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Jam Monkey user not visiting Queenzone.com
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Posted: 19 Feb 10, 16:55 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Acetates are undoubtedly amongst the rarest, most desirable and most expensive music collectables. I find acetates fascinating objects and I’m lucky enough to own two; each one cost me more me more than any other item in my collection and they are amongst my prized items.
 
In this post I want to look at some key points:
1)    What is an acetate?
2)    How are they used?
3)    Why so rare/expensive?
4)    What are the most interesting Queen acetates?
5)    CDR acetates?
 
What is an acetate?
Acetates, unlike vinyl, have a metal plate as a base. These are then coated with a fine layer of a wax like substance into which groves can be cut. If you want to get really technical acetates don’t actually contain any acetate at all, it’s a nitro-cellulose lacquer.
While they might look like vinyl records they certainly are not vinyl’s. The metal plate makes acetates much heavier that vinyl, and they have no flexibility. Acetates are notoriously fragile and after 30-40 plays will simply wear out.
Acetates are typically one sided, although two sided examples have been known, and can come in 7”, 10” and 12” sizes. It’s not unusual for a 7” record to be cut into 10” disc.
A common misconception is that acetates are flexi discs (That used to get given away with magazines). This of course couldn’t be further from the truth.
 
How are they used?
Acetates have had a variety of uses of the years but from a Queen perspective they were used as the earliest test pressing, prior to producing vinyl’s.
Mastering engineers would have produced acetates so the band/producers etc. could hear how their songs would sound on vinyl, and also to check for any problems with the sound. Once all concerned were happy with the sound the master would be made and vinyl’s would be produced from that master.
 
Why so rare/expensive?
Acetates are expensive to produce, and were always made in very limited numbers, perhaps no more than 10 at a time; and as we’ve already established they are very fragile. Given the limited numbers, and the fact that a lot would have been damaged/destroyed over the years you can see why they are so rare.
Perhaps the important thing about them though is what is on the disc. Acetates are the earliest pressings of any track, and many Queen acetates contain unique versions/mixes of tracks. The band might have mixed a track, pressed in to acetate and then decided to go back to the tapes and make changes. It’s these acetates that will cost the big money.
I also think acetates have some glamour. They are the closest you will get to the master recordings without breaking into Queen Productions.
 
What are the most interesting Queen acetates?
Over the years many Queen acetates have been discovered and sold. Most contain the standard versions of tracks we will be familiar with, but some are unique. I’ll deal first with what we know to exist, and then with the rumour mill.

Keep Yourself Alive: There is an acetate containing the ‘long lost retake’ and also an edit of this track. This edit was very kindly shared on Queenzone some years ago.
 
Killer Queen: Most Queen fans will be familiar with the face that the Killer Queen acetate has a slightly different version of the track. The finger snaps at the start go on for about 10 seconds.
 
Ogre Battle: This acetate contains an edit of the BBC sessions version of the track.
 
Liar: Some time ago eil.com sold an acetate that contained an unique 3.36 edit. I don’t know how much in went for but I would imagine it was expensive.
 
We Will Rock You: A minor edit of this track appears on acetate. The vocals start straight away.
 
Hangman: One well known Queen collector has a 10” acetate containing the studio version of Hangman. Enough said.
 
Hot Space: An acetate containing the David Bowie version of Cool Cat. We know Bowie’s vocal were removed at the last moment, so this makes sense that this version ended up of acetate.
 
The rumour mill:
Jesus: There has long been rumoured to be a Jesus acetate with a unique mix, but as far as I can tell it has never surfaced.
 
Breakthru: There is a known acetate of Breakthru containing the extended mix, but one collector recently told me he owed an acetate with a unique version of the track. Who knows?
 
CDR Acetates?
You may see ‘CDR Acetates’ advertised from time to time. Needless to say they are just plain CDR’s. So why the name? Well CDR’s really are the modern version of an acetate, and early version that you can test out before pressing silver CD’s, so I think we can forgive the naming here.

This is an excellent page on acetates on Queen Museum with some interesting pictures:
http://www.queenmuseum.com/index.php?option=content&task=view&id=36

Many thanks to John S Stuart for proof reading my post.


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Posted: 19 Feb 10, 17:20 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

great post, Jam Monkey... very interesting stuff..


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Posted: 19 Feb 10, 18:15 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote



Love the topic. I was curious about what an acetate was but I guess not curious enough to investigate it. Thanks!



