Tag Archives: record collection

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.

Advertisements

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 1, 2014: Klaus, Germany

ImageWhat made you start collecting records?
If I remember correctly, everything began with The Beatles. It was in my childhood, and this was the first band I was passionate about. Unfortunately I couldn’t buy any records, because my parents didn’t see any sense in buying a record player for me. But I did own a cassette recorder, so that I could capture the Beatles records of my friends on tape. And I started to buy Beatles tapes in record stores, because back in the 1970s, you could buy cassettes in every record store. That was pretty nice.

Another band that I consider immensely significant was KISS. I think it was probably in 1976,
when I discovered them. A friend of mine was already a fan, and so I had the chance to listen to
KISS records. Needless to say that I also bought books and commercial teen magazines such as ‘Bravo’ and ‘Popcorn’, because there were a lot of articles about above-mentioned bands.

But what really turned me into collecting records was when I joined the Hardcore Punk scene in ca. 1982. The input grade and intensity got so high, there wasn’t any holding back. And finally and finite I had a record player.

Do you remember your first purchase?
I don’t know exactly, but that must have been the second Beatles album, ‘With The Beatles’. It could also be possible that it was a compilation of Tony Sheridan & The Beatles, because at that time I was in love with songs like ‘Ain’t She Sweet’, ‘My Bonnie’, ‘Ya Ya’, and so on.

How long have you been collecting?
Since 1982/1983. Then it starts to become more serious, because I discovered the multifaceted world of Punk Rock.

ImageWhat sort of music do you mainly focus on?
I am currently in the process of repurchasing some Hardcore Punk classics from the 1980s. Unfortunately, I’ve sold a lot of that stuff in the 1990s, because I urgently needed money. Even now I still regret that I’ve done that. Anyway, that’s currently my main focus. Quite apart from Punk Rock, I love a wide range of musical styles ranging from vintage Heavy Rock, Delta Blues and Psychedelic to 1960’s soul, classic Doom Metal, Detroit Rock ‘n’ Roll, heavy 1970s Funk, Jazz and more. Well, there is always something to discover, so there aren’t a lot of tiresome moments in my world of music.

Germany had a very nice underground scene in the 70’s. Do you listen to much of the old krautrock music?
Sometimes more, sometimes less. I prefer the heavier guitar-based bands such as Tiger B. Smith, Night Sun, Silberbart, Lucifer’s Friend, Mammut, Twenty Sixty Six and Then, Dschinn, Prom, just to name a few. Apart of the hard rock bands, I like German Oak, early Can, Neu!, Cluster and early Tangerine Dream. Especially ‘Zeit’ is an album that never ceases to amaze me. But there are also a lot of bands that I dislike. Most prog bands can kiss my ass, and there’s no room left for endless self-indulgent hippie jams. Or folky stuff like Witthüser & Westrupp.

How do you discover new music?
Due to my work for Cosmic Lava and Vincebus Eruptum, I receive some new stuff. Then there are friends, who recommend me bands which I don’t know. And sometimes the internet can be helpful, but most important is the word-of-mouth propaganda. Commercial magazines have never really interested me.

Please let us know more about the German situation. Many people who collect? Many record stores left?
Yes, there are a lot of record collectors around. Ca. 15 years ago, I worked in a Second-Hand record store, where I met a lot of collectors. There are record fairs and a lot of good stores. However, the situation in my hometown Oberhausen is pretty awful – in absolute contrast to the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s. Especially in the 1980s it was a good ground for my obsession with music. There were two great record stores, where I’ve bought a lot of Punk and Metal LP’s. Then there was a well-assorted Second-Hand shop in another part of Oberhausen. That was my most valuable source for Mothers/Frank Zappa and Black Sabbath (only the original
line-up, of course).

You run a website, Cosmiclava.com, please let us know more about it!
I’ve started the webzine in 1999, because of my affection for traditional Doom Metal and 70’s Heavy Rock. Back then, I was greatly influenced by both GL-Productions and Roadburn, but especially Gabriel Liliehook’s site (GL-Productions) has been a huge inspiration to me. It reminded me to the old fanzines, which I’ve bought in the 1980’s  – only with the difference that it wasn’t printed. I really liked that D.I.Y.-idea, especially because everyone in the world with an internet access could read it. That was the main reason why I have chosen English instead of German. Over the years Cosmic Lava has opened itself up to a wider range of styles, because it can be very boring to write only about Doom and Heavy Rock. This is particularly true when the bands become more boring. I experienced my first success, when Brian ‘Butch’ Balich (Argus, ex-Penance) sent me a copy of Penance’s ‘Proving Ground’ album in late 1999. I was happy like a kid, because Penance was (and still is) one of my favourite Doom bands.

