Tag Archives: LP

Week 2, 2015: Scott, Denmark

Scott record collection1What made you start collecting records?
I am not really sure exactly but when I was in High School in New Mexico, I had a group of friends that were all really into music and we had a fantastic store called Merlin’s Record Workshop. They stocked all the coolest music and had a small bathroom with a box of bootleg vinyls and that is where I started collecting Pink Floyd boots. Anyway, Gilbert, John and I were regulars in this store and we just got hooked. I was working at a pizza place and every other week when we got paid we would go buy records! In 1980, Doug, who took over Merlin’s Record workshop started to stock the NWOBHW singles from Neat, EMI, etc.. and we were totally hooked then.

Do you remember your first purchase?
The first record that I bought with my own money was Aerosmith’s debut album. Soon after I also bought the ELP-Brain Salad Surgery 7” at K-Mart as I loved the cover. I had a few records already from my dad at that time like Chuck Berry Golden Decade Vol 1 and 2, Creedence Clearwater Revivial- Greatest hits, Jerry Reid, Johnny Cash-Live at San Quentin..

darkside2What sort of music do you mainly focus on?
In the 80s I collected Pink Floyd and heavy metal records when I ran the fanzine Metal Madness but today I am mostly collecting space and psychedelic Rock albums.  I don’t buy heavy metal records anymore.

How do you discover new music?
I still read a lot about music and review music for my music blog (http://writingaboutmusic.blogspot.com) . I have a subscription to Classic Rock magazine for the last many years. The Obelisk (http://theobelisk.net) is a great music site where I also learn about a lot of new bands. I also go to a lot of music festivals (Roadburn, Sweden Rock, Heavy Days in Doomtown, Freak Valley, etc.. where I learn about new bands..

gas giant we2Where do you prefer to buy your records?
These days I almost only buy records on the internet. We have some pretty cool record stores in Copenhagen like Rock Uglen, Route 66, Skoven Kalder, Insula Music, etc.. but you can still get Danish records cheaper from Germany than buying them in the store here, which is a bit sad…  Kozmik Artifactz and Sapphire Records in Germany are two mail orders I use a lot.

For a long time, you have been heavily involved in the Scandinavian underground music scene. How did everything start out?
I did a lot of tape trading when I lived in the USA and people like Chris Snow in Idaho and Chuck Wax in Michigan turned me onto a lot of bands from Denmark and Sweden before I moved to Copenhagen in 1997.  I was also writing for Aural Innovations in the USA and doing interviews and record reviews.. This connected me with other underground places like the Freak Emporium and the Delerium record label, which then connected me with Chrohinga Well… I also had a subscription to Ptolamaic Terrascope Magazine since the early days and they were into these sort of bands. The real push came when I went to the Space and Rock Festival in Jonkoping, Sweden in Summer of 1998 and I met and saw Dark Sun (Finland), The Spacious Mind (Sweden), Pseudo Sun (Sweden), Darxtar (Sweden) and became friends (and still am) with all those bands.. In Denmark, I met Ralph Reijly (RIP) and he was managing and working with the bands On Trial and Gas Giant here in Denmark and I became good friends with all of those people and helped them out in many ways and played and managed Gas Giant from 2001-2004.. This gave me a strong connection to the Danish scene.

gas giant-WE1As a long-timed member, you’ve played live many times with ORESUND SPACE COLLECTIVE. Any particularly great memories from certain gigs?
We have had quite a few really cool and memorable gigs.. Playing the Burg Herzberg Festival in July 2014 was an amazing experience as there were 2000 people or something and they were totally into it and we played great. The gigs at the Psychedelic Network at Café Cairo in Würzburg set up by our friend Horst… We also played quite a few really memorable shows at our local underground club called Dragens Hule, which sadly is not around anymore.. A show with Damo Suzuki of CAN, a mushroom tea evening where the audience and the band were flying… and many more gigs..

You also run a record label, called Space Rock Productions. Could you tell us more about it?
Yes… I had another label with Ralph, Henrik and Lars from about 1999-2004 called Burnt Hippie Recordings and we released some cool bands like On Trial, Dark Sun, Gas Giant, Korai Öröm but we went under.. Space Rock Productions was originally created to release the music of the Univerzals (Nick Hill’s band) and Øresund Space Collective.  We have been expanding but still sticking with cool space rock bands from Scandinavia like Black Moon Circle, Deep Space Destructors, Tuliterä, and Third Ear Experience from California! The focus is space rock as the name implies.

IM singlesIn the 80’s you ran the heavy metal fanzine “Metal Madness”. Denmark had it’s fair share of great heavy metal bands in the 80’s (MERCYFUL FATE, WASTED, MALTESE FALCON, ARTILLERY etc.) Did you ever play in a heavy metal band? And if so, when did you realize you wanted to musically explore the field of space rock?
I had a blast putting out Metal Madness from 1984-1988 (12 issues) and I had some contact with a few of the underground Danish bands, Evil, Maltese Falcon and Artillery. I never played in a HM metal band but did manage one back in 1984 called Max Trixxie. IT was a bunch of young guys and we had a good time but due to internal conflicts the band only lasted about a year but they worked up a big enough following to make a demo and played a big concert opening for Lita Ford. She was a cool lady…

Scott record collection3Name three records that are special to you, and tell us the story of how you got hold of them.

Iron Maiden- Soundhouse Tapes
When I got the Running Free 7” in 1980, I was really into Iron Maiden. A few months later the debut album was released. I collected up all the singles through the mid 80s but in 1981 I read about the Soundhouse tapes and it was like the holy grail of Iron Maiden singles (Still is!) and one of my penpals (Deb Johnson, I think) found me a copy and sent it to me and then another penpal of mine also sent me one so for a while I had two copies! Stupidly, I sold one copy in the mid-80s for about 50 dollars…  Anyway, this still means a lot to me..

Gas Giant/WE- Riding the Redhorse to the Last Stronghold of the Freaks
This is a very special record for me as it was the first record that I ever played on, it is two of my favorite bands from Denmark and Norway and we released it on our own record label, Burnt Hippie recordings. IT was pressed in 500 copies with a cool insert and fold out sleeve. The cover was done by Henrik (Hobitten) from On Trial. I still think this is some of the best music that either band ever produced. This was never released in a digital format.

