The Police, Synchronicity, A&M SP-3735, 1983
In 1983, Thriller hit the #1 position four times and spent 22 weeks on top of the charts. It’s hard to imagine any record coming close to that in one year, but this album did. Synchronicity spent 17 weeks at #1 and spawned the biggest selling single of the year. It beat out (!) Thriller for album of the year at the 1983 Grammy Awards (Thriller won it in 1984 after spending the first 15 weeks of ’84 at #1 as well). That kind of performance guarantees this album’s place on all of the usual “best of all time” lists, even though a mint condition copy of it sells for a few dollars.
It could be that virtually every city in the world has a radio station that plays Every Breath You Take several times a day. I would imagine that it will soon among the most ever played songs of all time, as fewer and fewer people feel the need to hear The Beatles’ Yesterday. But the rest of the album hasn’t aged as gracefully.
Because of it’s accolades and one of the biggest singles of the decade, I would call this an essential album. The Police broke up just after it came out, so this was it as far as the very innovative band ever went. But it’s usually just something that tends to sit on a shelf for year after year not being played. Listening to the whole album for this post was a bit of an ordeal for me making me believe that Sting really was the King Of Pain.
Cost: $5, $133 Remaining
Michael Jackson, Thriller, Epic QE-38112, 1982
“Next time, I’m going to make them have to give it to me” Michael Jackson reportedly told his mother after not winning Album Of The Year for Off The Wall at the 1980 Grammy Awards. They did give it to him at the 1984 Grammy Awards, and the accolades have never stopped for this record. 65 million worldwide sales (with at least one in Bolivia), 33x Platinum in the US alone, with every song on the record except The Lady In My Life charting as a single somewhere in the world. This is an essential record.
Even though it sold 1,000,000 units a week at its peak in the Summer of 1983, you really don’t see very many copies lingering around in the usual places. I think it’s a combination of people getting rid of every album except Thriller, and others snapping up every copy they can find because of a perceived upside in value. But I’d bet that I see 75 copies of Brylcreem Presents: Sing Along With Connie Francis for every one copy of Thriller where I shop for records (which incorporates the entire Pacific Coastline of the continental US). While I never really encourage online shopping unless it’s absolutely necessary, a quick glance at Thriller on Ebay shows that it mostly trades at $20-$25 with original sealed copies being offered starting at $129, and the aforementioned original Bolivian pressing being offered at $340.
Naturally, finding this one for $8 feels like a bargain. It’s not perfect, it’s almost as if someone used the inner sleeve as a dish towel, but the record plays well. 80s records seem to hold up better than records from earlier eras do, but that could also be because stereo equipment also improved by the time this album was released. I suppose I’ll be one of those people that buys every under market copy of Thriller that I find too, and while that’s true for many essential records, I’ll actually listen to them.
Cost: $8, $158 Remaining