After several years I received technical support from a buddy named Matthias, who knows a lot more about programming than I do. From that moment he also did the design and everything else, while I was still responsible for the content. However, there were always friends who gave me a little support in terms of writing reviews and/or interviews. Otherwise, I would still lie under a huge pile of promo CD’s and records.

To me, it was always important to maintain independence, honesty as well as integrity. I never wanted to be part of a scene, although it is not possible to avoid that. It would be wrong to lose critical faculties, because then one should rather think about quitting. There are enough websites around, where everything is ‘awesome’, ‘crushing’ and ‘highly recommended’. How dull is that! I never wanted to take the piss out of the reader, but if you offer each mediocre band as a new highlight, then you start to mess around.

ImageDo you ever run out of ideas to use in your reviews after so many reviews done during the years?
You bet! After a while it’s not more than a monotonous, repetitive work. Of course, you could write endless reviews where you describe each song and each note, but that was not what I wanted. To me, a review has to get to the point and it should be honest. It should make the reader curious instead of anticipating everything. During the first ten years, I really had a lot of fun and I just enjoyed writing reviews and interview questions. But the last years it was more like a plague. Quite frankly, how many different words can one use to describe the fiftieth retro blues rock band? I was terribly bored by repeating myself over and over again. Nowadays, Cosmic Lava is on indefinite hiatus, and I can easily live with that. But I’m still active, because I haven’t shot all my powder. Since a few years, I write for the Italian magazine Vincebus Eruptum. That makes very much fun to me, especially since Davide (the editor) is a very nice guy. And I have some other plans……maybe I will continue with Cosmic Lava or something else…. we will see.

Germany seems to be a very nice country for psychedelic & stoner rock bands, how does the scene look?
Oh, a lot has happened over the last 20 years. More festivals, more bands, more record labels, more tours. As far as I can tell, some of the involved people really put their heart into their efforts, because they love the music and not the money. It’s definitely a heavenly situation for newcomers and veterans. The festivals are always peaceful and non-violent, but the same is valid for the gigs.

Where do you prefer to buy your records?
I buy records and CD’s almost everywhere. In the 1990’s, I visited record fairs regularly, but that’s over now. I really like Second-Hand stores, and fortunately there are some good ones in my area, the Ruhrgebiet. Furthermore I use the internet, whether it’s a mailorder or a private auction. And it’s always nice to purchase some stuff at gigs.

ImageName three records that are special to you, and tell us the story of how you got hold of them.
Ouch, that’s a tough question. But OK, here we go:
AMEBIX – Arise!: One of the most unique apocalyptic Punk bands of the 1980’s. ‘Arise!’ was the album that turned me into a total AMEBIX fan. I’ve bought it in 1985 in Duisburg in a record store, which no longer exists today. After listening to ‘Arise!’ continuously, I borrowed the ‘Winter’ 7″ from a good friend in order then to paint the entire back cover of that 7″ on my room wall. It was gigantic and I still have a few photos of my painting. After 30 years, AMEBIX is still one of my favorite Punk bands. Only their reunion album ‘Sonic Mass’ was utter trash, but that is another story.

THE STOOGES – Fun House: ‘Fun House’ is representative for all the great bands/musicians from Detroit: MC5, The Rationals, Guardian Angel, New Order, Sonic’s Rendezvous Band, Destroy All Monsters, Dark Carnival, Ramrods, early Bob Seger, early Mitch Ryder, Frijid Pink, The Third Power, The Frost, Alice Cooper Band. ‘Fun House’ is like sonic dynamite that will never grow old. I also dig the debut and ‘Raw Power’ as well, so that it was hard for me to pick one out. But I selected ‘Fun House’, because it’s their most varied album. I’ve bought it in the very late 1980’s, but I forgot where I found the platter. It was a VERY excessive period in my life.

CAPTAIN BEYOND – s/t: At first I wanted to select one of the first eight Black Sabbath albums, but then I have decided to take CAPTAIN BEYOND’s debut record. For me this is a perfect album and truly a masterpiece. This is so to say a flawless work of art. Even the cover artwork as well as the band photo on the backcover are mind blowing. I found a copy of this album in ca. 1992 in the W.O.M.-store in Essen. It was the Japanese CD edition, which was pretty expensive (ca. 45,- DM). But it was worth it!

And finally: what do you see in the future of record collecting?
It looks good, because vinyl is needed again. Basically it was never gone. There will always be people who prefer something physical (no matter if it’s vinyl or a CD) instead of iPod’s and shit like that. An album is much more than only an individual sequence of songs. That’s my unimportant opinion, at least. But what bothers me is the price increase. Of course, this doesn’t apply to all records, but a lot of them are just too expensive in our time. Music should be for everyone, whether people are poor or rich. And today, a lot of people are poor, and I’m not talking about Africa or certain areas in South America. It would be a disgrace for music, if only a small elite can allow themselves to collect records.