Pink Floyd- Dark Side of the Moon
In the 70s, I had only heard the radio songs by Pink Floyd but from Merlin’s Record Workshop, I got turned onto all their records and I would say until I discovered Motorhead, Pink Floyd was my favorite band for a time. I actively collected everything thing I could afford and this includes owning 8 copies of Dark side of the Moon. Quadraphonic, two different picture discs, one of which is very rare and only came in a special box set, the UK pressing, the US pressing, Dutch white vinyl, the mobile fidelity release, which was the best sound quality of all of them…  Plus it came with these postcard stickers, and two amazing posters… Still love the record.

soundhouseAnd finally: What do you see in the future of record collecting?
Well, I think the future looks bright. The older records as like collecting stamps, they will continue to be rare and people will still want them. I think in the next few years a new technology for making records will appear and this will close the bottleneck in production and a lot more records will get out there. I think as long as you keep buying the records produced in 300 or 500 copies, these will be rare and valuable in 10-20 years…… music lasts forever, when it is on a vinyl… the digital files can disappear but you can always find a magical record in a box somewhere that has a history, a special meaning…. It will continue to be fun and exciting…and also expensive…

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Week 1, 2015: Danny, Ireland

dannyWhat made you start collecting records?
My initial exposure to vinyl came through my mother’s collection, which she amassed through her youth in the late ‘60s and ‘70s. Her favourite band was Queen and she bought albums or singles as they were released largely by mail order. The first vinyl I consciously remember hearing at home was her “War of the Worlds” DLP while following the story through the booklet as well as continually staring at the fantastic artwork on the gatefold sleeve! I was really besotted with the sound, feel and presentation.

Sometime later, she also introduced me to Alice Cooper “Alice Goes To Hell” and “Welcome To My Nightmare” LPs both of which combined that sense of narrative with creepy rocking music. All three records were essentially on permanent loan to me by the time I had my first record player around the age of 15 years old and remain in my collection today even though she is still alive!

dturntableDo you remember your first purchase?
Growing up in the ‘80s and ‘90s, cassette was the format of choice. I began borrowing original copies from my older cousins and friends from school to feed my craving for more heavy music. My first purchase was Metallica “…And Justice For All”. Over the next twelve months, I continued buying original, albeit often second hand copies, of cassettes from friends. Iron Maiden, Motorhead and Slayer. I was reluctant to waste money on CDs as they tended to cost another 50% more than brand new original cassettes and without a part-time job in my early teens itcould have easily been a month between buying albums unless somebody else was culling their collection.

But it did mean that there was time to really absorb the music of each and every one. You know, playing them repeatedly on an old twin cassette deck by day as well as on a personal stereo when going to sleep at night for weeks and weeks at a time…Even without my own turntable, I began browsing the vinyl stands in a local independent record store that had been recently recommended to me. I was stunned at how much was available, boxes and boxes of second-hand titles in mint condition, the same price or often cheaper than the cassette albums I had been buying.

Comparing the detail of the artwork against small cassettes sleeves, large inserts with lyrics and my memories of those earlier experiences with the format, I thought it was time to take the plunge. Sepultura “Beneath The Remains” LP! Shortly thereafter, I was speaking to my cousin’s friend while waiting on the bus home from school. He told me he had two copies of Metallica “Garage Days Re-revisted” 12” so I promptly agreed to call round to buy that spare. As I gradually amassed more and more vinyl as my preferred medium for music my parents bought me a turntable for my bedroom…

How long have you been collecting?
Over twenty years now. My parents were genuinely surprised when I started buying LP’s just as they were making the transition to CD’s. They were even more surprised when I started ordering new albums in the post from overseas like my mother had done twenty years before me. Anyway, this pattern has continued throughout my twenties and thirties, as well as raiding local independent music shops, record fairs and mail order lists as often and as thoroughly as I could…

hawkwind

What sort of music do you mainly focus on?
My focus has always been based on Hard Rock and Heavy Metal although I have continuously had an experimental streak too. Back in my teens, whether we were buying albums locally or by mail my friends and I agreed to purchase different albums so that we could compare and share by way of blank C90 audio cassettes! Those albums that thoroughly impressed would obviously need to be bought as a personal copy further down the line. But again, it did make the most of our limited budgets. In this way, I took a punt on strange gems such as Paul Chain “Alkahest” LP or Ved Buens Ende “Written In Waters” DLP. Back then, the majority of my burgeoning vinyl stack would have been built around Black Sabbath, Judas Priest and Venom LPs. You know, the classics. But there are always gaps though from that ‘70s and ‘80s period. In the past two or three years, I have made more of an effort tofill them in and was very pleased to source some of the old Atomkraft, Deathwish, Legend (Jersey), Raven, Satan, Tank and Warfare LPs I needed. For older original pressings, my difficulty is that there are not enough independent music stores still standing or regular record fairs locally. Sometimes whenever people have given up on the format and sell their whole collection, you can strike gold. Quite sporadic really because I prefer not to deal with unknown overseas sellers to avoid disappointment either in an inaccurate assessment of the vinyl or poor packaging for an item that cannot be replaced…

Original versions aside, my remaining efforts would be divided between sourcing new pressings for my personal collection and my mailorder. There is a certain overlap between the two although I know that not everything I like will sell. In the past few months, this has leant more towards stranger Dark Prog, Psych, Kraut and Space Rock by way of the back catalogues of Black Widow, Kommun2, and Sulatron. Some labels you can just trust as purveyors of good taste!

How do you discover new music?
My patterns have not really changed. It still comes down to word of mouth, reading zines or online blogs and scouring mail order lists for appealing descriptions. Gigs and festivals too. Of course it is now possible to stream so much music online although I rarely allow myself more than one song as a teaser. For me, an album should be experienced from start to finish on my stereo!

Where do you prefer to buy your records?
I prefer to buy albums in person at stores and fairs. But as previously explained, my collection would be infinitely diminished if it were not for mail order services and who can resist the excitement of 12” by 12” packages delivered to the front door?

paul chain collection

How is the Irish scene these days compared to the time you got into it?
In the early to mid ‘90s, I was too poor to travel to gigs in Belfast or Dublin. By the time I had my first job in ’97, there were no local gigs to speak of. The Troubles were raging on and foreign bands were too nervous to come here. But as I began to make contact with Irish underground bands by writing letters I discovered that there were smaller underground gigs scattered north and south if willing to travel. In April ’98, I helped Waylander run a bus from Portadown to an unlikely all-day event in the Folkhouse in Abbeyleix. Some seven or eight bands were on the bill and I still have the poster we used to encourage people to book a seat on it. Many of the friendships I made that day connected me to the heart of the underground and those faces remain active to the day as bands, promoters, distributors and labels.

