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, 4 March 2014

Bootlegs, licensed or modern releases, eastern European 4AD releases

Something that has bothered me for a long time now has been the lack of understanding of the line between official releases and the bootlegging world. This isn't too bad in countries like the UK and the US. Very strict copyright laws exist that stop the blatant copying and selling of copyrighted music and prosecutions are made all the time. Bootleggers still exist in these two countries, but are generally from live performances or from demo recordings which are not part of any official release and tend to come under a more grey area. I think these are still illegal, but generally are poor quality and not really done for the advantages of money but more done by a fan excited at the thought of releasing their own collected samples.

It then becomes a matter of choice as to whether or not the UK or US collector wants to collect these unofficial releases as part of their collection. I think most collectors would not class these as legitimate collection pieces, yet some still fetch collector prices.

The waters become a little more cloudy though, when it comes to the non UK and US releases. Many European countries can be mostly relied on as a source of official releases and versions licensed from the main country of the owning label. Germany, France, Belgium, Italy and Spain, seem to be reliable in the fact that a release under these countries own labels will most likely be legitimately released through a licence agreement and, therefore, be official. Further into Eastern Europe though is where the line between official and unofficial starts to blur a little and starts to make you wonder as to whether something for sale is a genuine licensed release or not.

There are quite a few Polish releases of Dead Can Dance albums and Cocteau Twins albums in the late eighties on Discogs. In the mid to late eighties, one of my great uncles had family in Poland and we used to send clothing parcels to them because the Polish economy was so bad that each day people where queuing for hours just to buy bread. To think of western CD's being licensed for sale in a market that can hardly feed itself seems difficult to comprehend, not because of the moral questions but more for the reason that no-one would manufacture something that wasn't sellable.

I would love to know other people's opinions on this. When did countries like Russia, Poland, Turkey and Israel actually license and sell authorised versions of 4AD releases? Israel's releases seem to look more genuine, but are they legit releases? I've no idea. At the moment my gut instinct is that the Israeli releases are genuine and that a few Polish vinyl ones could perhaps be genuine, but the Polish CD's and tapes, all Russian releases and all Turkish releases from the eighties are either bootlegs or much later pressings. It would be good to hear from anyone that bought any 4AD releases from these countries. There are a few others that are intriguing as well such as Yugoslavian and Czechoslovakian releases, that could well be the real thing. There is the growing South American market from countries such as Brazil and Argentina. Once again some vinyl releases could be genuine, bought from the eighties? It's hard to say.

It was interesting noting from Martin Aston that 4AD never really had much in the way of tight records of what was produced, where and in what quantities. Sometimes I think it would be great to be let loose on boxes of old papers in the 4AD office and try and find out how many copies of each release where pressed, but it seems those paper trails don't exist.

Anyway, I must apologise for such a long absence. I have spent a long while reading Martin Aston's book. I have carried on writing my own book and have got a little engrossed in it. Still, the collection does not stop collecting. I have now acquired all the versions (well the ones I know about so far) of Throwing Muses' single Dizzy. So I need to get a set of photo's done to add here. I promise not to leave it another 3 months until I post again...promise

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