Cardboard Records

Get a Monkees record on a cereal box!

As a borderline audiophile who used to spray his records with a preservative that would supposedly extend their lives, I am a real fan of digital music. I love the fact that my extensive mp3 collection is backed up four ways, unlike my old record albums, which either wore out or were warped by leaving them in my car on a hot day. Just dropping an album might result in a permanent skipping spot, as happened with my original Rickie Lee Jones debut album. Right at the end of Company, too, my favorite song!

But there is one area where analog record album technology has it all over digital. That’s in the case of cardboard records. Yeah, let’s see you digitize THAT!

You probably remember these on the backs of cereal boxes. That’s where the depicted Archies album came from. Larry Staples, who, BTW, designed this site’s logo, and who came up with this column idea, once owned the very record depicted here. He nearly wore it out, as a matter of fact.

And wearing them out was a real possibility, too. They were nothing but a thin coating of vinyl affixed to cardboard. It was up to the music fan to cut it out perfectly, smooth out the warps, and liberate the music from its crude container.

While cereal boxes were the commonest place to find these puppies, I remember MAD Magazine would sometimes include one. The one in particular I recall was some song called “Makin’ Out”.

Another phenomenon was the flexi-disc, which was a thin piece of vinyl frequently featured in magazines. I won’t talk about it here, as I feel it warrants its own column at some future date.

The Archies became superstars via cardboard records, even though they never accomplished existence in the real world. They were simply a collection of studio musicians whose makeup varied from session to session. Hmm, maybe they need their own column too.

Anyhow, if you managed to hold on to any cardboard records from the 60’s or 70’s, they are highly collectable. Just like those Reggie Jackson rookie cards I attached to my bicycle to be beaten to death by the spokes. (sigh)

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