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, 23 August 2011

Carpe Diem (Seize the fish)

Someone asked me last week how far through I am with my collection.  That’s a very hard thing to measure. When I first compiled a list of what had been released in the first decade, I had about 350 items listed, of which I had less than 100.  Over the next year or so the number of items on the list grew bigger and bigger and the amount of items I acquired did not keep up.

Before transferring my Excel spreadsheet list to Discogs, I had gathered a list of over 750 items to collect and still growing.  Of these I had about 350 items.  But the list was still growing faster than I was accruing items.

Things have changed a little now.  Because my collection is on Discogs, the wish list has been neglected.  I plan to expand my wish list on Discogs, but this only covers confirmed releases.  My list included items that were only rumours and I had never seen any proof of existence.  Discogs doesn’t allow additions for rumoured releases, they have to be proven releases, preferably by ownership.

My collection has more than 450 items now and, at a guess, I’m about halfway through what I know is out there.  The list of potentials is still growing even now though.  But then in a way, wouldn’t the day when I have everything be the saddest day of my life?  Probably.

I will make sure I enjoy the journey……………..

Sunday, 7 August 2011

How many melons can the morons monopolise!

After reading comments about recent problems between Throwing Muses and 4AD, I felt the need to have a moan about the major record industry in the world and reveal a couple of insights into the UK industry.

Musicians are artists. They do what they do for love, anger, sex, thrills, a need to emotionally expose themselves or to just enrich the world with a natural talent. The big difference between an artist and a fake, is the drive for money. There are plenty of musicians that make music regardless of money and there are a rare few who are lucky enough to have made some money from it.

Musical history is overrun with stories of exploitation, cheating, theft and abuse of artists by the industry that makes money out of these people’s personal struggle with life. In the late sixties, some independent record companies were started up in an appreciation of the artist and their work and tried to protect them from these carnivores of human emotion. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard from some the excuse “well, they are a business and a business has to make money”. Business is the modern monster in our society. Anything is justified in the name of business and money.

In the late seventies during the punk revolution, groups of people and artists were so sick of the abuse by these vultures, that they set up independent record companies of their own. Out of these many independents came record labels such as Factory, Mute, and Beggars Banquet. Out of Beggars Banquet came 4AD. These independents loved the music they signed up and signed artists under a culture of fair play and a combined interest to get this art out to people who would appreciate it. This was a total contrast to the major record labels whose interest in music was irrelevant, they may have just been shipping units of melons for all the care they had in the artists.

Nowadays many of those independents are themselves majors (or have been swallowed up by them). The original management have gone elsewhere along with their keen spirit and desire for fairness. The same greed that powered the majors is now once again starting to creep into the independents. This is causing a new revolution in small independent labels with the same love of the music and sense of fair play. Many new artists don’t even see the need for record labels and do everything themselves.

Meanwhile, the majors are struggling to make ends meet and are losing huge amounts of money and business. The funny part of it is that they are bemused as to why!??! That’s because you are not selling melons, you morons!

I have seen how far removed the majors are from their customers here in the UK. The UK was once a centre for groundbreaking, world selling music. The industry here has spent so long trying to control the market and making the products they sell cheap on overheads and short lived in interest, that the market here has become mostly disinterested, uncaring about copyright and narrow in it’s variety of taste. I have seen a growing number of artists that are doing well around the world, getting little to no coverage in the UK as they don’t fit the majors agendas. If you can believe it, huge numbers of major artists from around the world with many albums to their name, cannot be bought in the high street and have never been available except by import.

The independent spirit was what attracted me to 4AD’s music in the first place, and many others. It has been sad to see in recent years this spirit get lost and forgotten. This is also another reason for collecting the first decade, where the spirit of independence was very much alive.

Come on 4AD get your MOJO back!!