An Introduction

I first became interested in 4AD, a UK independent record label founded in 1980, towards the end of the '80's. I was falling in love with the music of Dead Can Dance, Clan of Xymox, Pixies, Bauhaus and The Birthday Party and was surprised when the 4AD label sampler "Lonely Is An Eyesore" came out in 1987 that all these bands were from the same label.

After visiting a Pre-Raphaelite exhibition of some American's collection of art, I came to thinking of all this musical art that 4AD have released that may one day drift into obscurity unless someone shows it as art. So now I'm on a crusade, to collect the first ten years of 4AD's releases and exhibit the collection on 4AD's 50th anniversary in 2030. This is a big task which will have some interesting twists and turns along the way.

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Where have I been? What time do you call this?

How long has it been??

What can I say? It's been a topsy turvy set of months. I've been trying to tighten the purse strings for a while and then the smack in the face I really didn't want was the collective genius known as Brexit.

It seems to be a hippy dream ideal to want to live in a world where borders, race, sexuality and gender need have no real profile and are irrelevant, but that seems a dream moving further from reality. In a short period where David Bowie has left us and the world seems to have hardly noticed the legacy that just one man left behind, the country I live in seems to becoming more and more intolerant and regressive as time passes.

Why is this relevant I hear you say? Because the vote by the British public whether to leave the European union has its many sides to argue, but out of it has come an intensity of bigotry and a licence for intolerance. For those that may not know what has happened in this country, the place where I dropped from my mother and therefore am expected to have allegiance in gratitude, every person eligable to vote was asked to decide whether to leave the European Union. While I have my own opinions on the matter, the biggest argument to come out of the debate to leave was to stop the "legions" of foreigners "taking over our beloved country". This seemed to give voice to an otherwise quietly shamed population of ageing racists that revelled in the opportunity to be brash about their colonial attitudes.

But I digress, the outcome of this shameful set of proceedings was the majority vote going to the campaign to leave the European Union. Out of this moment of genius, the British pound slumped making the vast majority of what I needed to collect, stupidly expensive. Just Great! So apart from racism becoming a little more of an acceptable attitude and, of course, the rest of the baggage that goes along with those bigoted opinions, prices in the rest of the world have shot up, including postage rates.

There have been some interesting developments that have not gone by unnoticed in my slow period though. There have been some interesting statements that some of the earlier 4AD releases came in glossy covers and the later ones had a more matt finish. This has only been on a couple of UK releases, but I can't verify at the moment if there is any truth in it, but I am on the case. There was also a release, again from the UK, that came with both the negative and positive female wrestlers photos on the centre label. Again, I have to get this verified myself before I can give any definitive answer as to whether it's true, but I will update my findings here.

Another interesting development over the past year has been the number of music collection exhibitions taking place. These have ranged from photographic collections and memorabilia to actual record collections. These have been rare and scattered over Europe, but an interesting development none the less. I find this interesting because it is what I am aiming to do with my collection in 2030, on 4AD's 50th anniversary. I still have no idea where, or if anyone in the world will be remotely interested in it, but I'll worry about that nearer the time.

I was also fortunate enough to see Sex Gang Children recently as well. As with the Peter Murphy tour done recently, there is a new trend for older bands to play either an old album or do a tour playing the songs from an earlier period. The Peter Murphy gig was mindblowing, playing just the old bauhaus songs. All the songs had so much energy and were so fresh and new, 35 years on. Sex Gang Children did a similar thing, playing songs from the Song and Legend era. The music was just so refreshing and unique and full of ghusto. I was fortunate enough to meet Andi Sex Gang after the show and I just had to tell him how privileged I felt to be able to see himself and Peter Murphy play such material having been too young (just) to miss it the first time around. As I said to Andi Sex Gang, I find it so strange that with the acceptance of all types of music nowadays without the extreme elitist tribalism that always used to be so prelevant that, of all the music styles being performed by the younger bands, hardly anyone picks up and experiments with these styles of music. There is simply nothing like early Bauhaus and Sex Gang Children around anymore, which is such a crying shame.

I also have the knack of coming across the most amazing finds when I'm strapped for cash. It's been a tight year financially and the collection has had to take a back seat. It's always under these circumstances when one of the Lonely As An Eysore boxes comes up for sale. Predictably one has. This is arguably THE 4AD collection piece, a beautiful wooden box, limited to 100 copies, of which only 30 ever went on general sale to the public. It exchanges hands for around £1300 on a few occasions and rarely comes up for sale. Needless to say, once again it's outside my grasp, darn it!!

