Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Pye Chartbusters - they're all on coloured vinyl!

Playing a couple of budget LPs a few days back, something caught my eye. With the sun streaming in through the window, as I picked up a copy of one of the Pye Chartbusters LPs, I noticed the light was shining through it. Holding it against the window, it was obvious that the vinyl was not the traditional opaque black variety, but a very dark, translucent red.

Coloured vinyl, if you will. Who knew?? Was this a freak pressing? Or a one-off?

This warranted further investigation. What I discovered amazed me, not least for the fact that I'd owned a full set of these for years and never even noticed. The fact is, the entire series was issued on this coloured vinyl!

The colour is not the same on every edition. Some are deep red, some a bluey colour, and one 'clear' (if that makes any sense, considering it's really black!). Capturing photos proved difficult. I held some samples up to the sun and photographed the results, but the range of colours was not truly captured. Enter, my trusty torch:

This torch is ideal for picking out colour, as the LED arrangement produces a pure white light. By shining this directly through the LPs, I was able to better capture their true colours.

Below are five sample albums, which between them give a pretty good indication of what we're dealing with here:

1. Pye Chartbusters volume 2 - As the torch reveals, the actual colouring of this LP is a sort of cherry red...

2. Pye Charbusters volume 3 - This one is somewhat pinky. Close examination shows that there are flecks of dark colouring in the vinyl (if it actually is vinyl), a couple of which are evident in the close-up image:

3. Pye Charbuster Hits volume 11 - This one is deceptive. The standard photo shows it to have a slightly blue tinge, but this is not how it really looks. In fact the light shines through very blue indeed. Again, there's a fleck of blue dye visible in the close-up, suggesting that colouring was mixed into the vinyl formulation.

4. Pye Charbuster Hits volume 13 - This is the one I'm paradoxically calling 'clear'. Maybe colourless would be a better term? In any case, when white light comes through the playing surface, it appears pure and untinted:

4. Pye Charbuster Hits volume 16 - This very late edition has a mixture of blues and pinks. It may be possible to discern in the torch shot that the colouring is not consistent across the disc, some regions being redder and some bluer.

As you can see, this phenomenon spans the length of the series. Some Googling has revealed that collectors elsewhere have noticed this feature before in records pressed by Pye. It's not widely known but seems to be something to do with the material Pye used when manufacturing their LPs. Indeed, some collectors chancing upon Pye pressings have sometimes thought they'd struck gold with previously undocumented coloured vinyl editions of classic albums.

The odd thing is, under normal circumstances, they appear to be regular black editions, which I guess they are. Or are they? I'm not sure! In any case, a surprising thing to find after all these years. I wonder how many more are out there, waiting to be discovered?


  1. I'm glad it's not just me that's noticed this lol. The same is also true of most (if not all) of the 12 Tops series on Stereo Gold Award. I'm guessing that they were probably pressed at the same pressing plant as the Pye Chartbuster albums. I wonder if they were using recycled vinyl, hence the strange colours?

    1. Great! Thanks for the new info - follow-up blog on its way shortly...