Tag Archives: EP

Week 14, 2014: Laszlo, Hungary

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Hello Laszlo! Please introduce yourself, and tell us your musical history!
I am Laszlo Kovacs, I live in Hungary. I am a keen listener of music, which brought a huge fanaticism about collecting records and later also some activities in connection with it. Now I regret omitting learning and playing music myself.

Do you remember your first purchase?
Sure, that was back in June 1982, when I spent my small name day (27th June) present for a new local LP. It was Hobo Blues Band: Oly sokáig voltunk lenn (Been Down For A Long Time) and I was at a tender age of 11. I bought it in the main bookshop of my hometown in North, namely Salgótarján. It was usual to sell music in bookstores. The town had just two places selling music on records and tapes. The other selling point was a small division of a state department store. I was quite excited about buying more LPs, but could afford only three more albums that year… Singles were not interesting for me until next Spring.

SAMSUNG DIGIMAX A503The Hungarian rock scene was very big 40 years ago compared with other Easter European countries. Are you old enough to have experienced that time, and could you tell us about how it was back then?
Now I find that Eastern European countries were quite isolated from each other as well, not just tied together and took apart from the West by the Iron Curtain. Although we could travel freely throughout the Warsaw Pact countries (except for the Soviet Union) and had easy access to Yugoslavia as well, cultural and goods exchanges were relatively sporadic and at a small range. So here we saw only a few articles about exporting Hungarian rock music to the neighboring countries. This was going on particularly in the 70s when Hungarian rock products were generally above the other Communist countries’ output (both in quality and quantity means) and very few productions approached the leading world class acts as well.

I know you started early with your vinyl passion. How do you think the music progressed from the time you began to discover music to today’s style?
I can hardly answer this, since my taste and interest diverged from the trends since the early 1990. I guess Metallica and U2 were the last performers who became true first class rock actions. They were the last considerably innovative rock performers for me – but that was in the late 80s, a generation’s time earlier.

SAMSUNG DIGIMAX A503I know you run a label, Moiras Records, and you have released many Hungarian records on vinyl. Please tell us more about your label, and how you got the idea of starting it.
In the late 80s I started to discover the obscure world of unreleased material existing on copied compact cassettes. There were many great productions left unreleased even in Hungary, where release control was less strict than places like Czechoslovakia, Romania or Bulgaria. In fact most of the famous bands had some confrontation with the power. I managed to get a bunch of tapes then, so in the 90s I collected music in two main groups: released and unreleased. There were quite many collectors interested in these and it was relatively easy to find recordings. Many CDs were released with old material after the fall of Communism in 1989, but quite a few were still left hidden. I was thinking about releasing some favorite copied tapes back in the late 90s (the tapes shifted to CD-Rs from 1999-2000), but the chance of starting this came by founding a label only in 2005. Of course, I don’t make living of this, since I work as a lawyer.

My aim was to put light on such materials connected to Hungarian rock, jazz or folk music genres that 1) are remaining obscure due to being unreleased or very poorly managed for any reason and 2) are decent enough to be introduced to the foreign collectors as well. While designing, I tried to follow foreign release patterns like using gatefold sleeves, hand-numbering, inserts, liner notes etc. The first two releases were remakes of two Electrecord LPs from Romania with local ethnic Hungarian rock and folk artists from 1978, which were sold in 8.000-10.000 copies at their time. These LPs, namely Metropol: Égig érhetne az ének and Józsa Erika – Horváth Károly: Kettőspont never found their way to the public of Hungary, since they were not imported or licensed, even the artists were banned from touring in Hungary by the Romanian Communist authorities! The further releases were mostly my dig-outs, and some tapes were coming from the bands’ ex- members (like Scampolo and Bugocsiga). Of course, all releases are done with the consent of the artists or their representatives.