Hopefully more contributions will come from the people who know more about these items.



Craig, may I ask what acetates do you own?



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Posted: 19 Feb 10, 18:53 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

This is an excellent post mate - I had a fair idea of the concept, but I love the detail you've gone into here.  To be honest, I often find the word "acetate" a little worrying - very tempting when they turn up, but how do you prove their validity?  That may be a daft question considering what you're saying about them being done in limited runs because they are expensive to run, but wouldn't that be the sort of cost a bootlegger would relish if it meant huge profit? (And how could you possibly credit the provenance of a plain CDR acetate nowadays?).  Also, I did not know that there actually was a studio version of hangman!  I've heard the rumours but thought they were just that - why has it not surfaced?  I mean, it's not as if digitizing it would actually de-value the actual acetate.....(or would it?)....just a thought.


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Posted: 20 Feb 10, 04:25 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

What about pre Queen acetates?

Smile Step on me/ Polar Bear?

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Posted: 20 Feb 10, 06:12 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Ok, let me try and answer some of your questions:

There are some pre-queen acetates. Two from RTs band The Reaction and also an acetate from JDs band The Opposistion. There is also a Smile acetate containing Earth/Step On Me. All of these would have three zeros on the price tag, if you ever find one.

As for my acetates; I own a single sided 10" acetate of Headlong and doubled sided 7" acetates of Bicycle Race/Fat Bottomed Girls. The latter is a Japanese pressing, almost certainly a test pressing for the Japanese single release. I'll post pictures when I have the chance.

Acetates come up for sale every so often but my advice is be quick, they never hang around for long; an be careful! There are fakes out there and I was nearly taken in once myself.

When I get some free time I will post a more comprehensive list of Queen acetates.


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Posted: 20 Feb 10, 09:19 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

"The latter is a Japanese pressing, almost certainly a test pressing for the Japanese single release. I'll post pictures when I have the chance."

I'm confused - how can an acetate be a "pressing"? Acetates were cut directly in the recording studios mainly for the purpose, that the artists could take "something home" . That at least is the reason for the many existing Beatles acetates. But acetates is a "sixties" thing, that may have been done up to the early 70s. So acetates of 80s- and even 90s- tracks sounds surprising. What should have been their purpose?

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Posted: 20 Feb 10, 13:14 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote



Soundfreak wrote:

"The latter is a Japanese pressing, almost certainly a test pressing for the Japanese single release. I'll post pictures when I have the chance."

I'm confused - how can an acetate be a "pressing"? Acetates were cut directly in the recording studios mainly for the purpose, that the artists could take "something home" . That at least is the reason for the many existing Beatles acetates. But acetates is a "sixties" thing, that may have been done up to the early 70s. So acetates of 80s- and even 90s- tracks sounds surprising. What should have been their purpose?  

Perhaps pressing is the wrong word. I said in the original post acetates would have been produced prior to pressing vinyl. Their purpose would have been to see how the master tape transfers to a record, to see if any adjustments in volume/compression etc. would be needed for the transfer to vinyl. Therefore it is not that susprisng to find some acetates from the 80's and 90's, although most Queen acetates are from the early 70's.








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Posted: 20 Feb 10, 15:36 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

I remain very sceptical. Acetates are extremely rare as every acetate is an original. I doubt that they found their way into the collectors market. And the ones you describe could easily be faked by those, that have the tools - like the bootleggers who used to press vinyl.
 
You can easily double the fingersnipping intro for Killer Queen, the other versions you describe are also available.
But why should there be an acetate of the BBC "Ogre Battle"? And I never heard of a studioversion of "Hangman", I vagely remember one interview where they denied the existance of a studio version. I mean - you never know - but I'm very sceptical of "certain rarities". If they contain a different mix that is available nowhere else they have a value. If it's just a regular version, I do not understand what's the value of a piece of metal, that loses quality with every performance.....
If they had a real value, people would not sell them....

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Posted: 20 Feb 10, 15:40 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Yeah, who's the well-known Queen Fan so we can start spamming him to death??

Great, great thread.  I now have a much better understanding of what these are.  And I also know that I have even less possibility of ever obtainin one.

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Posted: 20 Feb 10, 18:38 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote



 



 



 



Micrówave wrote:



 



Yeah, who's the well-known Queen Fan so we can start spamming him to death?



 


It is me - I own it.
Why has it not been released - because I do not wish it.

