One of the great joys of this job is the Top 30 Most Expensive Albums and Singles list. Each month is a total crapshoot; you could get the opportunity to chat about the most expensive item ever sold on Discogs, then have your mind blown a month later when it turns out that the new record for a high sale has been shattered. Sometimes you just have to marvel at how steady a few of our Top 30 regulars are. Then again, you could be scratching your head over a whole lot of unfamiliar faces. It’s kind of thrilling, really, even though it can also be a bit of a pain in the keister. There’s no planning, there’s no logic, there’s no reason. There is only the amoral demand of the free market. The Top 30, it is a relentless grab-bag machine.
Well, welcome, dear readers; welcome to this month’s machine, more grab-baggier than most. To wit:
- Discogs is now apparently being overrun by Banksy. The anonymous artist/activist/provocateur designed and created the stencil used on the cover of Capoeira Twins‘ “4 X 3,” this month’s highest-priced seller. Banksy himself (herself?) may or may not have sprayed the stencil by hand; reports vary because, y’know, BANKSY. But that’s enough to push prices sky-high, I guess. Don’t get me wrong: I’m sure the music is decent enough. Gave it a quick spin on Youtube. Meh. But, again, BANKSY so you’re looking at a price tag of $2453. Not bad for this release’s first time on the Top 30.
- Reliable sources have informed me that this month’s third highest seller, “The Banksy Years,” also has something to do with the secretive artist, though I have not yet been able to confirm. We’re putting the Discogs Detectives on this case ASAP. In the meantime, note that this one showed up on the Top 30 for the first time last month, where it was one spot lower and $311 cheaper. At this rate, Banksy will overtake Prince as our most valuable sale in about three-and-a-half years. Mark your calendars!
- While we’re reminiscing about how much fun we had last month, note the connection between the entry at this month’s #4 spot, The Velvet Underground‘s debut album, and last month’s top priced item (the “All Tomorrow’s Parties” single, as detailed lovingly by yours truly right here). $2500 for the single last month, $1900 for the full album this month. Somewhere Lou Reed is looking down at this and totally not giving a good goddamn.
- Before this all starts feeling too much like a simple tweak on recent Top 30 Most Expensive Albums and Singles lists, let’s get reacquainted with a real blast from the past. Our second-highest priced item this month is the “Equidity Funk” single from Mistafide. This 1980 rarity from Peter Brown‘s NYC-based Land Of Hits label is a relatively early mainstream foray into hip-hop; “Rapper’s Delight” was the first time that rap hit the Top 40, and that was late in ’79. Similarities here are, I’d imagine, not coincidental. At any rate, this release has been on the Top 30 before as well, but not since March of 2011, when a $4926.33 copy was good enough for the top spot. At that time, it was the most expensive item that had ever been sold on Discogs; the record would stand until “Chung King Can Suck It” stole our hearts (and our wallets) exactly four years later.
- And then there’s “Wish You Were Here,” another old friend we haven’t seen in a while. Pink Floyd is certainly no stranger to the Top 30. Exhibit A: I dunno, just go check a random old Top 30 list, really. “Wish You Were Here” itself has only previously landed on the Top 30 most expensive albums one time, though, and that was a limited 1984 pressing. This month we’ve got a legit first edition from ’75 burning up the charts. Get yours for just a smidge over $1.7k.
This is normally the time in the show where I’d do some kinda routine about additional marketplace stats or make fun of Banksy some more or just shoot my mouth off for a few extra paragraphs. I wanna get a little more personal here, though, because one of these records holds a special place in my collection.[cue subtle mandolin/fiddle duet as soundtrack, bring down the house lights]
When I first started to get into classic rock, it was via two biggies: “Dark Side Of The Moon” and Led Zeppelin‘s fourth album (or “Zoso” or “IV” or “Untitled” or whatever). Bought ’em on the same day, plopped ’em in my CD player back-to-back.
Zep made the more immediate impression: wow, I’d been missing out on THAT my whole life? My first taste of Floyd was underwhelming, though. Seemed overlong. Lacked the punch of “Four Sticks” or “When The Levee Breaks.” But each time I gave “Dark Side” another chance it started to grow on me. Before long I was totally on board. I had to get more Pink Floyd.
And so I picked up a copy of “Wish You Were Here.” Even though I was digging the Floyd sound, I expected another introductory phase. I figured I’d need to let the album settle before I would get totally behind it. And I was very, very wrong.
I’m not sure that I’ve ever latched on to an album as immediately as I did this one. It was so atmospheric, so moody, that it demanded my full attention. The songs transitioned into each other smoothly, from the album’s beginning to end, and the performances were precise but emotional; it created an entire world, right there in my ears. I was transfixed.
To this day, “Wish You Were Here” remains one of my all-time favorite albums. It’s certainly in the upper echelon of Floyd’s output; no less an authority than Mr. MarbleheadJohnson ranks it as his second favorite in the Floyd catalog. While he is absolutely wrong about the details there, as he is a great many other things (it’s objectively their third best, but thanks for playing), he’s pretty close and partial credit is hereby awarded.
“Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Parts I-V)” is one of David Gilmour‘s greatest moments as a guitarist and is hands-down one of my five favorite Floyd tracks of all time, right up there with “Dogs,” “Time,” “Echoes,” and…ugh, I dunno, “Mother”? “Comfortably Numb”? Also in contention: “Welcome To The Machine” and “Wish You Were Here,” the two other masterpieces from this record. For that matter, “Have A Cigar” is no slouch. If there’s a weak moment, it’s the album closer, “Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Parts VI-IX),” but that’s mostly just in relation to all the awesome sounds which precede it. Pound for pound, this might even be Pink Floyd’s most consistent release. That’s probably not coincidental, as it marked a real turning point for the band. It was the last time they all really pulled together as a team. Ah, the good old days.[bring lights back on full blast, quickly usher the fiddler and the, uh, mandolinolerist (?) out of the studio]
Anyway, those memories are what hit me hardest when I first saw the Discogs Top 30 Most Expensive Items Sold List from December 2016. What’s the first thing that jumps out at you when you review these sales? Something I already highlighted above? Or is it the William S. Burroughs CD? The rare Neil Diamond collaboration? The ’70s Japanese free jazz epic? The 180-item Mozart box set? And which one of these things am I totally making up just to ensure you’re paying attention? Only one way to find out. Take a look and let us know what you find most interesting.