From that point on, I travelled to as many gigs as I could and bought demos or albums available at them. The home-grown bands generally leant towards Death Metal although the lesser-known Graveyard Dirt, Thy Sinister Bloom, Arcane Sun and Scald forged a sound of their own. In the next couple of years, bands began to start travelling here again. Solstice,Waylander and Warning on the “New Dark Age” tour were all phenomenal. Cathedral hit the Rosetta Bar in Belfast a matter of weeks later and Anathema in the following spring. The same bills went to Dublin too although as a considerably larger city it would also have drawn larger bands such as Morbid Angel. Dublin always had more appetite for extreme sounds whereas Belfast has to this day more of a preference for Hard Rock.

There was a great network of records fairs around the country during that same period as well as a few independent shops in every town. Between Bangor and Belfast, I had more than enough opportunity to blow all of my pennies on old and new records. It is perhaps what I miss most from that era because of the range of titles concentrated in single shops or halls and at very affordable prices too. There was so much that was new or unfamiliar and it paid to take risks on covers that promised good music. By the guts of ten years ago, much of that infrastructure began to crumble and it was obvious how much less vinyl was circulating here hence the need to begin turning to overseas sellers for older titles. That lack of availability had a detrimental impact on the number of them I continued buying so the balance gradually shifted to newer albums or re-releases of classics almost all of which would have been sourced in England, France, Italy and Germany.

Any special relationship to Irish heroes Thin Lizzy? (one of my fave bands!)
Hmm, they were not one of my big bands when growing up and I still feel that many of my international friends love them more than me! Perhaps if I were ten years older it would have been different. “Vagabonds of the Western World” remains my favourite album and I would have loved seeing them on tour way back then. It’s always a blast when Slough Feg or Argus covers the band on their Irish tours too. From a local perspective, the Horslips possibly made as much of an impression on me because I loved that blend of traditional music and mythology with Hard Rock! Anybody out there still listen to “The Tain” or “The Book of Invasions” LPs?

paul chain test pressing

Name three records that are special to you, and tell us the story of how you got hold of them.
Looking back at my teens, I was knocked for six by a song called “Master of the Universe” by Hawkwind. I knew nothing of the band and had heard none of my friends enthusing about the music. So began my personal journey to hear more. Whilst their ’70s albums particularly struck a chord, it was the “Space Ritual” Volumes 1 & 2 that remain firm favourites. I bought the second vinyl first in a very small local record store in Bangor. I loved the colours, the artwork and the way the gatefold spine was at the bottom rather than the side. More importantly, the music was so damned raw, heavy and spaced out. It was years later before I found the companion DLP and cannot remember exactly where I purchased it. But as it was already part of my collection when I moved to my first house in Belfast, it must have been from a record fair or independent store thereabouts. Again, killer artwork, which was made all the more special by some very strange ink drawings on the inner sleeve. They must have been tripped out visions of the music and I have spent as much time lying on the carpet staring at them as I have the actual gatefold sleeve. Hawkwind’s performance here possibly edges it for me.

It is almost impossible to highlight the most special Paul Chain vinyl in my collection. My love affair began with the “Alkahest” LP, which I purchased directly from Rise Above when they ran a genuinely eclectic and affordable mail order. Thanks to a tip from a friend, I bought the “Ash” MLP (yellow logo with black vinyl) from I cannot remember where. By then, my thirst for Paul Chain was insatiable. I began blindly hunting for any other titles because without making a purchase I could not hear the songs. Do bear in mind the LPs were rare and the CDs often rarer still. Through Black Widow, I sourced quite a few more originals such as “Detaching From Satan” MLP and “Highway to Hell” Picture Disc. When I bought in bulk from Quasar Records at the time their shop was closing, they included a surprise signed test pressing of “Whited Sepulchres” LP! The remaining albums and singles were generally sourced from private collectors in Italy. The “Opera Decima” 3LP boxed set and “Violet Art of Improvisation” DLP in particular took quite some time. However, the “King of the Dream” 12″ with Sabotage on the reverse possibly provided the most elation because it was the very last one I needed and the building atmosphere on that song, the very first time I dropped the needle, reaffirmed the genius of Paul Chain and his cohorts throughout the collective’s many guises. Sanctis Ghoram RIP! As an aside, I am genuinely pleased that so much of the back catalogue has since been rereleased at affordable prices so anybody with a passing interest can now listen to Paul Chain. It is perhaps a pity though that so many came at once after being long out of print because it takes time to absorb and the demand seems to have been somewhat overestimated by labels. Very much a sign of the times. Not sure I understand the merit of expanding “Alkahest” to a DLP to mirror the CD edition with almost a fourth side of silence for the short hidden track. Or the artificial construct of “Vivid Eyes in the Dark” LP from the “Relative Tapes” boxed set. If anything, surely it should have been part of a bigger vinyl boxed set than the way it was presented without any explanation? But with Paul Chain no longer involved, of his volition, it should not be that surprising these imperfections have crept into being.

Lastly, it has to be Revelation “Salvation’s Answer” LP. As teenagers, a friend and I took a punt on a couple of albums from our local record store. He picked this one from the racks, I opted for Stillborn “Permanent Solution” LP and we made cassette copies of the other vinyl the following weekend. While I was enjoying mine I instantly preferred his find. The music was young and raw. Slow and heavy then prone to unexpected bursts of speed. But it was underpinned with melancholy. Honest and very human. In the midst of Death and Black melee of the early to mid ’90s, it was a breath of fresh air. Doom proclaimed the large round sticker! Doom that recalled the roots Heavy Metal and Thrash. Combined with that alternative pointy logo on the insert, photos of a very young band and the thoughtful lyrics it made a deep impression. Over the years, I tried to buy or trade it from my friend. He never would let it go. In fact, I’m not sure he actually ever said no. My request simply met with silence. Later still, if memory serves me correctly, Oli Richling, the Doom Dealer, bought old warehouse stock from Rise Above included this long sought for record. As I was flying to Doom Shall Rise that spring of 2004 and he agreed to keep a copy aside for me to purchase at the festival. Needless up say, I was very happy walking down the Chapel steps with it in my hands again. A formative album from my youth and a band whose sixth record (only their second on vinyl) I would release the following decade.

revelation LP

You have been running Pariah Child for a long time. Please tell us about your label!
Label? I still find it strange that some think of Pariah Child in that way. First and foremost, it remains a zine. It evolved from my previous publication, Abandon All Hope. My motivation had been to hold the breach where printed zines proudly stoodin the ‘90s. I missed Reflections of Doom, Isten, Fitted Kitchens of the Living Damned and Steel Conjuring. I missed the detail, the wit and the enthusiasm. With the turning tide of the internet, communication became much easier although nothing, to this day, really replaces holding a tome in your hands. My focus was my tastes and space was not for sale as many of those who asked at the time will recall. I printed two issues under both names and circulated 1,500 copies worldwide. But the weight of handling everything alone as Pariah Child took its toll in the wake of real life. In 2009, after a silence of three years, I penned another issue, which I considered to be my fourth, after an earlier version was partially shelved and printed elsewhere. Two or three attempts to have it designed by those more able than me came to nothing so it gathered dust. A lot of dust. Then eventually a newly-forged alliance with Hell Bent For Metal under the banner of Masters of the Pit resurrected that old ghost two years ago. Spurred on, we joined forces again and we printed a brand new issue in October. If you still crave real zines, it’s 80 A5 pages crammed with lively features on varied bands such as Queen Elephantine, The Hounds of Hasselvander, Rise And Shine, The Black, The Story of Death SS Part Two and Brad Moore (Argus artist) amongst much more.

