• Bobo Coen

Constant Ticking & Sore Knees

So I'm starting late today.


I had to walk to post office to collect record. This is distance of about 2 1/2 miles round journey. It took about an hour. I didn't mind, nice day, nice walk. but my left knee is grumbling & the right one is screaming like a very pissed off canary....


Must be getting old. I never worry about my age or even feel old. How does one feel when their old? I don't know. The only time It sinks in is if I think about albums i bought when they came out...


2019 will be 33th anniversary of Master of Puppets (Metallica), Peace Sells (Megadeth) & Orgasmatron (Motorhead). It will also  be the 28th anniversary of The Black Album (Metallica) & lord help me Nevermind (Nirvana)....Now that makes me feel old!!!!


so lets not dwell on it too much.


The point is collecting records & how we receive them is an ever evolving process. Today's white hot albums are tomorrows classic rock. Part of the thrill of owning vinyl is being able to hold it in your hands & the hunt. I'm sure I'm not the only collector who covet's an album (preferably on limited colored vinyl) only to feel a tiny, tiny, pang of deflation when I finally get my mitts on it. The first reaction is Yes! followed by ritual of playing it, Cataloging it. Once the thrill of ownership wares off , it usually takes a fortnight for me (or till I get paid again) I turn to what's next on my wish list.


Always chasing the buzz. Obsessive? hmm...Possibly. I prefer to think of it as a campaign to hear as much good music as possible. Ahem.


I still go to & support my Local Interdependent Record Store to order & browse, but Increasingly I'm dealing directly with Small Record Labels or directly with the bands themselves.


This is a throw back to the early 60's when there was no distribution for records other than writing directly to label & ordering them. Mick Jagger ordered his Blues Records direct from Chess in Chicago. An act that impressed the less well off Keith Richards at their infamous chance meeting at Dartford Train Station.  


The only other option was to have a relative in the Merchant Navy & hope they would give you the records they brought back from their travels. In fact there is a school of thought that this practice of bringing records back from, principally the States played a huge part in development of youth music & Culture in the U.K. Reel to Reel tapes would be made of these records & be passed around among enthusiasts. So a primitive form of downloading or streaming?


So now we have a huge industry based on distribution of music, merchandise, etc. so why order direct from Labels? I think for me their are benefits & cons. There is definitely a thrill to coming home from Work to find a record waiting. There is also records I can only find through mail order. The only downside is the wait.


The record I collected this morning was by a band called Witches of God. It took 21 days to come. So why not order it from my local record store? Well the truth is the distributors can only carry so much stock & a lot of lesser known or smaller artists or labels are left to fend for themselves. This for vinyl collectors nothing short of a ticking time bomb.


That may seem a bit of a drastic statement but a quick glance at the Vinyl charts will show this week Two Queen Albums (Greatest hits and Bohemian Rhapsody Soundtrack), Brian Adams, and wait for it.... Doctor Who - The Dalek's Master plan cast recording!!! No Not exactly new music but with demand for these vinyl remasters smaller labels are being pushed down the order list. An album could be ready for release a mere 6 months after its  been sent to the press...if the client is lucky & a major label doesn't come in with massive order & equally massive budget for their reissue program.


I'm as guilty as any record collector of enabling this situation. The main Reason I started collecting vinyl again was to replace my cds. I'm was very interested in Rod & the Faces Vinyl box set that was released. |I looked on lustily at Pledge Musics Slade Vinyl Box set and was given it my Long suffering Wife as a birthday present. . These two projects seem to be put together with real care & an eye to detail, & actually real value for money.  Which is more than can be said for some reissues.  The worst offender in recent times was surprisingly not from a major label but one of the most famous Independent  Labels in the world.


With the upswing in interest in Doom & Stoner music, the Bands at the Roots or considered the godfathers of the scene found huge demand for their back catalogs on vinyl. For an example, Electric Wizard's long out of print records were  reprinted (on various colored vinyl of course) with again the key element, care & eye for detail. They were snapped as soon as they appeared. So that brings me to one of the most sought after albums ever. Second hand copies sold for silly money.


Sleep "Holy Mountain" is one of the keystone collections of music recorded in  heavy music period. I literally jumped for Joy when Earache Records announced it's reissue. O.K. I had pang of guilt that Sleep wouldn't be sharing in the financial windfall that was going to rain down on Earache but this was a golden opportunity to give this album the attention it needed, no deserved.


So what did Earache do? Well if there was a prize for fucking up the golden goose they win it hands down. I don't know if they are incompetent or just don't care. I suspect they seen a way to turn quick profit & to hell with the people who buy their product.  Sure they did the obligatory colored versions but no extra tracks? no sleeve notes? All of that can be forgiven if they actually bothered to do a half decent job.  It's enough that it would be in my hands. The pangs of deflation I mentioned, in this case was crushing. The Cover was toilet paper thin, The Vinyl itself is the worst I have ever seen. It looked like Torvill & Dean has relived their Bolero routine across the surface for old times sake. It was completely unplayable. I emailed Earache who sent me nice reply apologizing & promising me a replacement as soon as possible. Which they did but it should have never happen in first place.


This type of behavior is shameful when smaller labels are doing their utmost to deliver great products, great value for money & support this music. Most of the Albums I purchase from these labels are ordered  & I know I will have to wait quite a while. As far as I know a lot of these labels are one man/Woman operations & a good ones at that. I don't mind because I know when it arrives it will be of highest quality & just a really beautiful & quality edition to my collection.


They are being pushed down waiting lists in favor of the Majors, who are reprinting everything that they consider important for the vinyl tourists to own. Surely any one who wants Springteen's records has them already? How many more copies of Rumours or Queen's Greatest Hits need to be sold before there is one for every person on Earth? The other Issue is price. Here  I go back to where I came in with albums of a vintage age (there is madness in my method).  Rumors a 42 year old album is selling for around £27.  The Queen Album collection can be yours at a wallet busting £280!!!


The albums whose anniversary's  I noted are much more reasonable,  Master of Puppets for £15. Nevermind £20. So not only are Majors hogging the presses they are pushing up prices, greedy to the last.


When they have sold all those old albums to the target audience & the Vinyl Tourists get bored & go back to streaming what then. That's  the ticking time bomb. How many Independent Labels will be still here when the dust is settled?  How many will be able to continue to be financially able to wait 6 months to get their product in to the marketplace? What's the Solution?


I haven't the foggiest. I do know if these labels & artists are not supported they will cease to exist & the vinyl we love will be come harder to find than unicorn's teeth.


For my part try I try to weigh the difference by buying more new albums than old. On my limited budget I try to support both label  & Local record store.I try to get to a few gigs a year & buy some merchandise


I don't even mind walking two & a half miles to pick up a record......although my knees respectfully disagree!!

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