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I remember it like it was yesterday. In January of 1999, Queens of the Stone Age made their Boston-area debut at the Middle East Club in Cambridge, MA. Before the show, I interviewed vocalist-guitarist Josh Homme and bassist Nick Oliveri for my fledgling zine, Hexbender. They played the under-200 capacity upstairs room to support their self-titled debut, which was released on vinyl in late '98 via poster artist Frank Kozik's Man's Ruin label.
The local hard rock station had set up video cameras to film the show. Apparently they'd cleared this with the venue but hadn't bothered to check with the band. So Homme, Oliveri and drummer Alfredo Hernández set their fog machines to full blast. The resulting haze was so thick that I couldn't see the band for most of the show, even though I was about eight feet from the stage.
After the show, I queued up at the merch table to buy the LP, complete with gatefold sleeve and Russ Meyer-meets-Barbarella cover illustration. Unbelievably, the dude in front of me — a guy I knew — snagged the very last copy. I bought a shirt and walked away in stunned silence: I was that close. It's a near miss that haunts me to this day. Not only is that record one of my all-time favorites, but OG copies of the colored vinyl now go for upwards of a grand.
Man's Ruin pressed 3,000 copies of Queens' debut — 2,500 on black vinyl, 302 on yellow and 198 on green. According to Discogs, the label gave the band the OK to print another 198 copies on blue vinyl specifically for the 1999 North American tour. These days, the more abundant black version will run you at least $400. The much rarer yellow and green can go for anywhere from $700 to $1,800. As of this writing, there are three yellow copies available on Discogs, ranging in price from $1,117.65 to $1,200. There's a green going for $1,137.65.
As with many of the records covered in this column — perhaps even more so —QOTSA's debut has been heavily bootlegged over the years. Many are sold on Discogs under the official OG listing, so buyers beware. According to the site itself, "Originals can be distinguished by the runout-groove etchings … MR-151-A on one side of the runout at the 6 o'clock position and L-50953 at the 12 o'clock position."
In 2010, the album was officially reissued by Homme's own Rekords Rekords. To distinguish it from the original Man's Ruin edition, it was issued with the cover art featured on the original CD version, which was released by Loosegroove Records in 1998. Which some might find confusing, because the image on the reissue is actually a section of the gatefold photo from the Man's Ruin pressing.
Oh, and that limited blue tour edition — the one practically snatched out of my greasy paws over 20 years ago? It sells for at least $800, if you can find one. The most recent Discogs sale price was $1,200 back in December of 2019. If anyone out there is feeling generous — and rich — you know where to find me.