Monday, December 23, 2013

While your Box is Pumping The Block- an interview with LED Meter- Boombox collector



Hey fellow record geeks. Firstly allow me to apologise for the long time between posts. I've had lots going on in my personal life and a few changes which have required my more immediate attention (one, being the main one,  is being able to  spend more time with my 3 year old son, which is awesome). This put the blog on the backburner for a bit while that was being sorted. Secondly was that for this post I did something a bit different;  I shot some video and conducted an audio interview and  I then went about the long task of transcribing said interview onto this blog. It took me what seemed like forever. I'm so sorry about the delay. Alas without further ado lets get onto the crux of the matter.






A couple of months ago  I met a local guy called Warren. People had mentioned us to each other over a couple of months before we had actually met,  "Oh you should meet Warren, he collects records too. He's cool" or "Have you met  that guy Luke? He collects some pretty cool records, you guys should totally meet."

It seemed we were destined to  cross paths and a mutual vinyl admiration was going to take place. But what I didn't know is that Warren also collects boomboxes!  80's boomboxes! Fantastic brilliant iconic and fully workable boomboxes. He has tons of them. His home s a veritable museum and treasure trove of decks and lights and remotes and eject buttons, and its from this passion that he has coined himself the nickname LED Meter (or so his facebook profile name seems to suggest) and so I thought he would be a perfect interviewee for the pencil neck blog. So get up. Put some lino or cardboard on the ground ready for that first backspin, get ready to pop and lock and moonwalk into  frame but before you do all that have a read of this awesome interview with LED Meter- Boombox collector.

So How long have you been collecting boomboxes for?

Well I'd say its about ten years, um based on my calculations. I'd wanted to for a lot longer
but I only started finding them when I was about 22 and I'm 32 now.

So How did you end up getting into it?

Well I kind of had a crush on them just based  as a Pop Culture icon for the longest time, I think I first noticed them on the intro to The Fresh Prince of Belair with the cool kids on the basketball court and they have one,  a big black Lasonic from America and since then I always wanted one and one day mum said she was coming home with a stereo for me after work and all day I pictured a glitzy chrome covered ghetto blaster,...... she bought home this horrible black egg.
(Laughs)

(laughing) Do you still have that black egg?

Haha no I think I smashed it up a year later (laughs) but ever since then I realised I always wanted a real proper ghetto blaster and then when I got to College age I realised that they would be on the second hand market and I clicked that they would be out there and then I started looking and didn't find one til I was about 22.

Are there many collectors out there? Is there a finite amount of collectors out there?

No because new ones keep surfacing all the time. About five or six years ago there was a real surge in boom boxes in mainstream media and video clips and advertisements and ever since then we've had young people like 15 and 16 year olds popping up and starting collections.

.. and where do you find them have you found a majority of them on eBay?


Some of them have come from there. If  I've wanted a particular one so badly and I've seen the model and wanted to get it. Most of them have been from Tip Shops and garage sales, the best ones have turned up at the Glenochy Tip shop, I've heard of them turning up in Margate and Hobart but then I've ended up missing them.

...and what’s the most you've paid for a boom box?

Let's just say a lot.  The most expensive one I bought was  from Japan and that would be the Red Sharp VZ 2000 the front loading boombox record player.

Red Sharp VZ 2000 (below)

And what’s the least you've paid for an item? Have you found an incredible bargain?

Well I guess that would be my favourite one which is my first one which I got for free. What happened was I had been harping on about them to friends for so long about how I had really wanted a proper old school boom box and one day my friend called up and said he had found something under his house that belonged to his dad and that I might like. He said it was a radio and it was kept under his house and he pulled this thing out from the mud and it was waterlogged and full of old rubbish and it was a real boombox the first one I had seen in the flesh and he gave it to me and I had a real low status job at the time so I took a couple of weeks off and stayed at home and restored it and got it going and got it beautiful and working properly and sounding nice

Wow!! and do you still have it?

Yeh it was the first proper restoration I did and I got it to sound good and that’s why it sounds so great to me. It's my baby.

So where did you learn to do restorations and stuff were you self taught?

No It probably started when I was young when I would build model kits, I used to pull my BMX bikes apart to put new parts on and so I got that knowledge of how to pull things apart and put them back together again. You know because in the early days it was pull it apart and get dad to put it back together again. This like electronics it was like pulling apart my remote control car and fixing that when it had problems it has a lot of light electronics which are very similar to cassette decks.

Have you had many holy grail moments? Like when you just find something you've always wanted .

(laughing) Oh God many!!! How can I forget them?

The best time I can remember was once when I was at Sorrell markets, I used to drive around every market every weekend and every tip shop every weekend and then I saw at the other end of the football field a Sanyo MX920 which was there flagship ghetto-blaster, very high quality and very high end and I remember just dropping everything I had and leaving my then girlfriend where she was standing and everything and then racing as fast as I could across and all the while having this nightmare that I would see someone point at it and grab it and make the purchase before I got there but I got it for $15.00 and the seller  new the rarity of the item and they didn't care much for it, it was too big for their pad so they had to let it go.

Sanyo MX920



I also notice you have multiples of certain models has that just been happenstance.

It has been that way

Is it a matter of you have to see it so you have to get it?

Well yeh if you come across them in the wild I definitely don't turn them down like that’s just stupid, like they're so rare and they turn up so infrequently if you see one you've already got five of, you still get it because another collector will like it and if you don't know a collector who wants it you can offload it on eBay. That’s the reason I have the ones I have bought from overseas because I’ve sold something I have doubles of and with that money I have in my paypal account, I then buy one I don't have. It's just a refining process.

Do you have an oldest or an earliest boombox

Yeh that would be my Sanyo M 9998 which is from 1978 which is like one of the first fully portable high end deep bass twin speaker stereos with radio line out and line in and patch in and all that editing stuff which wasn’t very necessary but they put it on to sell more.


Do you think there is a breakpoint between the advent of CDs and portable CD players


There is and you'll find rifts with a lot of BoomBox collectors.

