1st press: My Generation LP

Screenshot 2020-08-08 at 13.49.57
My Generation LP rear
My Generation centre

My Generation (LP): The Who, Brunswick 1965

side oneside two
1 Out In The Street
(James Brown)
1 The Kids Are Alright
(Pete Townshend)
2 I Don’t Mind
(Pete Townshend)
2 Please, Please, Please
(James Brown, John Terry)
3 The Good’s Gone
(Pete Townshend)
3 It’s Not True
(Pete Townshend)
4 La-La-La-Lies
(Pete Townshend)
4 I’m A Man
(Bo Diddley)
5 Much too Much
(Pete Townshend)
5 A Legal Matter
(Pete Townshend)
6 My Generation
(Pete Townshend)
6 The Ox (instrumental)
(Townshend, Entwhistle, Moon, Nicky Hopkins)
My Generation: The Who, Brunswick, 1965

This article is on pricing, NOT a review of the album.

An extreme pricing example is The Who’s My Generation LP, their first Brunswick release (LAT 8616). Pete Townsend claims it’s the foundation of heavy metal chords and punk, challenging Ray Davies’ claim to the same. He also says Jimi Hendrix picked up a lick or two from him. The Clash, correctly, name The Who and The Kinks as their antecedents.

Mojo voted it the second best guitar album of all time. So yes, it’s a seminal album. It was also a #5 chart album, so a good number were sold. It went out of print, except for a brief reincarnation in 1979-1980. Otherwise, it stayed unavailable on vinyl  until 2002. A De-Luxe edition with a stereo mix appeared then, but the original release was strictly mono. It was reissued again in 2015.

A local record shop had bought one in just as that 2014 guide appeared. It was in ‘excellent’ condition. We looked it up online. It was a first pressing because it has the code 1B stamped on the play out vinyl.

IMG_5516

See When Numbers get serious.  Brunswick was a Decca sub-label. Side one is MG-10256-1B. Side two is MG-10257-1B. Simply, Decca pressings use the code B-U-C-K-I-N-G-H-A-M where B is the first pressing, U is the second pressing, C is the third pressing and so on. Collectors always want the first pressing if possible.

The Rare Record Guide 2008 rated it at £180
The Rare Record Guide 2010 rated it at £250
The Rare Record Guide 2012 rated it at £400.
The Rare Record Guide 2014 rated it at £800

I thought that £800 was high, as it had doubled in value to £800 in the Rare Record Guide 2014 (published September 2012). (My record dealer friends would say the compilers had a couple they wanted to sell!)

It dropped back to £600 in the Rare Record Guide 2016.
It has stayed at  £600 in the Rare Record Guide 2018 and Rare Record Guide 2020 (published in 2018).

That’s for a Mint British mono copy. Using the Rare Record Guide Ready Reckoner on £600 would make it worth £480 in ‘Excellent’ condition, £300 in ‘Very Good’ condition or about £180 even in “Good” condition … which is below what I would ever buy.

In that week, eBay had Buy Now ranging from £99 to £169 to £199, the top claiming to be a near mint first pressing. There was no bidding activity that week.

Turn to Discogs online in August 2020.  Discogs do not list condition, but they are based on actual transactions. They list a UK mono copy at:

LOWEST: £31.71
MEDIAN: £73.74
HIGHEST: £199.29

So then turn to copies advertised for sale via Discogs in August 2020. The highest is 3,500 euros or £3170.59 rated as ‘Very Good Plus.’ That’s from Italy and whichever album you look up., there will be a copy in Italy or France at ludicrous prices. The top three are from Italy … all British copies … 900 euros  (Near mint), 898 euros (Near mint). Then there are copies ranging from 390 euros (£367) to 750 euros (£679)  from Germany, France, Portugal, Italy and The Netherlands.

The highest price for a copy which was actually in Britain is £350, rated at Very Good. There are several UK copies at £250 to £350.

eil.com has one of better provenance (and eil.com is extremely reliable and I trust them):

Black & silver Brunswick label. 1B / 1B stampers, M/T tax code.

The vinyl has been graded as VG+ condition, which considering it was one of the greatest party albums of all time is superb. The combination of heavyweight vinyl & careful ownership have led to a copy with only a handful of light surface hairline marks, which are purely cosmetic. Following a play test, there is only the occasional light crackle in some of the quieter passages and between tracks, but it does not detract from the sonic audio quality of this timeless record. The vinyl has been professionally cleaned and is still gleaming, free of the usual deep scratches, beer stains and body fluids that often grace this gem of an album. eil.com

That all means it’s a first pressing and it’s “Excellent” – though the rear sleeve without the laminate is yellowed, as is mine and every one I’ve seen. Price is £495.

Move to eBay in 2020. They have a lot of 2015 reissues, but originals range from £59 via a number at around £250 to £525. The one at £525 is also “Original 1B / 1B.’ Some caution … during Covid lockdown we have noticed a strong upward movement in eBay prices for records, books, jigsaws, anything people collect. Those prices may not be sustained.

I reckon the high price of My Generation is part of a movement to buy collectable artefacts, as a hedge against inflation. Low interest rates have driven up the “cast iron investments” like Please, Please Me, The Rolling Stones No. 2 and My Generation, i.e. the ones where you don’t require expertise to spot a collectable.  

Back to my experience

The shop owner is an old friend. He told me he would put it in the window at £50 and sell it in a day. A week later it hadn’t shifted. I commented. He said, ‘it will.’

Another week later and there it was, still in the window. I commented again (I might have laughed), and he sighed and said, ‘Alright, Peter, give me thirty quid for it and f*ck off.’

I did. It’s illustrated here, though I didn’t f*ck off,and he made me a cup of coffee to celebrate. Condition of vinyl is Excellent. Sleeve? There’s a crease the shape of the LP. Very good, I think. So a month or two later I was in London and looked in a Soho shop. There was a very battered and faded one on the wall. A note on it said “Vinyl: good” (which means rough compared to VG). Price £600.

I told the man who’d sold it to me, and he said that in Soho you could wait for Chinese and Japanese wealthy collectors who would buy it on the title alone as an investment. Obviously, it wasn’t worth £600. He also pointed out that the reason he had stayed in business for decades was simple. He knew what he’d paid for it. He knew that any second hand dealer has to double the price they paid.

Sometimes, as in my case, there was a mark up from £5 (which he cheerfully admitted he had paid in a car boot sale) to £30. That is good business. 600% is better than 200%, the bottom line.

Where people go wrong, he explained, is getting greedy and dreaming that they can approach the Rare Record Guide MINT price.

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