In a bid to spread the zine further and to champion the bands included in its pages, a small mailorder evolved organically around it. Very limited copies of demos, singles and albums.Ten to twelve years ago, long before YouTube or Bandcamp was taken for granted, with all manner of music only a click away, I found the underground community very willing to try what was presented almost regardless of the format or style if quality was guaranteed.Then there have been a few bands for whom I have gone that extra mile again. Eight Hands For Kali, was the first. They gave me permission to press copies of their independent EPs, “Mount Meru” and “Himalayan Necromantia” in 2005 and 2007 respectively. I manufactured 200 copies each, both of which were well received, sold quickly and requests still come for them. In 2009, when I began writing the zine again, I finally took the plunge to press vinyl when Gnod welcomed the opportunity to co-release their debut album with Pariah Child. Since then, I have pressed another five vinyl, some as co-releases, some alone, with Oresund Space Collective, Heathendom, Argus, Revelation and Second Grave. My focus has always been living bands regardless of their style. Even on paper, they are quite an eclectic horde. Earlier in the winter, the Yoshiwara Collective and Pariah Child also sent the latest album by Ogre into production as a special LP and 7” single set. This is my boldest project to date and genuinely hope it will help earn the band the higher profile they deserve when released early February 2015. While I have always favoured print media and analogue pressings, earlier this year Pariah Child took its first step into the present! I have begun to compile an archive of my written material and releases via http://www.pariahchild.co.uk so those that missed the original issues can dip into what I hope remain intriguing historical testimonies. This is really only a hint of what will come as the vaults are deep and will be gradually supplemented with new features. Of course there are some choice items for sale too although I must stress that they are not always brand new. This is not motivated as a commercial venture and I have no interest in distributing all and sundry. Instead there is a small tried and tested selection that often goes back decades because those albums made an impression and remain vital. It may often follow that I have also already written about them or will do in future. So when you think of Pariah Child, please remember it is not just another label flooding the market with an endless string of re-releases or young hip hopefuls. It is a much more personal affair that moves at my own slow pace. There has been a small yet loyal following over the years, forever cyclic, as some fall off the edge of the world only to be replaced by new faces. But each and every letter and purchase has been greatly appreciated.

And finally, what do you see in the future of record collecting?
Given the vast number of new titles and rereleases currently being pressed, month on month, it will be very interesting to see what happens when demand takes a dip. And it will. There is no hope in trying to keep pace with the machine. I have already seen quite a few people building up collections only to give up and flog the lot for whatever reasons they might have! It will do no harm to see the death of a raft of greedy labels too. We all need a little time to step back and review what music really matters. Record collecting should be about cherishing the music you love. A collection should be living and breathing. Cut the dead wood. There is no point hogging unnecessary titles. As people move on or ultimately die, plenty of titles, good and bad, should come back into circulation for more reasonable prices as tastes of the time shift. But classics will remain classics, and sure, pockets of avid collectors will remain everywhere. What intrigues me is which albums will be considered classics in ten or twenty years from now.

Week 14, 2014: Laszlo, Hungary

1

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.

SAMSUNG DIGIMAX A503

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.

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 9, 2014: Thomas, Germany

ImageHello Thomas! Please introduce yourself, and tell us your musical history!
Hi, I am Thomas Hartlage and I am running the labels QDK-Media and Shadoks Music in Germany. I moved a few years ago from Hamburg to the Northern Sea island Amrum where I live and work. My first 25 years I was living in Bremen. Beside releasing LPs and CDs and a couple of DVDs I am collecting LPs since I was 15 (so it started in 1970).

Do you remember your first purchase?
Yes of course I do. I took my Christmas money and bought my first album (a double album for 38 German Marks which was as expensive as a good pair of Jeans) and bought Tommy by The Who. I just loved that album and still do. It came out on German Polydor, later on I have bought several other copies such as UK Track. I did not have my own turntable or HiFi so I had to use my father’s poor equipment to play my record. He did not like that music so I could only play it while he was at work (after school). The next couple of records I got were the first Jethro Tull, Led Zeppelin II, and Fat Mattress (I never liked that album). Many albums I acquired were released in the magic year of 1969. Within the next year a good friend introduced me to albums such as MC5 – Kick Out The Jams, Steamhammer – MK II, Fleetwood Mac – Then Play On, Don Ellis – At Fillmore, Miles Davis – Bitches Brew, Rolling Stones – Let It Bleed, Chicago Transit Authority and some others. They became my favored records ever since then.  I still have them, I still play them

When I started studying I began buying records at flea markets in my hometown Bremen; I kept some and sold those which I did not like. A lot of German Krautrock albums were easy to find and good sellers in Europe. I placed ads in the German Chatterbox (pre-Oldiemarkt) magazine.  A bit later I took a first trip to San Francisco and bought many rare US records, at least stuff I did know such as Litter, Chocolate Watch Band, C.A. Quintet etc. I bought an old leather suitcase and packed it with about 40 kilo of records and returned to Germany. The following auction went pretty well. Over the years I took also many trips to Liverpool visiting a friend. They had great record shops and after a while I could jump behind the counter, going through the shop’s stock. These trips expanded my collection with great UK albums as well as some good lists to finance my studies since I did not get much money from home… so it was a good mixture of keeping albums for myself and selling some. I think other collectors such as Willi Oertel from Bremen, started the same way. I remember meeting him on local flea markets hunting for the same albums.

ImageThe German kraut scene is internationally very praised, but you, being German, tend to focus on international releases. All German classics done, or is it just a coincidence?
I must confess that I really never started collecting German bands. I am not sure why, perhaps the fruits on the other side of the fence were just more tasty for me. I had some standard albums such as Amon Düül II, Xhol Caravan and Kraftwerk. The band I loved most was FAUST. So later on, when I started my label Shadoks Music, I focused more on international rarities. Actually I have never released an album by a German band. Only on my QDK-Media label have I released something by a band from Hamburg (Tulip). I just knew more about UK and US bands than local German bands. So I cannot tell you much about the Kraut Rock scene. I have noticed that collectors in US, UK and Japan know more about those bands then my friends and I did. So it is a matter of taste perhaps, and having the curiosity to dig outside your own country.