Wow ok and is there a year on the timeline when that starts? Like is there a cut-off?

There is and there isn’t I mean everything post 85 people sort of start to turn their noses up a bit in the boombox collecting world unless they're the other type of collector who doesn't mind that crap.

CDs came onto the market around about 81 and so various companies were trying out various portable CDs in boomboxes but they were always clunky designs and they were so expensive at the time that there is barely any of them, I mean I have found them and they're worth a lot to some people but..........I'm not interested and as for anything post 85 they started incorporating things like detachable speakers, and things were being deleted and left out of systems, minimising and simplifying designs so they looked pretty and nostalgic and sell more of them, because from  about 1979-1983, which boombox collectors refer to as the golden age,  some of the units were costing in excess of $800 just for a portable radio cassette and yes they were big and heavy in quality but it didn't mean that in that economic climate people rarely  have $800 to spend on a portable stereo and so that's another thing which makes them so rare, people always pass them off as teenage things that probably didn't cost much and they were there to thrash and trash and get rid of at the end.

And so on a different note you have a few Sharp Vinyl boomboxes.

Well yeh they were about $750 dollars I have the receipt from one from 1982 and it had a price tag of $750


Yeh right and I can't believe you have a about 3 or 4 of them?

In my time of collecting I’ve had probably 11 of those.


And is that more of you've seen it and you have to get it??

Yeh I won't say no if I see it.

So how many have you found in the wild?? Any??

Nine of those were in the wild 2 of those from when I first started collecting I did a trade online with some guy in Sydney who was buying and selling stuff and he happened to have a couple but most of them in the wild, that was my first “dud” eBay moment when one arrived not working and the other arrived missing some bits.

One of them which was one of my best finds,  a wild find, was I got it at Gowan's Auctions for a relatively good price and it was unused and still had it s display placards and its warranty's and styli protecting foams

Wow where is that one?

Oh no that ones hidden away, in the hall way. Its out of the way where it can't be touched I mean I want to say that these things are there to be touched but I kind of do have to look after them because I like them to stay preserved for the the next generation that's why I like to collect.

So when something becomes collectable to certain collectors is there a trend towards things like big dials? Big lights? Are those features  favoured over other types?

I guess that’s what’s different amongst collectors; some prefer LED meters which is what I obviously prefer and some prefer the more high tech needle meters for a bit more of an audiophile, compared to of course LEDs. Flashing lights just do it for me.

Can their value be immediately assessed by looking at a model of boombox like you can tell its going to have value because it has more dials/knobs or lights? Can you surmise if it doesn't have this feature its going to be less?

Well yes basically the absence of an auxiliary or line-in reduces its value because no ones playing cassettes these days and if you want a radio you're not going to be paying boombox dollars for it, that line-in is crucial to its value because if you want something cool to plug your iphone or mp3 player in with retro cool value that's what makes boombox these days worth heaps of money.

Some boomboxes are rare in the colour scheme or style they have. Some boomboxes have a wood-grain finish, which totally creates value among collectors.

Gadgets sell well, some boomboxes have removable controls that pop out like the Sony model with wireless cassette remote but even more speccy is my large boombox which has a burglar alarm attached, so if you walk away to get a can of coke while your box is bumping the block you can set this button and if anyone goes near it within one meter it will sound a burglar alarm.

Boombox with Detachable Wireless Remote


Lastly is there one boom box a total holy grail. One model which you don’t have which you are always on the look out to get,

Yes there are a few. One of the top ones, and if you ask most collectors  they'll answer the same one, its the Toshiba Bombeat 40, which is made and sold mostly in Argentina for some reason a very high end boombox aluminium speaker grills and 8 inch woofers, huge bass, plenty of flashing lights and it was made in black which is very rare for a high end company. The last one I know of sold on eBay for $3500. Everyone remembers that price, because if they see it again they know what they'll be expecting to pay.


Monday, October 21, 2013

The Thing (1982): A look at Morricone and Carpenter's Masterpiece





There really isn't enough room on the internet to describe how I feel about this film. It is one of the best films of the 80s, one of the best horror films of the 80s but I might also add, possibly one of the best horror films of all time.

The horror genre means a lot of different things, I think that horror to most people is about intense scares and ranked up tensions, the thrill of being terrified not knowing when the big bad thing is going to jump out next, and that is the expected norm since the genre began but horror films do a lot more than  that;  they explore important and timely themes,  philosophies and topics and they use the conventions of horror to explore themand  The Thing is a prime example of this. The Thing does this incredibly well.

Lets start  by getting down to basics. As we all know horror films are essentially about subtext; cultural, historical and geographical. The Japanese are still reeling from the effects of Hiroshima. The Godzilla films were  born from their anxieties about atomic/nuclear weaponry and even to this day these feelings are echoed in films like The Grudge and The Ring. Japanese horror explores themes about redemption of wrongdoings in the past and about spirits coming back to settle long forgotten scores. Even the way  that J-Horror ghosts/spirits  are portrayed as strange mutations  with clicky movements and strange walks (Samara's spider crawl from the Ring definitely comes to mind) suggest a kind of lingering afterthought on the effect of nuclear radiation.

So  what are American horror films about.? Every American horror film more or less is about one thing and one thing  only ; The Enemy Within. Since McCarthyism and the cold war and even a little bit before that, American horror films and literature have all been about one simple thought "Don't Trust Anyone. Not even your neighbour. Not even your best friend" In that regard The Thing is really  the quintessential American horror film.

Set and filmed in 1982 the cold war was still very much on. "Kill a Commie for Christ" was very much the the bumper stick du jour . In this cultural context the film wears its subtext on its sleeve.. The sense of paranoia and distrust perfectly mirrors America's feelings at the time. The fact that its set in the coldest place in the world almost stings like a bad cinematic pun. (Cold. Cold War. Get It?) but the original Howard Hawks film is also set in the Antarctic so maybe that is stretching the metaphor too much.

