In alphabetical order each page gives you an Artist discography of sorts - every UK-released 7" single worth over £5 - every 78", EP, 10" and 12" single over £8, every LP over £12 (originals and reissues), 2LP sets over £15 and CDs over £18. The scope of the book is 1950 right through to the '10s - covering a huge array of genres.
Entries start with 7" SINGLES - Year Of Release, Catalogue Number, A & B-sides named - plus (in brackets afterwards) any other info relevant to that release - picture sleeve, shaped picture disc etc. Some of the bigger artists like Bowie, Madonna and U2 get entries for mispressings, promo issues, demo copies and some foreign releases. 78", 10", 12" and CD singles also feature full track-lists but 7" EPs and LPs DO NOT.
The UK STERLING VALUE in the furthest right column is for MINT copies with a Ready Reckoner page in the rear to calculate lesser grades - EX (Excellent), VG (Very Good), Good, Fair, Poor and Bad. 'Record Collector' is keen to stress that at the highest levels - say a Mint copy of Elvis Presley's legendary 1st UK LP "Rock 'N' Roll" - the listed price of £500 is a 'guide' - at auction it might fetch twice or three times that price because LPs from 1956 are impossibly rare in genuine Mint. Conversely whether or not you'll get £80 for a MINT copy of Deep Purple's "Fireball" from 1971 is another matter...
12" ALBUMS start with Year of Release, the Title in CAPITOL LETTERS (to visually differentiate them from other entries), Catalogue number (Mono and Stereo where applicable) and again any relevant info to packaging - gatefold sleeves, textured covers, inserts, posters, free singles etc. CD albums follow lastly.
Beneath many discographies is another very helpful adage - a tie-in list relevant to the Artist. The 60's group THE IDLE RACE for instance shows The Move and Electric Light Orchestra are associated to them because all three bands had JEFF LYNNE in them (there's also mention of Lemon Tree, Trevor Burton, Mike Sheridan, Traveling Wilburys and others).
The best way to show just how comprehensive this massive book is - is to list a fraction of the featured names...
BLUES, RHYTHM 'n' BLUES, ROCK 'n' ROLL, MALE and FEMALE VOCALS:
Tony Bennett, Chuck Berry, Eddie Cochran, Fats Domino, The Drifters, The Everly Brothers, Connie Francis, Billy Fury, Buddy Holly, John Lee Hooker, Howlin' Wolf, Louis Jordan, BB King, Peggy Lee, Julie London, Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard, Dean Martin, Muddy Waters, The Platters, Johnnie Ray, Frank Sinatra, Bessie Smith, Big Joe Turner, Gene Vincent and Dionne Warwick.
ROCK and POP:
AC/DC, Ryan Adams, Alice In Chains, The Animals, The Band, The Beach Boys, The Beatles (plus all Solo and Apple Related), Bee Gees, Blur, Marc Bolan & T.Rex, David Bowie, Kate Bush, Byrds, Captain Beefheart, Leonard Cohen, Coldplay, Cream, CSNY (& Buffalo Springfield), The Cure, Deep Purple, Donovan, Bob Dylan, Fleetwood Mac, Genesis, Grateful Dead, Roy Harper, Jimi Hendrix, Hollies, Humble Pie, Jefferson Airplane, Jethro Tull, Elton John, The Kinks, Kiss, Led Zeppelin, Love, Manic Street Preachers, John Martyn, John Mayall, MC5, Joni Mitchell, Van Morrison & Them, Mott The Hoople, Muse, Nirvana, Oasis, Pet Shop Boys, Pink Floyd, Iggy Pop, Pretty Things, Pulp, Queen, Radiohead, R.E.M., The Rolling Stones, Santana, Small Faces, The Smiths, Bruce Springsteen, Status Quo, Steely Dan, Cat Stevens, Suede, Talking Heads, Ten Years After, Thin Lizzy, Traffic, U2, Velvet Underground, Tom Waits, The Who, Neil Young, Frank Zappa and The Zombies.
PROGRESSIVE ROCK and KRAUT:
Amon Duul, Ash Ra Temple, Brian Auger, Can, Comus, ELP, Faust, Fripp & Eno, Gentle Giant, Gong, Hawkwind, King Crimson, Kraftwerk, Leafhound, Magma, Klaus Schulze, Rush, Tangerine Dream, Ugly Custard, Van Der Graaf Generator, Mike Westbrook and Yes. There are also hundreds of entries listing rare and valuable obscurities - every progressive rock LP released on labels like Dandelion Records, Dawn, Decca, Deram, Island, Kaleidoscope, Nepantha, Pye, RCA Neon, Transatlantic and Vertigo.