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 always loved to buy and play LPs. The music style did not change that much since I was always after the unusual things. An album by Miles Davis from 1969 or a band such as MC5 can easily compare with albums from Sonic Youth, The Residents or more modern bands. So I measure progress more via a good HiFi and and the really good turntable I have now and did not in the early days. But certainly the performance technique has changed. When I saw a concert of “Muse” last year with my son I felt that I had never experienced anything like it before, from the light show to the sound. It pretty much blew me away. Of course I am missing the old days of huge PA’s at concerts and the stoned atmosphere at festivals. But the few times I have been to the Roskilde festival in Denmark I got the same feelings I had at festivals in the 70s. 

It is an ongoing process, learning about music and enjoying it. Very much like reading novels a long time ago and enjoying a good book from the modern days. For me it does not matter when the album was recorded. I have to like it and it has to be good!

ImageRunning Shadoks music for more than 10 years has earned you respect. How did you start with the label, and how do you see the future of it in these downloading days?
I started 25 years ago with my QDK-Media label. I was working in a cinema and concert hall in Bremen. Because I was involved a lot in movies and music and had good friends in New Zealand, my first ever release in 1989 was an avant-garde rock band from NZ, Fetus Production. I did a 2 LP+single Box. On a couple of trips to NZ I have met the director Peter Jackson (Lord Of The Rings). So it was obvious that I continued with releasing soundtracks of his early movies such as Bad Taste, Meet The Feebles and Brain Dead. I became partner with the German label Normal Records and released many soundtracks by Russ Meyer and compilations such as Betty Page, Doob Doob O Rama and Love Peace & Poetry. During the period of Love Peace & Poetry I got quite a few albums from US labels such as Rockadelic and DelVal. I showed old vintage US sleeves to my bookbinder and we figured out a way to produce very heavy US style hand made covers. We started with an edition of velvet covers with engraved artwork. That’s where I started with Shadoks Music. I made 10 releases before under the Little Indians name and these reissues became quite popular so I continued with Shadoks Music with over 160 releases so far. I did the LP deals on my own and the CD marketing was done by Normal Records.

I think the LP sales will be stable the next few years. The CD sales are a big problem. In most cases, when I buy a new LP by a modern band I receive a CD or download code for free. This will likely be the wave of the future. You buy a physical record (LP) and receive a digital format on top for free, either as a download or a CD included. That might solve the problem with free downloads. 

What sort of music do you mainly focus on?
As a collector I focus on anything good. Blues influenced rock, electronic, avant-garde, indie rock, jazz and classical. As a label I focus on underground, psychedelic and folk. My private taste is much wider. After finding all those great rock albums in the early 70s I explored bands such as The Residents. I remember in 1978/80 when my friends in the commune I was living in were listening to Wishbone Ash and James Taylor in one room, I was playing Third Reich & Roll by The Residents in my room. They really hated that music and soon it was clear that my musical taste was too far out for them. Listening to Captain Beefheart, Frank Zappa, MC5 and The Residents all day was a nightmare for them. So a few months later I left and got new roommates. Musical taste can sort out relations very quickly, either for friends you are living with, or girlfriends…

ImageIf I were to invent the time machine, I would attend a gig with either 2066 & THEN, AMON DUUL II, NECRONOMICON or GILA. What is your own time machine dream?
My personal time machine would take me back to 1969, my favored musical year, first to the “Woodstock festival” and perhaps to an early gig of Captain Beefheart with Zoot Horn Rollo on guitar (1969 Trout Mask Replica and 1970 Lick My Decals Off, Baby era). A good British friend saw them playing early and he said it was the most cool and groovy concert he ever saw in his life. 

How do you discover new music?
If you mean new bands, I buy many many independent records from bands in US, UK or other countries. I love bands such as Sigur Ros, Trentemøller, Shearwater, electronic artists such as Squarepusher, Boards of Canada, Jon Hopkins and Cornelius from Japan. I love Blues, Underground, Electronic, Indie Rock , Jazz and Classical music. So I hunt in many musical fields. I always look at what is going on with labels such as WARP, Domino and many others. Reading reviews and looking at what my friends are into helps to sort out the good stuff from the boring. 

Regarding old underground albums I find my objects of desire mostly through sales lists I am reading and through collector friends. Hunting season started over 40 years ago and it still goes on…  

Many old 60s and 70s re-issues are far from as professional as your Shadoks releases are. How do you manage to locate all those obscure and forgotten bands you managed to put out?
I discover my music as a label either through albums I buy from dealers for my collection, but mostly through collectors from all over the world who are helping me on projects such as Clark Faville, Hans Pokora, Enrique Rivas, Tomi Kuoppamaa , Claus Rasmussen, Pekka Nurminen, Knut Tore Breivik, Ercan Demirel, Walter Geersten, Willi Oertel just to name a few. Without these guys I would not explore new vintage rare albums and it also helps to correspond with the bands since in many cases I have to write in Spanish, Finnish, Portuguese, Turkish and other languages. It also helps to find collectors who have good contacts to bands I am searching for. So a worldwide link among collectors helps a lot. Many years ago I had to phone all the time or to travel to find bands. Now with Facebook, YouTube and many blogs I can make contact with band members more easily. 

I remember a call I did to find the band Tony Caro & John. I was searching the UK phone directory and found a few guys with the name Tony Doré. On my first try somebody picked up the phone and I could tell immediately from his unique voice on the other end of the line that it was him, bingo! We made a great release together and on top he did manage to find me quite a few original albums. Over the years they all went to collectors either in trades or sales. I think from the UK band Candida Pax I had about 15 originals. In recent years it’s become more difficult to locate bands before other collectors find them. Captain Marryat was found by many guys and originals instantly became very expensive, which was good for the band. I set up my release deal and bought 1 original copy. So I was very happy.

ImagePlease let us know more about the German vinyl collecting situation. Many people who collect?
I know quite a few German collectors. But I am surprised by how many younger people have started collecting vinyl. Of those who are buying my Shadoks reissues many of them are between 20 and 30 years old. I know 3 sisters in Berlin (daughters of a friend of ours) and they collect vinyl only and they’re doing DJ shows with Shadoks releases. So I think the situation in Germany is still pretty strong regarding collections. Many rare albums never make it to the European market these days as Russian collectors have started paying crazy prices for nice old original copies. But this is not a German problem, it is a problem for many collectors around the world. 

