What is all this collecting stuff about anyway?

Vangelis Collector

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So, you want to know what this collecting is all about? It is not easy to even know where to start! But, let's get the terminology down first, and the rest you will need to explore for yourself!

Media: First of all, at the core is the medium in which music is delivered to us. This can be in the form of vinyl records. They are pretty scarce these days, and the last Vangelis album to be released on LP (long playing) record was Blade Runner in 1994 from Brazil. In addition to the LP are 7" singles, used to promote songs off of an album, usually the "hits". Sometimes they are released with a picture sleeve that is similar or totally different than the album the single came from. There are also 12" singles. They are the same size as LPs, but usually have fewer tracks, again highlighting the spotlight tracks from an album. There are cassette tapes. These are less desirable, because they do not last very long. Back in the day, there were 4 and 8 track tapes. Then there are compact discs (CD). CDs are very popular, as they offer a digital medium for consumers, providing excellent sound quality and longer life than LPs or tapes. There are also CD singles (5" and 3" in size), similar in approach to old-fashion vinyl singles. Vangelis has had several CD singles released. As far as video goes, videocassette is still the most common form available. Back in the day, there were 8 MM films (La Fete Sauvage exists like this in Italy). Then there were CED (USA) and VHD (Japan and Europe) discs. Not quite digital, these discs were put in a special player and read by a needle. Then came the 12" laserdiscs, still analog video but provided for digital sound in later years. Now there are DVDs available, 5" in size and all digital. Now that is progress!

Promotional Material: The record and movies industries have to find ways to promote their products, and always budget promotion into any release. Promotional records, videos and other items are made. When it came to vinyl records, sometimes the sleeve would simply have a promotional stamp placed on it. Better yet are the records where the label is changed. The label would be printed with the words "For Promotional Use Only", or some variation of that. Sometimes, a white label would be in place of the standard commercial label. These white label promos are very desirable amongst collectors. On rarer occasions, these promos will have music on them that is not on the releases available to the public. Beyond that, it gets more complex. There are records called test pressings and acetates. These are used during the manufacturing process to assist in the mass production of records. These are very rare and sometimes, finding one can lead to a major discovery (as in the example of the See You Later test pressing). I won't even go into the paper materials, such as posters, postcards, press kits, etc.

Variations: It is a big world, and most countries have record companies, and an international artists division. Vangelis records get released everywhere! And with that comes variation. Sometimes just different label/disc designs, sometimes different covers. Sometimes the covers open up into two sections, called a gatefold sleeve (like a greeting card). Sometimes, different record companies handle different releases. Some countries package records differently. In Japan, for instance, records, CDs and laserdiscs are released with a paper strip around them, called an obi strip, that is made specifically for a release, written in Japanese, and adds to the value of the record/CD/laserdisc. Many of these also have an insert inside, liner notes written in Japanese.

 So there is a brief primer to begin your entry into the collecting world. Now get out there and starting digging for treasure!

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