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