One thing that strikes me is that many German singles from the 70s are far cheaper than the LPs are. Is there a bigger market for LPs, or were singles simply pressed in bigger quantities in your opinion?
I do not know so much about German singles but I can tell you for sure that singles were much more common than LPs back in the day. LPs were too expensive to buy. Singles were easy to get. So in many cases I think singles were more common and pushed by the music industry and LPs were for real collectors with money.  

Where do you prefer to buy your records?
I buy old original records from dealers I know and from some collectors. Not anymore from eBay as I was often upset about the condition of the albums. If I feel I have found a good new dealer I prefer to buy from him. New modern albums I buy from mail orders, direct from labels and sometimes I use Amazon. I love modern collectors editions so if I want to have limited releases from bands such as Sigur Ros, I buy direct from their website. I used to do the same with limited editions from bands such as The Residents. I bought them in USA from their fan club or Ralph Records auctions they did. When I started to collect 1980s US albums I bought from the early days of Forced Exposure or New Music Distribution Service in New York. I traveled a lot so I knew all the good record shops in London, Liverpool, New York and San Francisco. I found many many great albums on my trips… I have traded many great records with the musician John Zorn who was working in the 80s in a record shop in NY.  Also my friend Peter Principle from Tuxedomoon found many great records for me.

ImageName 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.
First of all I would name “Then Play On” by Fleetwood Mac. Second album would be “Tommy” by The Who and third album perhaps “Kick Out The Jams” by MC5. I bought them when they came out in Germany and stayed fresh for the past 40 years. I always loved them and still play them. Must have heard them many many times…

And finally: what do you see in the future of record collecting?
I think collecting albums will continue for a long time. I never felt cool about collecting post stamps, magazines or other things. I love to collect music and guitars simply because this makes my life richer. I am spending most of my days with LPs and guitars. And I think this will not change. Collecting music fills my private world with spirit and with influences from all over the world. I have learned more things from music than from books or at school. So collecting music is my spiritual thing and my desire….

I would say that might suit many young people as well. My son (15) started collecting music, not LPs, not CDs, more like playlists he is doing from Spotify, iTunes and other non-physical formats. But he is collecting music. So no matter what format you choose, it is all about collecting music and this will have a future. He might switch later on to LPs (a father can hope!). 

Week 8, 2014: Robert, Netherlands

ImageWhat made you start collecting records?
The first time I laid my hand on a record – in this case a bunch of 45’s – I was hooked. You have to know that I grew up in a rather strict, boring, religious environment. An older sister handed me down a few singles. One of them was a double A-sided release by the Dutch band Focus, with the tracks Hocus Pocus and Sylvia. Especially Hocus Pocus blew my mind. Thijs van Leer’s yodelling and Jan Akkerman’s totally amazing guitar solos was nothing I heard before. And certainly not in church, ha! It was a kind of window that made me realise that there was an entirely different world out there that was so much more exciting than the one that I was living in at the time. I found it fascinating that those little grooves could capture this kind of magic. I cherished those first records and played them endlessly on an all-in-one record player. And as soon as I started to have some funds – pocket money and earnings from summer jobs – I started to buy singles and records. It was the only way to expose myself to music, old and new. We are talking mid to late 70’s here. There was hardly any good music on TV or radio – well little has changed since then. And of course internet was far away.

Do you remember your first purchase?
Hmm, that’s a tough one. I remember buying some kids’ stuff when I was very young. I also remember buying a Dutch compilation with some early punk songs, a few cheapo’s by Johnny Cash. Records I bought early on that hit me like a ton of bricks were Overkill by Motörhead, Alive II by KISS and Unleashed In The East by Judas Priest. I must have played these thousands of times. It started my love for all things loud and heavy. Although I have a very eclectic taste, hard rock and metal are the heart and soul of my collection.

ImageHow long have you been collecting?
I started to buy records on a regular basis when I was about 15. I turned 50 last year, so you do the math…). When we moved a few years back we bought a house with a huge extension. That is where the collection is housed, including my main stereo system. So my records are safe from the sticky hands of our otherwise adorable little kids…:^)

What sort of music do you mainly focus on?
Like I said hard rock and metal and it’s offspring are the basis for my collection. But I also have a decent selection of reggae, folk, rock & roll, jazz, pop, classical, country, 60’s garage, soul/funk, early hip hop, beat, progressive, kraut rock, crooners and blues in my collection… I’ve discovered that there is great stuff to be found in almost any genre. Because I am a full time music journalist I’ve met a lot of musicians, collectors and colleagues who introduced me to all sorts of bands and genres I somehow stayed away from before. I’ve discovered that very often perspective means everything. What I am trying to say is that when you hear background stories about particular bands, eras or genres, you are halfway there. Just a few examples: I always thought that I loathed fusion, until a great guy introduced me to some fines exponents. When I worked for a newspaper I got to know the classical music reporter who told me a lot about Wagner, his favourite composer. It didn’t take me too long to buy his main opera’s. Just a few weeks ago I visited a guy who owns approximately 30.000 reggae 7”es. Very inspiring! I always make notes. And somehow it always has an impact on my own ever expanding collection.

ImageHow do you discover new music?
As described, through people I meet and hang out with. I also check out various sites, blogs and magazines on the internet. There are a few hard copy magazines that I read religiously, with Record Collector as an favourite. Facebook is another great source. Most of my Facebook friends are passionate about music. Whenever they post something that looks and sounds interesting I check it out. And since I am a journalist I get a lot of newsletters, cd’s and even vinyl records etc. from record companies. I have a limitless curiosity.

You have written two books on the subject record collecting: “Vinylfanaten” and most recently the very interesting “Passion For Vinyl”, which features amazing interviews of record collectors all over the world. What were your impressions during the process?
I loved the passion and dedication of all involved. That stands out, above all. And that’s what I wanted to capture. For example: I spent an evening with an older English gentleman who has been collecting pre-World War II jazz since the late 30’s. His knowledge, passion and dedication blew my mind. Time and time again I am reminded how huge of an impact music makes on peoples’ lives. And not always for the good, by the way. I have seen people develop health issues because of their collector’s habits. And a few marriages fall apart… And although I don’t shy away from these side effects, I want my stories primarily to be inspiring. I also read a lot of books and I always hope to discover new music of be able to understand familiar tracks even more.

Any oncoming projects you can tell us about?
I’ve written quite a few books over the years. I am sure more will follow. And I need to finish another project I am working on: an in-depth compilation of early 80’s Dutch metal, which should come out on vinyl and CD. It should be great, because there were quite a few great bands back then, many of which never made any name outside their region here in Holland. Stay tuned!

