Elvis MoodyBlue cover photo 1500

moody blue – facts and fallacies about elvis’ final album as a collector’s item

AUGUST 16, 1977, was the day the Earth stood still: Elvis died. Very few fans were aware of his de­te­ri­o­rating health and we were un­pre­pared for our own re­sponse to his death. Fans were aware of Elvis in gen­eral: his latest album, MOODY BLUE, had been re­leased four weeks ear­lier and was selling better than usual. In the months after his death, his final album be­came one of his best selling al­bums ever.

Due it being his final album, MOODY BLUE holds a spe­cial place in the Elvis canon, de­spite it’s being a rel­a­tively undis­tin­guished album, even by Pres­ley’s flag­ging ef­forts of the time. As a mu­sical state­ment, it was a mediocre hodge­podge of studio tracks from the pre­vious year and live record­ings, one of which was three years old.

Given Pres­ley’s health at the time, I could argue that medi­oc­rity was ac­tu­ally Elvis rising to the oc­ca­sion and over­coming some high hurdles—namely his now-legendary self-medication skills. But this ar­ticle is not aimed at the mu­sical con­tent of the album, but in­stead ex­am­ines the many forms it took as a vinyl record in the 1970s and ’80s.

As the mar­ket­place was much more open to var­ious for­mats in 1977 than it is now when CDs rule, the album MOODY BLUE was is­sued in four media:

•  AFL1-2428: LP record
•  AFK1-2428: cas­sette tape
•  AFS1-2428: 8-track tape
•  EPP1 2428-C: reel-to-reel-tape

It was later re­leased as a com­pact disc (1988) and then as an ex­tended com­pact disc (2000). More re­cently, it was re­mas­tered and is­sued as a 180-gram LP (2013). For this ar­ticle, I ad­dress the LP al­bums is­sued in the United States from 1977 into the ’80s—and there are more vari­a­tions than you might imagine.

 

Elvis MoodyBlue LP AFL 600

The front cover for the MOODY BLUE was one of the more at­trac­tive covers on an Elvis album in the ’70s. That’s in the US, where RCA Victor con­sis­tently is­sued Presley plat­ters in mediocre sleeves. Other coun­tries often pack­aged Elvis in far more ap­pealing art­work, no­tably Japan.

First pressing: AFL on blue vinyl

In the late ’70s, col­ored vinyl was all the rage, as it had been in the early ’50s. So RCA had the first 250,000 copies of AFL1-2428 pressed on translu­cent blue vinyl at their In­di­anapolis plant. Why not? MOODY BLUE on blue vinyl cost the same as black vinyl and was a cute selling point. 2

These first press­ings had the fol­lowing in­for­ma­tion etched into the trail-off vinyl:

Side 1: AFL1-2428-A-1S Mas­ter­fonics GAM
Side 2: AFL1-2428-B-1S Mas­ter­fonics GAM

Copies of this pressing can be found in sealed or opened shrinkwrap with one or two dif­ferent stickers af­fixed to the front:

•  One sticker reads The Blue Album
•  One sticker reads
Con­tains the hits Moody Blue and Way Down

For some reason—maybe the blue vinyl?—sales were brisker than pre­vious studio al­bums; within weeks of re­lease it was ob­vious that 250,000 copies weren’t enough and RCA switched the record to black vinyl for sub­se­quent press­ings.

 

Final Album: label for AFL1-2428, the original MOODY BLUE album.

Copies of AFL1-2428 on black vinyl are rather rare records and can sell for an easy $200 in NM con­di­tion. Later press­ings with an AQL prefix on black vinyl are common used records.

Second pressing: AFL on black vinyl

In early Au­gust, after all the blue vinyl copies were shipped, In­di­anapolis began pressing the album on normal black vinyl. These records car­ried the same cat­alog number (AFL1-2428) with sim­ilar data etched into the trail-off vinyl:

Side 1: AFL1-2428-A 1S A4? Mas­ter­fonics GAM
Side 2: AFL1-2428-B-1S A4F Mas­ter­fonics GA
M

Side 1: AFL1-2428-A-1S LA5 Mas­ter­fonics GAM
Side 2: AFL1-2428-B-1S A1O Mas­ter­fonics GAM

On Au­gust 16, 1977, the un­think­able hap­pened: Elvis Presley died. RCA im­me­di­ately or­dered that MOODY BLUE be re­turned to blue vinyl. The number of copies of AFL1-2428 pressed on black vinyl is un­known. Given its scarcity among col­lec­tors, it could not have been a large press run. 3

 

Elvis MoodyBlue LP orig blue

There are mil­lions of copies of AFL1-2428 MOODY BLUE on lovely translu­cent blue vinyl. Opened copies in NM con­di­tion are worth $5-10. Nonethe­less, you will see people who be­lieve oth­er­wise asking HUGE prices for what they be­lieve to be a rare record at record shows, flea mar­kets, and on the In­ternet.

