Tag Archives: record collecting

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 14, 2014: Laszlo, Hungary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 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.

Week 4, 2014: Geert, Belgium

ImageWhat made you start collecting records?

When I was a child, my parents had a Blaupunkt record player and some records. Most of them were easy listening, but there were also a couple of classic jazz records and a single by Louis Prima (‘Buona Sera’) that was really rockin’! In 1965 when I was twelve I wanted my own records and my first one was a 7” EP by Belgian/Italian singer Adamo. He was my first idol. A boy in my neighborhood had an older brother and there I heard The Beatles (‘Can’t Buy Me Love’) and The Rolling Stones (‘Tell Me’). That sound got me and my first single was ‘Tell Me’ c/w ‘Route 66’. I knew people in the family that had a lot of records (mostly singles) and that fascinated me. I had another friend who had a much older brother with a big jazz collection. I remember seeing him sitting in his tiny room with a record player on his right side and there was always jazz … When The Beatles became more experimental with ‘Revolver’ and got a more arty image, I was allowed to buy my first LP, it was ‘Revolver’ … I didn’t look back since. I started collecting all the Beatles songs (unfortunately I sold some now valuable singles and EP’s, because I had the songs on LP). I became mainly a LP collector and singles were only interesting when the songs were not on a LP. My next discovery was The Cream with Clapton, Bruce and Baker. I had all their LP’s, which was rare in those days (in Belgium that was…). My next discovery was the very first Pink Floyd album ‘The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn’. After that came Colosseum, the first Black Sabbath, the first Yes etc … Later I became a big fan of progressive rock, krautrock, experimental rock, Kiss, Uriah Heep, Jimi Hendrix and Nazareth. In between I also bought jazz albums now and then. When the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal came along, that was my thing. I also got interested in US Metal and glam. I got the very first Mötley Crüe album on Leathür records when it was released from a contact in Oregon, USA. In 1983 I started doing a hardrock show on local radio and that’s when I got my first promo records. In 1986 I started writing for a metal magazine here in Belgium called Mindview. That were golden years for promo CD’s. When Mindview stopped, I started writing for Rock Tribune, a glossy magazine that is sold on the newsstands. But the well for promo CD’s is dry now, almost everything comes digitally these days. Today I have a 20.000 plus collection with 50% titles on vinyl and the other half on CD. I also have a lot of music video’s (VHS, DVD and Blu-ray).

Do you remember your first purchase?

As I told already, my first EP in 1965 was by Adamo, my first single by The Stones and my first LP was ‘Revolver’ by The Beatles in 1966. My first music video was by Nazareth (‘Live’) in 1982. My first CD was ‘Live At Winterland’ by Jimi Hendrix (1987).

I know you started early with your vinyl passion. How do you think the music progressed from the time you begun to discover music to today’s style ?

Well of course there’s a big evolution with a couple of important bench marks. In the fifties there was Elvis, In the sixties there were The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and The Kinks. From there came bluesrock, heavy rock, progressive rock, experimental rock, folk rock … Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, Uriah Heep, King Crimson, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Yes, Bob Dylan… Everything changed when punk and new wave came along at the end of the seventies. At the start of the eighties ‘classic rock’ fought back with the new sound of NWOBHM and at the other side of the Atlantic US Metal. Along came popmetal and glam … Again at the end of that decade we got grunge and alternative rock. The big names are still big names and metal has become a very dark and sometimes extreme place. To be honest, I am starting to lose my affinity with it and I go back to all the great music that was made in the last sixty years and listen more and more to jazz and fusion as well. The biggest evolution at the moment is in the way people consume music, with things like Youtube, MP3, downloads etc … All kinds of music is being made and there something for everyone. The history of the music is also not forgotten and that is a good thing. I see my daughter – with a love for dance music – going on Youtube researching the music of the fifties and sixties!

ImageWhat sort of music do you mainly focus on?

Today, it’s mostly classic rock, jazz, fusion and progressive/experimental rock. I love an earsplitting metal record now and then though! For the magazine I do a lot of female fronted metal band. Recently I interviewed Within Temptation and a very exciting Spanish band called Diabulus In Musica is on my list.

One of my favourite labels, Mausoleum Records, are hailing from Belgium. They got a undeserved bad reputation I think. What are your own experiences of them ?

Well, they managed to release a lot of albums during the rise of metal in the eighties and I think that their ambition was honest, but running a label is a very expensive thing and maybe, they could not meet all financial obligations, I don’t know. Today their catalogue is impressive and collectable. What I know, is that Doro is still very grateful that her band Warlock got it’s break through Mausoleum. Today they still release CD’s and the guy behind the label is still active in the music business.

