What made you start collecting records?
When I was a child, my parents had a Blaupunkt record player and some records. Most of them were easy listening, but there were also a couple of classic jazz records and a single by Louis Prima (‘Buona Sera’) that was really rockin’! In 1965 when I was twelve I wanted my own records and my first one was a 7” EP by Belgian/Italian singer Adamo. He was my first idol. A boy in my neighborhood had an older brother and there I heard The Beatles (‘Can’t Buy Me Love’) and The Rolling Stones (‘Tell Me’). That sound got me and my first single was ‘Tell Me’ c/w ‘Route 66’. I knew people in the family that had a lot of records (mostly singles) and that fascinated me. I had another friend who had a much older brother with a big jazz collection. I remember seeing him sitting in his tiny room with a record player on his right side and there was always jazz … When The Beatles became more experimental with ‘Revolver’ and got a more arty image, I was allowed to buy my first LP, it was ‘Revolver’ … I didn’t look back since. I started collecting all the Beatles songs (unfortunately I sold some now valuable singles and EP’s, because I had the songs on LP). I became mainly a LP collector and singles were only interesting when the songs were not on a LP. My next discovery was The Cream with Clapton, Bruce and Baker. I had all their LP’s, which was rare in those days (in Belgium that was…). My next discovery was the very first Pink Floyd album ‘The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn’. After that came Colosseum, the first Black Sabbath, the first Yes etc … Later I became a big fan of progressive rock, krautrock, experimental rock, Kiss, Uriah Heep, Jimi Hendrix and Nazareth. In between I also bought jazz albums now and then. When the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal came along, that was my thing. I also got interested in US Metal and glam. I got the very first Mötley Crüe album on Leathür records when it was released from a contact in Oregon, USA. In 1983 I started doing a hardrock show on local radio and that’s when I got my first promo records. In 1986 I started writing for a metal magazine here in Belgium called Mindview. That were golden years for promo CD’s. When Mindview stopped, I started writing for Rock Tribune, a glossy magazine that is sold on the newsstands. But the well for promo CD’s is dry now, almost everything comes digitally these days. Today I have a 20.000 plus collection with 50% titles on vinyl and the other half on CD. I also have a lot of music video’s (VHS, DVD and Blu-ray).
Do you remember your first purchase?
As I told already, my first EP in 1965 was by Adamo, my first single by The Stones and my first LP was ‘Revolver’ by The Beatles in 1966. My first music video was by Nazareth (‘Live’) in 1982. My first CD was ‘Live At Winterland’ by Jimi Hendrix (1987).
I know you started early with your vinyl passion. How do you think the music progressed from the time you begun to discover music to today’s style ?
Well of course there’s a big evolution with a couple of important bench marks. In the fifties there was Elvis, In the sixties there were The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and The Kinks. From there came bluesrock, heavy rock, progressive rock, experimental rock, folk rock … Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, Uriah Heep, King Crimson, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Yes, Bob Dylan… Everything changed when punk and new wave came along at the end of the seventies. At the start of the eighties ‘classic rock’ fought back with the new sound of NWOBHM and at the other side of the Atlantic US Metal. Along came popmetal and glam … Again at the end of that decade we got grunge and alternative rock. The big names are still big names and metal has become a very dark and sometimes extreme place. To be honest, I am starting to lose my affinity with it and I go back to all the great music that was made in the last sixty years and listen more and more to jazz and fusion as well. The biggest evolution at the moment is in the way people consume music, with things like Youtube, MP3, downloads etc … All kinds of music is being made and there something for everyone. The history of the music is also not forgotten and that is a good thing. I see my daughter – with a love for dance music – going on Youtube researching the music of the fifties and sixties!
What sort of music do you mainly focus on?
Today, it’s mostly classic rock, jazz, fusion and progressive/experimental rock. I love an earsplitting metal record now and then though! For the magazine I do a lot of female fronted metal band. Recently I interviewed Within Temptation and a very exciting Spanish band called Diabulus In Musica is on my list.
One of my favourite labels, Mausoleum Records, are hailing from Belgium. They got a undeserved bad reputation I think. What are your own experiences of them ?
Well, they managed to release a lot of albums during the rise of metal in the eighties and I think that their ambition was honest, but running a label is a very expensive thing and maybe, they could not meet all financial obligations, I don’t know. Today their catalogue is impressive and collectable. What I know, is that Doro is still very grateful that her band Warlock got it’s break through Mausoleum. Today they still release CD’s and the guy behind the label is still active in the music business.
How do you discover new music?
By reading magazines, by getting promo downloads. We even have a couple of record shops here with listening facilities. Today my priority is not so much in discovering new music, but in consolidating my collection and enjoying it. I am retired now and finally have the time to enjoy it!
Please let us know more about the Belgian situation. Many people who collect? Many record stores left?
