The Vinyl Collector: Looking at the Whole Picture

By Alex Mosier

Sometimes a rock opera leaves such a strong impression on the world that every fan can’t help but listening to it on repeat.  None has accomplished this feat quiet as well as The Rocky Horror Picture Show.  Watching the movie on repeat and going to midnight, small town performances obviously aren’t enough for any fan of vinyl records.  Just the thought of joining in on The Time Warp through the warm crackle of a vinyl record makes me shiver with antici…pation.

Digging through the half-inch-thick blanket of dust in the backroom of a little second hand shop in Surfside Beach, S.C., I saw the marvelous face of Dr. Frank-N-Furter starring back at me, causing something to stir in my loins. After inspecting the record for scratches and the dust jacket for fading or tears, the album looked perfect for the right price. After bartering with the store owner, I got him to add it to the rest of my purchase for only $2.  Given its very good condition, as vinyl condition ranking would call it, this album seemed like a steal.

Before I paid, the shop owner pulled me into another room filled with stacks of records.  After a minute of watching the balding man cough through a cloud of dust, he emerged with a slightly different copy of the soundtrack on vinyl.  He handed me a picture vinyl of the same album.  Instead of the traditional black vinyl tucked in a ornately nerdy dust jacket, this one came in a clear dust jacket and the vinyl itself was stamped Dr. Frank-N-Furter dancing with a purple and white background.  Looking over the album, before I could respond, the owner lit a cigarette and coughed, “eight bucks for that one instead.”  Given that the album would make a beautiful display piece, I decided to pass it up and stick with the traditional black for the time.

Once I got back to my apartment, as was my custom, I listened to Side A before looking up that day’s purchases online.  After singing “Dammit Janet” out the window to some girl jogging, I hopped on the computer to do some research.  The Rocky Horror Picture Show vinyl in this condition was selling for around $8. Not a bad little investment for a last minute find.  Out of curiosity, I checked out the going rate for the elegant little picture vinyl.  It felt like I had woken up with Rocky, face to face with me, when I saw that the picture vinyl version was going for upwards of $45.

Immediately, I called the shop, but they were closed for the day.  First thing the next morning I sat in the parking lot, waiting for the store to open.  Before the owner had even gotten out of his car, I was at the front door.  I asked if I could still grab that picture vinyl, but it was already gone.  Apparently, as soon as I had left another customer saw the album on top of the stacks and snatched it up.  I should have remembered the importance of vinyl records as display pieces as much as their perfection of sound in making my purchases.