Finally, in keeping with the spirit of this blog entry and as an "up-yours" to the growing intolerance I seem to be noticing of late, I wish to inform my wonderful readers of the latest book by the author of "Facing the other way the story of 4ad" Martin Aston. He has a new book that came out on October 13th called "BREAKING DOWN THE WALLS OF HEARTACHE: HOW MUSIC CAME OUT" and described as "a comprehensive history – spanning a hundred years, starting in 1920s Harlem – of the queer pioneers of Popular Music with over 90 new interviews."

Hopefully I won't stay away so long next time

Monday, 16 May 2016

Cocteau Twins' Lullabies

I promised to add to this blog whenever I got every version of a release and show all the different versions. This is always tricky as how is one to know whether there are other versions other than than the ones I know about.

I thought I had every version of the Cocteau Twins' Peppermint Pig single for instance, but recently realised that a US version of the CD was released in 1991 and, although outside of the "First Ten Years" remit, still helped me paint a complete picture. So after acquiring that version, I've added it to the blog entry at the end, please reference here for the additional information (at the bottom of the page)

As I said, it's difficult to know sometimes whether there are other versions that exist. I used to think that there were only three versions of the Cocteau Twins first single Lullabies, only one of these being an original from 1982. When this happens, I hold back a little to give myself time to discover any other versions. Thankfully I did wait as I discovered what must be a very rare gem, so much so that I think I must also share this :

This is rocking horse poo and is about as rare to find as one of the these four versions of the Lullabies single. Somewhere out there may be something even rarer than the above, an original poster or postcard for the Lullabies single. I haven't found one yet, but as always, that doesn't mean that one doesn't exist. The image is taken from a book by Stefan Lorant published in 1937 called Liliput Pocket Omnibus

So here we go then, Cocteau Twins 1982 single Lullabies

(1) Netherlands 12"
(2) UK 12"
(3) UK CD
(4) US CD

The two CD's are re-issues from 1991. That is strictly outside of my collecting remit of the first ten years, but it would be a shame not to include them when there are just these four versions.

(1) Netherlands 12"- 4AD / CNR - 151.089 released in 1982

This is the rare one. Lullabies was the first Cocteau Twins single and was released in the UK and can be quite easily found. It wasn't until very recently that I discovered that it was also released in the Netherlands. The item on ebay had no photo and only had a description of the catalogue number. Discogs was a useful tool here, becasue even though it wasn't listed on Discogs, I could go to the CNR Weesp company to see if this catalogue was missing from the listings and it was. Something had to belong to the missing catalogue number, so I took it as a hint that this ebay item may be genuine....and it was!

This version has a slightly darker contrast on the cover than the colouring of the UK version.

The back cover has a slight amendment to the 4AD logo at the bottom :

It shows the catalogue number which is poorly printed and a little blurred (Do not adjust your set)

As is also the text "Marketed by CNR Weesp" in the bottom right corner

The labels are intersesting, as they resemble the 4AD labels of the previous year (1981). If my label history of 4AD is correct (here), 4AD must have distributed left over (possibly??) labels from 1981 out of the UK for the non-uk releases. (4AD labels were still used for Bauhaus releases in Greece even when Bauhaus were no longer with 4AD but by then on Beggars Banquet)

These crumpled paper labels were used on UK releases in 1981 and then they moved onto other picture labels in 1982 (as you will see in release 2). This Netherlands version still has the crumpled paper picture and older black 4AD label design

(2) UK 12" - 4AD - BAD 213

The UK version is lighter and brighter in colour than the Netherlands version

The catalogue number on the back sleeve is at a 45 degree angle (who knows why)

On one side the label has the female wrestlers picture, typical of 4AD in 1982, one of three picture labels used that year

and the other label all in white also typical of 1982 and progressed on from the 1981 black label.

(3) UK CD- 4AD - BAD 213CD released in 1991

As with the CD single for Peppermint Pig, this was released for a singles box set. But either some were sold separately or since then, some scrupulous traders have split them on the second hand market to make more money.

The UK version comes in a slim CD jewel case and the cover is the same as the original 12" a typical single cover that folds over itself and shows the 12" back cover on the inside

(4) US CD- Capitol - C2-15766 released in 1991

As with the UK version, this was part of a set but could also have been sold seperatly. The colour of both the UK and US CD's are a pinky bronze colour. But the US disc is slightly darker in colour than the UK one

The front cover is different to the UK CD version as it only has a single piece with a white back, no folder over with the back cover of the 12".

The inlay is also quite different with both the Capitol and 4AD logos

These are the four versions I have found so far. As with the Peppermint Pig single, if I find any more, or even a postcard or poster, I will add it here and let you all know about it.

Full listing here on Discogs