Friday, January 15, 2016

Junior Brown's "Better Call Saul" 5-inch flexi disc

I used to think that Bob Odenkirk was an underdog who didn't get his due, back when his Mr. Show partner, David Cross, was enjoying a surge of popularity from his first standup comedy album and his role in Arrested Development. That has changed dramatically in the last couple of years as Odenkirk has rocketed to fame for his part in the television series Breaking Bad and his starring role in the spinoff Better Call Saul, which had the highest-rated debut in cable television history.

The nonplaying side of the flexi-disc
What does all this have to do with music, you ask? The first season of Better Call Saul was released November 10, 2015, in a Blu-ray collector's edition that features a lenticular cover and a 5" card-backed flexi disc. The flexi disc, pictured above, is one-sided and contains Junior Brown's recording of the song "Better Call Saul." The flip side has an image of a bowl of red gelatin (at right). 

This card-backed single plays at 33 1/3 RPM in order to fit the nearly three minutes of music onto a 5" disc. A black-vinyl 7" version was released as a Record Store Day exclusive, and a limited edition 7" version on yellow and red splatter vinyl was produced in an edition of 100 as a promotional item but later sold exclusively at New York Comic Con 2015, according to a commenter on (A 6" Saul Goodman figure was also sold as a NYCC exclusive, so that's plausible.) The B-side of the 7" release has a second version of "Better Call Saul" that isn't included on the flexi disc.

The "Better Call Saul" flexi has the Madison Gate Records logo but no catalog number. (The 7" is numbered SL9-2014.) Madison Gate is Sony Pictures' label for soundtracks and other film- and television-related recordings. 

The flexi also has the logo of Spacelab9, which released the 7" vinyl of "Better Call Saul" as well as picture disc and vinyl LPs related to Walking Dead, Breaking Bad, My Little Pony, Adventure Time, etc., many of which are sold exclusively through specific retailers. The Adventure Time picture disc, for example, was sold only through Hot Topic.

The 5" card-backed "Better Call Saul" flexi is a pretty cool retro artifact that recalls the old Mad Magazine and cereal box records from the '50s and '60s. I'm sure that I'll never play my copy, because the song is readily available elsewhere and the flexi is probably pretty noisy, but I enjoyed looking at it.

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