Third pressing: AFL on blue vinyl

RCA had to lease out other (smaller) pressing plants in the US and Canada to meet the un­re­lenting de­mand for Presley Product in the months fol­lowing his death. In­di­anapolis alone re­turned to blue vinyl and pressed mil­lions of more copies of AFL1-2428. 4

This should mean count­less dif­ferent stamper num­bers on one record from one plant, but I have only found a few num­bers (below):

Side 1: AFL1-2428-A-1S A1V Mas­ter­fonics GAM
Side 2: AFL1-2428-B-1S A1Z Mas­ter­fonics GAM

Side 1: AFL1-2428-A-1S A2H Mas­ter­fonics GAM
Side 2: AFL1-2428-B-1S A1F Mas­ter­fonics GAM

Side 1: AFL1-2428-A-1S A3Q Mas­ter­fonics GAM
Side 2: AFL1-2428-B-1S A1P Mas­ter­fonics GAM

Side 1: AFL1-2428-A-1S A2CC Mas­ter­fonics GAM
Side 2: AFL1-2428-B-1S A1N Mas­ter­fonics GAM

Side 1: AFL1-2428-A-2S W Mas­ter­fonics GAM
Side 2: AFL1-2428-B-2S Mas­ter­fonics GAM

Side 1: AFL1-2428-A-1S Mas­ter­fonics GAM G A3
Side 2:
AFL1-2428-B-2S Mas­ter­fonics GAM D A2

Side 1: AFL1-2428-A-1S Mas­ter­fonics GAM A7
Side 2: AFL1-2428-B-2S W Mas­ter­fonics GAM ?

Side 1: AFL1-2428-A-30 Mas­ter­fonics GAM
Side 2: AFL1-2428-B-1S Mas­ter­fonics GAM

There may be other num­bers.

 

Final Album: label for AQL1-2428, the later MOODY BLUE album.

When RCA changed the MOODY BLUE al­bum’s cat­alog number from AFL1-2428 to AQL1-2428 in 1980, they switched over to black vinyl for all sub­se­quent press­ings of the record. These al­bums with black vinyl records are worth $5-10 each.

Fourth pressing: AQL on black vinyl

In 1980, RCA re­vamped its cat­alog and MOODY BLUE was given a new prefix and reis­sued as AQL1-2428. This and all sub­se­quent do­mestic press­ings of this record were on stan­dard black vinyl. The data in the trail-off vinyl:

Side 1: AQL1-2428-A 32 # ~1~
Side 2: AQL1-2428-B 32 # ~1~

Side 1: AQL1-2428-A 32 A1A
Side 2: AQL1-2428-B 32 A1A

Ques­tion: Are there any other trail-off num­bers? The lowest figure that I have seen from a re­li­able source for the sales of MOODY BLUE in the US is 4,000,000. The highest total I have seen is 14,000,000—although that is from a less de­pend­able source. Ei­ther way, there should be more stamper num­bers than the few I have listed above. 5

 

Elvis MoodyBlue LP slick1 500

This is the orig­inal de­sign for the LP cover; it was printed as a cover slick and then can­celed. The slicks were de­stroyed, but a few sur­vived and oc­ca­sion­ally turn up on the col­lec­tor’s market for sale. The most re­cent sale of one of these slicks was for a rea­son­ably modest $4,700.

Special vinyl pressings

During the pressing of MOODY BLUE, RCA’s plant at In­di­anapolis sur­passed 2,000,000,000 records man­u­fac­tured. A cel­e­bra­tion was held, in­cluding giving Elvis a plaque for the mere fact that one of his records was the two-billionth pressed. As part of the cel­e­bra­tion, RCA had sev­eral spe­cial press­ings of the album done in ex­tremely small runs. these were ap­par­ently given out to com­pany execs and other VIPs. 6

 

Final Album: photo of MOODY BLUE LP record on red vinyl.

