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Week 12, 2014: Peter, Sweden

1Hello Peter!  Please introduce yourself, and tell us your musical history!
Hybrid of hippie and hard rocker. Born in Karlskrona, Sweden 1961. For the last 30 years, I have worked, mainly as a photographer, for the Swedish motor magazine publisher Albinsson & Sjöberg, as well as having been the editor of several magazines. My interest in music seriously happened in the early Seventies. At my neighbour, who was a few years older, I got to hear The Beatles and Creedence Clearwater Revival, among other things. I was spellbound! Pretty soon, I was sucked in by hard rock, with bands like Deep Purple, Alice Cooper, Black Sabbath, Nazareth, Slade, Status Quo, and Thin Lizzy. Also progressive music, like Pink Floyd and Genesis! Around ten years later, I started to go back in time somewhat: a lot of Rolling Stones, The Doors, King Crimson, The Moody Blues, and more Creedence and The Beatles. My “decade of music” is definitely 1967-1977.

Do you remember your first purchase?
Absolutely! For money I had received as a birthday present when turning 12 in 1973, I bought “Made In Japan” by Deep Purple. I had recently heard the riff of “Smoke On the Water” at a friend’s place. The double album was pure dynamite, and marked the start of an intense interest in music that has grown over the years.

When meeting you, in person, I get the impression that you have been into the music for a long long time, and was a part of the 70’s and 80’s scene.  How do you think the music progressed from the time you began to discover music to today’s style?
Every generation has its music. For most people, it’s easier to go back in time, than go forward. I don’t know what’s today’s style in a mainstream context. I NEVER listen to the radio or streamed music.

2I know you’re also a vital part of one the best Swedish music magazines, Rock’n’Roll Magazine, please let us know how it came the magazine was born,
and how it have progressed from the start!

The publishing house had a magazine called “Nostalgia Special”, consisting of issues with different themes. The publisher asked me if I wanted to make a special issue. “Sure, and it will be about rock’n’roll”, I said. That’s how the fist issue came about in 2011. The following issue was about buses and trams… However, the response to the rock’n’roll issue was so good that we pretty soon established Rock’n’Roll Magazine, which is a bi-monthly, focusing on rock music from the Fifities through the Seventies. Our readership increases with each issue.

I see a thin common thread between Rock’n’Roll Magazine, and other magazines like Record Collector and Mojo, which mostly writes about 60’s and 70’s music. How hard is it to introduce new bands to the regular readers?
I like Record Collector and Mojo. I, however, wanted a magazine in Swedish that also writes from a Swedish point of view, including Swedish acts.

Most people want to read about bands and artists they are already familiar with. But there are also a lot of people who are open to hearing music they haven’t previously heard of. Speaking for myself, I have discovered several bands that I didn’t know much about since we launched the magazine.

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Myself, I like the wide range of articles that you presents, from guitar builders, to jukebox collectors, old rock legends, record collectors, record reviews, which I do not see many other magazines have. What kind of articles do you get the most nice feedback on?
We have invented our own series called “The Record Bin”. We let well-known artists and musicians, like for example Ian Gillan, Slash, or Alice Cooper go through a pile of LP’s with other artists that we know that they are related to in one way or another, and have them tell anecdotes they have never told before. A lot of fun, and very appreciated by our readers!

What sort of music do you mainly focus on, in your own collection ? When did you start to collect, and how big is it these days?
I focus more on artists and bands I like, than musical styles. For example, I have all official LP releases by Jimi Hendrix, The Rolling Stones, Neil Young, Camel, ZZ Top, Deep Purple, Pink Floyd, and Frank Zappa.

I started buying records in the early Seventies. But the actual collecting started in the early 90’s, when I was obsessed with having complete LP collections by my favourite acts. It is when you get obsessed, and start filling the gaps, that you are considered a collector! I have an estimated 3000 albums by very few different acts.

I bet you’re one of those difficult Frank Zappa collectors … How come this genius didn’t reach out to more people than he did ?? Either you love, or hate him…(I am one of the admirers too…)
Frank Zappa is like olives, hard liquor and Motörhead. The first time you come in contact with any of these, it’s horrible. But, if you force yourself to keep exposing yourself to any of them, it gradually becomes extremely rewarding and, in many cases, addictive …

Regarding Frank Zappa, a lot of people may have listened to an album that didn’t suit them, and then formed an opinion … Zappa made albums that were very different from each other …
I have everything Zappa released until the time of his passing, and a few more… My favourite is “Hot Rats”.

