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, 11 August 2015

You bought it for how much?

It's been a long time since my last entry. Ah what can I say, I have no real excuses. But interesting things have happened on ebay this week. Three early Bauhaus test pressings went up for auction in the week and I watched with suprise and dread as the bids sky rocketed for them. Take a deep breath, if you have any of these on your radar...this could induce a wallet attack.

First up is a test pressing of the flexi-disc 7" of God In An Alcove. This was released in 1982 and was blue in colour and was part of the flexipop magazine that gave away a single with each copy of the magazine. The song came from their debut album In The Flat Field which was released under 4AD, so although released in 1982 after the band moved to Beggars Banquet, it still fits into my collecting criteria. On Discogs the test pressing for this release has sold twice in the last year, once for €15.00 (around £10) and again for $10 (around £6.40). These were sold in February and June of this year, so not so long ago (I can't believe I missed those).

The ebay auction finished at a whopping £180....ouch!

The three auctions were all from the same seller. All looked as genuine an item as they could, but I do always wonder how easy it would be to get the regular release and paste a white lable onto it. The next item was a white label test pressing of the 7" single Telegram Sam. I haven't seen a test pressing for this before, so I was quite eager to see if the bidding would stay in the sensible area or sky rocket like the item above also did. When going into an auction, I always think it best to think rationally beforehand of the absolute maximum you are willing to go to before you get involved with the bidding process, as many times a sort of primeval instinct takes over and you can easily convince yourselve that this is the only moment in your life that you will ever see this item for sale and start bidding accordingly. I judged that the item might be worth around £40, seeing as you can easily pick up the full release for a couple of quid. it was already at £45 by the time I found it listed....arse!

The final winning bid .....£205....what???

I know smart ass, this isn't the uk version!!

The final item, the one I could easily have arguments with myself over about how willing I was to push the spending limit on, was a white label test pressing of one of the first pressings of the 7" single Dark Entries. I have reviewed the versions I currently have here and it looked as though this could be the crowning piece as the matrices showed it either to be the first Axis version or the blue 4AD labels version. As with the Telegram Sam release, I had never seen a test pressing of this before. It was hard to know what this would be worth so as to set myself a reasonable limit. I actually thought £50 would be a reasonable upper limit, as this would very likely be the only test pressing of this release I would ever see. This is what you have to be careful of with auction sites such as ebay, you can so easily argue with yourself into bidding more and more and if you dont make up your mind beforehand about your upper limit and leave the decision until near the end of the auction, you can easily argue even more with yourself. The typical argument is, "wouldn't be a shame if it just went for £1 more than I was willing to go to" or "I'm losing, I'm losing". It's so easy to get drawn into a bidding war with someone. As usual the bids went through the roof on the final few seconds.

The winning bid .......£361.....!!!!!!!!!!!

Needless to say, I came away from the bidding empty in basket.

Following from my previous submission, I did promise further research into CD production and the ability to be able to spot newer prints from older ones. There were a few little things I spotted at the time, such as the change from the black print text on the CD to later having colour picture CDs. One very interesting piece of infomation was about the introduction of SID codes in 1994. These are 4 character codes on the inside ring, near the hole of the CD itself. These are usually marked with the letters IFPI followed by the 4 character code marking the mastering and replication source of the CD. Becasue this standard wasn't introduced until 1994, it's a very good identifier for later re-prints. Here is an official PDF which introduced the standard to the industry.

I have found that I have a number of CD's myself that I thought were original copies but have SID codes. This is a really useful piece of infomation for those trying to identify an original.

In the last few months, I toyed with a visit to the Netherlands in the autumn and the Utrecht International Record Fair. This has to be one of the largest record fairs in Europe and has been on my radar for many a year now, but I easily talk myself out of things. The typical argument with myself is how poor every other record fair has been and this was likely to be just as bad, but on a larger scale. But then if I dont give it a go, I can't really have an informed opinion can I? The window of oppurtunity passed me by and I managed to talk myself out of it, but my lovely, long suffereing wife persuaded me to perhaps have a more serious attempt to go next year. So there is a good chance I will go sometime soon. When I do, I will certainly report back.

For two reasons I have another giveway for anyone that fancies a slice of history. The first reason is the fact that it's been way too long since I gave anything away on this blog, I'm piling up quite a pile of duplications. The second reason is down the usual bumbling uselessness from a trader, making out they were selling a white label test pressing then sending the standard release,... numpty. I've had my money back and the trader doesn't want the item returning.

So I'm giving away a copy of a Greek pressing of the Cocteau Twins album Treasure on Polygram. If tens of thousands of copies of this album were sold in the UK, then thousands must have been sold around northern Europe and by the time the album filtered down to Greece I would not at all be suprised if the number of pressings were in just the hundreds. So in my estimation this vinyl copy is a rarity indeed. Not stupidly rare, but a lovely item to own none the less.

It also has those unusual Greek labels that seem to be either poor copies of earlier 4AD releases in the UK or left overs from the same period sent to the Greek manufacturers. Anyhoo, in the usual fashion, if you want to get your hands on this, just get in touch with me and I'm sure it will end up in a good home, I already have this anyway. Facbook, email, comment on this blog or carrier pigeon will do.

Thanks for reading as always


  1. You still after that Mass - You and I white label 7"?

    1. That's another one on my "will I ever see it" list. Always after a gem like like that