These col­ored vinyl press­ings of AFL1-2428 are among the rarest and most valu­able Presley plat­ters of the 1970s. Due to the cur­rent in­sta­bility of the rare record mar­ket­place, a NM copy of any color record could sell for as little as $500 or as much as $2,000 at auc­tion.

Colored vinyl

As part of the cel­e­bra­tion, a se­ries of lim­ited press­ings were done in solid colors:

•  green
•  red
•  white
•  yellow

There were also records pressed in two colors with a ‘splash’ ef­fect:

•  purple-and-white
•  red-and-white
•  yellow-and-white
•  multi-color

Some of these were put in AFL1-2428 jackets, while others were simply slipped into plain white sleeves. 7

Picture disc

As part of the cel­e­bra­tion, a tiny number of pic­ture discs of MOODY BLUE were made with a photo of Colonel Parker dressed as Santa Claus! These were given by the Colonel to VIPs and are ab­surdly rare.

Record club

An avid col­lector searching the In­ternet could run across ref­er­ences for a spe­cial pressing of MOODY BLUE for the RCA Victor Record Club. These ref­er­ences often as­sign a cat­alog number to the record: 66602-4. The only list­ings that I found for a record with that cat­alog number was a German pressing of the album.

 

Final Album: front cover of the MOODY BLUE album with two stickers affixed to shrinkwrap.

This is a sealed copy of AFL1-2428 with both of the stickers af­fixed to the shrinkwrap. Most sealed copies with these stickers hold orig­inal blue vinyl records. No­tice that the folks at the store selling this copy paid no at­ten­tion to where they placed their pricing stickers.

The Avid Record Collector

Ac­cording to Pop­sike, there have been al­most 600 sales of MOODY BLUE in some form on eBay in the past ten years. The values below are for NM copies of cat­alog number AFL1-2428 and are es­ti­mates based on the few sales reg­is­tered on Pop­sike. As­signed values below are in US dol­lars and are ap­prox­i­ma­tions.

AFL1-2428  solid blue vinyl                                                              $          5
AFL1-2428  solid black vinyl                                                            $     250
AFL1-2428  solid green vinyl                                                           $  1,000
AFL1-2428  solid red vinyl                                                               $  1,000
AFL1-2428  solid yellow vinyl                                                          $  1,000
AFL1-2428  solid white vinyl                                                           $  1,000
AFL1-2428  purple splash vinyl                                                       $ 2,000
AFL1-2428  red splash vinyl                                                             $ 2,000
AFL1-2428  yellow splash vinyl                                                       $ 2,000
AFL1-2428  multi-color splash vinyl                                              $ 3,000

The pic­ture disc of AFL1-2428 with Colonel Parker as Santa Claus is so rare there have been no trans­ac­tions upon which to es­ti­mate a value. 8

In the days after Elvis died, grief-stricken em­ployees at the RCA pressing plant in In­di­anapolis spon­ta­neously cre­ated their own collectables—various col­ored vinyl and unique pic­ture discs were made of what­ever Elvis album they were printing, in­cluding MOODY BLUE. I have not in­cluded these sports in this ar­ticle.

Mispressings and misprints

During the man­u­fac­turing of a record, mis­takes can happen. Some­times, the wrong label gets slapped onto one side of a record; this is usu­ally re­ferred to as a mis­printing. That is, a 45 or an LP can play the cor­rect music on both sides but have one cor­rect label and one in­cor­rect label.

Some­times, two parts are mixed up and the wrong music gets pressed onto one side of a record; this is usu­ally called a mis­pressing. That is, a 45 or an LP can have the cor­rect la­bels on both sides but play the cor­rect music on one side but play some other music—even an­other artist’s music—on the others side.

The value of such in­cor­rectly man­u­fac­tured records values wildly de­pending on the artist and the title. Both mis­printed and mis­pressed records carry sig­nif­i­cant value to a small por­tion of col­lec­tors, al­though it’s dif­fi­cult to as­sign any kind of value to them. Usu­ally, mis­press­ings are more de­sir­able than mis­print­ings.

 

Elvis MoodyBlue cover photo 1000

FEATURED IMAGE: The photo at the top of this page was cropped from the photo above which was used on the cover of the MOODY BLUE album. It is a stun­ning photo and I have won­dered for more than forty years why RCA’s art de­part­ment de­cided that it needed a blue border in­stead of having it fill the en­tire front cover.

