuring the inside of the double gatefold sleeve. But this was the Discogswhack copy.

And it also demonstrates some of the fun (and geekery) of record collecting and perhaps is evidence that record companies were slightly chaotic back in the day.

  1. The label has tracks mis-labelled. The “Electric Ladyland” track is described on the label as HAVE YOU EVER BEEN (To Electric Ladyland) which suggests someone shouting to ask directions, then halfway through realising the destination is slightly embarrassing. 
  2. Perhaps more drastically, the label has got confused with the two similar-sounding track titles on the double LP, mis-identifying the track “Voodoo Chile” as the similarly shouty “VOODOO CHILD (Slight Return)”

There are more geeky details around the matrix number, which if my deducting powers are accurate, turns out must have come from the very first stamper, but I have tested your patience long enough.

It’s likely the LP was pressed, mistakes spotted, and subsequently corrected, hence its scarcity.

It is also entirely possible that there is similar scarcity in people who care sufficiently about record labels and matrix numbers to catalogue them on Discogs. Let’s not completely rule out that possibility.

(Although we are talking about record collectors. We might not care to always admit it, but we’ve all had a glance at a matrix number or inner groove message at one time or another. Wouldn’t be human if we hadn’t).

Suffice it to say, we have an immaculate, and very early Track Record pressed complete copy of Electric Ladyland which cost a shade over £50 rather than £200.

And the point of this article is to tell you that if you were looking for an original, Track Record copy of Electric Ladyland, getting the album in its two individual parts is definitely the way forward, particularly if you are either a) short of pocket money or b) have inquisitive parents who might frown at you were you to take home a copy of the record with naked women on it.

*(and yes I know you can get the CD on Amazon for £3.66 plus postage, or listen on Spotify but that’s not the point. Try getting a Discogswhack on Spotify)



Categories: Music

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