Addicts, Buzzcocks, Clash, Damned, The Jam, Ramones, Ruts, Sex Pistols, Slits, Stiff Little Fingers, Stranglers, UK Subs, The Undertones, X-Ray Specs (and many more)
REGGAE, SKA, ROOTS & DUB:
Laurel Aitken, Black Uhuru, Ken Boothe, Desmond Dekker, Dillinger, Don Drummond, Jackie Edwards, The Ethiopians, Owen Gray, The Heptones, John Holt, King Tubby, Byron Lee, Bob Marley & The Wailers, The Mighty Diamonds, Jackie Mittoo, Derrick Morgan, Augustus Pablo, Lee 'Scratch' Perry, Prince Buster, Max Romeo, The Skatalites, Toots & The Maytals and The Upsetters
FOLK and COUNTRY:
The Bothy Band, Vashti Bunyan, Johnny Cash, The Chieftains, Patsy Cline, Shirley & Dolly Collins, Sandy Denny, Dransfield, Fairport Convention, Incredible String Band, Makem and Clancy, Mellow Candle, Pentangle, Planxty, Jim Reeves, John Renbourn, Hank Snow, Conway Twitty and Slim Whitman - as well as most all records on the Argo, Polydor Folkmill label, Topic, Transatlantic and Vanguard labels.
INDIE. ALTERNATIVE, INDUSTRIAL, HARDCORE:
Big Black, The Black Keys, Boards Of Canada, Nick Cave, Cocteau Twins, Coil, Current 93, Dead Can Dance, Death, The Fall, Felt, Foo Fighters, Four Tet, PJ Harvey, Robyn Hitchcock, Joy Division. Libertines, My Bloody Valentine, New Order, Nine Inch Nails, Nirvana, Porcupine Tree, Psychic TV, Saint Etienne, Sigur Ros, Smashing Pumpkins, Sonic Youth, Spiritualized, Stereolab, Stone Roses, The Strokes, Test Department, Throbbing Gristle, Tindersticks, The Wedding Present and Wire.
SOUL, FUNK and JAZZ FUSION:
James Brown, Donald Byrd, Sam Cooke, The Crusaders, Miles Davis, Deodato, Al Green, Herbie Hancock, Isley Brothers, Michael Jackson, Quincy Jones, Curtis Mayfield, Parliament, Prince, Lou Rawls, Gil Scott-Heron, Ike & Tina Turner, Jackie Wilson and Bobby Womack. There's every Tamla Motown artist (Four Tops, Marvin Gaye, Supremes, Temptations, Stevie Wonder etc), Stax Records (Isaac Hayes, Staple Singers, Johnnie Taylor, Booker T etc), Philadelphia International (Harold Melvin, MFSB, O'Jays, Billy Paul etc), Atlantic Records (Aretha Franklin, Donny Hathaway, Wilson Pickett, Otis Redding, Sam & Dave etc.)
DANCE, HIP-HOP, TECHNO - Aphex Twin, Beastie Boys, Chemical Brothers, Cinematic Orchestra, KLF, Massive Attack, Portishead, Prodigy and St. Germaine
At the very back of the book is a VARIOUS ARTISTS section featuring both EPs and LPs - and two sections on SOUNDTRACKS and LIBRARY MUSIC.
THE BAD - EXCLUSIONS/MISTAKES/STUFF THAT SHOULD BE CULLED:
For a book sporting a 2014 date there's incredibly sloppy exclusions on some huge artists - Kate Bush vinyl LP entries stop at "Aerial" from 2005 but don't include "50 Words For Snow" or "Director's Cut" from 2011 - Springsteen ends with "In Concert" from 1995 excluding "The Seeger Sessions", "Working On A Dream", "Magic", "Wrecking Ball" etc. And Nick Drake has a Simply Vinyl 180-gram repress of his gorgeous 1969 debut album "Five Leaves Left" listed at £15 (try getting it for under £25) but there's no listings for the equally desirable Simply Vinyl reissues of his 2nd and 3rd albums - "Bryter Layter" or "Pink Moon"? Every vinyl album by a major artist in the last five years is issued at somewhere between £15 and £25 retail - is limited - sells out immediately and therefore becomes an instant collectable (Keane, The Melvins, Amy Winehouse etc). Large numbers of them aren't here - yet Rosemary Clooney, Bobby Darin, The McGuire Sisters and Sarah Vaughan are - when you can barely raise a fiver for any of their stuff.
