Because I like to take advantage of living in a big city and supporting what’s left of the world record store economy, I frequent many Uptown Minneapolis music shops. Well, that’s not quite true – I frequent the R.E.M. section in the vinyl department of many Uptown Minneapolis music shops. I guess it’s the Peter Buck in me.
Last weekend, I was flipping through Cheapo’s selection of R.E.M. records and spotted something very interesting – a copy of 1984’s Reckoning with a Post-It note that read, “Translucent Purple Vinyl.” Even though I already had the classic album on vinyl, I excitedly bought it and took it home. That’s where I discovered that the vinyl looked exactly the same as my regular copy and figured the vinyl sorter had placed the sticker on the wrong Reckoning.
I went back Monday to let the man at the vinyl counter know of my predicament.
“I bought this a couple days ago and it says ‘Purple Vinyl,’ but I opened it and it’s not purple…”
“Yes, it is,” he interjected, as if he expected this very complaint the moment he placed the sticker on the record. “Hold it up to the light.”
I reckon it had been a little dark in my apartment, because when brought into the light the vinyl turned more purple than I was when I found out R.E.M. had called it quits. The clerk proceeded to tell me that the fact that the record appeared to change colors when exposed to a light source meant that it was a first pressing of Reckoning, which was printed on Quiex vinyl in purple, green and brown.
“Lizzie, it actually is purple!” I told my girlfriend as she picked me up from Cheapo. “Good for you?” she asked before recalling how well her spray tan went and informing me I needed to take out the garbage when we got home.
She may not have been able to fully appreciate it, but I’d say that’s a pretty good find for an R.E.M. collector on a low-key Saturday afternoon, and not just from a financial perspective (it only cost me $15 but has gone for three times that online). Sitting on my balcony and hearing the crackle-and-pop as Buck’s ringing guitar introduced “Harborcoat” immediately made me yearn for 1984, in a very un-Orwellian move.
Murmur, Document and Automatic for the People are often mentioned when talking about R.E.M.’s finest work, thanks to the first being the record that gave birth to alternative rock and the large-scale commercial success of the latter two. While I couldn’t say an unkind word about any of those albums (save for some choice criticisms of “Everybody Hurts”), I feel that Reckoning (and its difficult follow-up, Fables of the Reconstruction, but that’s for another post) is easily equal to or greater than those records and unquestionably one of the finest pieces in the R.E.M. canon.
Next up on my R.E.M. colored vinyl wish list – the “Orange Crush” orange 12″ single. Something tells me this rare promo pressing will be even more elusive than my recent find.