You also can't make critique of The THing  without mentioning AIDS. Blood is such a thematic element to the film, especially in the infamous blood test scene. 1982  was the year AIDS got given it's name;  rechristened after having  the horribly ignorant and accusatory title of GRIDS (Gay Related Immune Deficiency Syndrome) for quite some time . The  press started making clear mention that the disease was not only just affecting  gays and drug users but haemophiliacs and heterosexuals were now contracting it and while these cases were being uncovered the publics knowledge of it was still very limited. It was an unknown element and again America was on high alert because annnyyybooddy  could now carry the disease. Remember TRUST NO ONE. Not even your friend. These cultural anxieties are also mirrored throughout the film but even more chilling in this context is this; the scene where Blair watches simulated cells over take each other, assimilate and reproduce on his lab computer screen is eerily prescient.








Did John Carpenter's film predict the discovery of the mechanism of the AIDS virus?

I know that's a huge claim to make but one thing you can't dispute is that when it comes to the horror subtext triple threat of Culture, History and Geograpy  The Thing is a masterful distillation of these three ingredients.

Morricone's score to the film is masterful as well. At first I really didn't know what to think of it  It has very few  bombastic segments, only one crazy string section, nothing of what you would expect of a film with such big action and gore sequences but the majority of the soundtrack is amazingly stripped back. A few refrains and a few lilting motifs and a single synth basss beat which works as a single beating heart throughout. When it does eventually go weird or crazy it is all together over before it even gets started. Particularly in the tracks Contamination and Bestialty on Side 1. The score, in it's majority, is  all about atmosphere which compliments the film and is a great testament to the films ability to not talk down to it's audience. Sometimes a film score can be a bit like an annoying friend poking you and asking "Are you scared yet? Are you scared yet? Are you scared yet? " and The Thing is able to weave it's tale of paranoia without relying on the music to hold the audiences hand. For one lets look at the most iconic  scene from the film and take note that the one thing markedly absent from the madness on screen is.......music. There's no music at all.

 


This is something that the prequel in  2011 definitely didn't get right. Somehow modern genre cinema seems to think the musical score enhances every emotional beat of a film when in fact it doesn't. Strings will always make the heart swell in the more romantic or dramatic turns in a film but can ultimately distract from a horror film when  its time to crank things up a notch. What might work for Love Actually does not always work for Night of the Living Dead.

Another awesome element of the Soundtrack is the use of the pipe organ. It comes in on the track Solitude  from Side 1 and then returns at the end of Humanity Pt II on Side 2.  The  organ sound in these segments of  the score reminds us of horror films of old working almost like a sonic love letter to Howard Hawks original The Thing From Another World (1951) and also silent horror films like Nosferatu or Phantom of the Opera where the  pipe organ was the norm.

I'm gonna probably turn a few heads by saying this. I enjoyed the prequel. If only because I'm such a fan of John Carpenter's film that returning to the familiar setting was a real treat and I relished seeing how the events at the Norwegian research base were going to be explored in detail. I think they used a few new tricks to play up the paranoia, specifically by having the characters divided not only by nationality  but by language. The scenes where the Norwegians use their native tongue  to undermine the American's efforts  to restore order are really well done. Being able to talk about your enemy in the same room as them without them knowing what you're saying makes for some great moments of paranoid drama  for which the original is so widely revered. That was well done, but for every well structured moment, there were a dozen things which they got wrong. In John Carpenter's film one truly endearing aspect (and by degrees the most intelligent) is the creatures only one true motivation is survival. It only appears in it's "true" form when it is under threat and in that way the creature is not evil or motivated by anything other than staying alive. In the prequel it is none of these things. It seems hell bent on destroying humanity and it appears malevolent in it's intent. It's obviously intelligent (it has a spaceship for fucks sake) but it never chooses to assimilate the other humans in any subtle way. In JC's film the Thing spends the first 20 minutes hiding in the form of the dog only coming out when in the presence of the real dogs in the kennel  and  it's otherness is exposed. In the prequel it tries to put one character off it's scent by implicating another might have been infected to then suddenly erupt into a mass of blood and tentacles without any real provocation. This seems in such direct contradiction to the original that it makes it seem like a different creature entirely. 

That indeed is the biggest grievance i have with the prequel. Too much music and  not enough subtlety. I mean the original certainly packs a wallop in the action and  gore department but, like a good lover knows how to hold back and tease us with a bit of  restraint. In this way the Soundtrack and the film work perfectly to compliment each other and makes for a truly great film. A horror masterpiece.

Thanks guys for indulging me

Luke Pencil Neck


Friday, October 4, 2013

Greetings from Ohio (an Interview With Geoff Burkman)



Vinylhound and record shop  raconteur Geoff Burkman


I've been meeting other collectors in the most weirdest of ways lately.

I recently got my tax return and so I was feeling like splashing out on some wax (as you do) and so I had my eye on a few things on eBay but they weren't up for auction yet so I put them on the watchlist and waited for them to go under the gavel. In the meantime I also  get a daily email from Discogs telling me when items on my wishlist are up for grabs elsewhere. Always handy to get the internet to do the cyber-digging for you when you're not able to do it yourself.

So my email arrives and the first item on the list is BAM! A mint copy of Joseph Lo Duca's Evil Dead! Now I know that you know that I already have a copy of this record but mine has a distinct warp in it which makes the needle jump out of the groove on side 2. Right in the opening of "The Dawn of the Evil Dead" which is by far the most iconic track from the album.

So I was feeling a might flush and the price seemed right so I didn't pay a second thought I pressed the "Purchase" link. I gave a little fist pump in the air and that was that. Done.

A few minutes later and I got a message from the seller saying "I'm sorry but I don't ship outside the US!" Curses!! I thought. Pipped at the post! Oh cruel fate why was I on the other side of the globe. Then the email said "If you have someone I can send it to I can send it there otherwise I'll have to let it go and put it back up for sale. I'll put a hold on it for 3 days.


Darn it!! I needed to find and intermediary! Someone on the inside.  A middle man. A go between. A vinyl interagent. I needed to find someone and fast. Within 3 days at least. But where?