Week 51, 2013: Jarne, Germany

Image

What made you start collecting records?
I was born in the GDR and back in 1987, when the border between east and west Germany was still tight, I got in touch with a guy which was living next door. Surprisingly he owned tons of hardrock and metal records, due to the fact that his family from the western part provided him with parcels every month. The cover artworks, the music and the smell of records(vinyls) got me into the whole circus of record collecting. I was about 10 years old and since that certain day I spend most of my money for records and music which I really like.

Do you remember your first purchase?
Absolutely. Back in January 1990 I traveled with my parents for the first time to the western part of Germany. We went to Hannover and I bounced into the first record store which I came across and bought SCORPIONS “Savage Amusement”, JUDAS PRIEST “Point Of Entry” and OZZY OSBOURNE “No Rest for The Wicked”. I was proud like hell.

Image

How long have you been collecting?
As I said: I´m collecting records since I´m 10 years old. I´m collecting vinyls, CD´s and demo tapes.

What sort of music do you mainly focus on?
Well, in the early days I was focusing on Metal of all kinds. Over the years I became more and more
receptive for other genres. Today I´m listen everything from Blues, Singer/-Songwriter, Punk, Ambient-Electro, Gothrock, Progressive-Rock, classic Hardrock, Heavy Metal to Death Metal, Black Metal and Hardcore.
ImageHow do you discover new music?
The internet is my main source but I also read a lot of printed magazines like German Rock Hard, Eclipsed Magazine, German Rocks and British Iron Fist Magazine. I do not like online magazines though.

As I know you were resident in Sweden for a while, working for a well known label, what did you think of Sweden?
Sweden for me is a inexplicable treasure box and I´m addicted to this country when it comes to music. People seem to be born with the right taste and feeling for music. The amount of great bands from pretty much all genres is so everwhelming that it makes it hard to find any other country with such an musical output. Most of my favourite bands are actually from Sweden. On the other side I can say that two of my best friends are Swedish… It´s an easy decision to give this country two thumbs up!

Please let us know more about the East German situation. Many people who collect ? Many record stores left?
In the early 90´s there have been alot of new records stores here but since approximate ten years they all have disappeared. I used to be in touch with alot of collectors in my area but most of them stopped buying music on a regular basis. Sad but true.

ImageYou also run a label, War Anthem Records, please let us know more about it!
War-Anthem Records is a small underground label focusing on death and black metal. Even I was the founder of this label back in 2007, I was not involved that much in it´s development. Anyway, since 2011 I´m back in the game. War-Anthem Records is about quality and not quantity. We love good looking vinyl and quality CD-releases. We recently signed bands like Spanish Graveyard and Swedish Bombs Of Hades…we are trying to keep the shit as old-school as possible.

I also know that you’re one of the main forces behind Party San Festival, could you tell us more about it?
PARTY.SAN OPEN AIR is my baby since 1999. The festival is existing since 1996 and started as a punk/crossover festival. When I got involved we changed the whole image and the festival became a path breaking death/black metal festival here in Germany. We wandered through hard times but over the years we acquired us a name which stands for high standards, loyalty and credibility. Mieze (production), our crew and me (booking) doing our very best to remain as an independent festival which stands for great music and visitor friendliness.

Where do you prefer to buy your records?
I buy my records mostly online and on festivals. I love to ransack seller stalls on festivals and look for nice collectors items and regular editions.

Image

Name three records that are special to you, and tell us the story of how you got hold of them.
BATHORY – Under The Sign Of The Black Mark.
This album means everything to me. I´m sure that the music of Quorthon will escort my entire life. When I was about 14 years old I bought it on vinyl in a record store here in my hometown Weimar. I went home and listened to it literally for a whole week constantly.  

BLACK SABBATH – Sabotage.
I have a huge weakness for 70s hard rock and there is no other album with a comparable impact then “Sabotage”. I bought this album in a record store in Jena in the early 90s. I never had such fun with an record which was close to 20 years old when I bought it.

METALLICA – Ride The Lightning.
Metallica made a huge impact on me when I heard this album for the very first time. I bought the original tape version back in 1990 and I was listening to it constantly. I really liked the outfit of the band and tried to dress myself like James Hetfield with skinny jeans, Nike sneakers and a band shirt. Despite the fact that the bands sucks these days, this is a fucking classic and I love every note of it.

And finally: what do you see in the future of record collecting?
I will always collect records! There is no better things in life then a good woman and quality music!

Week 50, 2013: Tobbe, Sweden

ImageWhat made you start collecting records?
Love of music, I suppose! I collected stamps, coins, hockey idol photos and similar when I was a little kid but by then
it was all about quantity, so those collections usually faded as fast as they grew. When I started to buy CD’s, I caught myself wanting to own it as much as listen to it. The four or five CD’s I had on the shelf in my room was a great pride and I could stand and look at them, feeling pretty proud as I (probably) had the best CD collection among my class mates.

