Collecting the Polydor Flashback Series

Collecting the Polydor Flashback Series
Authored By Johnny Blogger

I love a list. Lists help make sense of what is essentially a chaotic world. To those of us whose minds are troubled by this and constantly fear an entire collapse of our sanity, a list brings shape and sense to life.

So when it comes to record collecting, any series of albums that can be defined numerically, listed and then gathered in safely, offers much pleasure. That's one of the reasons I love these Polydor 'Flashback' series so much. Oh and almost all of the music is great too.

Sometimes also called 'Polydor Specials' there often said to be 24 of them, but I think there are 26 - and I should know because I've got all but 2 of them.

They were all released between 1975 and 1978 and were either a straight compilation of greatest hits, or they were a rag bag of rare and early music, or were a re-release of a whole album. There were also 4 compilations.

Each had basically the same artwork - the spray paint title and a photocell which I think is a simple but great look. They were released at the budget price of £1.47 back in '75. Polydor did a lot of good compilations in the 70s as tasters to get you hooked on bands. There is a Pop History series that only came out in mainland Europe that are well worth looking out for.

This list is taken from Mark Barry's excellent blog on this series.

  1. Roy Buchanan (Polydor Special 2482 275)
  2. Eric Burdon and The Animals (Metro Special 2356 142)
  3. Cream (Polydor Standard 2384 067)
  4. Cream Vol.2 (RSO Special 2479 701)
  5. Julie Driscoll, Brian Auger & The Trinity (Polydor Standard 2384 062)
  6. Fairport Convention (Polydor Standard 2384 047)
  7. Focus (Polydor Special 2384 070)
  8. Rory Gallagher (Polydor Standard 2384 066)
  9. Rory Gallagher - Live (Polydor Special 2384 079)
  10. Golden Earring (Polydor Special 2482 329)
  11. Richie Havens (Polydor Special 2482 273)
  12. Jimi Hendrix (Polydor Standard 2343 080)
  13. Jimi Hendrix, Vol.2 (Polydor Special 2343 086)
  14. Lifetime featuring John McLaughlin etc (Polydor Special 2482 179)
  15. John Mayall (Polydor Special 2482 272)
  16. Medicine Head (Polydor Special 2384 069)
  17. Pink Fairies (Polydor Special 2384 071)
  18. Rare Bird (Polydor Special 2384 078) 1977
  19. Stone The Crows (Polydor Special 2482 279)
  20. Taste (Polydor Special 2384 076)
  21. The Velvet Underground (MGM Special 2354 033)
  22. Frank Zappa & The Mothers Of Invention (Verve Special 2352 057)
  23. Various - Medium Rare (Polydor Special 2482 381)
  24. Various - Rare Tracks (Polydor Special 2482 274)


Now, to Mark's list I'd add 2 more 'Rock of the UK' and 'Rock of the USA' - both compilations which have the same spray paint & photo artwork.

I don't have the Cream Vol 2 or Taste records - the rest sit on my shelves. I file them under each band, but often feel like I should gather them together in their own section.

The Zappa one is really interesting as there are obscure singles on it and weird little edits from Lumpy Gravy. The 2 Rory records are as good an introduction to the man as there is. The Fairport album is a reissue of their debut record.

Because they were cheap these sold in good numbers and so are not valuable records today. You can usually get smart copies for £5-£10. For some reason, the one you always always always see is the canary yellow Focus record. Maybe that sold more than any other.

I realise this kind of slightly obsessive collecting isn't for everyone, but these are top quality distinctive records that you can quite easily find, so if you've not thought of adding them to your collection before now, maybe now is the time to start - but leave the ones I don't have alone!

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