4

How do you discover new music?
This is often liked to an artist or band I already like. For example, after having listened to Frank Zappa for decades, this led to all of Captain Beefheart’s albums, and Jean-Luc Pontý.

Please let us know more about the Swedish vinyl collecting situation. Many people who collect? And what kind of people do you get the impression who still keeps opening their wallets for that particular vinyl?
I don’t have any figures regarding the number of collectors in Sweden. It’s hard to make an estimation. A lot of them are probably anonymous. Regarding buying “holy grails”, it is collectors at the age of 50+, or 60+ who are willing to pay large amounts for Vertigo albums with the swirled label, or 10,000 Swedish kronor or more for a mint condition Jimi Hendrix release on the Track label.

Where do you prefer to buy your records?
In record stores. Nothing beats looking up record stores with a good selection while travelling.

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Name three records that are special to you, and will be buried with you.
Made in Japan – Deep Purple.
Are You Experienced – Jimi Hendrix.
Weld – Neil Young.

And finally: what do you see in the future of record collecting?
I see young people who are interested in music and want to get away from the computers, and see the artistic values of album covers. Collecting is a rewarding hobby in itself. It’s impossible to collect digital music – it would be like collecting air, wouldn’t it?

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Week 11, 2014: Bernard, France

ImageHello Bernard ! Please introduce yourself, and tell us your musical history.
My name is Bernard Gueffier. My interest for music started with the first Progressive releases back in the late 60’s with Moody Blues.
I was so impressed by this new creative style that I became rapidly a great fan of Prog, searching and buying vinyls throughout Europe. I was living in a small French town were it was not easy to find the latest LP released, so I used to buy though mail orders from UK and Germany. After a while, more and more friends asked me to import records for them and this became my first business in the musical field. Later in the 80’s, I observed that all record companies forgot about Progressive Rock and turned to more profitable styles such as Punk or New Wave. I found particularly inacceptable that any music style may be condamned only for profit reasons. This conclusion led to the creation of Musea Records in 1985 as a Non-Profit organization.

Do you remember your first purchase?
Absolutely ! During a stay in UK in 1969, I purchased “On the Threshold of a Dream” by Moody Blues which was my first ever LP. I was so impressed by the classical form of this album, by the use of Mellotron which gave a so strong symphonic touch to this work that I think that my taste for all Symphonic music comes from that time !

I think the French 70’s scene was different than the Italian, and UK for example, and French artists were far more inspired by bands like SOFT MACHINE, rather than YES and KING CRIMSON. Why was it like this ?? Or am I wrong ?
You are right ! One of the reasons for this is historical: in 1967 Soft Machine came to France to play their famous shows on the French Riviera, particularly in Saint Tropez. When they wanted to go back to London, Daevid Allen, an Australian citizen, was denied re-entry to the UK and forced to stay in Paris where he formed Gong. Starting from this time, this musical style later called “Canterbury scene” had two heads, one in UK, and a second one in France. Thus the influence of these groups became much important in France in the early seventies with bands like Moving Gelatine Plates, Contrepoint, Travelling etc.

ImageI 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 ?
Generally speaking, scientists know that any evolution is not a progressive process but rather a process evolving by irregular steps. And most observers of popular music evolution agree to consider that within de few years between 1969 and 1975, a peak of creativity happened. In a few years lots of new styles, new musical experiences, new fusions between various styles of music were invented, giving birth to the so-called Progressive Rock.
For me, most of the music released after 1975 is only the continuation and exploitation of the discoveries of the previous years, nothing quite new indeed !

Musea and it’s sublabels have been one of the most productive European progressive rock labels in the 90’s and to present time. I guess around 1000 releases, how did you manage all these releases ?
Actually we released over 1500 albums since 1985 !
After just a few years, we reached a release rhythm of one new CD every week, roughly 50 releases per year. In the first years, many of these releases were reissues of vinyls albums from the 70’s. But in the 90’s we saw lots of new Progressive bands emerging from all over the world and Musea wanted to open its catalogue to these young bands.
Musea team includes a Production Dept which handle the CD releases. Generally, we received from the bands the complete material ready for printing the CD’s, i.e audio master and graphic files for the booklet. Most of our work consists to include the legal and technical elements in these graphic files, such as bar code, logo etc. and make all legal declaration before pressing.

What sort of music do you mainly focus on?
All over the years, Musea opened several labels, each one devoted to a specific style of music: after Musea devoted to Progressive and Symphonic Rock, we lauched Musea Parallèle, with a more open musical field, Ethnea (Folk and World Music), Dreaming (Electronic Music and New Age), Great Winds (Jazz), Angular Records (Neo Prog), Bluesy Mind (Blues)…
All these different styles have their place in Musea and we do no focus on any specific style.

