Those who like their music in glorious, tangible form might have faced an uphill struggle in recent years, but worry not – there are still plenty fighting the good fight in evermore extravagant ways. Here are 37 of the most innovative vinyl releases of them all, featuring – no surprises here – a vast amount of Jack White.
Last year, the music from the animated Batman series was made available on Batman shaped vinyl. Pretty damn cool - but it looks like it’d play havoc with your Technics.
Radiohead – The King Of Limbs
The vinyl version of Radiohead’s 2011 album ‘The King of Limbs’ came complete with its very own newspaper. As right-on as ever, the paper was 30% recycled and the two 10” clear vinyl discs were also accompanied by a blotting sheet featuring 625 tiny art works.
Jurassic Park – OST
Last summer, on the film’s 21st birthday, movie-art enterprise Mondo released the original Jurassic Park score on deliphosaurus-patterned vinyl. Looks like someone spared no expense…
Haim – ‘My Song 5’
The limited vinyl release of Haim’s ‘My Song 5’ was a visual tribute to the baby of the band, Alana Haim. The picture disc was a cut out in the shape of Baby Haim’s jacket and hotpants and on the grooves was an A$AP Ferg-featuring remix of the ‘Days Are Gone’ highlight.
Karen Elson – ‘The Ghost Who Walks’
This certainly isn’t the last entry in this list from the vinyl wizards over at Third Man Records. Model-turned-gothic-country-singer Karen Elson’s debut album was not only peach-coloured, but peach-scented. Perfect for when you can’t find the right aromatic candle to go with your new record.
Karen’s not the only one who’s had the honour of having a ponging vinyl to her name. To celebrate the 30th anniversary of the classic movie, the theme was first released on glow-in-the-dark vinyl and just in time for Halloween 2014, stinking of the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.
Jack White – ‘Lazaretto’
Jack White’s second solo LP was an impressive bag of tricks. The ‘Ultra’ vinyl version featured a hand-etched holographic angel in the dead wax, as well as locked grooves and different electric and acoustic intros, depending on where the needle was dropped. No wonder it was the biggest selling vinyl release of 2014.
The Dead Weather – ‘Blue Blood Blues’
Third Man Records have the honour of inventing the triple-decker record. For the 2010 release of The Dead Weather’s ‘Blue Blood Blues’, fans were faced with a 7” record tucked inside of a 12” record, meaning they actually had to cut one out of the other if they wanted to hear the whole thing.
Nik Colk Void – ‘Gold E’
Factory Floor’s Nik Colk Void put out the appropriately abrasive ‘Gold E’ live vinyl in 2012. The 7” record’s sleeve was a hand-cast, degradable plastic version of the record, meaning that over time the sound of the record itself would change. Arty.
Perfect Pussy – ‘Say Yes To Love’
300 copies of Perfect Pussy’s debut 2014 album were infused with the blood of singer Meredith Graves. She filled a jar with the red stuff, which was then mixed into the melted vinyl. Not for the faint-hearted.
Superfood – ‘Don’t Say That’
The vinyl version of Superfood’s debut LP is as sparkly, fun and bonkers as the Birmingham band themselves. The sleeve is made of mirrored foil and the record itself is bright, pillar box red.
Shout Out Louds – ‘Blue Ice’
Sure, we knew it could get cold in Scandinavia, but we didn’t know it was so chilly folk were making their records out of ice. Only ten copies of the Swedish band’s 2012 single ‘Blue Ice’ were released – and fans had to make the ice records at home with water and their freezer, but amazingly, they were totally playable. Until they melted, that is.
Carl Sagan – ‘A Glorious Dawn’
Cosmologist and all round great guy Carl Sagan might have passed away in 1996, but that didn’t stop Third Man from releasing this gorgeous, ‘cosmos’ coloured vinyl to celebrate his 75th birthday, with an etched reproduction of The Voyager spacecraft Golden Record on the flip.
Gibby Hanes – ‘Paul’s Not Home’
Butthole Surfers frontman Gibby Hanes celebrated Valentines Day 2013 with a three song single printed on old medical x-rays. The ‘flex-ray’ disc was of course the work of Third Man and featured the songs ‘You Don't Have to be Smart’, ‘Horse Named George’ and a cover of punk band Adrenalin OD's ‘Paul's Not Home’.
Wanda Jackson – ‘The Party Ain’t Over’
Rockabilly queen and ex-flame of Elvis, Wanda Jackson teamed up with Jack White to produce this scorching 2011 album. The vinyl was encased in a special ‘greeting card’ sleeve, which played a snippet of the album’s first track, ‘Shakin’ All Over’, when opened.
Jack White – ‘Sixteen Saltines’
As a special Record Store Day release, Jack White put out a liquid-filled version of ‘Sixteen Saltines’ from his debut album, ‘Blunderbuss’. When the vinyl played, you could watch the blue water slosh around inside the 12” record.
Breakbot – ‘By Your Side’
A music obsessed chocoholic’s dream, French producer Breakbot joined forces with his label Ed Banger to put out a chocolate version of his ‘By Your Side’ single. The record’s tag line? “Play it before you eat it!” Damn fine advice.