I have served the Queen community very well over the last 20 - odd years. I would argue that 95% of the material available outside QPL is down to me somewhere along the line. (Not a boast or an exaggeration - but a simple fact - for those who care to do their homework).

Nevertheless, after all my goodwill and all that I have 'released' now being shared by thousands (which could not be otherwise) when it came my turn to ask for a copy of the 'Stone Cold Crazy' 24 tracks - I was either told 'Sorry mate' - or - 'not available unless...' (BTW: I am still looking for this).

Freddie was right: people do discard you as old toilet paper after they have used you, and no one gets to sit on their old generosities.

So finally;  for those who claim I will die, or they will die, and all life's meaning being futile... May I remind them, I have only kept back the one rareity - It is QPL who have the real archive. Perhaps it is they who need the spamming.










"Listen to them. Children of the night. What music they make."
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Posted: 20 Feb 10, 21:13 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

So finally;  for those who claim I will die, or they will die, and all life's meaning being futile... May I remind them, I have only kept back the one rareity - It is QPL who have the real archive. Perhaps it is they who need the spamming.


Well, John, QPL is well-known for waiting for someone to die to release something good. 

By the way, you're not boasting at all.  I'm sure I represent us all on here when I say "Thanks for making the Freddie Box worth having!!"  I didn't really care which disc it was on (Archivist), but the fact that I've heard Freddie BEFORE Queen was awesome!!!

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Posted: 21 Feb 10, 01:58 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote



Soundfreak wrote:

And I never heard of a studioversion of "Hangman", I vagely remember one interview where they denied the existance of a studio version. 

It's out there. A member of this forum (who, it appears, has already fessed up to owning it) has it in his possession.

What about the acetate containing the Jailhouse Rock medley, which was held off the debut album for royalty reasons? Unless I'm mistaken, there are a couple of members on this forum who've seen/heard it, even if neither one of them actually owns it.








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Posted: 21 Feb 10, 04:21 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

"It's out there. A member of this forum (who, it appears, has already fessed up to owning it) has it in his possession."

As long as I don't hear it, I remain sceptical. In this internet world it's so easy to create myths or fool people. "I know someone who knows someone who has an acetate of the first Bo Rap with less Gallileos....." and soon it finds it's way into someone's wish list....;-)
And those who pretend "I have something that all of you do not have and I won't show/play it to you" are my "favorites"....
 



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Posted: 21 Feb 10, 05:41 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

As promised here are some acetate pictures. This is the Bicycle Race/Fat Bottomed Girls acetate. Bicycle Race is identical to the album version but Fat Bottomed Girls fades out 4 seconds early for some reason.

Attachment: 1040211252836184.jpg 397 KB
This has been downloaded 70 time(s).



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Posted: 21 Feb 10, 05:42 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

And here is the Headlong acetate.

Attachment: 104121594704931.JPG 293 KB
This has been downloaded 69 time(s).



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Posted: 21 Feb 10, 05:47 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Thank you very much, I love informational threads


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Posted: 21 Feb 10, 06:23 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote



Soundfreak wrote:

"It's out there. A member of this forum (who, it appears, has already fessed up to owning it) has it in his possession."

As long as I don't hear it, I remain sceptical. In this internet world it's so easy to create myths or fool people.



I get your point here. But I don't think John could be called a liar ir whatever else. His knowledge and the information hegives us is regularly accurate, so if he tells he has it, I believe him 100% (let's say 99,99%).
The fact he is frustrated at how collectors got against him can only be understandable. My guess is we won't get him share this one unless we get a little more "friendly" as far as collecting is concerned. I don't think he will share it. Dear John, what would be your conditions for getting that one "released" ?
At the moment, we can say that the Holy thing exists. Well, not 100% sure, but 99,99% sure !



Regards,

Olivier,
Belgium.








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Posted: 21 Feb 10, 06:44 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Thanks for this, it's VERY interesting. Would they melt if you left them in a warm room, is it wax they are coated with or some kind of soft Shelac?

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Posted: 21 Feb 10, 07:10 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote



Jam Monkey wrote:

As promised here are some acetate pictures. This is the Bicycle Race/Fat Bottomed Girls acetate. Bicycle Race is identical to the album version but Fat Bottomed Girls fades out 4 seconds early for some reason.

Looks like one of Brian's streo pictures to me. Haha! Seriously, this is a good thread.