Picture Disc Introduction

Although the first picture disc record was produced back in 1933 (or possibly earlier), it is not until the 1980's that record companies clambered to cash-in on this concept.

Probably the first picture disc LP's to be issued in the UK were Saturnalia in 1969, and Curved Air's "Air Conditioning" in 1970.  Being manufactured of a clear plastic (with the sandwiched illustration on paper), it was found that the reproduction of sound quality was too unreliable to be viable as a long term proposition, so this concept was not pursued at this time.

By the latter end of the 70's, record companies had found a way to make records of coloured vinyl that now improved somewhat sound-wise, and so with the latest addition to vinyl (namely the 12" single), 7", 12" and LP's were now being issued on a regular basis in various "gimmick" form. 

Thanks to this and the way the music industry was progressing?, with the likes of Punk and Heavy Metal creating huge interest among the teenagers, records were now being issued in abundance. The record companies realised that although some of these variations on a theme were not so profitable to produce, these record gimmick commodities were included in assessing record sales for the weekly charts. E M I were the main players to use this to their advantage by giving picture discs of their latest release of Iron Maiden, Queen, etc for free or at a give-away price  to chart return record shops. I do recall that when I used to purchase 5+ of a new release picture disc in HMV or Left Banke, the shop would receive a telephone call to enquire as to who the purchaser was, just in case someone was trying to "hype" the single into the charts.

Anyway, by the mid 90's, the record industry had had enough of this nonsense: 7" black vinyl/ 7" colour vinyl/ 12" black vinyl in limited poster sleeve / picture disc 7"/ picture disc 12"/ limited edition cd single.. all for one title! This really made the music chart farcical, so it was decided that these various formats would no longer "count" towards total units to make up the Top 50 chart. Thus, the picture disc was, in most instances, no longer a viable proposition!


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