How do you discover new music?

By reading magazines, by getting promo downloads. We even have a couple of record shops here with listening facilities. Today my priority is not so much in discovering new music, but in consolidating my collection and enjoying it. I am retired now and finally have the time to enjoy it!

ImagePlease let us know more about the Belgian situation. Many people who collect? Many record stores left?

Yes here are a lot of collector’s, but everybody does it quite isolated I think. I regret that there isn’t more contact between collectors. A blog like yours is a very good thing! Record fairs are attracting a lot of costumers and in the bigger cities like Antwerp, Ghent or Brussels, there are still a lot of stores. Also in Liège, Bruges, Kortrijk, Leuven and Mechelen, there are interesting collector’s stores. We even have some specialist metal stores. The big chains have all folded though. The only one lasting now is Media Markt. Their Belgian shops still have a lot on offer.

You are we well reputed reviewer on metal-nose.org, please let us know more about it!

Well, in the past I wrote all my reviews for Mindview and now for Rock Tribune. The Metal-nose site gets the things that are not used by Rock Tribune. These days I do five or six reviews and a couple of interviews per month. In the days of Mindview, I sometimes did more than 20 reviews in one month!. These days I get some melodic rock acts for interviews and like I told already some female fronted bands.

Acid, Ostrogoth, Warhead, Crossfire – the 80’s were great ! How about these days ??

Don’t forget Killer who are the godfathers of Belgian metal! Today there are a lot of metal bands around. The best known are Channel Zero and Iron Mask. They are very professional, but there are a lot of other bands in different metal styles. I just did an interview with Valkyre, a female fronted band that released a very good album. The Belgian music scene is more developed in other styles. Bands like Deus or Hooverphonic for example have international success but have a different audience. Also the dance scene is very developed here. One band that really makes it internationally is Triggerfinger with a crossover between classic rock and alternative rock.

ImageOver the years, I think I reviewed around 5000 records, and I have no ideas left, how about yourself?

Yes, I understand. I’m glad I write less reviews these days, and when I have to review, I want to listen properly to the record. Once I start writing, it goes quiet easy, although not every time. But there’s so much music coming out, in spite of the fact that everybody is complaining in the music business.

Where do you prefer to buy your records?

These days I buy most of them online (Discogs), but also at fairs and second hand shops mostly in Ghent, Antwerp or Brussels.

How were your feelings when Plastic Bertrand ‘s (scam) project switched from a punk rocker to disco freak ?? “Ca plane pour moi” still stands as a classic…

Yes, well today we all know that he didn’t even sing on that single. He was just used as a face to sell the record. So maybe he wasn’t a punk rocker by heart or he was guided by record companies towards a more commercial sound. He could sing though! He even sang in the Eurovision Song Contest for Luxemburg!

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

Just three ??? Well, the records that really defined my musical evolution were Revolver’ by the Beatles, The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn’ by Pink Floyd and ‘The Valentine Suite’ by Colosseum. I bought all three at a local shop in my hometown. The shop has long gone (today there no record shops anymore in my hometown). In those days you could really spend time in a record shop and listen to different records before you bought anything. We also had a weekly here called Humo and they had a section on rock music (they still do) and that was very educating (in the sixties and early seventies)! Two other records that defined my musical education were ‘Disraeli Gears’ by The Cream and ‘Days Of Future Past’ by The Moody Blues (which I bought in a shop in Luzern, Switzerland, while on holiday with my parents). A fifth one was ‘Firefly’ by Uriah Heep which I bought in a fantastic shop called ‘Brabo’ in Antwerp (now also gone).  The very first shop that sold rock only was in Bruges and was called Bilbo. There I discovered ‘Acquiring The Taste’ by Gentle Giant, another album that was crucial for my musical development. In the jazz and fusion section, Colosseum’s ‘Valentyne Suite’ and John Coltrane’s ‘A Love Supreme’ were important triggers. Of course there are other albums, but these were really important.

And finally: what do you see in the future of record collecting?

