Miles Davis – Kind of Blue Classic Records 200 gram test pressing LP

miles davis - kind of blue classic records test pressing lp

Offered for sale is a still sealed test pressing of the 200 gram Classic Records issue of Kind of Blue by Miles Davis.

About this copy: This copy of Kind of Blue is a 2010 test pressing, manufactured by Classic Records shortly before they went out of business.

While record companies do not routinely seal their test pressing LPs, this one was shrink-wrapped by the company as they sold off their assets and was obtained from someone who was formerly associated with Classic Records.

As the album is sealed, the record is presumably new and unplayed.

While there is no information written on the labels, the plain white cover has a sticker with the correct catalog number (CS 8163-200G), the record company and date (“Classic Records 1/2010”) and “A/B”, which indicates that this disc contains both sides of the full album.

The disc appears to be black vinyl, which suggests that it was pressed on Quiex SV-P vinyl, which is the vinyl compound used for the commercial release of the album.

A nice copy of a rare Miles Davis LP.  The Classic Records pressings of Kind of Blue are exceptionally good, and were the last pressings mastered from Columbia’s original master tape, as they have since decided that the original tape is too worn for future use.

Background: Recorded in 1959 by a “supergroup” that included Davis, John Coltrane, Cannonball Adderley and Bill Evans, the album is also one of the best-selling jazz albums ever.

Kind of Blue is also a very well recorded album that has long been a favorite of audiophiles.

AllMusic.com gave Kind of Blue five stars:

Kind of Blue isn’t merely an artistic highlight for Miles Davis, it’s an album that towers above its peers, a record generally considered as the definitive jazz album. To be reductive, it’s the Citizen Kane of jazz — an accepted work of greatness that’s innovative and entertaining. That may not mean it’s the greatest jazz album ever made, but it certainly is a universally acknowledged standard of excellence. Why does Kind of Blue posses such a mystique? Perhaps it’s that this music never flaunts its genius. It lures listeners in with the slow, luxurious bassline and gentle piano chords of “So What.” From that moment on, the record never really changes pace — each tune has a similar relaxed feel, as the music flows easily. Yet Kind of Blue is more than easy listening. The end results were wondrous, filled with performances that still crackle with vitality. Few albums of any genre manage to work on so many different levels, but Kind of Blue does. It can be played as background music, yet it amply rewards close listening. It is advanced music that is extraordinarily enjoyable. It may be a stretch to say that if you don’t like Kind of Blue, you don’t like jazz — but it’s hard to imagine it as anything other than a cornerstone of any jazz collection.

 

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Country of origin: U.S.
Size: 12″
Record Label: Classic Records
Catalog Number:
CS 8163
Year of Release: 2010
Format: Stereo
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Quiet Riot – Quiet Riot Japan test pressing LP with original obi and Randy Rhoads

quiet riot - quiet riot japan test pressing LP

Offered for sale is a rare original advance promotional test pressing of the Japan-only 1978 LP Quiet Riot by Quiet Riot, featuring Randy Rhoads on guitar.

As an advance test pressing, this is an astonishingly rare item; even the stock copies of the completed album are rare.  We’ve only seen the finished album twice in the 40+ years since its original release.

About this copy: This copy of Quiet Riot is an original Japanese test pressing, issued as an “advance” promotional copy before the production of the final album cover was complete.

This disc comes in a plain white cover with a photocopy insert listing the album title, the band members, a scheduled release date, and the songs on the LP, rather than a finished cover.

Also included is a color photograph of the band.  This is the same photo that was ultimately used for the album cover, though the album cover version removed the blue background.  It appears that the photo was at one time attached to the insert with cellophane tape, but over time, the tape came off.

The cover is VG++, with faint wear.  The insert is VG++ and is attached to the cover with (yellowed) cellophane tape.  There are two small stains on the insert where the tape that held the color photo to the insert used to be.

The color photo is VG+, with a small tear on one edge.  We’ve repaired that with removable tape.

This LP was issued without an obi.

