What’s in the Box? (Third Man Vault 21)

In late June I was notified that my Vault subscription had charged my bank account for the forthcoming package. At that time, the contents of the package had not been disclosed so anticipation was high! Since moving to D.C., I am somewhat restricted in record shopping avenues (read: I don’t like to walk more than 1 mile away from a metro stop) so I am very glad to have the Vault subscription to add collectible titles to my record collection.

After 5 long months, my Vault 21 package finally arrived. (We can thank over-demand of record pressing plants for the long turn-around). According to Third Man, the package would include a Third Man Flag, an exclusive White Stripes live album recorded in Japan and a new Dead Weather single and B-side. Third Man album packaging is always a treat so let’s see what’s inside! (SLIDESHOW)

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Private Collection: Chris Phelps

One of our newest features on the blog is Private Collection. Featuring interviews with vinyl enthusiasts about their collections. For our first interview, I am pleased to introduce Chris Phelps, a fantastic photographer from Texas with an impressive client list (He’s probably shot your favorite band!) with the likes of Fueled by Ramen to Alternative Press, who just happens to be an avid vinyl collector. Thanks for talking with us, Chris!


What is your name & occupation?

My name is Chris Phelps and I am a photographer.

When did you start collecting vinyl?

I started borrowing my parents records when I was in high school and started my own collection when I was 15 or 16. I’ve been collecting ever since–almost 12 years now.

How many records to you own?

Somewhere around 800 records including 45s.

photo 1
Why do you prefer vinyl?

A lot of people talk about the sound being better, richer, warmer, etc., and depending on the record I agree with that. I don’t think new records pressed to vinyl sound as good as some of the older stuff. I think back in the day when they were making records they were mastering them specifically for vinyl rather than a digital to analog conversion.

For me, it’s all about the experience. Especially as an image maker in the music industry I love seeing the large format artwork. There is a certain reverence towards music that comes from the ritual of pulling a specific record from your collection, removing it from a dust cover and sleeve, and then putting it on the turntable, only to have to flip it halfway through. You have to really love the music to go to that much trouble. All the while you have this great big piece of artwork that is physically in your hands. It’s a pretty awesome experience.

There is a certain reverence towards music that comes from the ritual of pulling a specific record from your collection, removing it from a dust cover and sleeve, and then putting it on the turntable, only to have to flip it halfway through…

I certainly don’t get the same experience checking out a new artist on Spotify, but there is a place for both in this world. They’re two different formats each with their own inherent pros and cons. Obviously you cant take a stack of LPs with you on a long road trip, or when you’re out for a bike ride or a run.

ProvidedWhat is your favorite album in your collection?

Thats a tough one… It took me 10 years to find my first original
mono copy of Pet Sounds, which is my favorite record of all time. I hear something different in it every time I listen to it. I actually own about 5 or 6 different pressings of it because they each have their own sound and character.

I’ve got some rare early Ray Charles and Sam Cooke records that I also cherish as well as my entire Johnny Cash collection. I’ve got almost everything Johnny Cash put out from his first 45 at Sun Records through the early 70s. I’ve still got a few holes to fill but I’ve definitely got more Johnny Cash records than any other single artist or group.

As far as recent stuff… my favorite record this year is
Phosphorescent – Muchacho. I’ve always been a fan of his, but he
really nailed it with this record. That and his “To Willie” record,
which is comprised of Willie Nelson covers and is an homage to
Willie’s “To Lefty” album.photo 3

What is number one on your Want list?

There’s a limited edition pressing of The Blood Brothers – “…Burn, Piano Island, Burn” LP that they put out which is limited to 200 copies and I missed out on it when it first came out back in 2003. It’s a 2xLP with hand screen printed artwork on the opposite sides of each record. It’s something I’d love to get one day and get framed.

They were my favorite band when I first started collecting vinyl and they were actually one of the first bands I ever photographed. I spent the day photographing them on 6 rolls of black and white film for my final project in my Photo I class, it was sort of a “day in the life” documentary type project. Needless to say, they are near and dear to my heart and I would love to have that record some day. It goes for around $100 on ebay and I haven’t gotten around to forking up the cash for it yet.

Where is your favorite place to shop for vinyl?

I have the pleasure of traveling a lot for work so I always look for record shops in whatever town I happen to be in. Some of my favorites include: Amoeba Records in Hollywood, Other Music in NYC, Love Garden Sounds in Lawrence, Kansas, Doc’s in Ft. Worth, TX, Good Records in Dallas, TX, all the shops in Austin, TX are pretty great too depending
on what you’re looking for… Waterloo, Antones, End of an Ear, Breakaway, etc. There’s a record fair underneath the Brooklyn Bridge I stumbled across one time which was completely amazing and I’ve always wanted to go back.

Follow Chris Phelps on Twitter, Tumblr, & Flickr

Since We are In the Spirit….

As much as I love being original, I think I am going to copy my good friend and fellow vinyl collector, Mary, and post my favorite record covers. It’s going to be hard to limit it to five, but I am going to try my best.