Many Western European find Eastern European music very exotic, it is the opposite in Hungary?
American and English stars were the etalon even in the times when Western rock artists were not let into the local media. You could receive records from abroad or buy them privately, but you could hardly enjoy any live performers or films or broadcasts until the early 60s. So anything coming through were taken as treasures. From a local’s point of view, I would rather call them as hardly accessible top products than exotic ones. The isolation was far from being total: radio and TV broadcasts became regular from the mid 60s, some rock movies were featured, very few licensed records were pressed at the state record company (with labels Qualiton and later Pepita and more) and even some gigs were held (like Spencer Davis Group, Nashville Teens and later Free). From the early 70s the state label (which had export-import activity as well) imported a limited rock catalogue form its Yugoslavian and Indian partners. These import LPs were sold at “just” 200-250% of the local pressing LP prices, which was still better than the private market prices of the Western pressings, going at 500-700%. The limits of accessibility were disappearing gradually in the 80s and the prices were somewhat dropped.

What sort of music do you mainly focus on, in your own collection?
Currently I listen mostly to classical music. I find those works very sophisticated and feel almost impossible to discover the pieces in their true depths. So a section of 200-300 LPs will do for me for a very long time. My main collection (put together in 20 years) includes beat, hard rock, Heavy Metal, prog rock and punk records, and a small section of folk as well.

How do you discover new music?
Any channel will do for me, but I find new favorites mostly via internet and via friends’ hints.

Please let us know more about the Hungarian vinyl collecting situation. Many people who collect?
I guess there are very few serious record collectors around, both in attitude and quantity means. Just two aspects to show: a collection of 10.000 LPs is taken almost unique in the country (well, mine is far from that…) and a 50 EURO local oldie is already considered a serious collectible item.

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Where do you prefer to buy your records?
In the last decade practically I stopped collecting. The last few ones were taken from you (!!!), back in May and from a small classical music shop in Budapest who had been just shifting to web shop and made a sellout due to this.

Name three records that are special to you, and will be buried with you. Please tell us the story of how you got hold of them.
I have many loved pieces but have very few that I have emotional ties with. Like all collectors, I had several purchases I felt very lucky about. The first two records are coming from such collectors’ successes.

The first one is Phoenix: Cei-ce ne-au dat nume (Those Who Gave Us A Name) first pressing LP. This is a foreign record from Romania, sung in native language which sounds at least so strange for me than for you. I got a great collection of Romanian rock LPs and singles in Arad, Romania in 1994 where I swapped them for a bunch of Hungarian oldies. The collection included several prog rock, beat and hard rock masterpieces (like Metropol, Progresiv TM, Sfinx, all three albums of Phoenix etc.), but this LP is the crown of all. The LP released in 1972 in a nice artwork gatefold sleeve as the debut LP of the doubtless no.1. Romanian rock band. Some prog rock and hard rock touches (like Jethro Tull and Deep Purple) are mixed with local folk music structures. The results is a very strong and unique sound, which remains basically rock. But take that the LPs greatest hit of the time (The Wedding) was recorded in ¾ rhythm!

I am the proud owner of the first Hungarian language beat EP from 1966 (Illés: Légy jó kicsit hozzám – Be Good To Me). The item is not particularly rare even in its original picture sleeve – but I got this copy in 1995 in unplayed, untouched condition! A doctor lady who had been buying records in the late 60s sold her collection to me – many in Mint or even fully unplayed condition. It was like attending a shop in 1966 or so. Well, I dared to play this EP 4 or 5 times since then…

The third one is the piece that had maybe the greatest impact on me in the 80s. It is Iron Maiden’s Live After Death, which I bought on 1st April, 1986, in the “Cinema Boutique” of my hometown. This was a small record shop inside the cinema’s building, near the cashiers. The LP was pressed by Jugoton, Zagreb in Yugoslavia and had all inserts and label artworks featured (unlike many other Eastern pressings…). This was my first Maiden album and in fact I met Maiden only then – and fell in love forever. I counted its listening in full until 70 or so times in the next 1-2 years, then omitted counting… Sincerely, I left regular listening to it some short time later and never pulled out for about 20 years. And then it was a revelation to discover again!

And finally: what do you see in the future of record collecting?
There will be a worldwide sect of vinyl lovers for many decades to come. In this new world of file music it is just a unique passion to make a ritual of listening. Keeping a record player, hunting some pressed music for it, putting on a record and finally listening to the contents of grooves: this is and will be a joy for many newcomers due to its passion style. But the number of followers will gradually decline and in 10-20 years this will be a very small market with the usual pains due to its size.

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Week 4, 2014: Geert, Belgium

ImageWhat 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!

ImageWhat 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!