The disc is M- and looks like it may have been played once. 

A beautiful copy of a rare Randy Rhoads item and the only copy we ever expect to see.

Background: Before joining Ozzy Osbourne’s band, Randy Rhoads was a founder of Quiet Riot.  The band landed a recording contract with CBS in 1977, but for some reason, the label chose to release the group’s first two albums only in Japan.

Rhoads left shortly after the second album came out to join Ozzy Osbourne’s band and Quiet Riot broke up.  They reformed a few years later with a new guitarist and became somewhat famous in the 1980s.  Rhoads died in an unfortunate accident involving a bus and and an airplane in 1982.

While both Japanese Quiet Riot albums are rare, the first one is considerably harder to find than the second and rarely turns up complete.

Allmusic.com gave Quiet Riot this review:

Few people are aware that, prior to their amazing chart-topping success in 1983/1984, Quiet Riot had already released two albums in the late ’70s through CBS Japan — and featuring guitar god in training Randy Rhoads, no less. In fact, like many hard rock bands feeling ostracized by record companies during the disco era (Cheap Trick, Van Halen, etc.), Quiet Riot found a welcoming audience in the land of the rising sun, where fans’ obsession with ’70s album rock was just now coming to a head. Sure, none of Quiet Riot’s efforts could even compare to the aforementioned bands in popularity (or quality), but they would at least plant the seeds for Radny’s eventual stardom with Ozzy. Launched by a humongous Rhoads guitar riff, album-opener “It’s Not So Funny” is a promising start, but …His playing here is uniformly dull and uninventive, so collectors and blind worshipers should beware.

You can listen to “It’s Not So Funny” here:

 

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Country of origin: Japan
Size: 12″
Record Label: CBS/Sony
Catalog Number:
25 AP 880
Year of Release: 1978
Format: Stereo
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Jimi Hendrix – Band of Gypsys Classic Records 180 gram test pressing LP

jimi hendrix - band of gypsys test pressing LP

Offered for sale is a 180 gram test pressing of Band of Gypsys by Jimi Hendrix, pressed by Classic Records.

About this copy: This copy of Band of Gypsys is a test pressing for the limited edition 180 gram audiophile pressing that was issued in the late 1990s by Classic Records.

The cover is a plain white cover with the catalog number and Jun 30 1997 ST-473 A1/B1 stamped on it.  The cover is M-.

The disc is M-. aside from an inaudible scuff through the first track.

A nice copy of a rare Hendrix LP.

Background:

Released in June, 1970, Band of Gypsys was the first live album by Jimi Hendrix.  Despite mixed reviews, the album reached the top 10 in both the U.S. and the UK.

Allmusic.com gave Band of Gypsys a 4 1/2 star review:

Band of Gypsys was the only live recording authorized by Jimi Hendrix before his death. It was recorded and released in order to get Hendrix out from under a contractual obligation that had been hanging over his head for a couple years. …The music was a seamless melding of rock, funk, and R&B, and tunes like “Message to Love” and “Power to Love” showed a new lyrical direction as well. Although he could be an erratic live performer, for these shows, Hendrix was on — perhaps his finest performances. … The solo on “Machine Gun” totally rewrote the book on what a man could do with an electric guitar and is arguably the most groundbreaking and devastating guitar solo ever. …. Band of Gypsys is not only an important part of the Hendrix legacy, but one of the greatest live albums ever.

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Country of origin: U.S.
Size: 12″
Record Label: Classic Records
Catalog Number:
ST-472
Year of Release: 1997
Format: Stereo
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Jan & Dean – Best of Jan & Dean 1966 Japan red vinyl test pressing with obi

Jan & Dean -The Best of Jan & Dean japan lp

Offered for sale is an ultra-rare red vinyl test pressing of the 1966 Japan-only LP The Best of Jan & Dean by Jan & Dean, complete with original obi.

About this copy: This copy of The Best of Jan & Dean is an advance promotional copy with test pressing labels that have printed song titles.  The red vinyl LP was issued by Liberty Records in Japan in 1966, and this particular compilation was unique to the Japanese market.