You see I had tried this before. I'd asked a few overseas friends, a few facebook aquaintances, even a few sellers on eBay whom I had had brief conversations with,  but for the most part they all said the same thing. "Too much hassle", "Too busy" or "how did you get this email? Stop contacting me!!!" This was gonna be hard. I badly wanted that record!!

So I took a chance and contacted my friend Lisa Sumner of Just Cool Records again. She is becoming quite a regular on this blog here. She's cool. She stocks good stuff and as it turns out incredibly helpful.

I sent her a tweet asking if she was able to have the record sent to her and then sent onto me. She was more than happy to help out! SWEET!!

I contacted  the Seller on Discogs and he was more than happy to send it to Lisa across state lines. We got chatting. He was from Dayton Ohio (the home of DEVO- correction DEVO are from Akron Ohio- thanks for the heads up), he was a Robert Crumb fan and he once owned a record store. We exchanged a few emails and low and behold he was totally geared up to be interviewed for the blog. I asked  him a few of the old staples but also asked him to elaborate on his shop. He was more than happy to answer and throw in some photos to boot,\.

Name:  Geoff Burkman, often referred to throughout my record-dealing days as Mister G, a character I created for my radio and TV ads.

 
 

Age:  This is a state secret, but I can tell you that I'm over 60, and under 62...
 

Location:  I currently live in Kettering, Ohio, USA, named after the man who rescued us from having to crank our automobile engine each time we want to go somewhere.

How big is your collection and do you collect from any specific genre (i.e. soundtracks, jazz, rock or pop) or do you collect other kinds?
My collection has, at one time or another, delved into most every musical niche imaginable, although the core of it has always been rock.  My tendency has always been to collect by artist, thus the swollen roster of albums by The Beatles, Blondie, David Bowie, Elvis Costello, Devo, NRBQ, The Plasmatics, The Stranglers, and Frank Zappa, among others.  When I liked an artist, my tendency was to amass a complete collection of their albums.   My Discogs roster tells me I currently own 1600+ Lps and 12" singles.  I'm sure the total would be at least double that if I'd kept every album I ever bought, but the switch to digital media forestalled that.  I also own a couple-three hundred or more 7" singles, which I have yet to organize and catalog.  Shame on me, I know.   



How long have you been collecting?
Somewhere in the vicinity of 45 years, I'd guess.  The first album I ever bought was the soundtrack to "2001: A Space Odyssey."  The second was Led Zeppelin II.  The collection began to swell throughout my college years, with an emphasis on hard rock/heavy metal, yet still spanning much of the "scene" at the time.  I hate to think of how many artists I followed and then swapped off their albums for CDs.   A very large chunk of my collection went to provide inventory for my record shop when it opened.  As the business grew and thrived, you can bet I began rebuilding that collection. 

What's your most favourite record?

Wow!  That's just about impossible for me to nail down.  At this point, I'll go with my autographed copy of the "Dawn of the Dead" soundtrack.

What's the most valuable record you own?

Pretty sure that would be my copy of the second-state "Yesterday and Today" by The Beatles.

Do you have a  holy grail?  Is there a record you've been looking for  everywhere but still eludes you?

In a word: no.  Truthfully, I don't much collect records any more.  For one, I've got more than I could ever possibly listen to in the rest of my life, plus my collecting mania shifted a while ago to center on movies, and to a lesser extent, board games.
You used to own a record shop is that right? Tell us more about that?
I did, yes.  Renaissance Records in Dayton, Ohio (1979-2002), which I renamed Renaissance Music Media when I started carrying CDs in the early 80s.  I'd managed a used record shop for several years prior, and when the owner sold the business, I wasn't part of the deal, so a friend and I decided to open a competing shop.  We operated in the black pretty much from Day One, and after I bought my partner out when he graduated from college in '81, there was no turning back.  I hopped on the CD bandwagon from the get-go in '82 and dominated the local market for a good, long run until the big box stores finally wore me down and the rise of the Internet polished me off. 






 But buying and selling used (oh, sorry, "pre-owned") albums and the like, and providing the local market with the best selection of Euro and Japanese import vinyl was always the core of the business. Video was a sideline venture; VHS was always touch-and-go because of durability issues, and Laserdisc was a tiny, niche market at best.  Towards the end, one of my best profit centers was totally non-music related---golf discs; the sport was on the rise locally throughout the 90s and I made it a point to carry a wide selection of styles and brands, since I was quite near a local course.  Oddly enough, I never played the game myself.  At any rate, I had a good run overall, with a lot of good memories, and was able to raise a family while doing something that, for all its headaches, provided a lot of people at least some small measure of happiness.  I really can't complain too much about that...")  
 
This LP cover was one of my favorites in the wall display I had for many, many years

Do you still make your living from selling records? 

 Sadly, no, I do not.  I left that behind when I closed up shop.  I pursued professional acting for several years (not really a good idea in Dayton, Ohio) and then (briefly) being an insurance agent (I hated it) and for the past number of years have settled into the food service industry.  My sales on Discogs are strictly to generate spare cash while finding good homes for my beloved collection.

What was the first record you ever bought and do you still have it?

 See above, and no, I no longer own either of them.

You're only allowed to take one record to a desert island, Which one is it?
Wow, again!  I honestly don't know what to tell you.  Probably a Bettie Page picture disc...")

Throughout your collecting career have you lately noticed an increase on prices for collectible items now that Vinyl is apparently on the comeback?
I would have to say that certain collectibles have definitely appreciated in value, mostly the truly hard-to-find material in prime condition, at least from what I've been able to glean from sites like Discogs and CollectorsFrenzy and the like.  The vast bulk of vinyl has, however, essentially lost value in that there simply isn't enough demand for it to drive prices to keep pace with inflation.  I see tons of stuff going for the same price (or less) that it did a decade ago when I bailed from the biz.  That's sad, but at the same time it means that current collectors can still find some real treasures out there at pretty reasonable prices, and occasionally walk away with a real steal or two!  And for music lovers who prize their vinyl, that can't be a bad thing at all!   