One thing that goes through my head is what will happen to all these big collections that were build by the people of my generation? I hope to find an answer for my collection. My children or grandchildren could keep it, but if they don’t, they should know how to handle this. I think there will always be collectors around and the collections of today should be passed on one way or another to the next generations. I think that records and more specific vinyl is considered as a cultural heritage now and people should take care of it. At fairs I see a lot of younger people and also more girls and women. We should find a way to interest younger people for carriers of modern culture, be it records, films or books … I hope we do!  It’s nice to see the renewed interest for vinyl, but I think CD’s will also come back some day as collectible objects. The constant flow of ‘limited editions’ is something that will have to prove it’s collecting relevance in the future. I remember seeing original spiral Vertigo albums in the early seventies sell in the bargain bins for less than 5 euro’s! Now they are very valuable collector’s items. Same goes for the very collectable Neon label! So who knows what will happen with today’s releases. Then there’s always the fundamental economic rule: supply and demand! But in the end, it’s the music that counts. Lots of fantastic records from the past still sell for very few euro’s because they are so many around, but the music stands! Collecting is always finding the balance between the music and the rarity. The music should come first …

Week 52, 2013: Mike, Belgium

ImageWhat made you start collecting records?
Back when I was still in my crib, I was already listening to Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin… My father was an enthusiast of hard rock, and I grew up between his records. I was fascinated by the spinning vinyl as a toddler, and I constantly bugged my father to put on a record. So I was born and raised between classic rock records. When I was about 8 I got the Appetite For Destruction box set from my cousin. She outgrew her Guns ‘n’ Roses phase, and gave it to me. Back then I was a big fan, so I was truly over the moon. Also, it was a box set. So magical! I held on to that like it was a treasure (I also outgrew my Guns ‘n’ Roses phase quite quickly, but even to this day I still hold on to that box set. I think that box set sparked my collector’s soul). After that, I inherited the collection from some friends of my parents. There was much there I wasn’t particularly interested in back then (like The Cure and Depeche Mode), but there were some albums by AC/DC and Iron Maiden that grabbed my attention. Being really grateful, I held on to all those records (and I’m very happy I did, because in time really started to appreciate all those albums). This meant my pile of records was amassing, and I could start to talk about “a collection”. It also sparked my interest in metal. I raided our local libraries for metal music, and a whole new world opened up. And I was sold…

Do you remember your first purchase?
Yes, although my first purchase was a cd. I just got my first cd-player, and I was very eager to break it in. My first album was Morbid Angel’s Covenant. Plunged straight into the death metal pool! Got it when it was just released, and much to my surprise, this has been already 20 years ago! Time does fly…
I collected a lot of cd’s from then on. The Norwegian wave of black metal swept me away. But it didn’t take all too long before I returned to my trusted medium. With Satyricon’s Megiddo I rekindled my love for vinyl, and I started to buy a lot of vinyl too.

How long have you been collecting?
It depends on when you start to count. Back when I was 8? In that case, I’ve been collecting for some 25 years.
If you start counting from the moment I purchased the first album with my own allowance, it will be 20 years.

ImageWhat sort of music do you mainly focus on?
Well, that kinda came in waves. In the beginning I mainly listened to death metal. Then Mayhem came, and it pulled me under in the Norwegian frenzy. Then somehow I ended up – via speed and thrash metal – in traditional metal. Until some 12 years ago I grew really tired of metal. It all sounded the same to me. Nothing that really excited me anymore. I discovered bands like Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Mogwai, Explosions in the Sky and the likes. I immersed myself completely in post rock. A friend of mine who liked post rock too said I should get into doom, because they kinda deal with the same atmosphere. I started to discover that end of the spectrum, and it felt like coming home. Bands like Isis, Cult of Luna and Pelican blended the post rock aesthetic seamlessly with doom metal, and I was excited all over. All of a sudden I got to know bands like Agalloch and rediscovered Enslaved, and saw that they too blended progressive and post rock elements with black metal. And all of the sudden, the circle was complete. Today I focus on a rather vast arrange of genres, but from my perspective it does make sense: post rock, post metal, doom, drone, ambient, black metal and progressive rock and metal. I occasionally take a jazzy side-step, but I still feel very much at home in my obsession for over 10 years now.

How do you discover new music?
I keep close watch to all kinds of blogs, Facebook accounts, and mailing lists like the Record Heaven Newsletter. Those channels usually keep me up to date with regards to the new and exciting albums and bands.
I also have a subscription to an experimental music zine (for those interested, it’s called Gonzo (Circus)), so if something might slip under my radar, I’m usually set straight by that zine.