Yes here are a lot of collector’s, but everybody does it quite isolated I think. I regret that there isn’t more contact between collectors. A blog like yours is a very good thing! Record fairs are attracting a lot of costumers and in the bigger cities like Antwerp, Ghent or Brussels, there are still a lot of stores. Also in Liège, Bruges, Kortrijk, Leuven and Mechelen, there are interesting collector’s stores. We even have some specialist metal stores. The big chains have all folded though. The only one lasting now is Media Markt. Their Belgian shops still have a lot on offer.
You are we well reputed reviewer on metal-nose.org, please let us know more about it!
Well, in the past I wrote all my reviews for Mindview and now for Rock Tribune. The Metal-nose site gets the things that are not used by Rock Tribune. These days I do five or six reviews and a couple of interviews per month. In the days of Mindview, I sometimes did more than 20 reviews in one month!. These days I get some melodic rock acts for interviews and like I told already some female fronted bands.
Acid, Ostrogoth, Warhead, Crossfire – the 80’s were great ! How about these days ??
Don’t forget Killer who are the godfathers of Belgian metal! Today there are a lot of metal bands around. The best known are Channel Zero and Iron Mask. They are very professional, but there are a lot of other bands in different metal styles. I just did an interview with Valkyre, a female fronted band that released a very good album. The Belgian music scene is more developed in other styles. Bands like Deus or Hooverphonic for example have international success but have a different audience. Also the dance scene is very developed here. One band that really makes it internationally is Triggerfinger with a crossover between classic rock and alternative rock.
Over the years, I think I reviewed around 5000 records, and I have no ideas left, how about yourself?
Yes, I understand. I’m glad I write less reviews these days, and when I have to review, I want to listen properly to the record. Once I start writing, it goes quiet easy, although not every time. But there’s so much music coming out, in spite of the fact that everybody is complaining in the music business.
Where do you prefer to buy your records?
These days I buy most of them online (Discogs), but also at fairs and second hand shops mostly in Ghent, Antwerp or Brussels.
How were your feelings when Plastic Bertrand ‘s (scam) project switched from a punk rocker to disco freak ?? “Ca plane pour moi” still stands as a classic…
Yes, well today we all know that he didn’t even sing on that single. He was just used as a face to sell the record. So maybe he wasn’t a punk rocker by heart or he was guided by record companies towards a more commercial sound. He could sing though! He even sang in the Eurovision Song Contest for Luxemburg!
Name three records that are special to you, and tell us the story of how you got hold of them.
Just three ??? Well, the records that really defined my musical evolution were ‘Revolver’ by the Beatles, ‘The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn’ by Pink Floyd and ‘The Valentine Suite’ by Colosseum. I bought all three at a local shop in my hometown. The shop has long gone (today there no record shops anymore in my hometown). In those days you could really spend time in a record shop and listen to different records before you bought anything. We also had a weekly here called Humo and they had a section on rock music (they still do) and that was very educating (in the sixties and early seventies)! Two other records that defined my musical education were ‘Disraeli Gears’ by The Cream and ‘Days Of Future Past’ by The Moody Blues (which I bought in a shop in Luzern, Switzerland, while on holiday with my parents). A fifth one was ‘Firefly’ by Uriah Heep which I bought in a fantastic shop called ‘Brabo’ in Antwerp (now also gone). The very first shop that sold rock only was in Bruges and was called Bilbo. There I discovered ‘Acquiring The Taste’ by Gentle Giant, another album that was crucial for my musical development. In the jazz and fusion section, Colosseum’s ‘Valentyne Suite’ and John Coltrane’s ‘A Love Supreme’ were important triggers. Of course there are other albums, but these were really important.
And finally: what do you see in the future of record collecting?
One thing that goes through my head is what will happen to all these big collections that were build by the people of my generation? I hope to find an answer for my collection. My children or grandchildren could keep it, but if they don’t, they should know how to handle this. I think there will always be collectors around and the collections of today should be passed on one way or another to the next generations. I think that records and more specific vinyl is considered as a cultural heritage now and people should take care of it. At fairs I see a lot of younger people and also more girls and women. We should find a way to interest younger people for carriers of modern culture, be it records, films or books … I hope we do! It’s nice to see the renewed interest for vinyl, but I think CD’s will also come back some day as collectible objects. The constant flow of ‘limited editions’ is something that will have to prove it’s collecting relevance in the future. I remember seeing original spiral Vertigo albums in the early seventies sell in the bargain bins for less than 5 euro’s! Now they are very valuable collector’s items. Same goes for the very collectable Neon label! So who knows what will happen with today’s releases. Then there’s always the fundamental economic rule: supply and demand! But in the end, it’s the music that counts. Lots of fantastic records from the past still sell for very few euro’s because they are so many around, but the music stands! Collecting is always finding the balance between the music and the rarity. The music should come first …