This LP is in exceptional condition; the thick, laminated cover is VG++, with trace ring wear on the lamination.  The back cover is bright white, and the cover looks nearly new.

The obi is VG++, with trace amounts of foxing on the back, but no rips, tears or wrinkles.  The original “envelope-style” inner sleeve and insert are included; both are M-.

The red vinyl disc is M- and looks unplayed.  Beautiful disc!

This copy is nearly perfect and will likely be your final upgrade.

A gorgeous example of a very rare Jan & Dean LP.

Background: Jan & Dean had a lot of success in the United States, selling both albums and singles that reached the charts.  In Japan, their singles sold moderately well and their albums sold poorly, so the few albums that turn up from that country tend to be compilations.

The 1966 release The Best of Jan & Dean was a compilation that was prepared especially for the Japanese market.

Tracks are:

  • The Little Old Lady From Pasadina (sic)
  • Barbara Ann
  • She’s My Summer Girl
  • Batman
  • Honolulu Lulu
  • Dead Man’s Curve
  • Drag City
  • Surf City
  • I Found a Girl
  • Linda
  • The New Girl In School
  • Ride the Wild Surf
  • Sidewalk Surfin’
  • From All Over the World

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Country of origin: Japan
Size: 12″
Record Label: Liberty
Catalog Number:
LP-7545
Year of Release: 1966
Format: Stereo
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Alan Parsons Project – I Robot Classic Records 45 RPM Clarity test pressing side A1

alan parsons - i robot clarity test pressing

Offered for sale is a one-sided 45 RPM test pressing of side A1 of the unreleased 4 disc Clarity vinyl pressing of I Robot by the Alan Parsons Project, pressed by Classic Records.

About this copy:  This test pressing is of side A1 only, containing the tracks “I Robot” and “I Wouldn’t Want to Be Like You.”

The disc was issued in a plain white cover with a sticker indicating the catalog number.

Cover and the clear vinyl Clarity vinyl disc are M-.  The disc looks unplayed, but does have a few tics during the first minute or so of play.

Background: In 2007 or so, Classic Records released a high quality audiophile pressing of I Robot, pressed on black vinyl and cut at the standard 33 1/3 RPM.

They intended to release the album at 45 RPM, pressed on their new clear “Clarity” vinyl in the form of four single-sided discs but the company went out of business before they could do so.  While they never commercially released the title in that format, a few test pressings of the complete set exist.

This is a test pressing of the first disc only from that set, containing the first two tracks from the album.

It sounds terrific.

Country of origin: U.S.
Size: 12″
Record Label: Classic Records
Catalog Number:
AR-8040-45-200G A1
Year of Release: 2010
Format: Stereo
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Ella Fitzgerald – A Night in Tunisia Classic Records unreleased 78 RPM test pressing

ella fitzgerald - A night in tunisia 78 rpm test pressing

Offered for sale is a one-sided unreleased test pressing of “A Night in Tunisia”/”You’re My Thrill” by Ella Fitzgerald, released by Classic Records cut at 78 RPM on 180 gram vinyl.

About this copy: This is a one-sided 12″ single containing the sonsg “A Night In Tunisia” and “You’re My Thrill” by Ella Fitzgerald, taken from the album, Clap Hands, Here Comes Charlie!

This single-sided disc was pressed on 180 gram vinyl and plays at 78 RPM.

The disc was issued in a plain white cover, stamped with the date “Dec 5 1994” and the catalog number “MGVS6 4053 A1 78.” Side one of the disc is a standard RTI test pressing label with the same information stamped on it as on the cover. The B side label is blank, as is the B side of the record itself.

Record and cover are in M- condition. The record appears to have had little, if any, play.  It sounds terrific, of course.

These were issued as test pressings only and were not intended for commercial release.  Only 10-20 copies were pressed for in-house use at Classic Records.