While Slayer, Motorhead, Iron Maiden, Metallica and Black Sabbath go from strength to strength on the metal collector's scene - artists like Def Leppard, Bon Jovi and Thunder have been dead in the water for years - and everyone knows it. So why are they in here at all? Speaking of 80's rubbish, it's maddening to see huge amounts of entries for Erasure (unsellable), Gary Numan, OMD and Kylie Minogue - then see that John Martyn's classic LP "One World" from 1977 isn't listed! It's hard to get a copy for under £15 now. In fact since his tragic passing in 2009 all his vinyl albums have escalated hugely in value - not that you'd know that from this guide.
The ELVIS PRESLEY/ CLIFF RICHARD entries go on for pages and I dispute the value of half of it - especially the mountains of dreck RCA and EMI hammered fans with in the 70's, 80's and 90's. Teresa Brewer, Freddie Cannon, Herman's Hermits, Gene Pitney, The Shadows, Johnny Tillotson, Bobby Vee - none of it sells anymore - MINT or not.
LED ZEPPELIN - in their December 2011 issue of the magazine, RC ran an extensive article of the 40th anniversary of one of the most iconic rock albums of all time - LED ZEPPELIN IV. There are 7 label variants up to the 'K' label reissue in 1973 (Kinney Music) and a few coloured vinyls beyond (even the once-budget 80's reissues now command £20+ because they're on vinyl). This supposedly 'revised' guide lists only 5 - excluding variants listed in its own article - a staggeringly stupid mistake on one of the most collectable bands on the planet...
Although it stretches from Page 113 to 121 and looks impressive on first glance - actually using THE BEATLES section shows it up to be an indecipherable mess. Choosing to catalogue their entries in 'year by year' release-date order instead of 'title by title' has you scraping about pages trying to find what bloody pressing you have in your hand. Take "Please Please Me" the 1962 debut LP for instance - there are over 20 variants listed here (with probably many more actually out there). How do you easily determine which issue you have - there are originals, 2nd presses, remasters, export issues, foreign issues, picture disc versions - and all of them in different places? The seventh variant from 1969 is listed at £350 - would you miss that because they're not all under the same roof? The answer is YES.
I would argue that given the importance of their catalogue - the number one collectable band in the world should have their own section at the very beginning of the book. Separated - fully revised - it should PICTURE IN COLOUR 'both' the cover art of each title AND their label variations beneath that - so as to easily recognize what's what - instead of having to wade through a sea of wordy descriptions across 9 different pages...
But what's worst about this guide is something RC seem incapable of acknowledging because they'll rock too many boats - the plummeting value of a format we grew up with and adored...the 45...
THE UGLY - THE DEATH OF THE 7" SINGLE:
The following has to be said - and I hate to say because it will probably elicit vitriol from collectors and readers alike - but the humble 7" single is over as a format - and in the last few years in particular this sad demise has escalated at an alarming rate. As a fully functioning secondhand record shop - Reckless has had a Rarities Department for over 20 years now - and the lovely 7" single has always had boxes on our shelves (still do). But we've had to ease back on buying the mountains of sevens we're offered every day precisely because they no longer sell - especially if their Pop or Chart Hits or just VG and less. Two stalwarts of the 7" collecting scene have also been hammered value-wise in the last few years with no sign of abetting - London and Tamla Motown. It's no surprise that the guide often lists the DEMO value on these labels because STOCK copies are hard to sell at any price - especially those listed in 3-figures.
Sure - certain genres are still sought after and actually escalating in value - 60's Psych & Garage, Freakbeat, Punk, Reggae, Ska, Northern Soul and Metal for instance - but try getting money for Creedence or Free or Fleetwood Mac - most of which are listed at £5 or above for mint - when we can't even get a pound for them. The 80's, 90's and 00's are an absolute wasteland for thousands of titles (Oasis, Paul Weller and The White Stripes continue to buck the trend on that as do others). Who wants Fifties crooners or insipid Sixties Pop like Pat Boone, Sammy Davis, Tom Jones, James Last, Peter & Gordon, The Tremeloes, Bobby Vee and Lawrence Welk? Even worthy artists like Ray Charles, Roy Orbison and Hank Williams don't sell for anything like their list prices anymore.
Some will say that this is a personal opinion about 45s - but I feel that as the next two years progress to a point when we actually reach 2014 - as much as three quarters of all entries for 7's and 12's in this Price Guide will have no 'real world' validity whatsoever. Next time (2016) - a serious cull will need to take place or this book's title will lunge dangerously towards farce...
Having said all of that - and with Amazon beating down its £29.99 paperback price tag to just above twenty quid - buying this 12th edition of "Record Collector Rare Record Price Guide 2014" is a solid investment - and with over 100,000 entries - it's still an unrivalled and amazing reference source for music lovers...
Despite its flaws - this book is like Jimmy Page's twin-necked guitar - it may be big and cumbersome - but man what a sound it makes... Onwards to the 2016 edition...