1.  Diana Ross Diana Ross 

This album came out in 1970 and was Ross’ first solo album. Ross was coming off the photo 1accomplishment of the most successful female group, The Supremes. Now if anybody has seen just a picture of this legendary group they know they had extensive style including beaded gowns, feathers, sequined anything and big hair. This album cover takes a whole new approach for Ms. Ross. She is featured just sitting in cut off shorts and a tie dye shirt. I would even go as far as to say she looks homeless. This was the defining point in her career in becoming her own superstar (And yes my copy is signed by Ms. Ross, she kindly signs things for fans at the end of her show).

2. Fleetwood Mac Rumours

photo 5This album cover is full of questions and mysteries. It made it’s debut in 1975. Does it have hidden meanings or is it simply an artistic endeavor? Stevie Nicks is dressed in her “Rhiannon” set she wore on stage. Mick Fleetwood said that when she would perform this song it was like watching an exorcism. Then, I love Fleetwood’s old style British attire. It channels his heritage and where the band originally began. Then there are those strategically placed sphere’s hanging from his waistband….

3. Johnny Cash American VI: Ain’t No Grave

This album was released in 2010, nearly 7 years after Cash’s death. It’s not often you find photo 2a singer that can be known by a four letter word, but everybody knows who Cash is. The cover photo is of Cash as a young boy, so he is ultimately unrecognizable, but the bold lettered “CASH” gives it away. A great homage to a once in a lifetime legend.

4. Billy Joel Glass Houses

photo 4This album was released in 1980. I have always been intrigued by this cover. It’s not often you find one with such a direct message. Joel is standing in front of a glass house about to throw a stone through its windows. It gives me the message that as a human, you must eventually just break the glass house you are in and do what you want. The photography is also spectacular, with the angle, use of blue, and Joel’s shadow in the window.

5. Marvin Gaye Live At the London Pallidium

I think about what it would have been like to see Gaye in concert and I can’t imagine it photo 3being anything but amazing. This cover shows the passion in Gaye’s vocals and his stance shows his talent for performing. Ironically, Gaye did not like performing live, especially after the death of his singing partner, Tammi Terrell. I also like the use of what I call fire colors for the wording.

After analyzing my album collection for just a few of my favorites I realized that, just like music, they don’t come like they used to. In the days before photoshop album covers were real, you saw the artist as they were. Now do not get me wrong, there is some really great album art out there today, but I think the days of classic covers has come and gone. They are simple, yet complex. They are creative, yet they always seem to have a certain beauty about them.

And just a little disclaimer, every album I featured is just as good on the inside, if not better.

Again, I wish I was born just a few years before I was.

Admiring and Spinning,


Top Five Favorite Album Covers

These are my top five favorite album covers from my private record collection. The music contained within may or may not be my favorite, but the album art is stellar. In no particular order…

1. The Beatles- Hey Jude
I love this photo so much. It probably spawned all the era-themed band photo shoots we see so much today.

2. Neutral Milk Hotel- On Avery Island
Colorized black and white photo, carnival theme, yes!

3. The Clash- London Calling
I’ve mentioned this album before because of it’s punk rock take on Elvis Presley’s first album cover. It’s a classic.

4. Led Zeppelin- Led Zeppelin
There might be a black and white or vintage photography theme to this list, but this contrast-y historic photo of the Hindenburg zeppelin burning is a great tribute to the airship and namesake of the band Led Zeppelin.

5. White Stripes- De Stijl
If you know me at all, you know that I love the art movement De Stjil. And an album cover paying tribute to such a great style is worth the purchase price.

What are your favorite album covers in your collection? 

How to: Catalog Your Record Collection

Once you reach a certain point, taking inventory of your vinyl collection becomes essential. If you’ve ever accidentally bought the same record twice because of a fantastic deal, you know the importance of having a current inventory of your collection. It is also important to assess the quality and condition of the records in your collection so you know what to shop for or trade for something you’ll enjoy more.

Thankfully, there are plenty of methods of keeping track of your collection, and there really isn’t any right or wrong way to catalog your record collection…

Screen Shot 2013-10-14 at 7.25.30 PM


We live in the digital age, after all. I’ve found that the easiest way to keep track of my record collection is a spreadsheet on Google Drive. It syncs with all my devices, and I can view it from my phone if need be. Most of my vinyl-enthusiast friends have Word documents or Excel spreadsheets detailing the titles and other information of their prized record collection.

Screen Shot 2013-10-14 at 7.35.57 PM


Wouldn’t if be great if there was a website like Goodreads except for vinyl collections? Turns out, there are a few! I just joined Discogs because it has some really useful features, including Wantlists, an option to buy/sell on their Marketplace, and a database of information (so you don’t have to fill in anything, just search!). It also has a value calculator that will estimate the value of your collection–kinda cool!



Knowing what you have is useless if your physical collection isn’t somehow organized. Whether it’s alphabetized, arranged by color, chronologically, or autobiographically, organizing your collection ensures that you can find your favorite albums ASAP.

Did I miss anything? Share your methods/ritual in the comments section!