Background: Ella Fitzgerald’s Clap Hands, Here Comes Charlie! was originally released in 1961 and has long been a favorite among audiophiles.

In the mid-1990s, Classic Records founder Michael Hobson had mastering engineer Bernie Grundman cut at least four different titles at 78 RPM as a test to see how they would compare in sound quality to their 45 RPM and 33 1/3 RPM pressings.

The first of those was “A Night In Tunisia,” as Hobson was concerned about some issues with vocal sibilance, and Grundman told him that cutting at 78 RPM could minimize that problem.

They cut four different titles to test this.

Due to the limitations of the 78 RPM format, particularly the short playing time, these recordings were not considered for commercial release, but were instead used only for in-house testing. It is estimated that no more than 20 copies were pressed of any one title.

You can listen to “A Night in Tunisia” here:

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Acetates and Test Pressings – Souvenirs of Record Production

Acetates and Test Pressings – What Are They?

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailacetates Example of an acetate label[/caption]

Most record collectors, like any other buyers of phonograph records, are primarily interested in commercial releases; that is, copies of records that were manufactured with the intention that they be sold at retail to the public. These are the kinds of records that are likely to comprise the bulk of anyone’s record collections

Serious collectors are usually interested in owning just about anything and everything produced by artists that they admire, and unusual items such as acetate pressings (also known as “acetates” or “lacquers”) or test pressings. These are records or components of record production that were manufactured not for sale, but to evaluate the process of making the commercial record itself.

As both acetates and test pressings are fairly rare, they tend to command a lot of interest in the collector market. While such pressings by any artist are rare, there is generally a lot of interest in acetates and test pressings by artists who are themselves popular with collectors, such as the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan and so on.

In this article, we’ll discuss the nature of acetates and test pressings, how they are made, why they are made, and what makes them of interest to collectors.

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Click any of the links below to jump to each category:

Acetates and Lacquers
Uses for Acetates
Collector Interest in Acetates
Counterfeit Acetates
Test Pressings
Collector Interest in Test Pressings
Counterfeit Test Pressings
Conclusion

Featured Items

Click here to see our selection of acetates
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Acetates and Lacquers

While acetate pressings are usually referred to by record sellers and collectors as “acetates,” the term used to describe them within the industry is “lacquers.” That term makes more sense, as there isn’t any acetate used in the production of these records. For purposes of this article, however, we’ll call them “acetates,” as that’s the popular term used in the record collecting world.

Acetates represent the first step in the physical manufacture of a record, be it a single or an album. While acetates are technically “records” in the sense that they can be played on a turntable or phonograph, they are not pressed out of plastic using mechanical stampers, as are commercial records.

Acetate cutting lathe (photo credit: JacoTen)
Acetate cutting lathe (photo credit: JacoTen)

Instead, acetates are individually created using a cutting lathe, which is a device that loosely resembles a turntable. Acetates are lacquer-coated aluminum discs that are entirely smooth when first manufactured. They are “cut” by placing them on a cutting lathe that has a signal fed to the cutting head from either a live audio source or a performance recorded on magnetic tape. As the music plays, the cutting head cuts a groove in the soft lacquer surface.

The lacquer-coated disc rotates while the music plays, and the recording engineer controls the lathe, which must be periodically adjusted to compensate for changes in volume during the performance and to allow for gaps in between tracks.

In the early days of recording, music was played live in the studio and recorded directly to acetate discs. Since the 1940s, most performances are recorded first to magnetic tape and then transferred to acetates at the convenience of the record company.

Once the cutting process is complete, the disc is playable on any turntable to evaluate the performance, if necessary. Due to the softness of the lacquer coating, acetates are not particularly durable and will wear out and become noisy with repeated play. Acetates that are used for evaluation purposes are not generally used for production. Other discs will be cut for that purpose and then will be nickel-plated as part of the process to produce the stampers that will be used to make test pressings and later, records for sale to the public.