ImagePlease let us know more about the Belgian situation. Many people who collect ? Many record stores left ?
Just like anywhere else in the world, Belgium too got hit hard by the crisis in the music business. A lot of record stores closed over the years, and it was really hard to get a hand of those underground releases. For years I mainly bought music online. There are a lot of collectors though. I have a lot of friends that share the passion for music collecting, so there was still a strong pulse. And as we grew older, we saw a lot of youngsters really getting into music. So there’s always been a real strong undercurrent for music in general and for collecting music specifically. And now the worst of the crisis seems to have been left behind us. The playing field kinda leveled out. Yes, downloading will be here to stay, but it also enabled the formation of music lovers who go to indie shops and buy the music almost as a kind of statement. In the last couple of years, a lot of young collectors joined our ranks. And it shows! Instead of closing down, in my city new record stores are opening up! So I’m very optimistic about the future.

You also run a label, Consouling Sounds, please let us know more about it !
Yes indeed, thanks. Well, that same friend who convinced me to listen to doom music also got me to join a black/doom metal band. Some 6 years ago, the group disbanded, and I had it with playing in live bands. All the trouble… It just wasn’t worth it. But I did want to keep on playing my part in the music scene. Almost by accident I spoke to Miguel who had a small label, but wanted to stop because he had had it with that dabbling in the margins. He wanted to stop and restart, and approach it seriously and with ambition. That sounded like music to my ears, and we teamed up to start consouling sounds. We both share a love for “post music” and all sorts of doom, so our focus was quickly found. We had the chance to release an album by Nadja early on, and that gave us a head-start. We managed to grow, and build a – if I say so myself – qualitative and respectable back catalogue. Some truly great bands, like Sweden’s Snailking for example, but also Amenra, The Black Heart Rebellion, or Gnaw Their Tongues and Alkerdeel have done some magnificent things on our label – and that’s just to name a few. I’m very grateful and feel truly blessed we’ve been able to work with these artists. And we keep our ambition going!

ImageWhere do you prefer to buy your records?
I prefer to by my records in brick and mortar shops. I like the crate digging, the personal contact with the salesman, and I just need to actually see and feel the records. Nothing more satisfying than coming home with some great finds. I visit my local record store nearly every week. I don’t even have to buy something. Just stop by and say hi. Have a little chat about what’s new and exciting… (Although I admit I usually do come home with a few records).
But I also buy online if a band I closely follow releases an album. I usually buy directly from the label or from the artists. Having a label myself, I feel compelled to support my colleagues. Also, buying directly from them mostly means you’ll be able to score some limited editions. I’m not completely hung up on colored vinyl and all, but there’s that collector in me that feels strangely attracted to anything “limited” 🙂
Only for out of print stuff, I resort to Discogs or eBay. And I rarely buy records for my own on Amazon or the likes.

Name three records that are special to you, and tell us the story of how you got hold of them.
Well, the first one would be that Guns ‘n’ Roses box set I mentioned earlier. I was only 8, but I have vivid memories of it. I can’t begin to describe the impact getting that box set had on me. I really think that’s where I turned into the collector I am now. Some 25 years older, but in the mean time having a collection of 5000 albums and counting…

The second album would be the Isis Shades of the Swarm box set. Yes, another box set, I can’t help it. This box set was due to be released back when I was really short on cash. Me being a major Isis fan was absolutely gutted. Unfortunately, the box set was too expensive for me to ever buy it. My mom overheard me, and she convinced my whole family to pitch in. On the date of the release, the Shades of the Swarm box set got delivered to me. I just couldn’t believe it. The feeling of pure happiness and bliss in that moment has only been surpassed by the birth of my children. So yes, that was a pretty special occasion. I will never ever forget what my mom (and the rest of my family) did for me.

The third one would be Mass II by Amenra. I had been a huge fan of Amenra for years. I was dreaming to collaborate with Amenra on some kind of project with our label. A few years ago, that all came true. We got to reissue Mass II for the first time on vinyl. So I was able to release a band I adored, and got to work with people I tremendously respect. Something I’m incredibly proud of!

ImageAnd finally: what do you see in the future of record collecting?
I’m actually pretty confident about the future. Of course, the vinyl renaissance will surely temper again. The hype is a bit too much right now. I think the current popularity of vinyl to be a bit suspicious. 🙂

But I do believe it has sparked the collecting bug in a lot of youngsters. People are starting to physically buy music again. And I do think that’s a trend that will perpetuate. After our darkest days, I’m pretty confident we’ve had the worst, and we will reach an equilibrium. This will probably weed out the common denominator, but it will give some more breathing room to specialized shops. To be more precise, I’m not sure Madonna will necessarily flourish on a physical medium. Why would you buy it? The radio plays it all the time! But more niche stuff – usually released with a lot of care – will remain sought after. Of this I’m really sure!

Week 49, 2013: John, Sweden

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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