Written by 5:00 am Audiophile Music

Shapes of Vinyl Discs to Come

Mark Smotroff goes batty for oddly shaped discs to play on his turntable… and you may too!

OK, all you audiophiles out there in music listening land, this is a heads-up that this article is going to be a decidedly non-audiophile affair.

BatmanSplatterVersion225.jpgThat doesn’t mean its a bad story, but we know y’all are pretty busy folks, so you are forewarned in case you have something better to do for the next couple of minutes…

All the rest of you, including the geeks who collect things like Star Wars and Beetlejuice posable characters as well as entire comic book … um…. excuse me… graphic novel … series… well, you all may want to pay attention here.

I admit I first saw someone posting a picture of what I’m about to tell you about on one of the Facebook music groups I’m in. It is that kinda thing.

As soon as I saw it, my inner geek took charge.

IT“… was so freakin’ cool looking, I immediately did a search for it on the Interwebs. Typing in a few normally unrelated key words — Batman, die cut, vinyl — brought me right to the site selling these things: a special edition 12-inch single featuring themes by composer Danny Elfman as used in the Batman: The Animated Series program.

Batman225.jpgNow that wouldn’t be such an unusual thing except the theme music is hella short — yeah, I just wrote “hella” — even with two versions on each side, the total playing time is just about two minutes per side.

And, this record was hella expensive — $25! (yeah… another “hella” … go on…. call me a hipster, dude…)

Yikes! Really? $25 for about four minutes of music? But … but… it comes with a spiffy gatefold cover and a way cool cut out BAT-disc!

It might even be pressed on 180-gram virgin vinyl.

Way cool.

Cryers225.jpgHeck yes! I grabbed my credit card and went for it without BAT-ting an eyelash… I couldn’t resist (just like I can’t resist writing all these dumb bat-puns for you, Dear Readers).

This 12-inch single is die-cut in the shape of Batman’s bat signal! While it its spinning on my turntable it sort of looks almost like the spinning Batman logo from the original Batman TV show in the 1960s.

Yeah, I know, I’m dating myself but I was a little kid when that show first aired and I loved watching every stupid minute of it! And as far as comic books went, Batman was my jam.

So now I get to see that great iconic black bat-thing spinning on my lovely Music Hall MMF 7.1 turntable. There is humor in that fact right there.

Bluebells225.jpg(Have I gone batty?)

Buying an item like this goes beyond reason. It honestly makes no real sense. Except for one over-riding factor: It is fun!

There is no denying this disc is way fun. Hella fun, even! Just taking the pointy-edged disc out of its protective inner sleeve is an experience, it feels like you are holding something special.

It IS something special. It makes me smile, every time I take it out. Wonder of wonders.

(The disc is sold out, unfortunately, but you might find it on eBay or other sites where used and collector records are sold. Here’s the link to the original product.)

SweetVine225.jpgNow, die-cut and shaped records aren’t all that common, but they have been around. Over the years a number of different sized and shaped discs have been sold at retail and (more likely) given away as limited-edition radio promotion items.

One of my faves came out in 1978, promoting one of my favorite albums by one of my favorite bands: a square promotional 45 RPM EP (which fits in a round picture sleeve) showcasing four songs from the then-new album Misfits by the Kinks! The EP was never available commercially but you can find people selling them on places like eBay and Discogs (where I got my copy). Its a cool thing to own, especially if you like the Kinks.

I have a few others I’ve picked up along the way including one that is shaped like a teardrop (by lost ’70s “new wave” band the Cryers), another shaped like a bell (for the ’80s UK pop band the Bluebells) and even a picture disc that looks like a bunch of grapes by a bluesy rock outfit called Sweet Vine. I even have one by the Dream Academy that looks like a flower on one side and reveals images of the band members on the flip-side.

KinksMisfitsAlt225.jpgAnyhow, what else can I say at this point? These things are pretty fab and make for a bit of fun to show off when your friend come ’round or if you simply want a respite from the traditional plain round spins.

Final Bat Tip: Be careful where you put down your stylus when playing these things and make sure it is in the groove!

You don’t want your fancy diamond tip stylus clipped by a spinning bat wing!


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