So there you have it folks.  More adventures in vinyl from far off lands. Make sure you check out Geoff's vinyl on Discogs  and make sure you drop by Just Cool Records etsy shop and yes if you are asking it did make it to me, it arrived just the other day. It is flat and clean and plays very well.

I just might wet myself these both look so fucking good.


Til next time

Luke Pencilneck


Sunday, September 15, 2013

Adventures in Vinyl. Let's Do Some Trade.

Have you ever found $50 in the street? Or even $20? Your heart skips a beat you do a bit of a double take and then with  a gasp of recognition you realise cha-ching!! Free money!

Finding  a rare record in the wild is a little like that. Not necessarily the monetary value but the feeling of not believing your luck. Like those people who find rare vases in their attic  on "Antique Roadshow" or finding a Stradivarius violin at your local Hock Shop,  part of the thrill of digging is knowing you might find something for a bargain. Although eBay has somewhat diminished the experience you still find things for even $10  or $20 less than the value quoted on Discogs or Popsike and get the thrill of knowing you've grabbed something for a steal.

This happened to me the other month in the most round about and backward way. I saw a very rare record on my recent trip to Melbourne and didn't even realise it!! Even worse! I left it behind and traveled back home to Hobart Tasmania without the foggiest idea of what had slipped through my fingers. The record was this one.

The Monster Club OST-1981 (Chips Music)
I know right? I'd never heard of it either!

It wasn't until I had interviewed Lisa Sumner of Just Cool Records that I realised the record was actually very valuable to collectors. When i asked in the interview what was the most valuable record she owns her reply was this very record, The Monster Club. And yes as recent sales on eBay can attest the record is highly sort after and sells for quite a few dollars a pop. Most recently in May this year it sold for $256.00 US. That is some serious kind  of money. The copy I found was selling for $19.95AUD.


So our interview jogged my memory that I had seen it in Melbourne on my recent trip but I just left it at that. I considered it lost to the winds. I wasn't off interstate for god knows how long and I had overlooked it anyway. It held very little value for me. It wasn't an iconic film (an Elm Street or a John Carpenter) and I had other items on my wishlist I wanted more, two of which I walked out of that very store with on the day in question.

But it bugged me. The fact I had left it behind bugged me. I'm so proud when I find a record for a steal and I hadn't even noticed it. And the price!! OMG how could you overlook it at that price? So I thought I had nothing to lose by hatching upon a simple plan. If I couldn't afford to go to the record I would bring the record to me.

I called my good friend Scott in Melbourne. He is also a collector. Not of records mind you but of postcards..........and Hot Wheels cars.  My god does he like Hot Wheels cars, he has a couple of thousand  at the very least, a lot which are opened and proudly on display in his house he shares in Brunswick. He's a collector and so  I know he has a grasp on the type  of obsession which makes you call in favours of your friends overseas. Well , on the main land,  so it's technically overseas.

So I called him and I said. "Hey can you do me a favour?  I saw this record in Melbourne and I hear its worth a bit of money if you go and grab it for me I'll pay you back. I'll transfer the money into your account."

He said "OK whats my cut?"

I stammered. I gulped. I wasn't expecting this.

"Nah I'm just bullshitting you. Of course I'll go grab it, what it is it? Where's it at?"

I told him the specs.

The next step was calling the store. I had to make sure they still had it. So I called them up. Now when I called them I got a little nervous. I felt like I was doing something naughty. I mean did the guy running the shop have any idea of it's value? Was i stealing from him? Was I getting away with something dastardly? But I reasoned with myself that it was valuable to collectors. Not everybody! The guy in the shop by rights could either put it on the wall of his shop,  next to the Beatles "Yesterday and Today" butcher baby record or the Rolling Stones white test pressing and wait for years for someone to buy it or he could just  put it amongst the other soundtracks and maximise his profit for that week by making sure at least one more record left the shelves.

Still that didn't stop me from trying to sound as blasé as possible, "Oh I'm calling from Hobart and I was in your store about 3 months ago and I saw you have a record I'm interested in, it's in your soundtrack section and I was wondering if you can put it aside for me and I'll get a friend to pick it up?"

"Sure mate what is it?" and so i told him. There was a pause and then he said "What I'm going to have to do is find it and call you back."

"Ok" I said. Oh no!!! The jig was up for sure. I thought he'll find it, he'll wonder why I'm interested, he'll do a quick Google search and he'll hold it for himself. Or worse.! Up the price. So I hung up and waited for the worst.

He called back 10  minutes later he said "Yeh I found it. Its $19.95. I'll put it aside for you."

"That's great!"  I said, "My friend will pick it up later in the week."


 OK so it was as good as mine. What was i going to do with it? Well first I had sit and wait for it to arrive.

I deliberated over what to do for a long time. Keep it or sell it? The record still didn't have much value for me. After some research I found that it was unique for many reasons. It had a very short print run and included rare tracks from new wave post punk bands from the UK at the time . The Pretty Things, UB40 and Expressos. Also it had an incidental score by John Williams. Yes that John Williams. It also had some great cover art by Graham Humphreys.
So what next?
I'd found a great score for a bargain price but I wasn't sure what to do. I could put it on eBay but there was one other copy already for Sale on eBay for $379 (Buy It Now) and it had been on there for at least a year. I could undersell it for less but I wasn't sure. I still ran the risk of having it sit there forever. I could auction it but I risked not getting a good price, and I know I could set a reserve, but reserve prices always seem a little sneakily unfair. Like bidding starts at $10 but I'm really  not going to sell for less than $200.

I also had never capitalised on a great score as well. Found countless bargains but never decided to flip a record as they call it.  A practice which is much maligned by collectors, especially when it comes to rare,  never to be seen again releases on  Record Store Day. The practice goes that some douches will   buy up more than one copy of a collectors item on release day and then sell them for inflated prices on eBay to the hapless folks who didn't get there in time. Or got there before all the flippers got there and bought up two of everything. Shame on them. No. I've always been into the bargains for myself, although the cheap prices do create a level of status  amongst us waxheads. I mean you'll keep the thrift store Stradivarius under lock and key but you won't stop bragging about finding it for a song to your mates.

