The Most Unusual Album Releases Of All Time

14 October 2018, 18:00 | Updated: 14 October 2018, 18:01

Radiohead
Radiohead. Picture: Jim Steinfeldt/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

In 2007, Radiohead allowed you to pay what you want for their In Rainbows album. Which other records have used unique ploys to get people to buy them?

  1. Radiohead - In Rainbows

    The crown princes of odd album release strategies, Radiohead made a huge success of their "pay what you want" strategy for their 2007 album In Rainbows. At the time, Thom Yorke said that the album had made more for the band than digital releases of all their other albums. Take that, record industry!

    Radiohead - In Rainbows
    Radiohead - In Rainbows. Picture: Amazon
  2. The Beatles - The White Album

    Designer Richard Hamilton said that the famous serial number printing on The Beatles' self-titled 1968 album was meant to be ironic. That doesn't stop a roaring trade in the lowest-numbered copies in auctions of course. Ringo had Number 1 and it recently sold for £600,000 at auction. Copies signed by John and Yoko, like the one on the left, are worth few quid, too.

    The Beatles - White Album
    The Beatles - White Album. Picture: Amazon
  3. The Rolling Stones - Sticky Fingers

    One of the most controversial Rolling Stones album covers featured a working zip and a belt buckle. Of course that wasn't the first thing most people noticed, it also featured a rather prominent bulge.

    The Rolling Stones - Sticky Fingers
    The Rolling Stones - Sticky Fingers. Picture: Amazon
  4. The Flaming Lips - Zaireeka

    Brought out on four CDs and meant to be played on four separate speakers at the same time. Not surprisingly, singer Wayne Coyne has admitted since that it's not one for casual fans.

    The Flaming Lips - Zaireeka
    The Flaming Lips - Zaireeka. Picture: Amazon
  5. Jack White - Blunderbuss

    You can get music in a variety of ways these days: record shop, online, supermarkets - or in 2012, via helium balloon. To promote the release of Blunderbuss, Jack White sent 1000 balloons into the air with a flexi-disc of "Freedom at 21" attached to each one. Jack's manager later confirmed they're not sure how many of the discs survived the launch.

    Jack White - Blunderbuss
    Jack White - Blunderbuss. Picture: Amazon
  6. Kaiser Chiefs - The Future Is Medieval

    For the band's fourth album, they let fans choose their own track-listing for The Future Is Medieval from a batch of tracks put online. Fans could sell their own versions of the record online then and even make money from them.

    Kaiser Chiefs - The Future Is Medieval
    Kaiser Chiefs - The Future Is Medieval. Picture: Amazon
  7. The Durutti Column - The Return Of The Durutti Column

    The sleeve was made of sandpaper that was designed to scratch any other LPs put beside it. When reissued recently, it came in a protective wallet - sensible, if slightly less rock and roll.

    The Durutti Column - The Return Of The Durutti Column
    The Durutti Column - The Return Of The Durutti Column. Picture: Amazon
  8. Public Image Ltd - Metal Box

    Public Image Ltd's second album's title offers a good clue as to how it was sold: three 12" records stored inside a metal film canister. Funnily enough, the PiL lads thought about using The Durutti Column's sandpaper idea but decided that the metal tin was a better/worse option.

    Public Image Ltd - Metal Box
    Public Image Ltd - Metal Box. Picture: Amazon
  9. Beck - Song Reader

    Even fans who bought Beck's Song Reader in 2012 had no idea what it was supposed to sound like. Released as sheet music and artwork, the album would have sounded different for everyone who played it.

    Beck - Song Reader
    Beck - Song Reader. Picture: Amazon