Just when you think your vinyl collection is complete, you discover something even crazier—a rarer find, a more exclusive release, a sold-out collector’s item, etc. So goes the never-ending hunt of the crate digger. Perhaps you’ve stocked up on boxed sets and you’ve even got wacky colored vinyl. But what about picture discs? What about shaped vinyl? What about that record that got printed on chocolate?? Do you have that?
Quick history lesson: Picture discs were created as a gimmick in the 1920s, but rose to popularity again the 1970s (one quick Google, and you’ll discover that about half of them feature a cut-out of Gary Numan’s head). Combine picture discs with a funky shape, a practice used by record labels to sell music in the 1980s, and you’ve got one flashy single release. And even though a lot of these bad boys originated in the ‘80s, many Record Store Day releases today have used the format as well, so you might see a few modern-day shaped singles floating around, too.
Here’s a few weirdly shaped records, both new and old, that you might want for your collection:
While D.R.A.M. loves touting the benefits of a broccoli lover’s carefree lifestyle, the art for his “Broccoli” 7-inch went a step further. Released as a Record Store Black Friday exclusive in 2016, this picture disc is cut in the shape of a head of broccoli—except the cartoon broccoli has bloodshot eyes, is high AF and is rolling his own broccoli. Meta!
Haim’s “My Song 5”
When it comes to cutting your vinyl releases into cool shapes, why not make it YOU-shaped? That’s what Alana Haim did for Haim’s “My Song 5” release in 2014. The picture disc features Alana’s cut-off shorts and a letterman jacket with the name of the song embroidered across the back. Side B of the record houses the remix of the Days Are Gone track, featuring A$AP Ferg.
Tangerine Dream’s “Warsaw in the Sun”
Tangerine Dream released a Poland-shaped record in 1984 in support of their 24th album, Poland. If you’re a fan of the electronic collective, you might have a copy of the “Warsaw in the Sun” picture disc. The A side features the end section of their song, “Barbakane,” while the B side is “Polish Dance.” Photos from the album deck out the disc.
Kate Nash’s “Free My Pussy”
Kate Nash gifted fans with a red, heart-shaped version of “Free My Pussy,” a track off the deluxe version of her Girl Talk album. The 2013 Record Store Day release spins the “meow”-heavy, lo-fi jam, and the back has a collaboration with the Thin Kids called “Free Pussy Riot Now,” a statement about the imprisoned Russian protest band.
Snow Patrol’s “Signal Fire”
Snow Patrol went hard for Spider-Man 3. Not only did they get “Signal Fire” on the soundtrack, but when they released the single, they issued it on Spider-Man-web-shaped vinyl. The 2007 release is still circular like a regular record, but the webbed design gives it a jagged edge. The B-side features the Eddie TM Loser remix of “Wow.”
Less Than Jake’s “Cheese”
Although it would’ve been dope to etch their song into a real wedge of cheese, Less Than Jake took the more practical route in releasing their “Cheese” single in 1998—but only slightly more practical. The song comes on a yellow, triangular seven-inch disc, which looks like a tasty wedge of Swiss cheese. There’s even holes cut into the vinyl. Their cover of Twisted Sister’s “We’re Not Gonna Take It” plays on Side B.
Gang Green’s “We’ll Give It To You”
In 1987, Gang Green put out one of the coolest-cut singles ever. Featuring the songs “We’ll Give It To You” and “Skate to Hell,” the record was made to look like a mini skateboard, with the playable part in the middle and the board sticking out the top and bottom. A Budweiser-lookalike sticker is slapped in the middle, reading, “Skate all day, drink all night, drunk and disorderly in Boston, MA.” Hardcore, bro.
Ray Parker Junior’s “Ghostbusters”
A unique movie theme deserves a unique pressing, and that’s what Ray Parker Junior got when he released “Ghostbuster” on Arista in 1984. The thing is actually shaped like the ghouly Ghostbusters logo! Add this disc—which has the instrumental version on the back—to your collection, and you’ll have something to pop onto your record player when you need to drown out the noise of something strange in your neighborhood.
Police’s “Message in a Bottle”
The Police took their band name quite literally when releasing their “Message in a Bottle.” The 1980 single, which features a live version on the B side, is actually cut in the shape of a police badge, printed with the type of detailing that makes it looks embossed.
The Rolling Stones’ “She Was Hot”
“She Was Hot,” from 1983’s Undercover, wasn’t one of the Stones’ greatest singles, but it definitely got a glamorous release. Cut in the shape of The Rolling Stones’ mouth logo, with the tongue and lips printed on in red, it also spins “I Think I’m Mad,” an outtake from their Emotional Rescue album.
Men Without Hats’ “Safety Dance”
When you think Men Without Hats, you don’t think 1950s imagery, yet that’s you get with the picture disc release of “Safety Dance.” Two, retro, black silhouettes are grooving on the face of the disc, a black grid painted on a yellow background behind them. Collect this record, if not for the iconic one hit wonder track, but to learn another Men Without Hats song, the B-side, “Security.”
David Bowie “And the Wind Blows”
There’s no shortage of David Bowie shaped vinyl out there, but his pressing of “When the Wind Blows” is special. The song was created for the movie of the same name, an adaptation of a Raymond Briggs graphic novel about a nuclear Soviet Union attack on the British, and therefore the shaped vinyl features the main characters of the film, Jim and Hilda Bloggs. On the back of the disc, an eerie, negative version of the couple is printed, along with the symbol for radioactivity. Side B features not just an instrumental version of the rarity, but a completely different orchestral arrangement.
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