Uses for Acetates

Acetates are made for two purposes – to evaluate a recording and its suitability for pressing records and to use in the production of the finished product itself. For production, an acetate is first nickel plated and the plating is removed to create a negative image known as a father.

beatles acetates
A genuine Beatles acetate

This process can be repeated by plating the father to produce a positive image known as a mother. The mother can be duplicated to create stampers. Typically, a father can be used to create about ten mothers and each mother can create ten stampers. A stamper can be used to press anywhere from 300-1000 finished records.

If all of the mothers and stampers are exhausted due to high production, another acetate must be cut and the process repeated.

Acetates are considerably heavier than records of a comparable size and usually weigh two to three times as much. While most acetates do have a label, these are generally generic labels with blank lines intended to be filled in by hand. Information found on the labels of acetate pressings usually consist of the name of the artist, the title(s) of the song(s) and perhaps the date the disc was cut and the timing of the song(s) on the disc.

Lacquer-coated blanks used to cut acetates used to have more than one hole near the center. One was the usual centering hole for the cutting lathe and/or turntable spindle; the other was a drive hole that fit a pin on the lathe to ensure that the disc wouldn’t slip on the lathe. More modern cutting lathes use a vacuum pump to hold the disc in place, making the drive hole unnecessary.

On rare occasions, there is a third purpose for acetates – sometimes, when a record company is in a hurry to get their album or single to radio stations, they will send acetates directly to radio. These are usually supplemented with regular vinyl pressings as soon as it can be arranged, as acetates are entirely unsuited to repeated play, as might be warranted by having them played on the radio.

Collector Interest in Acetates

What is the appeal of lacquers and acetates to collectors? There are a few reasons that collectors might be interested in owning acetates by the artists whom they collect:

velvet underground acetate
An original 1966 Velvet Underground Acetate that sold for $25,000

They’re rare. Obviously, as acetates must be cut on a lathe, one at a time, they are going to be extremely limited in production. In general, there are probably fewer than a half dozen acetates cut of any single or album title. Most will be used for record production, and the process of plating them to produce a father destroys them.

A few others will be used for evaluation or promotional purposes, though it’s relatively rare for acetates to find their way out of the hands of record company personnel and into the public market. Their rarity alone makes them desirable. A popular album may sell in the millions, but only a couple of people are likely to ever have the opportunity to own an acetate copy of that album.

Good sound – Acetates sound terrific. While acetates are not suitable for repeated play on a turntable, they are playable and they usually sound better than the finished records sold at retail. Acetates are cut directly from the tape, where records are made from stampers that are made using multiple plating processes. Each step on the process to create a stamper creates a slight loss in quality, so acetates that haven’t been worn out from too much play will almost always sound better than finished records.

Unique content – Sometimes, artists have acetates prepared of songs just to hear how they sound as a record, though they may not have any intention of releasing them commercially. These may be working versions of songs that are later changed before release or songs that aren’t intended to be released at all.

On other occasions, acetates may be cut of “working” versions of albums, where the order of the songs may not be final. In other cases, one or more songs may appear on an acetate made early in the production process of an album but the final version of that album may not include them, making the acetate a rare collectible. We recently saw an acetate of the 1977 album The Beatles at the Hollywood Bowl that was a working version of the album that contained two songs that were not on the finished LP. Those two songs have never been commercially released, making that particular acetate a desirable Beatles rarity.

About two years ago, someone found a box containing nearly 150 Bob Dylan acetates in a building in New York. Many of these acetates contained unreleased songs and/or different versions of songs from the versions that have been commercially released. Several of these discs have been sold publicly at prices in the several-thousand-dollar range.

bootleg acetate
A Pink Floyd bootleg album issued as an acetate

A few bootleg albums have been released in acetate form over the years, simply as a gimmick. The only titles we have seen like this originated in Japan, usually in limited editions of no more than twenty five copies. As producing discs one at at time is both expensive and labor intensive, product of bootleg acetates as a commercial product is not a very common practice.

