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Record sleeves are wonderful things. They are stand-alone pieces of art that are often beautiful and always functional. Normally they contain just what they’re supposed to - the record in an inner sleeve, sometimes with an insert with lyrics and pictures. Some vintage records include booklets, posters, fan club application forms and merchandise order forms. Occasionally however, you’ll find that a record sleeve contains things that never initially came with that record, and that’s what this blog post is about. Things you find in record sleeves.
In 2013 a former employee at the Motown Museum in Detroit visited the house of a local musician who had died, to pick up some items the family wanted to donate to the museum. The man returned that weekend to buy some LPs and 45s from the collection. When he got them home and started examining them, Marvin Gaye‘s 1964 passport fell out of one of the records that he’d paid 50 cents for.
The most common things I’ve found in record sleeves are ticket stubs, concert programmes, press clippings, 7” singles and pot seeds & stems. All of these make sense. If you want to keep your ticket stubs but can’t be bothered to start a scrapbook or pin them to a corkboard, the pertinent album sleeves are the next best place to keep them. Tour programmes are less common, mostly because they tend to be bulky and some won’t fit in an LP sleeve. Press clippings are fairly common, be it an artist feature, a review of the pertinent concert or of the album itself. An LP sleeve is a convenient place to store an errant 7” if you don’t collect 45s. You sometimes find old photographs, birthday cards and letters or notes. Predominantly the notes are from a lovelorn boy to the girl he’s gifted the record to in an attempt to make a connection. I’ve also seen these notes written on the inner sleeve and even the outer sleeve of records.
This doesn’t happen often, but sometimes the record gods bestow untold bounties upon you, like the time I picked up a UK Wish You Were Here only to find that it had THREE postcards in it!
I still wonder if the next two copies on the production line at the pressing plant in Hayes, Essex went without the postcard because of my good fortune.
Here are just few of my most recent finds:
I picked up some UK metal LPs last summer, including this album from little-known British thrash band Re-Animator. Inside was a letter the lead guitarist had written in response to a request from a fan for their earlier demo tape.
I found this perfectly-preserved cigarette butt inside a first pressing of Jethro Tull’s Aqualung.
Another recent acquisiton was this copy of George Michael’s Faith which contained a gift note from three of the recipient Kaly’s friends: Michelle, Peter and Richard. When Faith first came out, this LP probably cost around £7. Split that expenditure on a birthday present between three friends and you’ve got some pretty cheap friends. On the plus side, Kaly clearly wasn’t much of a George Michael fan – the LP was unplayed!
One Wishbone Ash LP yielded this flyer encouraging people to sell their record collections the shop in question. What I like about this is that whoever designed the flyer was trying to convey to the target audience that their record collection might be neglected and worthy of liquidation. The only image they could come up with to convey this was a spiderweb, so the pictured record unit is covered in them. I also like that it has the old-style UK phone number, introduced after World War II with the town name followed by a six digit number.
Just the other day my friend Scott at Neurotica Records posted these school photos on facebook that he found in a Dean Martin LP.
I consulted the internet for some more things people have found in record sleeves and the breadth of finds is phenomenal:
I’m going to close out this blog by handing you over to my friend Mitch Girio who has this story to tell:
In the early to mid-nineties I used to tour with a band called King Apparatus. At the end of every outing I would come home with an armful of vinyl, taking weeks to listen through all the music I had purchased along the way. On one tour stop in Regina I was told by our organist, Marc LeBourdais that I should check out a record store not too far from the band house. So I did. I spent my time picking through their albums, and really, the only one I can remember right now was Latin Joe. It’s an album from 1962 featuring a lively rhythm section with a hole punched through somewhere close to the centre of the record. By the end of the tour I brought my new collection home so I could go through all that music one record at a time.
It was on a night like this that I sat around with my room-mates entertaining myself with the records that I hadn’t gone through yet. There I was yammering on about something when I finally pulled out the Latin Joe record and all of the sudden my room-mates were screaming. Eight crisp $50 bills were falling out the sleeve. They were the kind they used to print with the picture of the Mounties in a circle.
Rent was due and I was short on cash. Thank you, Latin Joe. Much appreciated.
Mitch is brilliant by the way, check him out at https://kingkonggirio.bandcamp.com/
For more fun, here’s an Instagram page dedicated to things found in record sleeves: https://www.instagram.com/thingsifoundinrecords/