How do you discover new music?
After almost 30 years of existence and +1500 CD’s released, I think Musea is known in the whole world as a possibility of release for musicians creating in the above mentioned styles.
Every morning, I receive demos and albums submissions from all over the world, usually 3 to 5 each and every day of the year !!!
So it is very easy for me: i only have to listen to these submissions and decide which CD I want to release or distribute.

ImageMusea have been great to give new artists a chance to release their music, but you also did a lot of old French 70’s music. Was there a early plan to work this way ? Many labels either do new, or old music.
Our aim when starting Musea was only to promote Progressive Rock and allow this musical style to keep on existing. In the mid-80’s most available Prog albums were releases from the 70’s. This is why we started with a strong reissue collection, on vinyl at that time, with bands like Atoll, Pulsar, Sandrose, Zao, Asia Minor etc.
Then, when new artists started to compose again in this style, we opened our catalogue to their music (Jean Pascal Boffo, Minimum Vital, Halloween etc.)
Today, there are very few 70’s reissues still to be done and most of our releases are from new bands.

Please let us know more about the French vinyl collecting situation. Many
people who collect?

Yes, this is a new trend amongst French collectors: some new records stores opened, mainly devoted to vinyls, as well as new records labels reissuing albums on vinyls. But this new market is far from compensating the decrease of the CD market and remains limited to collectors.

Where do you prefer to buy your records?
Obviously, specialized record stores are the right place to buy music ! You can find rare records, and some useful advices from sellers. But of course, one can not forget the Internet stores which are sometimes the best place to find rare records.

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.
SOFT MACHINE “Fourth”
GONG “Angels Egg”
KING CRIMSON “In the Court”

I discovered each of these albums at the time of their release when I was between 15 years old (KC) and 19 years old (GONG). I think that the first music you listen when you are an adolescent is marked forever in your memory and is the basis of your musical culture for the rest of your life. Furthermore, these albums were creative at a level that was never reached later.
At that time, my record collection was not huge as today and I could listen to the same album several hundred of times ! This is also a reason why I was so influenced by these early works.

And finally: what do you see in the future of record collecting?
Like any collection, records collection will go on for centuries, I am quite confident about this !!!

Week 10, 2014: Mats, Sweden

ImageWhat made you start buying records?
I was around thirteen. I really don’t know why. Perhaps as I have taped music earlier and the best show on Swedish Radio was put to an end. So I could not get any music from that direction anymore.

Do you remember your first purchase?
My first single was Sweet-Ballroom Blitz. The first LP was Les Humphries singers-Mexico. I don’t have any one of them left but perhaps I should try to get them in some form.

How long have you been collecting ?
Since 1973.

What sort of music do you mainly focus on?
Progressive rock and baroque music. I also like classical music, some hard rock, jazz rock (mostly seventies) and modern composers like Philip Glass, Arne Nordheim and Karl-Heinz Stockhausen.

As I get older I seem to be more generous about other music styles. I can listen to mostly everything but I don’t have to buy it.

ImageHow do you discover new music?
Internet, magazines, news from friends, spotify ….

Do you play any instruments yourself?
No, but I would like to.

Where do you prefer to buy your records?
In record stores. Since there are not many around any more I buy mostly on the internet. I use Ebay, Amazon, Discogs, Waysidemusic, Laser’s edge, Musea, Syn-phonic, BTF.it, CDjapan and several more. However, I still visit Record Heaven from time to time. It’s not long from Malmö, where I live.

ImageName three records that are special to you, and tell us the story of how you got hold of them.
Focus – Hamburger Concerto.
I heard the track Harem Scarem on radio and thought that it was amazing. Took a while before I understood the whole LP. But it is filled with great music.

Yes – Relayer. Heard bits of this one on radio, too. I thought it sounded strange. So it seemed like a good idea to buy it. Took some time to get into this one but I was only fourteen. Fantastic music. And only three long tracks. I believe it was music like this that got me into classical music 5-10 years later.

King Crimson – Lizard. Heard this one at a friend. Liked the guitar immediately. Bought it as fast as I could.
But there are so many more records that are special to me.

And finally: what do you see in the future of record collecting ?
For me, I continue to buy cd’s. I use spotify quite often. But the music I really like I want to have so I buy it.
It’s rare these days that I buy any vinyl. Happens sometimes. But it seems that this format is getting a small revival. Nice. I think streaming and other services will continue to grow but I hope and believe that there still will be record stores in the future.

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 …