Our weekly column "White Whale Vinyl" spotlights the most sought-after rare vinyl in the heavy-music universe. Shop for vinyl, including a selection of limited-edition Revolver-exclusive variants, via our store.
In 1984, Metallica released their hotly anticipated second album, Ride the Lightning. Taking its title from Stephen King's The Stand, the record boasted certified bangers like "Fight Fire With Fire," "Creeping Death" and "For Whom the Bell Tolls." Those soon-to-be-classics — along with cryonics nightmare "Trapped Under Ice" and the Lovecraft-inspired instrumental "The Call of Ktulu" — kept the denim n' leather faithful frothing at the mouth. But the band got some grief from seasoned heshers who balked at the power ballad "Fade to Black" and radio-friendly melodies of "Escape." Of course, millions more disagreed: Ride the Lightning has since been certified six times platinum. And that's just in the U.S.
Of the roughly gazillion copies sold worldwide, a few hundred don't share the album's iconic deep blue sleeve. Sure, the electric chair and lighting are still front and center, but the sleeve itself is an alien emerald green. These rare editions were the result of a misprint by Bernett Records, the label that released Ride the Lightning in France. But there seems to be some disagreement about how many of these misprints exist: Some sources claim 400, while others say it's as many as 1,000.
The higher number seems more likely, as this green monster comes up for sale fairly often. At least 10 have sold on Discogs so far in 2020, with the most recent copy going for $179 in VG+ condition. As of this writing, there are five copies available on the site — all from overseas sellers — ranging in price from 100 euros (G+ condition) to 350 euros (NM condition). The original misprint was pressed on black vinyl, and there are apparently two versions of the sleeve: one with the legend "Printed in France" and one without.
Bernett also produced a cassette version of Ride the Lightning with green artwork. It seems to be even rarer than the LP — it hasn't appeared for sale on Discogs in over a year. Oddly enough, Metallica's U.S. record label at the time, Elektra, sent a promo single of "Fade to Black" to radio stations in early 1985. The record was pressed on phosphorescent green vinyl.