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.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Jonny Halfhead Requires Charitable Donations

I am very excited. I have been wanting to let tell you all what I have managed to acquire this week, but didn’t want to chance my luck until the item finally arrived safely and in one piece.

There are many releases that are exciting to acquire when collecting 4AD. Some are quite rare and yet fetch surprisingly low prices. Some are ridiculously priced, not only because they are rare, but also because they are very much sought after.

I remember a 4AD collector being asked what his most prized collection piece was. His answer was the My Captains single “History”. He had been struggling to find this single over a number of years and have never seen it once, not on ebay or at record fairs, nowhere. And yet I never had this problem and found a copy quite easily.


Probably the most expensive piece of 4AD to try and acquire is the “Lonely Is An Eyesore” compilation. This was a 4AD release from 1987. It came in a standard release of either LP, CD, cassette or video. This version of the LP was fantastic enough, with a strange fold out inner sleeve with all the 4AD releases listed so far in 1987, many already deleted. 4AD released a more limited edition of this LP. The limited version had a thick book inside with lots of great artwork and a second sleeve that folded out  like a tryptych. But then 4AD also created 100 copies of a wooden box, which had inside the LP, CD, cassette and video, with individual pieces of artwork created for the box inside. The plan was to give all the contributing artists a copy each, but some of the artists didn’t want their copy. Of the 100 made only about half were taken by individuals in 4AD. The rest then got sold to the general public.


A few years ago I saw one of these go up for sale on ebay for about £400. I didn’t have the money then, and I also found it difficult to justify spending that kind of cash on one music item. A couple of years later another sold for just over £1000, again on ebay. I didn’t even see this one until it had gone. Now if you see one for sale it’s generally going for around the £2000 mark. I have seen one for sale at this price and it becomes hard to try and justify spending that kind of money.

Unfortunately, this is not the item I have acquired as yet.

This is what I have just got my hands on.


This is the debut release from Clan of Xymox. Released in 1983 and self financed, it has quite a story behind it. Getting behind the story though seems full of controversy and ego. Don’t take my word for it, see this great biography on the story of Clan of Xymox here

The reason why Subsequent Pleasures has become so sought after, is because “The Band” decided to destroy most of the 500 copies. Why is the ultimate question! Nevertheless, the few copies that remain fetch a good price and are generally difficult to get hold of for less than £200.

Ouch, I’ve think I’ve just had a wallet attack!

To sweeten the pain, when the item arrived in the post, I was delighted to find inside a set list from a Clan of Xymox gig, with a backstage pass stuck to it and signed by the band members. Finishes it off nicely I think!

Well at least this is one of the more expensive items on the collection grabbed. I see myself fortunate I didn’t decide to collect Led Zeppelin or something similar, otherwise I would need another mortgage.....

Saturday, 7 April 2012

The 13th Month is Jack

Over the last few weeks, after putting my wantlist together, I have been able to see the road even more clearly in front of me. At the moment I have about 900 items still to collect. That puts me about a third of the way through, maybe more.

That’s quite depressing. If I bought one item a day, that would take me three years to complete. And that would not include the stuff discogs doesn’t have listed, including items not yet listed and other formats outside of discogs’ wantlist such as posters, postcards and other promotional items. Of course, this doesn’t reflect how much this daft venture is going to cost me.

At least I have two kidneys if times get difficult!

Joking aside, this does bring up some philosophical conundrums. How can I justify spending money when I could send money to charities that do good work saving lives. Am I putting valuable resources into something futile that could actually be saving people’s lives instead? That is very hard to justify. I hope that the history of our culture is worth saving. 4AD were a landmark label and this history I feel should be documented. With evidence rather than just words. Besides which, this collection would be better with me than rotting in a land fill.

I also bought the domain this week and stuck a single page on there for now. A website is still required for the great plan. Frustration is setting in though, as I have big designs for the website without the ability to execute them at present. Damn my limitations. I could go on a three year university course on web development in order to attain the skills, but how the hell am I going to afford the money and time to do that??? and of course keep everything else going.

I may be able to do it myself, it will take a lot of organising, designing and, as with anything IT related, a lot of patience and plenty of things going wrong. You have to love IT, it promises everything, then constantly mocks your intelligence, only to find in most cases that the solutions are simple, they have just been made unnecessarily complicated to begin with. The website is possible to achieve, I need to invest some time in to it. TIME, Ha! As previously explained, time is something that is at somewhat of a premium of late. Oh well, I can never use the excuse of ever being bored.

I recently attained one of the more exciting items for the collection. In 1989 4AD released a calendar for 1990. What a laugh, it’s a 13 month calendar and, as with most things that are designed when graphic designers have full freedom, is totally impractical. The 13th month is called Jack, of course. Thank goodness it’s impractical anyway, as the calendar is in incredible condition. If you ever find a calendar from 1990, it will be just about impossible to find one where someone hasn’t scribbled something on at least one of the months. Fortunately, there’s not a mark on it.