Do you remember your first purchase?
My very first purchase (I think) must have been the Jenó Jandó CD recordings of Ludwig Van Beethoven’s piano sonatas.
I believe I bought this when I was about 9 years old, and it’s probably the one record from my childhood that I still carry around. Even though only 15 % of the album is playable due to scratches.. Still good album!

ImageHow long have you been collecting?
I bought a lot of CD’s in my early teens, or maybe even earlier…
I have bought records on a continuous basis since mid/late 2011, the most I own today is probably from then to now.

What sort of music do you mainly focus on?
That’s a pretty hard question – it depends on what state I am in. When I was a kid (or younger, at least) it would start out with classical music, then my father would show me his – heavily damaged -70’s colletion which mostly consisted of Black Sabbath, B.T.O and E.L.O. From there I went to some heavy metal, then some grunge, then skate punk, then indie pop & singer/songwriter music…
Right now I am focusing on punk & hardcore, mostly early 80’s stuff but also early & mid 90’s. Besides that I’m also into prog, psych, stoner, jazz, some space rock and folk music.

Image How do you discover new music?
Well, a few years ago a new world of music opened due to some new friendships, which allowed me to hear tunes I never even knew existed. And it was some sweet tunes as well! So back then my newest findings was mostly recommendations – and it still is, partially.
I’m also a pretty big fan of Discogs! I like to see an item I want from a seller, and go into the store and check out his whole stock. I would (and will) then spend hours making the order… I would check out the sleeves, look for music from interesting times, cool band names, interesting stories about the band etc. I made some really great findings that way, so it’s a nice way for me to find some music.
It might be pretty different for me as, I grew up in www times, but it’s still nice to do some detective work when discovering music; the Internet is a jungle…

Do you play any instruments yourself?
I play the piano and have done so since I was about six or seven years old, mostly classical and jazz. I did a DIY record and had some gigs when I was into being a singer/songwriter, but I have probably crossed too many genres over the years to acknowledge that record… I also like to think that I’m a decent guitarist, but I doubt it, as I am as impatient as a five year old kid when it comes to learning.. At least these days!

Where do you prefer to buy your records?
Preferably from web shops in Sweden, but also a lot from Discogs. When possible, directly from the bands. I bought a lot of jazz from Tradera (Swedish division of eBay) for a while but I got tired of being on my watch the last hour of an auction.
Whenever you go to bigger towns, it’s always nice to hit the pub and then head for the still existing record shops..

Name three records that are special to you, and tell us the story of how you got hold of them.
Well, November this year I was at Utrecht, Netherlands for the record fair.
The first stall I want to was heavily oriented in Italian music, so I went for the prog section and found Museo Rosenbach’s “Zarathustra” almost immediately. I was happier than a kid on Christmas Eve! As I got home I discovered it was not the 2009 Sony re-issue that I first thought it was. It claimed to be a Japanese re-issue from the Seven Seas label. There was only one known pressing on Zarathustra from Seven Seas (1981) and that should have been a gatefold… I still don’t know the origin of my pressing – the search continues!

Another nice one is half a year ago, when my cousin gave me a tip about his friend selling his record collection. So me and a friend went there and I found some DK and Butthole Surfers. Then my friend picked up Septic Death’s “Now That I Have The Attention…” and told me; “Hey, you went past this one!” I told my friend that the music “seems chaotic” and he said: “This is beyond chaos.” So I brought it home and listened to it, and I thought “This is Dante’s Inferno on wax. And it sounds like shit!” After a while a listened to it more frequently and nowadays, a week barely goes by without me listening to it. In the car of course, which probably makes me a irrational driver.

The last one is Carol Of Harvest‘s self-titled album from 1978. This is the first record I bought just because of the sleeve (and of course the fact that Guerssen has got a sweet catalogue!) So I listened to it a friday night on my own and was blown away by the dreamy melodies. I was also heavily impressed by singer Beate Krause, as she was only 16 years old when recording that album. The depth of her voice could have been sung by a 40 year old woman with the experience and insight of someone in their seventies..So that album kept me and the old gin bottle company for lots of fridays – something I still look forward to!

 Image

How many records do you own?
Right now I own about a thousand records, mostly LP’s but CD’s and 45’s included.
I believe around 700 of these are from the latest two and a half years, and the rest are from my spectacular adolescent years..

And finally: what do you see in the future of record collecting?
Well, the latest years there have been a lot of really nice re-issues, especially of the early 70’s progressive and psychedelic scene. There should be a clear demand for those, as they are sold out before you can get hold of them…! So I doubt the general fighting spirit of record collectors will disappear. And as long as there is a demand, someone will always be the supplier.. At least I hope so!