ImagePlease 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.

ImageOver 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!

ImageName 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 …

Week 49, 2013: John, Sweden

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What made you start collecting records?
Well… Before that, I used to collect beer cans with different motives, and other things you collect as a child. I think it was mainly because my father had many records that I got into music so heavily at a very early age. The sleeves was fantastic, and the music was good. Nazareth, Steppenwolf, Slade, Sweet, Uriah Heep. At the age of around 9, I collected bottles that you got money from, from the loca l  winos, stealing the bottles from their hands before they were finished, or closely. Spent the money on records, could be 1 a week or so. As time went by, the more money you got, and in school, I could maybe buy 2-3 albums a month. That is the very early start. The more money you got, the more you purchased.

Do you remember your first purchase?
Yes, I remember the sleeve, but not the band. It was some kind of soul band from USA I think. Would really like to know the name. But I do remember other early records I bought in the late 70’s, like THIN LIZZY, PINK FLOYD and JUDAS PRIEST. The sleeves was very important, as I never heard the bands, but the musicians looked cool & dangerous to a youngster like me.
Image How long have you been collecting ?
Well, depends on what you consider collecting. I started in 1978 to buy records. I did spend most my money on records from that day. My most insane periode was probably in the early to mid 90’s, when I bought around 3 records a day. These days, I still get records every week, but it is getting harder to locate what you need, and miss in the collection…

What sort of music do you mainly focus on?
These days it is pretty much classic rock music, and bands inspired from the classic rock movement. In my record collection there are pretty much 3 different styles, 1-Punk & hardcore from the golden age, 2-Classic heavy metal style, and some thrash / speed metal as well, and the 3rd category is progressive, psychedelic and melancholic folk music. From punk, I have most items I want, metal – yes, still buy what I am missing, and in the 3rd category, it is a lot of re-pressings. I rather buy a re-issue that sounds good, than spending a lot of money on bad condition albums, just because they are rare. I’m mostly in it for the music, and not for the value of the records. But some are not re-pressed, and then, head for an original…

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How do you discover new music?
I try and follow internet sites. There are a lot of them. One thing that I really like is to click on collectors record collections on sites like Discogs if they have a similar collection like mine. I give YouTube a good try, but never be able to find someone that delivers good music there, and no time to search for a new song every 4th minute. So internet is my main source, but no internet magazines or so, just plain collector sites.

Do you play any instruments yourself?
Well, had a time in my life where I thought I could play the 4 string bass, and did some recordings, some tours, some records, but in the end, time was running out, and had no time for it anymore. I can imagine myself in 5-7 years sitting playing bluesy stuff on the local pub against a handful of beers.

Where do you prefer to buy your records?
Internet. I live far from a record store. The internet, you can locate everything, or mostly. It is mostly about what you are willing to pay for a record. I like Discogs, but also check out record sellers private stock, as there are mostly much more listed there, compared to their Discogs stock. I very rarely goes into the auction, as I am pretty tired of those who puts their bids in 3 seconds before it ends. Used to be heavily into eBay, but that site I have abandoned since long now.

Name three records that are special to you, and tell us the story of how you got hold of them.
Well…this is the hardest, but it will probably be THIN LIZZY – “Black Rose”, just because it was the second album I ever bought, and listened to this 1000 times. It is one of the few ones I will be buried with. Secondly, maybe the live album of MOTORHEAD “No sleep till Hammersmith”, as I was totally blown away when listening to this the first time. I could not believe anything could be that hard & intense, and it lead me into a completely new world of aggression in music. Third one…..hmmm…..maybe the 2066 AND THEN – “Reflections of the future” as it got me into a whole new world of progressive & psychedelic in the early 90’s.

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And finally: what do you see in the future of record collecting ?
Well, it will continue, but most records will be thrown away as they are pretty unsellable. There will always be a demand I suppose, and some records will skyrocket. It is getting pretty tough when one of my favourite bands, SAINT VITUS, releases a tour only M-LP, and you gotta pay 100 USD for it, when it’s brand new. In some way, I wish there would be larger editions of the records that are pressed these days, but also, understand the problems in todays record industry. On the other hand, how many records in the 80’s were made in 500 editions ?? Bummer…So I get it now, and not in 1 year – saves you a lot of bucks !