 

Elvis_ATOG_image

Post­scrip­tu­ally, a long-time Elvis fan who I have known for more than thirty years and who oc­ca­sion­ally makes the rounds of the In­ternet under the alias “Blane Win­ston” (as it is an alias, any other Blane Win­ston on the In­ternet or in real life is not this fake Blane Win­ston buddy of mine) wants it reg­is­tered that he dis­likes the MOODY BLUE cover de­sign: the blue border being too big and the photo of Elvis too small.

 


FOOTNOTES:

1   I find it cu­rious that a record that sold enough copies to top the country charts at a time when country records were selling big, would have sold enough copies to at least put it near the Top 10 on the pop charts.

2   The 250,000 figure for the ini­tial run of blue records has been around a long time, but I have not seen it ver­i­fied by any­thing re­sem­bling an of­fi­cial RCA source.

3   I have read that the album had sold 300,000-400,000 units be­fore that fateful day in Au­gust. As that would have in­cluded LPs and tapes, the number of black vinyl records could be in the tens of thousands—a mi­nus­cule amount for a best selling album.

4   Re­garding In­di­anapolis and AFL1-2428: “For five days after Elvis died, the In­di­anapolis plant pressed 250,000 copies of the MOODY BLUE album per day and then still man­aged to press a third of that figure for the fol­lowing four weeks. In total. it seems In­di­anapolis pressed a little over 4,000,000 copies of this album up to Feb­ruary 1978, to add to the 400,000 al­ready in print be­fore Elvis died.” (Elvis Ex­press Radio)

5   So many, many facts and fig­ures re­garding Elvis Pres­ley’s sales are un­known be­cause RCA “lost” years worth of pa­per­work from their ac­counting and/or sales de­part­ment. Fans and his­to­rians can only guess at some figures—including total world­wide sales of all Presley records, tapes, and com­pact discs.

6   Sup­pos­edly, each pressing was lim­ited to fifty (50) copies, but that is un­con­firmed.

7   Some or all of the white vinyl press­ings have the cor­rect B-side label for MOODY BLUE and the in­cor­rect A-side label for LSP-1254(e) ELVIS PRESLEY.

8   Re­garding factory-sealed copies of AFL1-2428 with or without the stickers: the prices col­lec­tors pay are all over the place! In 2016, one sealed copy sold for $300, which is way too high! Since then, many sealed copies have sold in the $20-30 range. I found one well-known huck­ster of­fering two sealed copies: one is listed as “AFL-1-2428, blue vinyl. SS” and is $100; the other is listed as “Moody Blue (the blue album) Mint un­opened AFL-1-2428” and priced at a whop­ping $2,000!

 

Elvis Pres­ley’s Moody Blue album on blue vinyl is worth less than $10 but on white vinyl, it’s worth more than $1,000. Click To Tweet

 

 

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I have Elvis moody blue record my is black I have some others as well

You better check a home­less man was found dead under a over pass in San Dieago his freinds called him Jesse in­vis­st­gaters did a DA to find out who it was it came back as E lvis ARON Presley so what is the story the lab as­sis­tance names are Robert Brens­dale and Madi­line Hedgspeth a Davi Colon wrote the story they called him Jesse Doe

Some people try to get a lot of money out of the Cana­dien issue of Moody Blue be­cause it is also on black vinyl. The dif­fer­ence is it does NOT have a black label. It’s more of a lite copper/gold color. Discogs has some im­ages for com­par­ison. Be careful out there. I have heard that some people are printing fake la­bels and ac­tu­ally buying shrink wrap ma­chines to boost the value of an oth­er­wise vir­tu­ally worth­less platter. Stay woke!

Anyone who thinks Moody Blue is an av­erage album needs their head ex­am­ined. B’­side is ex­cel­lent. 2 of the A’­side are equal to that. That’s seven out of ten being ex­cel­lent. Even if you give the re­mainder a six the total is a re­spectable 88/100. I’d argue Lil Darlin get an 8 be­cause it rep­re­sents a solid en­ter­taining “fun” song which is its pur­pose. So a solid A- total imo.

Just found the blue album afl1-2428 f1-2s ap­pears to have a sig­na­ture in the pressing as well. Have you seen this?

On the front the label says AFL1-2428-A in­side time of the album it­self says AFL1-2428F1-2S then there is an M or W and the sig­na­ture. Side B label AFL1-2428-B album says AFL1-2428-B as well as mas­ter­fonics Gam and AFL1-2428-B-1S

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