Buying The Beatles on Vinyl

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 2012 that The Beatles were to re-release all their albums on vinyl on the 12th November in a deluxe box set 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.

The problem was – 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.

For Part 2 of The Beatles Bet please click here

7 replies

  1. it’s such a drag that the present day record business won’t do something at an affordable price just out of goodwill…imagine if they went radical and sold that thing for little more than production costs…it would sell by the bucketload and inject the music right back into the bloodstream in a big big way…it would turn around perceptions of the music world as pure money grubbers,and rehabilitate their place in culture,but alas,there’s no vision.

    i bought a box set of t-rex the slider last year and vowed to never buy another puffed padded out box set ever again…it totally patronised me…the box looked ‘big and nice’ but inside was just junk..the vinyl itself didn’t seem virgin,even if it was 180….there were tatty bits of paper,a really really bad dvd that looked like grabs off youtube… a recent interview with viscount not even shot in hd..and a book with print so small that any fan by nature of being over 50 couldn’t possible read…….

    these box sets…i feel I’m being confronted with the worst aspect of my own pathetic consumerist self….’the world of stuff’…just more stuff…once you have it,the desire is gone…it sits there…i’m more delighted when i hear penny lane just rise out of the background down the street where i had no control over it coming,and it’s then i’m truly romanced by the music,not by bank busting purchases…oh god…..i’ve written farrrrr to much…forgive me…hahahahahah

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    • I don’t have many box sets for the reasons you describe. I bought the Exile on Main St one for the bonus tracks and book of Dominic Tarle photos (and because -mainly – it was half price. The Beatles Magical Mystery Tour for the same reason (book plus replica of the 7″ single with comic strip plus the DVD a bargain at £30).
      But replica ticket stubs? Doesn’t excite me I’m afraid…

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  2. “it’s such a drag that the present day record business won’t do something at an affordable price just out of goodwill…imagine if they went radical and sold that thing for little more than production costs…it would sell by the bucketload and inject the music right back into the bloodstream in a big big way…it would turn around perceptions of the music world as pure money grubbers,and rehabilitate their place in culture”

    No, it wouldn’t. Don’t blame the record business if people don’t listen to good music.

    I agree about the box sets. I don’t get the point of a normal box set, which on the one hand is a greatest hits collection and on the other hand is rare tracks, B-sides, BBC sessions, outtakes etc. The fan has to buy the “best of” again and the novice probably needs just the best of (at least initially). It’s like re-issuing an album with bonus tracks: a slap in the face for those who had supported the band by buying the original release. Jethro Tull did the right thing with Nightcap: a double CD of only obscure stuff.

    I didn’t even think about buyng the Pink Floyd immersion editions, having bought the remastered box just a few years before. (Fortunately, in the case of what are still my four favourite rock bands—the Beatles, Pink Floyd, Rush, and Jethro Tull—I had most or all on vinyl so didn’t buy the original CDs. In all 4 cases, much better (quality-wise) CDs came out, in the case of Jethro Tull with some bonus tracks, so I bought the CDs for the first time as the remastered editions. I think Tull should have done a remastered Nightcap, or at least re-released it, but anyone who didn’t want to buy the remasters for the quality still has the option of buying just Nightcap. So, for me personally, this wasn’t so bad, and one can argue that when the original CDs were released it wasn’t clear that improving technology could make later releases better (not always—see the loudness wars).) The sensible thing to do would be to release just the previously unavailable stuff. One could argue that the additional cost of throwing in the original album is marginal, so why not do it in case someone doesn’t have it, but it still gives the impresson of double-dipping. And give me a break with marbles(!), replicas of tickets and backstage passes and so on.

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  3. I have more than 40vinyl lp beatles originals parlophone for sale. All 1press. Mono and stereo.

    Like

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