I have a bit of a different Vinyl Wednesday this time. Last winter I received a subscription to Decibel Magazine and I was introduced to flexi-discs. The magazine is full of extreme metal stories, articles on some neat people/subjects and it also features a flexi-disc in every issue. While it may be a bit of a gimmick or a novelty to some, the music is very real, very heavy and usually high-quality. Each Decibel Flexi-Series release features an exclusive track from the chosen artist. Something that won’t be found on any official release from the band. Good stuff if you ask me. Most bands just have one song but there are some exceptions. In the case of Iron Reagan (above) the subscribers were treated to a full-13 track EP. Songs are obviously insanely short if you can fit 13 tracks onto a 4–6 minute flexi but that’s fine by me. The more heavy tunes that are available the better. Rip out the flexi from the magazine and get it spinning while browsing the issue. Good times can be had by all.
The records come in a variety of colors and transparencies. They are always the same size/thickness and generally fit somewhere up to 6 minutes of music on a side. There are multiple styles of flexi-disc available but I have only come across 1-sided versions so far. Usually they come attached to the magazine and are removable courtesy of a perforated edge but I’ve had a couple that came detached. I prefer it that way really. It puts less stress on the physical record and it makes the magazine a bit easier to read. No weird, small plastic piece sitting in the spine to mess with how the pages fall/fold over.
Flexi-discs have been around since the ’60’s and were extremely popular in Russia up until the 90’s. Weird but true. They are mostly used as a giveaway or a promotional tool in magazines, books and within fan clubs. The Beatles gave away a flexi-disc to their fan club for seven years featuring songs or spoken word messages of thanks.
Some of the Decibel flexi-discs that I have feature some bands I wasn’t previously familiar with and some I specifically sought out. Most of my collection are of transparent colored vinyl and they usually have some sort of metallic ink on the face of the record, either being silver or gold. Although colored vinyl is always neat to look at and collect I think my favorite flexi’s are the white and black copies. There’s something about them that I just enjoy looking at. Maybe it’s because I have less of those colors and they now seem to be more “special” for that reason.
Overall these things are a pretty neat gimmick that I look forward to every month. I’ve even thought of getting some made of old music of mine. Maybe something to pass out to people for Record Store Day. Drop off a stack of Black Curse flexi’s to my local record shop and tell them to give them to whoever likes metal/punk. With the low cost and small footprint that it takes to create/store them it’s a good option to get an analog version of your music out to potential fans.