The Great Gatsby – OST
Just like the extravagant Jay Gatsby himself, no expense was spared when it came to the Jay-Z curated soundtrack. The vinyl release was put in the careful hands of Third Man, who rendered a limited number of records in platinum and gold coloured coating. Fancy.
The Flaming Lips – ‘The Flaming Lips and Heady Fwends’
Nick Cave, Bon Iver and Yoko Ono all contributed to The Flaming Lips’ 2012 collaborative album. But only a few people on the record actually gave blood to be inserted into a limited number of the vinyl copies of the LP. No prizes for guessing that Kesha was one of them.
It is now possible to have your ashes made into a vinyl record after you’ve been cremated. The company behind this strange service is called ‘Any Vinyly’ and their slogan is “Live on from beyond the groove!” They can also arrange a ‘FUNeral’, providing someone to crack jokes at your wake.
Olivia Jean – ‘Bathtub Love Killings’
Musician and singer Olivia Jean has been working with Third Man Records for years. She’s just released her solo album, and in fitting Third Man fashion the vinyl copy of the retro-rocking ‘Bathtub Love Killings’ has been pressed on lavender coloured plastic.
Glow in the dark vinyl
Third Man Records has released a host of records in special glowing vinyl, handy for when all the bulbs in your house go kaput and all the hardware shops are shut, but you still want to listen to music by The Dead Weather and Jack White late into the night.
Elvira – ‘Theme From Elvia’s Movie Macabre’
American horror host Elvira joined up with Third Man to put out the spooky, Black Belles composed theme to her b-movie TV show. As haunted as they come, the vinyl was encased in a coffin shaped sleeve.
Karen Elson – ‘Vicious’
Real life dried rose petals were pressed into the 7” clear vinyl release of ‘Vicious’, for 2011’s Record Store Day. The track itself was a cover of the Lou Reed classic from his 1972 album ‘Transformer’.
The Black Belles – ‘The Black Belles’
This gothic troupe released their 2011, self-titled album in a limited edition absinthe coloured vinyl. Sadly there was no actual booze in it as far as we know, though if you have a copy, there’s probably not much harm in licking it, just to make sure.
Third Man 3rpm record
To celebrate their third birthday as a label, Third Man put out a 3rpm record. The super-slow release contained ever ‘Blue Series’ single the label had released up until then – the trouble was, it was impossible to listen to, as the record had to be slowed down by hand – a feat far harder than it sounds.
Johnny Cash – ‘Get Rhythm’
Memphis’ classic rock and roll label Sun Records teamed up with Nashville’s Third Man for a series of 7” re-releases, including this corker by the mighty Cash. The Sunray vinyl was a thing of beauty, mixing up Sun’s signature colours of black and yellow in a splatter pattern that was limited to just 150 copies.
Jack White – ‘High Ball Stepper’
It wasn’t the vinyl that made the 7” release of White’s ‘High Ball Stepper’ interesting, but the bit in the middle. The label for the promo release of this track was made of soft-to-the-touch velveteen, further proof that Jack’s an old smoothie.
Gibonni – ‘20th Century Man’
You might not have heard of Gibonni, but this guy is huge in his native Croatia. He recorded his last album at Abbey Road Studios and had it pressed onto chocolate. “I read that chocolate contains a hormone of happiness and boosts your libido, so I thought it was a perfect combination for the rock based on music we loved in the 1980s,” he said.
Talk Talk - 'Living In Another World'
The king of all picture discs, the release of this single from Talk Talk’s 1986 album ‘The Colour of Spring’ was printed with a tiger, but cut in the shape of a butterfly, thereby confusing zoologists the world over.
Split Emz’s ‘True Colours’
New Wave New Zealand band released a laser-etched vinyl in 1980. It shone like a CD when spinning adorned with trippy geometric shapes. The Mondrian-like sleeve came in 9 different colour combinations and copies are much sought after to this day.
Lemon Jelly – ‘Soft Rock’
This Lemon Jelly 7" came in an actual pair of actual Levi jeans with a condom in the pocket. People clamoured to get their hands on one of the 1,000 copies.
Money Mark – ‘Maybe I’m Dead’
The longtime Beastie Boys collaborator who recently played with Karen O, put out a 10" was randomly shaped like a Chihuahua. Apparently the mutt was called Bailey.
Octopus – ‘Jealousy’
The single had two grooves on the same side, so it was completely random which song you'd get. And it was on green vinyl too, just because. Octopus also put out an album that folded out into a playable board game
Bridgitte Bardot – Various
Well, if you looked like that you probably would, wouldn’t you?
Garbage – ‘Vow’
The metal packaging of 1995’s ‘Vow’ was one of many creative releases by the Britpop band. It came in an embossed metal sleeve.
Public Image Ltd – ‘Metal Box’
They probably got the idea from PiL who released ‘Metal Box’ in a metal 16mm film canister embossed with the band's logo in 1979. It was a challenging and inaccessible album mirrored by how difficult it was to get into the packaging.