EXPORT-ONLY RECORDS ARE NOT COMMON in the record business. But in 1974, RCA in the US had to manufacture records by several artists to be exported to England for sale in the UK. Why this occurred while there were British pressings of the same records being manufactured at the same time remains a topic of discussion among record collectors.
At the same time that RCA in England was importing records from the US and several other countries, they continued manufacturing those same records in their plants in the UK. While this should have caused widespread collectors’ interest in the various pressings from various sources, for the most part, it has been greeted with indifference. Only one of the export-only records has received much attention—RCA 2458EX, Elvis Presley’s My Boy / Loving Arms.
Several theories exist as to why RCA had to import records into the United Kingdom in 1974.
This is one of four articles based on RCA 2458/2458EX, Elvis Presley’s My Boy. I did not set out to compose a “My Boy Trilogy + One” but information—and questions and opinions about that information—kept piling up and one thing led to another! The other articles are:
• “Why Did RCA Have to Export David Bowie Records to England in the ’70s?” addresses the ten records known to have been manufactured in the US exclusively for sale in the UK, focusing on three by David Bowie.
• “Valuable Insert Associated with Elvis Presley’s ‘My Boy’ May Be Bootleg!” addresses a sheet of paper with “Elvis Presley / My Boy” printed on one side that some collectors believe is associated with RCA 2458EX.
The article below will make more sense if you read the articles above first. (There is some overlapping and redundancy of the information in these articles.)
The record on top with the orange label (RCA 2458) was manufactured by RCA in the UK for sale in the UK. The record on the bottom with the gray label (RCA 2458EX) was manufactured in the US for sale in the UK.
The British pressings of 2458
Despite RCA’s need to import records into the UK, the British branch of the company still managed to manufacture records in England at the time they were importing records. This includes the titles that were manufactured abroad, which would seem to indicate that the British pressing plants were not meeting the demand for products.
This article addresses six different British pressings of 2458, the regular British catalog number for the Presley record. As seven-inch, 45 rpm singles were manufactured in the UK with three different types of centers (or sizes of spindle holes), I have divided the records into groups based on their centers.
As far as I can tell, there was no preferred center by British record buyers at the time nor is there is a preferred version by today’s record collectors. (The records’ status and values as collectibles are addressed in the Avid Record Collector section below.)
More photos of these labels can also be found on the Elvis U.K. Vinyl website.
These two pressings of RCA 2458 have orange labels with what British collectors refer to as knockout centers. These are records with circular pieces of vinyl with four prongs that are attached to the record.
Records with these centers can be played on a turntable with a slender, LP-sized spindle or these centers can easily be knocked out of the larger hole—the four prongs break away from the record rather easily—and the record can then be played on a wider, single-sized spindle or adapter.
This never caught on in the US, where 45s were simply produced with the large hole. This caused seven-inch, 45 rpm singles to be known as the “little record with the big hole” back in the ’50s.
Apparently, both of these records were manufactured by RCA in the UK.
This pressing of RCA 2458 has what British collectors refer to as a tan label, although most of the copies that have been posted on the internet look like some ghastly shade of orangey-brown! The record has a large spindle hole into which a metal or plastic adapter can be snapped into place and the record can be played on a turntable with a slender, LP-sized spindle hole.
These adapters are referred to as spider centers by British record buyers. The one pictured above is made of plastic and approximately 1½ inches (3.82 centimeters) wide. Tens of millions were sold around the world every year when the little record with the big hole was the medium of choice of younger record buyers.
Apparently, this record was manufactured by CBS in the UK.
These top two pressings of RCA 2458 have orange labels with solid centers, which is a small, LP-sized spindle hole. There is no knock-out or break-away aspects to those records and they can only be played on LP-sized spindle hole.
The two labels have different layouts for technical information: The record on top has “Stereo” along with the publisher on the right side of the spindle hole. The record on the bottom has “Stereo” and the publisher above the spindle hole below “Elvis Presley.”
The bottom record has a tan label, although all the copies that I have seen on the internet look brown. Apparently, these records were manufactured by RCA in the UK.
This mysterious insert is a sheet of paper with green and black print on the front with “Elvis Presley” and “My Boy.” It has a plain white back side. Some collectors believe it is a legitimate item manufactured by RCA in 1974 and shipped to the UK with copies of 2458EX. Other collectors believe it is a bootleg manufactured years later.
The Avid Record Collector
Each of the five variations of the commercial pressing of the UK-manufactured RCA 2458 is fairly common and can be found on the internet for less than $10 in near mint (NM) condition. Promotional pressings are rather rare records and are usually found on the internet with prices of $100 or more in near mint (NM) condition.
Forty years after its release, RCA 2458EX is still being argued about among collectors, including its real market value. To read about those arguments and the record’s value, click here.
Finally, there are also found export-only records manufactured in Canada, France, and Germany intended for sale in the UK. I did not include these records in this article . . .
FEATURED IMAGE: The photo at the top of this page is Elvis and drummer Ronnie Tutt on stage at the Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum at Auburn University, Alabama. It was taken by Larry Parker on March 5, 1974, and illustrates that Elvis was looking trim and fit at the time. “For at least one day, President Philpott [of Auburn University] ceased to rule the campus and east-central Alabama became a monarchy. The King was here.” (War Eagle Reader)