ImageWhere do you prefer to buy your records?
I love to give regular record stores my business. They are the best. Since a lot of stuff – old and new – is exclusively available through internet, I used that as a source as well. There are many great online stores out there. Also, very often bands sell their records through their own sites or at gigs. I visit flea markets and thrift stores whenever I have the time, but usually I don’t find too much I still need.

Tell us a bit about your perspective regarding the Dutch record scene today. Are there many stores left?
Just like elsewhere in the world many stores have closed. I dare to say that most of the good ones are still there, though. A few have even opened in recent years. So there are still fantastic record stores in major cities like The Hague, Amsterdam and Rotterdam. I also dare to say that these places are more interesting to visit for a vinyl shopping trip than – let’s say – London or New York. These places are turning into vinyl wastelands. I also need to mention the bi-yearly Utrecht record fair, which is worth a visit.

Please tell us about one of your purchases that gave you the goose bumps!
I have a soft spot for weird records. That’s why I really wanted to add the first album by The Shaggs to my collection. People interested in their amazing story should Google their name. It’s basically a three (and later four) all girl band – all sisters – that were sent to a studio by their father, because he believed they were great. ‘Let’s cut them while they are hot’, is what he is believed to have said. The had cheap gear, no talent whatsoever and hardly ever practiced. But miraculously they came up with a truly unique record on which they compensated their lack of skill with a naive sort of passion and a musical language that is completely of its own kind. It was one of Frank Zappa’s favourite records and music guru Lester Bangs claimed they were better than The Beatles (and The Stones too). So there… The thing is that most of the original pressing of a 1000 copies vanished without a trace. Approximately 100 were send out to labels, deejays and journalists. Years ago I bought my copy from a deejay from the Boston area. He made me bleed, but it became more expensive over the years. A sealed copy went recently 5000 dollars. But that’s not that matters most to me. I truly believe that I have an important piece of history in my hands when I pull it off the shelf.

Image

Name three records that are special to you, and tell us the story of how you got hold of them.
That is a very tough on, because I would love to mention 10, or 50, or a 100… Anyway, I picked a few records that did strike chord with me over the years. First we have KISS Alive II. I bought it in a regular record store in the late 70’s, while still at high school. KISS blew me away, right from the start. The bombs, the fire, the blood spitting, those great rocking tunes, the lyrics about sex, the costumes, the painted faces…I mean, what more does an impressionable 15 year old need? And I like to add that I still like KISS. I went to quite a few concerts and last few years I finally got to interview both Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons. They both appeared to be nice people, BTW. And just the other day I purchased the first official vinyl release of their Psycho Circus album.

An album that made a similar impact was the first Ramones album. You have to know that in my middle class environment people thought that Supertramp, The Eagles and Yes were the shit. My schoolmates even tried to dance to progressive rock at school parties. Can you imagine that? It’s a sight that I never really recovered from. Anyway, the Ramones album came out. I heard a few tunes on Dutch Radio and knew this was what I was subconsciously waiting for all these years. It was like a bomb that destroyed all the bull shit with one big explosion. I first bought a regular edition – a Dutch pressing on Philips. I later managed to get an original 1976 US test pressing; I got it in a record store in Rotterdam, Holland. It’s still one of my most dear possessions. I need to add that over the years I truly learned to love Supertramp, Yes and The Eagles as well – I won’t dance to it though.

And off to the third one… Hmm… I could mention albums by Slayer, Metallica, The Who (Who’s Next), Can, Faust, 13th Floor Elevators, Fairport Convention, Nick Drake, Mayhem, Albert Ayler, Miles Davis, Golden Earring, The Beatles. But I will wrap this up with Cromagnon, because it’s a relatively new discovery. The great thing about internet, and especially YouTube and Facebook, is that I get in touch with a lot of knowledgeable people who point me to records that somehow escaped my attention. Such as the late 60’s US garage/psych band Cromagnon. Their debut is a truly mind blowing album on the great ESP label. Let me just mention the opening track Crow Of The Black Tree, it’s a relentlessly rocking track, driven by a fuzz guitar and a bag pipe. It’s heavy as hell. The high pitched vocals make it sound like an evil black metal track, only over a decade before Bathory, Venom etc. reared their ugly heads. I got the original (with B/W sleeve) through Ebay. Great sounding reprints (with colour sleeve) are widely available. Dear reader, do yourself a favour and get one!

ImageAnd finally: what do you see in the future of record collecting?
I truly enjoy the current revival of vinyl. I can only hope it will turn into something more permanent and less of a hype. There a few points of concern from my part: vinyl prices are way too high, the market is flooded by releases right now, Record Store Day is blow out of proportions and has become a commercial monster, and people should stay away from those cheap Crosley players. Yeah, I know they look neat and are cheap, BUT it’s junk and they will destroy your precious vinyl sooner or later. It is worthwhile to invest in a decent turntable, like a 2nd hand Thorens or a brand new entry level Project. Vinyl needs a little investment, but it’s worth it. Your vinyl and your ears will be grateful in the end.

Week 7, 2014: Spyros (Space Freak), Greece

ImageWhat made you start collecting records?
I started randomly purchasing records in 1977. On and off, 2 to 3 records per week, whatever caught my fancy. Somewhere in mid-1978, a friend of mine we went to french class together, was talking to me about all this weird british progressive scene we knew very little about at the times. He lent me two records his older brother had bought from a trip to London: VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR’s “The Least We Can Do” –you know, the pink Charisma pressing with the poster and QUINTESSENCE’s “Quintessence”, with the door gatefold cover. I was hooked! Mesmerised by the magic of it all. From that day, music had been non-stop. And I never looked back.

However, I’m not considering myself a typical record collector, in the way most people think; buying expensive originals and specialize on a musical genre. I prefer instead of spending 200 euros on one album, spend 200 euros on 15. The aim is to listen to as many music as possible. I like to emotionally invest on the content, which is the music of course. With the cover as a dear companion to the aural experience. Listening to an album was, is and will always be a ritual for me.

Do you remember your first purchase?
How couldn’t? It was 1977 and I’ve been saving my allowance for three months… It was a bunch of five, all greek pressings. STATUS QUO “Blue For You”, NAZARETH “Expect No Mercy”, ROLLING STONES “Love You Live”, SEX PISTOLS “Never Mind the Bollocks” and GENESIS “Wind and Wuthering “.
ImageYou seem to have a broad taste, and not one of these who only listens to old music. Would you agree with me that people who thinks all music after 1978 is bad are missing out a lot of quality music ?
Absolutely. I think that the amount of great music recorded nowadays is astonishing. Many records that are overlooked by most oldest collectors, had they been released in the 70s they would have been holy grails. ESPERS debut for example or JOSHUA’s “Gold Cosmos”. I remember myself following all these wonderful scenes first hand: NWoBHM, punk, hardcore, industrial, post-punk/new wave, avant electronics, festival psych, spacerock, thrash/death/black/doom metal, grindcore, post-rock, paisley underground, free folk, new weird America… I would have missed so much if stuck in the 60s-70s. It’s a crime to dismiss the artists of today as being the yesterday’s clones. Can one put a time stamp to creativity? It’s pure narrow-mindedness to me.

