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LIVE DATES
2020
'New Clear Days' 40th Anniversary
1 OctBrudenell Social Club, LeedsTickets
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Features

Collecting The Vapors…part 1

For any fans wishing to start collecting the band’s output on physical release, whether it be vinyl, CD or even cassette, it seems fairly easy to secure the full discography with a back catalogue of only six 7” singles and three albums to find. In this article, we delve a little deeper into the murky land of the vinyl junkie, a world of acetates, test pressings and forty different versions of Turning Japanese!

To simplify things, we have limited this first article to 7” singles. Part 2 with focus on 12” singles, LPs, CDs and cassettes and part 3 will feature the memorabilia side of things, from badges to posters and photos to chopsticks. Anyway, back to the vinyl…

7” singles

In the UK, the band released a total of six singles from 1979-1981 from the standalone track Prisoners to the top 10 hit Jimmie Jones, some of which received releases in a variety of territories around the world. There’s much for the vinyl collector to search for with some releases featuring different picture sleeves or an alternate B side. To give an illustration of what’s out there to find, I’ve got almost 70 Vapors 7” singles and there’s still more to find! So back to where it all began…

Prisoners

Prisoners UK demo, UK and Portugal

The band’s first release was limited to UK and Portugal, with both singles coming in similar picture sleeves. The Portuguese version features a ‘cloud’ design label rather than the usual UA one. The only other Prisoners variant to find is the UK A label promo, which were distributed to radio and TV stations to promote the release (the large A indicating to DJs which was the side to play to their audience). A South African copy has come to light too…

Turning Japanese

Unsurprisingly, UA got totally behind TJ and released it all around the world, issuing the single in an amazing 23 different countries! This means, for the budding collector, there are a total of around 40 TJs to locate once you include promos and the like. We won’t list all the available issues here, but we will concentrate on the ones that differ from the UK release in some way. Being the huge hit that it was, the single was reissued with different labels in the UK and US, as well as there being promotional versions from the UK, US, Japan and even Ecuador!

TJs from Holland, Spain, Italy & Sweden

The single was issued in 9 European countries, including France and Yugoslavia, in similar sleeves but the releases that stand out are the Spanish (the geisha cover changed to red colouration) and the Swedish (featuring a unique band photo and Japanese flag design). Some of the Euro issues are very hard to find, especially Italian and Dutch.

TJs-US flag promo, South African and Canadian

In North America, TJ was a big hit, with demos to promote it including a jukebox version (with band Talk Talk on the flip) and a double-sided promo. The nicest US promo release is the shaped Japanese flag edition, where the red label was the sun on the flag and the record itself was pressed on white vinyl. It came in a 12” plastic sleeve with a double-sided display flat featuring the TJ cover on one side and the other with just band name and title. A lovely, unique release. The Canadian release of TJ is notable for its hard to find picture sleeve, again featuring the Japanese flag design and, as with the US edition, the track Talk Talk replaced Judge as the B side.

TJs-Japanese promo, Japanese stock and Philippines

TJ was also released in numerous other countries in South America, Australasia and the Far East, sadly none of which featured a picture sleeve (apart from Japan). The releases in Australia, New Zealand and South Africa were all on cloud labels with Judge on the B side. It was released in the Philippines with Somehow on the flip side and the Japanese version featured another unique band photo on the cover (there’s even a Japanese white label promo too!).

South American TJs-Panama, Guatemala, Bolivia & Ecuador

South America saw many issues of the single and there are variants from Bolivia, Ecuador (with News At Ten on the flip side), Guatemala, Panama & Peru (where it reached number 1!). There’s also 2 Colombian issues but they’re on 12” so more of them later. Lastly, TJ was, of course, reissued for Record Store Day in 2018 on red vinyl with different B sides and limited to 1,000 worldwide. Therefore, it’s pretty scarce and expensive when you track down a copy.

News At Ten

TJ RSD 2018, N@10 UK and Irish

After the collector’s fest that was the TJ release, for some bizarre reason, the classic track News At Ten was only released in the UK and Ireland so not much to get excited about here sadly…

Waiting For The Weekend

W4TW-UK, Dutch, Spain reverse & Aussie

Although not as widely released as TJ, W4TW was issued in 6 countries around the world. The Dutch issue featuring a red tinted version of the cover and the Spanish has a totally different rear cover design. The other three versions were Irish, Aussie and New Zealand are pretty standard. There is, however, a nice pair of single-sided Spanish test pressings of the single!

Spiders

Spiders UK and Aussie

The first single from Magnets had less of an impact worldwide than the second and this is reflected in the limited releases it received. There are only UK, US and Australian versions to find.

Jimmie Jones

JJs-UK, Spanish & Portuguese plus Dave’s Fresh Air

Liberty definitely gave JJ a push and released it in seven different countries worldwide. The European versions were Irish, Spanish (with a nice yellow tinted version of the UK sleeve) and Portuguese with a totally different picture sleeve which again featured a unique band photo. US and Aussie versions had standard flips and no sleeves, whereas the Canadian had Silver Machines on the B side. The rather bizarre choice was to issue the single in Ecuador, even promoting the release further with a demo too!

Acetates & test pressings

TJ UK single sided test pressings and W4TW acetate

To check the quality of the mastering of a track, a lacquered metal plate called an acetate is pressed. These only last a few plays and a handful are made. The pressing plant also checks the quality of the vinyl pressing plates and these test pressings are mostly single sided with plain labels. Neither were meant to get into the hands of the public but, with their scarcity, record collectors seek them out. There are acetates for each of the Vapors singles, some pressed onto 10″ discs, and test pressings too.

Related 7″ singles

Post Vapors, both Dave and Steve released singles which are of interest to collectors. Dave’s single Fresh Air which came in a picture sleeve and Steve played on Shoot! Dispute’s Gatgun single.

We hope that you’ve enjoyed this introduction to collecting the Vapors vinyl. Whether you just want to track down the UK singles, or you’re after a Peruvan TJ, much fun and healthy collecting competition is to be had. Best places to search for vinyl are eBay or Discogs. Good luck…

Coming soon- 12″ singles, LPs, cassettes and CDs

5 comments to Collecting The Vapors…part 1

  • WESTON WRIGHT

    You think you know everything about a band and then you read this! A really interesting read full of details and information I wasn’t aware of and can only of been written by someone who loves the band and their music.

  • Andy Barnes

    Fantastic article – as someone who has collected vinyl records (in a small way) since I was about 10 years old I’m positively drooling at the thought of coming across and tracking down even a few of these 7″ singles… Looking forward to the next instalment..!

  • Gizzard

    Owen – You really need to get out more 😉

  • Tim Cox

    Superb Owen, I have a few of those, mainly from when we were on tour and I managed to sneak out to record stores 😉

  • Wonderful article full of information and pix. I must admit I have had the USA ‘flag’ promo for years and never realised it was the Japanese flag! I took the promo display flat along to the Birmingham gig and got it signed by Dave, Steve and Ed. Photos of The Vapors live at Newcastle, Birmingham and Northampton are on my website…free to download for personal use only.

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