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What Happens To The Inner Sleeve Of Led Zeppelin's In Through The Out Door When Exposed To Water?

What Happens To The Inner Sleeve Of Led Zeppelin's In Through The Out Door When Exposed To Water?

Tom |

When subjected to water, the inner sleeve of Led Zeppelin's 1979 release of 'In Through The Out Door' turns from black and white artwork into full colour! Be careful, though, as this adjustment is permanent - and copies of this album that have unchanged, black and white inner sleeves are often more sought-after and valuable than their colour-stained counterparts.

In today's article, we'll take a  look at how this quirky design choice came to be, along with some other interesting record-related gimmicks. 

1 - 'In Through The Out Door', Led Zeppelin (1979)

‘In Through The Out Door’ by Led Zeppelin
‘In Through The Out Door’ features a rather unique set of sleeve-based gimmicks

Led Zeppelin's "In Through the Out Door" album, released in 1979, had a few unique and innovative packaging designs for its vinyl record sleeve. 

Upon purchasing the album, fans would discover one of six different cover designs inside the brown paper bag that it came wrapped inside. Each design showcased the same scene at a bar with the same, lonely figure highlighted in the centre of the frame, but viewed from six different angles.

Design team ‘Hipgnosis’ were taken on by Zeppelin to design the now-famous artwork in 1979, and were subsequently nominated for ‘Best Album Package’ at the Grammy's the following year for their incredibly popular work on the album.

Hipgnosis were also the brains behind the idea to wrap each record in a brown paper bag (with only the band and album names stamped on the front), as doing so would generate surprise amongst their fans, as they wouldn't know which of the six cover variations they would receive until after the bag was opened. 

The gimmicks didn't stop there, however. As the title of this article mentions, the inner sleeve had a trick of its own. It had an industry-first heat-sensitive ink treatment applied to it, which would react to moisture or heat.

When the inner sleeve of the album came into contact with water, or when heat was applied (such as when rubbing or using a damp cloth), the ink used in the printing process would react and change colour - from a purely black-and-white design to a vibrant, multi-coloured look.

In today's market, unblemished copies of this inner sleeve can make the remainder of the album a fair bit more valuable as well. As is the case for any and all records on the secondary market today, condition is key, and therefore fully unspoilt copies of this inner sleeve (when paired with the right release in great condition) can command into the hundreds of pounds!

2 - Other gimmicks in vinyl records

B.R.M.C by Black Rebel Motorcycle Club features a single-sided, etched surface
B.R.M.C by Black Rebel Motorcycle Club features a single-sided, etched surface
  • ‘By Your Side’ - Breakbot (2012): This particular release of the album was released in extremely limited quantities (thought to be about 120 total units), with the record itself being single-sided, and (wait for it…) made entirely out of fully edible chocolate!

  • ‘The Flaming Lips And Heady Fwends’ - The Flaming Lips (2012): One of the strangest record we have likely ever written about. This release from The Flaming Lips was not only extremely odd in and of itself, but only 10 copies were ever produced - and therefore commanded an incredibly high sales price of $2500 upon release. The reason? The record itself contained real blood; contributed by the artists who collaborated on the album! We've written a whole, separate blog on this very release - so feel free to take a look if you want to know more!

  • ‘Ghostbusters Stay Puft Edition' - Ray Parker Jr and Run DMC (2014): To celebrate the original film's 30th anniversary, Legacy Records  released a marshmallow-scented vinyl record that included versions of film's iconic theme tune. To go one step further, the record's sleeve is also textured to feel like an actual marshmallow!

  • ‘Thick as a Brick’ - Jethro Tull (1972): This particularly interesting entry from the British Rock band Jethro Tull comes in the form of a 12-page fold-out newspaper sleeve. 

  • ‘Soft/Rock’ - Lemon Jelly (2001): This single was initially pressed into blue-coloured vinyl upon it's release in 2001, but that isn't the thing that allows it to feature on this list… The sleeves in which these record were housed were indiviually and entirely hand-stitched from old pairs of Levi jeans! Due to manufacturing costs, a second run of this single was issued, but instead of the hand-stitched jeans, the record came in a more simplistic brown paper sleeve. 
This particular release by Jethro Tull doubles as a 12-page fold-out newspaper!

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