By the time it arrived I knew exactly what I wanted to do.

I was going to trade it.

I got in touch again with Lisa Sumner from etsy store Just Cool Records. I told her I had found another copy in Melbourne for really cheap and did she want to trade? She leapt at the chance. I said I wanted to grab 4 LPs and a record case from her. I thought that would seemed fair at a  total value of about $250 or so and that left some room for her to make a little profit. So I went through her shop and cherry picked some of her choice titles. She always has some of the rarest and best so I had to really be picky. I couldn't get them all. In the end I got Fright Night, Liquid Sky, Famous Monsters Speak and Legend of the 7 Golden  Vampires. WIN!!


Plus this sweet Vintage Sesame Street Record Case.

Holds About 100 45s



This solution totally worked out for the best. I got some great stuff I've always wanted and she had the experience to make sure it sold for what it was worth to another collector. And low and behold she put it in her etsy store and she sold it 7 days later. For $280 AUD! To a rather highly respected member of the collecting community. Man if I could only get that guy to agree to an interview!!! But we'll have to wait and see, maybe this article  will bring him out of hiding.

So there you go. An awesome adventure in vinyl. I found $20 in the street and turned it into $250.

Not bad. Not bad at all.

til next time gang

Luke Pencilneck









Sunday, September 8, 2013

The Black Addiction (or....... One Man's Search for the Strange and Weird); Interview with Ian Quann aka Oiche

I love weird records.

Love them. Anything strange, bewildering or different. Novelty records. Strange music. Collector's Items. Randomness.

One man's trash is another man's treasure and that is no more apparent in the world of the record  collector.

I have a few items I'm particularly proud of for their ability to make the listener think WTF?? One of them was a wedding gift from a dear friend.

I also have this little oddity.

The Wakkiest Races on Record

a totally great piece of plastic fantastic. This particular record is a collection of horse races. It has 16 different complete races on it but with a unique twist. At the end of each race there is a split groove and a different horse wins each time its played.. I'm thinking if times get tough I'll just invite some local boobs from the local betting track over and set up a little bookie service.

"Step right up gentleman. Step right up. The records gonna get played again, place your bets, place your bets!!! Get Ready gentleman, no new bets once the needle is down. Thats right no new bets once the needle is down"

I'll clean up!

Also I have a another great gem which is this one.

Kenny Everett-The World's Worst Record Show



A great find, Kenny Everett's World's Worst Record Show is, thats right, on "Sick/Turquoise " coloured vinyl and has a lot of great world's worst gems including of course the global hit of bad taste records; The Trashmen Surfin Bird.



I say global hit because the song has found a strange misdirected renaissance due to this particular TV show......



And lastly a record I never believed could exist unless I saw it and bought it myself is this one....thats right...."That's not a record,..... now this is a record."








The really strange thing about this one is not just the amazing strine Paul Hogan has but the weird way he still starts the record the same way he would start his TV show, "Gudday Viewers". Strange way to start a record whose primary method of enjoyment is listening don't you think?

But I digress. I recently met a guy who,as part of his collection  focuses on the weird and the strange. Allow me to introduce to you Ian Quann; record collector and fellow forum participant at "Spin The Blackest Circles" internet forum. Ian bravely answered my call-out to find people to interview about their collections and he deftly rose to the challenge. It appears Ian has amassed an impressive  collection of wax. 10,000 or so to be exact. I fired off some questions to him about his strange addiction to all the weird things out there on vinyl and here is what he had to say.


Name: Ian Quann (Oiche on forums / discogs)
Age: 41
Location: Colchester, Essex, UK
How big is your collection and do you collect from any specific genre (i.e. soundtracks) or do you collect other kinds?
I estimate ten thousand records altogether. Soundtrack and library records probably account for about 1000 of these as I have a pretty eclectic taste taking in everything from spoken word, baroque, folk, jazz, world, rock, indie, drone, minimalist, sound effects, etc. During the last few years though I have mainly been interested in the soundtrack and library side of things.


I also love to collect oddities on vinyl. I have a record released by an occult website which records an interview with a resident of a high security psychiatric facility, Ian Ball, who had planned to kidnap Princess Anne of the English royal family in the 70s. It’s a weird picture disc with the royal couple’s wedding picture on one side and the interview recorded over a soundtrack of the wedding ceremony played backwards throughout! Its very odd.
 



 
I also have records that came as instructions with sewing machines in the 50’s with that upper class twang all media folk had in the UK back then; a private 78rpm that someone made of their wedding ceremony; records about people’s lives living on longboats; and so on.



Field recordings also interest me as do records made by artists for installations, sound effects and the like. One record I love the idea of, was a single by Janek Schaefer called ‘recorded delivery’ where he mailed a motion-activated tape recorder to himself to record the whole experience of a parcel in the mail. You can even hear the postman whistling as he delivers the parcel back to Janek! I love anything that’s a bit out there or which plays with the format like that. 
 
Janek Schaefer's Recorded Delivery
 


How long have you been collecting? Since I was a nine year old growing up in Ireland. The first record I bought was a Madness single, followed by Adam & the Ants. I used to steal my dads records which made him a bit anxious as he treated them like precious jewels – which of course they are! He brought me up on Hendrix, Thin Lizzy and Planxty. I remember as a kid Dad playing me Jeff Wayne’s War of the Worlds and I thought it was the greatest thing I’d ever heard. Experiences like that sow the seed.

Do you collect for love or money or both? (by this I mean do you own and run a record store? Or do you just sell records on ebay? Is it business or a hobby or both?) Love and obsession always. I do sell some on discogs but I only have about 50 or 60 for sale at any one time. I mainly sell bargains I come across in sales that I have already. I don’t sell anywhere near enough to cover even 20% of my habit. I read in another interview on your site that record collectors are among the most obsessional people in society which I agree with totally. I can get completely lost time wise with the whole thing and my lovely, patient girlfriend needs to pull me away from the vinyl websites!