Prices for acetates can vary widely, depending on the artist and the content. Obviously, the more collectible the artist, the greater the interest from the collecting community. While all acetates are rare, collectors will be more interested in (and pay higher prices for) examples that feature unreleased material or versions of songs that are not otherwise available.

An acetate of an album by an artist that isn’t particularly collectible might sell for $10 or even less. On the other hand, an acetate containing unreleased material by a well-known artist might sell for thousands of dollars. About ten years ago, an acetate containing rough versions of the material that became the first album by the Velvet Underground sold for more than $25,000. That material has since been released commercially.

An acetate of Elvis Presley’s first recording sold for $300,000 in 2015 to musician Jack White of White Stripes fame.

Counterfeit Acetates

beatles counterfeit acetates
A counterfeit Beatles acetate

Unfortunately, in the collecting world, nearly anything of value has been counterfeited, and that includes test pressings and acetates. They’re rare, they’re in demand, and they can sell for a lot of money, and that has led unscrupulous individuals to create acetates that appear to be original, record company-produced products but are actually homemade items that have no inherent value.

While counterfeit acetates exist for a number of artists, the most common artist represented by these discs is the Beatles. Many of these fake discs have labels that say either “EMIDISC” or have a representation of the Beatles’ own Apple label.

Since legitimate Beatles acetates turn up infrequently, few potential buyers have enough experience to be able to determine if an item offered for sale is a legitimate item or a counterfeit.

Many of these counterfeits have been artificially aged to give them a look of authenticity, and a number of them have sold for three and four figure prices at auction. The best advice we can offer to potential buyer is to know your seller and to get a guarantee when you make your purchase.

Test Pressings

test pressings
A sample test pressing label

Along with acetates, collector also have a lot of interest in records known as test pressings. It’s not a clever name; a test pressing is exactly what the name suggests – a record manufactured for the express purpose of evaluating the finished product.

Test pressings might be manufactured for the purpose of listening to material that is being considered for commercial release or they might be made as a test of production stampers for a finished commercial record.

Unlike acetates, test pressings are vinyl records pressed from stampers and are physically virtually identical to commercially available records. The only difference is that test pressings usually have custom labels similar to those found on acetates. These labels might have the words “test pressing” pre-printed on them and may include blank lines that can be filled in by hand to indicate the name of the artist, the title of the album, the catalog number and perhaps the date of manufacture.

Like acetates, test pressings are occasionally sent out to radio stations for promotional use if the production discs aren’t yet ready, but most of the time, they’re simply used to evaluate the finished product. This would include making sure that the record contains the correct and intended versions of the songs on it, that the sound quality is acceptable and that the playing order is correct.

Test pressings are usually found without printed covers. They are usually packaged in plain white covers. Often they will be accompanied by a “label copy sheet,” which is a sheet of paper that contains the information that would ordinarily be printed on the label of a finished album – the album title and catalog number, the name of the artist, song titles and running times, the name of the record company and publishing information for the songs themselves.

Collector Interest in Test Pressings

Collectors like test pressings for many of the same reasons that they like acetates. While they are made further along in the manufacturing process than acetates, test pressings are usually the first discs made from production stampers, so they will likely sound better than commercially available, or “stock” copies of the records sold in stores.

Scarcity – Test pressings, like acetates, are also relatively rare. While acetates may be unique or limited to just a couple of discs, test pressings are usually manufactured in larger, though still limited, quantities. Unless test pressings are made to be issued as promotional copies, they are generally limited to no more than twenty copies, though the number of discs manufactured can vary widely.

A colored vinyl album by the Doors, issued only as a test pressing
A colored vinyl album by the Doors, issued only as a test pressing
genesis test pressings
A test pressing of the unreleased Genesis live album

Alternate or unreleased material – Like acetates, test pressings sometimes contain either unreleased material or songs that are different in some way from the commercially available versions of that particular album. The 1972 Beach Boys album Holland was originally intended to include a song called “We Got Love,” but the record company was unhappy with the song selection. The group recorded a song called “Sail On, Sailor” that was used in the place of “We Got Love” on the commercial release. A few test pressings of the earlier version exist and are of great interest to Beach Boys collectors.