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, I think that rock based music, really progressed up to the early 90s. Then there was no substantial evolution in sound, it just begun to fuse. Which is equally interesting to the hungry listener, because for example you couldn’t listen to a heavy metal band with acid guitar leads or to a doom metal with sitars back in the 80s. For me, that have been heavily in krautrock in the 80s, listening to post rock, especially the european scene, was something revisited yet challenging, because it got all these new electronics, static noises, glitches, studio trickery etc. You can’t call it progress what happened after 1995, as it is not something that hasn’t been done before but it is definitely an enrichement. And my ears are all wide open for it.
ImageWhat sort of music do you mainly focus on?
To keep it short, better to tell you what I’m NOT focused on: alternative/indie rock and progressive metal. Nowadays I have a soft spot for doom metal with a psychedelic edge, spacerock, retro prog, psybient with ethnic elements and avant progressive/experimental.

I am especially very much into a few Greek groups like PLJ Band, Nostradamous, Socrates. The Greek band have special sound I think. How do you look at native Greek music ?
I’m not that big fan of 60s/70s greek rock, as I think it was rather derivative and poorly influenced. Due to the military junta mostly, that persecuted the local underground (we lost that 1967-1973 european peak). However, a few bands in the 70s had this special influence from greek dimotiko songs (our ethnic traditional music), which is very evident in some local progressive rock albums like APHRODITES CHILD “666”, SOCRATES “Phos”, PLJ BAND “Armageddon”, IRAKLIS or early Dionysis SAVOPOULOS. For the record, I’ll give you my top 5 of the local 70s stuff:

APHRODITES CHILD666
Dionysis SAVOPOULOSBallos
Dimitris POULIKAKOSMetaforai Ekdromai
PETE & ROYCESuffering of Tomorrow
AXISAxis” (the 2nd album from 1973)
ImageHow do you discover new music?
Reading, reading and more reading. Long gone are the days we used to gather together at friends for listening marathons. Nowadays it is mostly internet and newsletters by e-mail. Something like Record Heaven’s weekly list is always what I’m after, these days. A brief, accurate description plus a cover pic and a sound sample always does the trick to initiate a new purchase. And thanks God, we still have record stores in Athens!

I have heard this crazy rumor at a time, but never got it confirmed, so I ask you : I heard that when Manowar was releasing a new album, a Greek store had not enough copes for sale, so the buyers got angry and burned down the store. Sounds crazy, but “understandable”. Is this something you’re familiar with ??
Never heard it, so it’s unlikely to have happened. However, the first time the band came to play in Athens, they had Joey DeMaio sign some autographs at a metal record store. The cue was so big, you had some fans waiting since 3 in the morning to be the first ones in the row… MANOWAR were (and I believe still are) really huge here. And guess what? I’ve been the first that ever got a MANOWAR album in Greece; “Battle Hymns” which I got from a trip to France (with MERCYFUL FATE’s debut miniLP on Rave On). Nobody was listening to that stuff here, it was all about IRON MAIDEN, JUDAS PRIEST, SAXON, SCORPIONS and AC-DC. We used to hand out to a rock club named “Rainbow”, the DJ was my mentor in krautrock and french prog but he had an open ear for the new and unusual. Soon, “Dark Avenger” became the club’s anthem on its heavy metal day and the rest is history…
ImageIn Sweden, the legend Demis Roussos is still an musical icon due to his solo carreer after Aphrodites Child. What status do Demis have in Greece ?
Really huge in the 70s. Then everyone seems to have forgotten him. I think himself residing in France and not performing in Greece and the many lousy solo albums that he issued were the reasons it lost his popularity during the 80s. On the contrary, Vangelis is still very popular down here.

Please let us know more about the Greek situation. Many people who collect?
There were many collectors –especially in the 80s/90s, most of them in the psychedelic, garage, new wave & heavy metal styles. Very few in progressive and krautrock; and counted on the fingers of one hand, these whose collections span decades and different styles… A sad thing is that due to the economic crisis, more and more collections are liquidated in second hand stores. Sad, because collections always speak about their owner –they’re often a testimony of one’s life and character.ImageMany record stores left?
Yes, it seems to me that we still have more record stores in Greece than in other countries. Many closed down during the last 5 years but it was usually the supermarkets of music –the chain stores that suffered most from the crisis and the download trend. Independent stores proved stronger, they had a more loyal client base. However, in Athens more stores are currently focused on 2nd hand items than new music, which is somewhat a let-down for me.

Where do you prefer to buy your records?
Since the mid-90s, I’m mostly buying online nowadays. As my collection grows, I am undergoing focused purchases. There is always the occasional record fair trips. And the traditional weekly visit to my two favorite local stores, “Strange Attractor” and “Sound Effect”.

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.
My all times best album is INCREDIBLE STRING BAND’s “The Hangman’s Beautiful Daughter”. I always adore sitting by the seaside or travelling by boat and lose myself at gazing the infinity of the ocean while listening to it. Then POPOL VUH’s “In den garten pharaos” and  VELVET UNDERGROUND’s “Featuring Lou Reed & Nico”. They don’t make them timeless like these anymore!

But my most treasured purchase is a rather common album: “Earthdance” by the british festival band MANDRAGORA. I was living in Belgium at the times and went to a festival in a village where they got all these psychedelic bands on the bill… MANDRAGORA, WOBBLE JAGGLE JIGGLE, GIANT EYES etc. It was organized by Andre, editor of the Crohinga Well fanzine. I had some money to get back home on the last train but spent it all to get the album, as it had been just released and sold at the concert by the band. Remember, it were the pre-internet days and having pain finding the previous MANDRAGORA albums in Greece, I thought that the vinyl should be rather rare. As a result, I ended spending the rest of the night in the open air, half asleep in a park bench, cuddling onto the album till the morning, where I hitch-hiked my way home… Those were the days!

ImageAnd finally: what do you see in the future of record collecting?
Looking back on our kin, it seems to me sometimes that we are the last dinosaurs. There will be fewer people buying more and more expensive die-hard or super deluxe editions but this game is out of my personal interest. However, I’m always saying: “we do not search records, they always come to you when you call them” and I am convinced that good records always will find the right people.