Picture the scene: you're sitting in your bedroom at home, having just finished the Joy Division classic Unknown Pleasures and as you put the record away you notice a small glimmer of purple seeping through the record. At first, you think you are seeing things, but upon further investigation, you discover the plain black record you placed down seconds earlier has a unique hidden red glow! That's how I was introduced to the phenomena of the "secret" Quiex type vinyl and it was the moment that sparked my interest in collecting these most compelling of collector's items - could there be a glowing record in your collection?
What Is "Secret" Quiex-Type Vinyl?
Almost one in five of all albums purchased in the UK is now a vinyl record, with the medium more popular than CDs for the first time in 30 years. Many exponents of vinyl say that it is the tactile nature of vinyl that they most enjoy - but with that plastic tactility can come some interesting surprises. None is more stunning than a colour variation on certain black records that only appears when they are held up to a bright light source; if your record exhibits a glowing red, pink or purple translucent effect, you are witness to the phenomenon of "secret" Quiex-type vinyl.
Over the years there have been many speculations and rumours among record collectors as to the cause behind these mysterious glowing discs, but the effect has ultimately been identified as being due to specific vinyl formulations, unique to UK manufacturers. The most common of these was the Quiex II, which was a pure vinyl formulation that was coloured with dye rather than the more commonly used carbon black, resulting in this cool translucent effect when held up to a bright light source.
Joy Division: Unknown Pleasures - FACT 10 - 1979
As well as being my personal introduction to the matter at hand, one of the first records to be discovered with the translucent glow effect was the highly regarded debut album Unknown Pleasures by Joy Division. The record was pressed at the now-defunct Tranco Ltd. pressing plant which was responsible for pressing much of the Pye Records catalogue including artists such as The Kinks, The Police, Elton John and many others.
Since this revelation was made public, music fans have gone through their collections and checked for hidden colours within their wax. Other Joy Division releases have been discovered bearing this odd characteristic, causing glowing reviews for those that have them (and some incandescent rage from those that don't!) within the vinyl community.
Joy Division: Closer - FACT. 25 - 19
Joining Joy Division's classic debut album in the "secret" colour club, the first pressing of their second and final album Closer is another record to carry the translucent effect. Produced by Martin Hannett, Closer was released two months after the tragic suicide of the band's lead singer and lyricist Ian Curtis, reaching No. 6 on the UK Albums Chart and being named NME Album of the Year, 1980.
The first pressings of the record can be easily identified by the rounded corners of the inner sleeve and the A1/B1 matrix numbers. Just like Unknown Pleasures the record was pressed by Tranco and has a deep purple translucent colour when held to the light.
Joy Division - Transmission/Novelty 7" - 1979
The translucent effect is not just exclusive to albums; take my copy of Joy Division's 7" version of 'Transmission'.
Joy Division - She's Lost Control/Atosmphere 12" - 1979
Another from the Joy Division vaults - this time the 12" version of 'She's Lost Control/Atmosphere'.
Black Sabbath - Masters Of Reality - 1973
Also in my collection is a disc from Black Sabbath, with their third studio album Masters Of Reality. The album is often referred to as the foundation of doom metal and is considered one of the greatest heavy metal albums of all time despite the initial bad press from critics at the time of release.
In this case, it's the Dutch pressing that is sporting the translucent glow. This version has seemingly gone under the radar of even the most avid Black Sabbath collectors, causing heated discussions online.
Other Popular Quiex-Type Discs:
Elton John: Goodbye Yellow Brick Road - DJLPD 1001 - 1973
Goodbye Yellow Brick Road is the seventh studio album by Elton John selling over 30 million copies worldwide to date. First released as a double LP in 1973, the record spawned such classic singles as 'Bennie And The Jets', 'Candle In The Wind' and the titular 'Goodbye Yellow Brick Road'.
The first run of the album pressed by Tranco has the purple-tinged translucent colour effect when held to strong light. If you weren't able to get a copy of the popular 1978 yellow vinyl edition it could be time to check your old black copy; you might have a "secret" colour version within your racks!
The Police: Synchronicity - SP-3735 - 1983
Synchronicity is the fifth and most successful studio album by The Police, including the global hit single 'Every Breath You Take', released originally on 17 June 1983 by A&M Records. The album's original cover artwork, designed by Norman Moore, was available in 36 variations, with different arrangements of the colour stripes and showing different photographs of the band members, taken by Duane Michals.
The US Quiex first pressing features a striking blue/purple colour effect (which matches nicely with the album art) and the majority of the US/Canadian pressings have this feature so it may well be worth checking your copy [I just did: boring black Made In England vinyl - but what an album! - Ed.]
The Cure: Let's Go to Bed - FICSX 17
In the aftermath of the dark Pornography album, Robert Smith returned from a detox vacation in The Lake District and wrote one of The Cure's most enduring anthems, 'Let's Go To Bed'. The upbeat, synth-laden track, a marked departure from the downbeat goth rock of the previous album, was released as a standalone single by Fiction Records in 1982 and later featured on the Japanese Whispers compilation album.
Before you go digging through your 12" singles to see if you have the disc, bear in mind that is the US version of 'Let's Go To Bed' that boasts a translucent effect giving it a soft, goth-approved purple glow when held to the light.
AC/DC: Back In Black - K50735
Released following the death of previous lead singer Bon Scott, AC/DC's Back in Black was an unprecedented success and one of the biggest comeback stories in rock music history. It has sold an estimated 50 million copies worldwide and is the second best-selling album in music history... pink versions to boot!
Many of the copies from the first pressing of AC/DC's Back in Black feature a translucent pink glow, a marked contrast to the pitch black album artwork. The first presses can be easily identified by the A1/B2 run out on the matrix numbers and a raised rim around the label edge. Due to the amount pressed there should be plenty of copies in existence with the translucent glow effect... Back In Pink!
These are only a small selection of records that have this secret colour variation, we would love to hear if there are any records you own or have found with this feature. If you have any additional information we may have missed, leave us a comment below or drop us a message on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.
Special thanks to the forum contributors on Steve Hoffman Music Forums for the invaluable resource for writing this article.