A few test pressings of Bob Dylan’s 1975 LP Blood on the Tracks exist with different songs from the released version. The album was close to its release date when Dylan decided to rerecord a large portion of the album. Reportedly, only five copies of the test pressing of the original recording are known to exist. One of them recently sold for $12,000.

Test pressings of Bruce Springsteen’s 1975 album Born to Run were sent to radio stations in a printed gatefold cover that was blank on the inside and which featured the name of the artist and the title of the album in a font that looked like handwriting, rather than the block print used on the final version. Several hundred of these “script cover” test pressings were sent out to radio stations and are quite sought after today, usually selling for upwards of $1500 when they’re offered for sale.

The first live album by Genesis, 1974’s Genesis Live, was briefly intended to be a two record set but was ultimately released as a single album. A few test pressings of the two record set were made in the Netherlands. This set includes material that has otherwise never been released, and the few copies that have turned up over the years have sold for as much as $4000 at auction.

The audiophile label Mobile Fidelity Sound Labs released eight titles in the early 1980s as Ultra High Quality Recordings, or UHQR, as they are known. These titles were made using a then-uncommon heavy-weight 200 gram vinyl pressed with a special “flat” profile that the company did not use for their regular pressings. All eight titles were limited to 5000 copies for commercial sale. The company also made test pressings of a handful of titles that they were considering releasing in the UHQR format, but which they ultimately decided not to release.

These titles included all thirteen of the UK Beatles albums, along with A Trick of the Tail by Genesis, Rickie Lee Jones’s first album, and The Grand Illusion by Styx, among others. These rarely-seen test pressings usually sell for upwards of $1000 each on the rare occasions when they are offered for sale.

Unreleased albums – Occasionally, artists will complete an album with the intention of commercial release, only to have the release canceled for any one of a number of reasons. These unreleased albums usually exist in the form of test pressings, and sometimes they turn up for sale.

One good example would be Läther, by Frank Zappa. The album, intended as a four-record set, was recorded in 1977. Zappa’s record company rejected the finished album, though test pressings exist. The album was finally released officially in 1996.

Another unreleased Zappa album, Crush All Boxes, was intended for release in 1980, but was scrapped in favor of releasing You Are What You Is instead. At least one test pressing is known to exist of that title.

Counterfeit Test Pressings

While counterfeit acetates are fairly common, counterfeit test pressings are not. We have seen a few examples over the years, including the original version of Bob Dylan’s Blood on the Tracks. The most common counterfeit test pressings would be for titles that were otherwise unreleased. Buyers should exercise due diligence when considering a purchase, but as a rule, counterfeit test pressings are relatively uncommon.

The nice thing about test pressings is that they are physically no different from a commercially available album, which means that they can be played as often as any other record. Most collectors don’t buy them to play them, however; instead they tend to buy them as a collectible item in addition to the regular version of the album.

Acetates and Test Pressings Conclusion

While acetates and test pressings could hardly be regarded as something that every collector might find essential, they are unusual and interesting items to add to one’s collection. They’re relatively rare, they usually offer superior sound, and they occasionally offer access to material that otherwise might not be commercially available.

Click here to see our selection of acetates
Click here to see our selection of test pressings

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Modern Jazz Quartet – Lonely Woman 1962 Japan test pressing with obi

Modern Jazz Quartet - Lonely Woman 1962 Japan test pressing with obi

Offered for sale is an original Japanese stereo test pressing of the 1962 LP Lonely Woman by the Modern Jazz Quartet, complete with the ultra-rare obi.

About this copy: This copy of Lonely Woman is an original 1962 Japanese stereo test pressing, complete with the ultra-rare obi, which is nearly always missing.  The cover is M-, though it does have a faint stain in the lower left hand corner of the back cover and a couple of faint creases.

The obi is M-.  This LP was issued without an insert.

The disc is VG++, with a couple of faint marks that don’t affect play.

A beautiful copy of a terrific (and very rare) record.

