With a week to go, more collectible lots have been added to the White Label Auction in Aid of The BRIT Trust on Tuesday, 7th June, including rare test pressings of Adele’s global chart topper 30; Robbie Williams’ now classic second album from 1998, I’ve Been Expecting You; Wet Leg’s self-titled No.1 debut from earlier this year including a signed insert; Mark Knopfler’s Sailing To Philadelphia, signed by the artist; Human League’s A Very British Synthesizer Group, and Tom Speight’s acclaimed Everything’s Waiting For You, also signed.  

Additionally, there are two 7” test pressings of the Sex PistolsGod Save The Queen – first released in 1977 but re-pressed to mark the Platinum Jubilee.  One is the version originally released on the A&M label but subsequently withdrawn, and the other the one put out later that year by Virgin Records featuring the iconic Jamie Reid artwork.  Both versions – the former highly collectible and heavily bootlegged in the past – are officially released on 3rd June on limited edition platinum and blue vinyl respectively, although both sold out via pre-order in less than a day, so interest in the test pressings is expected to be keen.

With 175 lots of ‘white-label’ test pressing collectibles in total, the auction, first staged in October 2019, will be hosted live onsite/online at 10.00 hours GMT for UK and international collectors by the music memorabilia and vinyl specialists Omega Auctions from their Newton-Le-Willows (Greater Manchester) base.

Among other discs up for grabs are five unique LPs by The Cure that are all signed and annotated by Robert Smith, which, with a week to go, have already attracted total bids in excess of £6,000, while there are also signed test pressings by Dio, Howard Devoto (Magazine) and Andy McCluskey and Paul Humphreys (OMD).

Net profits from the auction will go to support the work of music industry charity The BRIT Trust, which since 1989 has donated around £28 million to charities and causes that promote education and wellbeing through the power of music and the creative arts, such as the BRIT School and Nordoff-Robbins music therapy. The White Label Auction has raised close to £60,000 for The BRIT Trust over its two editions to date.

Other lots include repertoire by artists including Spice Girls, Genesis, Mike Oldfield, Moody Blues, The Police, Roxy Music, Simple Minds, Sparks and The Who; as well as recordings by sought-after collectible artists such as Eric Clapton, John Martyn, T-Rex and Paul Weller. There are also more recent releases by UK/global artists including Anne Marie, Biffy Clyro, Charli XCX, Coldplay, Muse and Royal Blood.  Genres such as punk are represented via The Buzzcocks, The Skids, and The Specials; and rock through Iron Maiden and Def Leppard among others, while soundtracks from ABBA’s Mamma Mia and TV’s Peaky Blinders are also available. 

The market for collectible albums, heightened by the lockdowns, is burgeoning and estimated to be worth millions annually in the UK, boosted by the ‘vinyl revival’ of the past 15 years (BPI reported 5.2m LPs purchased in 2021).  A by-product of vinyl are ‘white-label’ test pressings – so called because there is no sleeve/label artwork at this stage – which record labels produce ahead of the full release of a new album. With as few as 5 or 10 being produced for each release, these first-off-the-press copies are typically passed on to artists and artist management or go into archives and can be highly sought after by collectors.   

A number of the UK’s major and independent record labels led by Universal Music UK/UMC (including A&M, Chess, Island Records, Motown, Polydor and Virgin), Sony Music Entertainment UK, Warner Records, Cherry Red, Cooking Vinyl, Domino Records and others, supported by labels association the BPI, have joined forces to pull together a wonderfully eclectic and extensive selection of white-label items for auction.

Johnny Chandler, A&R Director at UMC, Universal Music UK, who devised the concept of the White Label Auction and whose colleagues collated the items across donating record labels, said:

“Interest in the auction has grown markedly over the past two successful editions, and this year we have even more rare test pressings to tempt bidders, including for the first time 7” singles, which we hope will help us set a new record for the amount we raise in aid of The BRIT Trust.  Huge thanks must go to all the artists and artist management teams, the record labels and colleagues who’ve dug deep again this year and donated so generously with highly collectible recordings drawn from all eras and genres of music.”

Dan Hampson, Auction Manager Omega Auctions said:

“We’re pleased to once again be working alongside The BRIT Trust, Universal Music and other record labels and the BPI on what has proven to be a very popular auction amongst our buyers. We’ve seen a sustained rise in prices paid for both vinyl and music memorabilia in the last few years which shows no sign of slowing down so this sale comes along at a perfect time for us. The fact that the items come directly from the label, the scarcity of the white labels and also that some of the records are signed has meant that we’ve seen some fantastic prices achieved in 2019 and in 2021 and we certainly expect to see the total raised for charity to be a record this year.”