Q: You've found some incredibly great weird finds how on earth have you come across these oddities?  Relentless digging? Seeking them out on ebay? Do you have any great stories about hitting upon your weird finds?


I do have a tale of being approached by a shadowy figure who slipped me an old and cobwebbed LP from his cold fingers with the whispered instruction of telling the world the final truth and then disappearing into the ether, but it would be fantasy/ wishful thinking. The real truth is that we dig relentlessly for years through many records that we see again and again, to unearth these odd gems. The internet obviously helps, but is a tenth of the fun on a physical find. Reading music magazines and listening to radio shows helps pick up info too, as does talking to other collectors. Here's a small selection of odds and ends.


A small selection of my BBC sound effect records with the cat helping.







 .





What's your most favourite record? Hardest question on earth. I’m going to say Basil Poledouris’s Conan soundtrack as it brings back so many memories and still gives me goosebumps, but it was Aion by Dean Can Dance for many years which is close to a perfect album in my books.

What's the most valuable record you own?
I own every piece of vinyl pressed by Trunk Records, which as a complete collection is worth quite a bit. I know some of the rarer ones go for just under £100. I don’t own any super valuable pieces. I have lots that are worth about a £100 and a Stockhausen 7lp boxset that worth about £400 that I paid £1.99 for in a charity shop a couple of years ago.

What's your holy grail? What record(s) have you been looking everywhere for but still elude you?

Yan Tregger / Fabio Frizzi / Walter Rizzati - Bloodnight (12e Festival International De Paris Du Film Fantastique Et De Science Fiction) (Jonathan, Jonathan - ATO 28005, ATO 28.005)


There are expensive copies on discogs but I don’t want to spend £80 with shipping, not on my salary! Also it takes the fun out of tracking down a good value copy which makes you love a record even more. I will continue to look when in record fairs but I’ve never seen a copy in the flesh, most of them pop up in France.
I also want copies of Basil Kirchin’s Worlds Within Worlds 1-2 & 3-4, but money again. The former goes for £300 - £400 averagely and the latter about £70.



Throughout your collecting career have you lately noticed an increase on prices for collectible items now that Vinyl is apparently on the comeback? 
Yes, without a doubt. Some Jazz lps have always held their value, but the price of collectors vinyl is definitely on the rise in the last few years due to the dramatic increase in new collectors, especially soundtracks. I didn’t think Inception’s soundtrack was that brilliant and it’s changing hands for $400. I’ve seen the crowds at record fairs change over the last 5 years especially, from middle aged blokes to a much younger crowd mixed of both sexes. It’s great to see on one hand, but on the other hand this means more competition! I’ve noticed the amount of good stuff I’ve been picking up in charity shops has really reduced in number to almost nothing now; they’re really picked clean. There are so many people collecting now. I just have to remember that it’s good for the format in the long term, and for the continued production of the format / new releases.


Sunday, September 1, 2013

What Record Have I Owned The Longest? (or..... You Own How Many Versions of Star Wars?)

So.... What record I have owned the longest? Well that would be an easy answer and also the most obvious. This one.....

I had this bought for me by my parents when I was 7 years old and I've had it since 1979. A full two years after the film came out and  I remember falling in love with it immediately. John Williams score is so amazing and is so intertwined with the cultural imprint of the film. Very few scores can evoke so strongly the memories of how you felt watching a film like this one.

We had only a few records in our house and so this one was very special for a number of reasons. One: A Double LP! The only one we had in our family's collection. Two: It has a very beautiful gatefold cover.

 And three: It was fucking Star Wars.


 This record probably cemented my lifelong love of soundtracks. A love which has obviously carried on growing  as anyone who knows me (or reads this blog ) can attest.

If you're another collector you're probably going to ask me "Do you still have the poster?" and the answer sadly is no. Yes this Soundtrack came with a beautiful 6-panel fold out poster of artwork by John Berkey.


This poster is unique in that it has Two Millennium Falcons on it. One in the centre and one on the right edge of the poster It is cool to see this image which was obviously done at the concept stage of the film

So what happened to mine?

I gave it to my teacher. Mr Mack. I thought he was the coolest teacher ever and in a way he was. He taught us how to write in secret codes! He needs no more endorsement than that! I remember I bought the record in to show him  and I showed him the poster and he seemed really impressed with it. I just blurted out "You can have it if you like?" He said "Really?" he seemed really shocked by  my generosity and I think he had every intention of giving it back to me later.   He let me hang the poster on the wall of our classroom for the rest of the year and I just don't think I asked to get it back.

That was over 34 years ago and so what has happened since then? Well this.......




I've gotten a few more Star Wars records. A whole lot more. Now the weird thing is I never went out of my way to get so many but they've sort of just proliferated throughout my collection over the last 20 years. Every now and again I would see one cheap and have to pick it up. Besides  I just love the artwork on some of these.  Sometimes you see the artwork on an album and you think "Well fuck it,  for $5 that's gotta be worth something!!"  And that's obviously the case with  "Star Wars and Other Space Themes" by Geoff Love and His Orchestra.


I mean, that's not even Luke Skywalker! I think that's Han Solo! In Luke Skywalker's clothes!! WTF? I don't even thinks that's Princess Leah either, I think that's Priscilla  Presley?? There is a giddy sense of kitsch tackiness  that takes over when you see bootleg Star Wars stuff and this ones no different. I love it. Its weird how they got a majority of the other films referenced on the cover so write and yet Star Wars sooo wrong.

Geoff Love was  a bit of a musical chameleon, glorified session muso and a one man tribute act all rolled into one, He recorded over 30 albums with his band under the name of "Manuel and the Music of the Mountains" but is better known for a series of albums he did doing knock off "sound-a-like" versions of popular film themes.  His list of film theme albums encompass all genres and are known simply by titles such as "Geoff Love and His Orchestra Play Big Terror Movie Themes", "Geoff Love and His Orchestra Plays Big War Movie Themes"  or "Geoff Love Plays Big Bond Movie Themes" or the more exhaustingly titled "Geoff Love's Big Disco Sound Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Other Disco Galactic Themes"  But wait?  I hear you ask I've heard of disco sci fi stuff before!! And right you have which brings me to Meco!!


