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A Record Collector's Guide

SP34 Nirvana

Bleach

Sub Pop SP34, released June 1989

Sub Pop SP834 2xLP, released 2009

Tupelo TUPLP6 (UK)

Waterfront DAMP114 (Australia)

What can I say about Bleach? This album means everything in the realm of Sub Pop. A fabulous album that, in the end, led to the salvation of the label. There are many, many editions of Bleach. Check out Discogs for the full global list - I am going to focus on the U.S. Sub Pop pressings. The first pressing was of 1,000 on white vinyl. Some of these came with posters. The price of this was was stable in the $400 range for many years. It has been really unpredictable lately, though. I have seen three different copies sell for more than $900.

The second pressing was of 2,000 on black vinyl. Most of these came with posters. Those that didn't came with giant letter-size Singles Club ads. You will see normally see this referred to as the "A4" insert...it's not A4, silly Europeans. It's U.S. letter size, which is different. There were at least two different Singles Club forms that were used in this capacity: one starts with Lazy Cowgirls and another starts with Sister Ray. The first time I saw one of the Sister Ray copies, I thought someone had swapped out a form from another record, but I have since seen three or four more of these, so I now believe them to be legit. Presumably, Sub Pop had some copies sitting on the shelf for a few months, so they used different Singles Club forms as time went on. Anyway, the black ones with posters generally go for more than those with inserts - lately, a lot more. Black copies with posters have shot up in price - I have seen several copies sell in the $350-$500 range, which is completely insane. The copies that come with neither a poster nor an insert are much less expensive.

The 3rd pressings, manufactured by Erika Records, were on a variety of colors (pink, pink marble, purple marble, green marble, yellow-green marble, and blue marble). Some are much rarer than others, and this is reflected in the pricing. Pink is most common. Red, pink marble, purple marble, and green marble are all roughly even in scarcity. The yellow-green marble one is rarer. Blue marble has always been the rarest and most expensive of this group. For some reason, the price of the purple one has taken off in recent years, while most of the others have stayed more or less stable. The yellow-green one has gotten a bit more expensive.

There is one specific standout edition from this era: 500 copies on red & white swirled vinyl. Most of these came sealed in plastic along with a blue vinyl Sliver 7". They are also numbered. All of these things combine to make this a very expensive edition. Some copies have surfaced with no numbers and no 7" - these go for much less than the full sets. The price of any version of the red & white copy has been all over the map in recent years.

There is one pressing that does not fit with the rest: the so-called "Iceberg" pressing. As the story goes, these were not used by the label for fear that they would be mistaken for the white pressing. There were very few of these. As such, it sells for an obscene amount of money. I haven't seen one in many years.

There was another later pressing on black vinyl, but is easily distinguished from the earlier black pressing. First, there is a bar code and the Sub Pop web URL on the back of the sleeve. Next, the Nirvana logo on the front of the sleeve is in a different position. On all earlier pressings, the logo butts right up against the top edge of the sleeve. On this later edition, it is evenly spaced between the top edge and the picture.

In 2009, Sub Pop reissued Bleach again. This new version ("Deluxe Edition") is a double LP, and carries a different catalogue number (SP834). The second record contains the band's live performance from February 9, 1990, in Portland, OR. The first 10,000 copies of the Deluxe Edition were on white vinyl. Some copies had some dark streaks running through them. There seems to be no rhyme or reason to this. Sub Pop used heavyweight vinyl for this pressing. There have been some reports of these records not playing very well on some people's turntables. I cannot confirm or deny this. Sub Pop has also done black vinyl copies. The deluxe release came with a download coupon.

Somewhere in here (2015), Sub Pop did another single disc black vinyl edition. This was the remastered version that they did for the deluxe edition, but without the second record.

But why stop there? In 2014, Sub Pop and Newbury Comics collaborated to release two more versions of Bleach, one on maroon vinyl and one on clear vinyl with white mixed in. Each of these was limited to 750 copies.

Done? Nope. There were two more Newbury Comics exclusives released, this time of the double LP deluxe edition. There were 1,400 copies each of blue vinyl with black swirl and clear vinyl with black swirl.

Version Value ($) Scarcity Price Trending
SP34 White (1,000) 600-1,200 6 Up/Volatile
SP34 Black w/ Poster (2,000) 300-600 6 Up/Volatile
SP34 Black w/ Singles Club Insert 100-140 5 Stable
SP34 Black w/o Poster, Insert, or Bar Code 90-120 4 Stable
SP34 Iceberg 1,500+ 10 ?
SP34 Pink 60-100 4 Volatile
SP34 Pink Marble 90-130 5 Stable
SP34 Red 70-100 5 Stable
SP34 Purple Marble 130-170 5 Volatile
SP34 Green Marble 80-140 5 Volatile
SP34 Yellow-Green Marble 140-190 6 Up
SP34 Blue Marble 200-350 8 Volatile
SP34 Red & White Swirl w/ Number + Blue Sliver 7" (500) 1,000-1,400 5 Up/Volatile
SP34 Red & White Swirl (No Number or Sliver 7") 800-1,000 6 Volatile
SP34 Black w/ Bar Code 15-20 1 Stable
SP834 2xLP White 30-40 1 Stable
SP834 2xLP Black 20-25 1 Stable
SP34 Maroon (750) 50-65 4 Stable
SP34 Clear/White (750) 40-60 4 Stable
SP34 Black (Remastered) 12-15 1 Stable
SP834 2xLP Blue/Black Swirl (1,400) 45-60 3 Stable
SP834 2xLP Clear/Black Swirl (1,400) 45-60 3 Stable
Test Pressing (1st)
Test Pressing (3rd)
SP34 Bleach - Error Pressing
1st Pressing - White
2nd Pressing - Black
Iceberg
Red & White Swirl
Yellow-Green Marble
Green Marble
Red
Purple Marble
Pink
Pink Marble
Blue Marble
Maroon
Clear/White
Credits Enrico: Test and error pressings, iceberg, red/white splatter images

This page was last updated on October 30, 2019.

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Scarcity Score Definition
10 Near impossible: Fewer than 50 copies or publicly sold every few years
8-9 Very rare: 50-199 copies or publicly sold 1-2 times per year
6-7 Rare: 200-499 copies or publicly sold a few times a year
4-5 Medium: 500-999 copies or publicly sold ~10 times a year
1-3 Common: 1000+ copies, readily available, or publicly sold 20+ times a year

Estimated values are based on recent auction results or online sales. Commercial use of images on this site is not permitted. Non-commercial use of images permitted, with attribution to Pette Discographies. All images copyright their respective owners.

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