Background:  Lonely Woman was the 12th album the MJQ recorded for Atlantic, and according to Allmusic.com, Lonely Woman is one of their best:

Having sponsored Ornette Coleman at the School of Jazz near Lennox, MA, pianist and composer John Lewis helped launch the controversial career of one of the last great innovators in jazz. Lewis’ support of the ragtag Texas native was somewhat unique in jazz circles at the time and even surprising, especially considering the gulf between the classical jazz formality of his group the Modern Jazz Quartet and Coleman’s radical notions of free improvisation. Nevertheless, Lewis not only saw in Coleman the first jazz genius since bebop’s Parker, Gillespie, and Monk, but put pay to the praise with the MJQ’s 1962 rendition of one of Coleman’s most famous numbers, “Lonely Woman.” (Along with Art Pepper’s 1960 version of “Tears Inside,” this was one of the earliest of Coleman covers done.) The 1962 Atlantic album of the same name turns out to be one of the band’s best efforts. A great disc that’s perfect for the curious jazz lover.

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Marketts – Marketts A Go Go original Japan red vinyl test pressing LP with obi

Marketts - Marketts A Go Go original Japan red vinyl test pressing LP with obi

Offered for sale is an original Japanese red vinyl test pressing of the Marketts’ 1967 LP Marketts A Go Go, complete with original obi.  This is the same album as their American release Sun Power with a different title and cover.

About this copy: The copy of Marketts A Go Go offered for sale is an original pre-release test pressing of the LP, sent out to Japanese radio stations for promotional use.

The LP was pressed on “Everclean” red vinyl with typed labels. The original obi is included, and the hojyuhyo, or reorder tag, is still attached on the back. The original envelope inner sleeve is included. This LP was released without an insert; the information that would have been on the insert is printed on the back cover.

The cover is VG++, with a M- front cover and faint traces of wear on the back. The obi is VG+, with a wrinkled reorder tag. The LP is M- and looks unplayed.

This album is a lost gem as far as we’re concerned. It’s a pretty good 60s instrumental album and it’s a terrific recording. You’ll love how this one sounds!

Background: The Marketts had a few instrumental chart hits in the 1960s, and if you bought their albums, you’d think they were one of many surf groups that popped up in the wake of the Beach Boys success in the early 1960s.  In fact, the Marketts, best known for their 1963 hit “Out of Limits” were made up entirely of session musicians from LA’s famed Wrecking Crew.  While regarded as a “surf” band, the Marketts actually produced a wide range of instrumentals for the dozen or so years of their occasional existence, in a number of genres.

After a couple of releases on Warner Brothers, their 1967 LP, Sun Power, was released on World Pacific Records, a label better known for jazz titles.  As such, the album drew little attention.  All of the song titles on the album included the word “sun” in the name.

The Japanese release, which is quite rare, is rather unusual in that they changed the title of the album from the reasonable Sun Power to Marketts A Go Go.  The original cover image was replaced with that of an attractive woman at a marina.  The photos show a copy of the American album for reference purposes.

You can listen to “California Sun” here:

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Love – Reel to Real 1974 U.S. test pressing LP

Love - Reel to Real 1974 U.S. test pressing LP

Offered for sale is a test pressing of Love’s 1974 LP, Reel to Real, pressed by Specialty Records for test purposes.

About this copy: The copy offered for sale is in VG condition.  It doesn’t appear to have had lot of play, but it has very heavy scuffing from the heavy plastic sleeve it was stored in for decades.  There is matrix and catalog number information written on the labels.  This disc was issued with a plain white cover.

A nice copy of a scarce Love collectible.

Background: Love’s 1974 LP, Reel to Real was intended to be the big comeback for the band, but for whatever reason, it never came to pass and the album is fairly scarce today.  The copy offered for sale is a test pressing, manufactured to ensure that the mastering and plating were correct and that the finished product sounded as it should.  Test pressings are usually limited to just a handful of copies and are generally issued to band and record company personnel.