Thats right , a little beat up and with a luridly suggestive cover picture this is the album which spawned the Disco Star wars craze.  I assure the more longsighted of you that they are rather innocently dancing the hustle and not bumping uglies as it may appear at first glance. This may have to be one of the more suggestive pieces of Star Wars ephemera I've known  since C3PO's penis made its appearance on Bubble Gum cards in the 80s 


Want to know more about this crazy lost card from Star Wars in the 70s? Read here.


But back to Meco. If you've never heard it before  its a fantastic piece of disco cheesiness and the below clip just surfaced on the interwebs. I suggest you steal away 3 minutes of your life and watch this from beginning to end. This is the most incongruous and terrible montage of sequences set to Star Wars music ever!!. Its from a Dutch TV show called Toppop from 1977. Truly disastrous to behold........


                                      

 Needless to say it  was a huge hit. It went to number 1 on the US Billboard charts and clung there for two weeks. This is Meco's best known work although he didn't stop there.  . He made more albums and having discovered that maybe giving film scores a new disco remix might be the ticket to a steady pay check just kept coming and coming with the  disco-fever!

Meco_Encounters of Every Kind [Close Encounters of the Third Kind]

Meco Pop Goes to the Movies

Meco- Music from Star Trek and The Black Hole


Impressions of An American Werewolf in London

Meco Superman and Other Superhero themes

Meco-The Wizard of Oz
I guess when you realise your pony only has one trick, you're going to whip that nag til it shits money.

Meco did three other Star Wars records. Empire Strikes Back.


A Christmas Record!!

  

Which believe me is every bit  as tacky  as it sounds.

But his crowning achievement (and one I am particularly proud of owning) is this particular gem. His final Star Wars installment Ewok Celebration


Yes! You are looking at this correctly. That is as a picture of an Ewok paw holding a flute of champagne. This album from 1983 tries to round up Meco's Star Wars output with a final cash in on Return of the Jedi. The LP only has 3 Star Wars related tracks on it. One being a generic medley of Star Wars themes. Pretty much a montage of his other Star Wars disco-fied tracks. The other is a great cover of Lapti Nek the song played by Sy Snootles and the Max Rebo Band in Jabba's Palace in the film. Originally written by John Williams (natch) there is an incredibly awesome article on website Crawdaddy about the strange history behind the song.

                                       

But the best is yet to come. The best part of this album is the titular "Ewok Celebration". A full 5 minutes and 41 seconds of the song that closes ROTJ but with a particularly unique twist. In this clip below (the extended club mix version) at 3:50 there is a rap sung completely in Ewokese!! A redo of the scene where C3PO tells their story to the Ewok chldren, it is complete with sound effects and great name-dropping of all the main characters. It is a particularly fun type of weirdness.


                                        

Star Wars sells records and that is no more evident in the proliferation of Star Wars related stuff on vinyl. As mentioned before you can't go wrong with a good Star Wars Knock off and here is another one.
"The Empire Strikes Back and Other Space Movie Music"  Love the art on this one too.


So delightfully crap. Like a lot of those woeful tattoo portraits you see in Biker magazines where the tattoo looks more like a toxic mutation than the biker's mother or loved one ever did in the accompanying photo, this album has some Star Wars and Star Trek characters looking delightfully shit.


Spock and Kirk have a serious two headed, conjoined twin thing going on. Princess Leia looks like Posh Spice and Luke looks like an Asian kid with down syndrome. This would make an excellent redesign for Mt Rushmore. This would also make the crappest of all craptacular tattoos! I'm thinking across the lower back so that you end up with Kirk and Skywalker  bookending a totally geeked out tramp stamp. Maybe some elven script creating a filigree rising from the crack of your butt?

This record looks terrible but sounds half decent. Although it can't seem to make up it's mind whether its a disco version a la Meco or wether it is in fact a straight up tribute act to  Star Wars a la Geoff Love and I guess in that respect you get the best of both worlds as it tries to be both.

 Which brings me to the next monstrosity and possibly the worst of the bunch. "Music From Star Wars performed by the Electric Moog Orchestra"


 This is possibly the worst Star Wars record ever made which is saying something because all Star Wars albums in some way are trying to pay tribute to the original source material. This record is painfully wooden and  hilariously kitsch all at once and in a way comes off a bit like a piece of hilarious anti-art. The performance in true "Moog Styling" seems to have been sifted through someone's PC sound card circa Windows '95 and strip mined of any kind of warmth or humanity. In that  respect the cover art is genius in that I have never seen cover art so succinctly  depict the music inside more correctly. It is the music of Star Wars, devoid of all fanfare and flourish, played with mathematical precision and just in case you had your hopes up there is an imprint on the cover which reads "not the original soundtrack" with which  to drill the message home. To mix my geek-ology-isms;  "Its Star Wars Jim, but not as we know it"

Of course no Star Wars collection is complete without one storybook and I have taken it upon myself to own the middle one "The Empire Strikes Back"



I've seen the other two in my travels, even in the wild in Melbourne,  but budget constraints have always held me back. Someday I'll be in a position to buy em and have  all three.

Lastly I wanted to share with you something truly special in the Star Wars universe. Its not in the picture above because i wanted it to be unique and I didn't want to spoil the surprise. Some of you might already have heard of this but to those who haven't this is a great little gem. Its this one....


The band is Big Daddy. They are on the Rhino Records label and they do hit songs of the 70s and 80s in 1950s rock-a-billy style. Including you guessed it (side one track 4)  Star Wars!


Here it is all its Surf Guitar style!! Gotta love that Theremin as well.



So there you have it. A brief adventure in finding records from both the dark side and light side of the force.

Hope you've enjoyed it. Til next time. May the Force Be With You.

Luke Pencilneck