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.

Friday, 28 December 2012

Grab a Piece of 4AD History

So its the year end. I have had a good year, this humble blog has hit 20,000 views which I never thought would be possible. In the UK, the popular magazine "Record Collector" has published the 200 top collectable music releases from the UK. In that listed featured the Lonely Is An Eyesore 4AD wooden box set. I still don't have this, and each year its worth just seems to soar and soar.

It has made me think of how this magazine and the book they regularly publish, which I got for Xmas, called the Rare Record Price Guide 2014 are only published from a UK point of view, UK only releases in Pound Sterling. The pricing guide I can understand, but music is no longer national and record collecting in the last five or so years has become totally international. Most new releases such as the new Dead Can Dance album although printed in one country, does not belong to a single countries release area. When a release is sold online it can originate from anywhere in the world.

I suppose that is one thing that is making my collection interesting, is having completely unique releases for many different countries. The US, Canadian, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Greek releases all have unique labels, codes and matrices in the cases of many of the eighties releases. It's a shame that Record Collector don't get with the times and become more universal in the way that music collecting is.

I suppose you want to know what the most highly collectable music release had the number one spot for the UK? It was the former Beatles group The Quarrymen, with an acetate record recorded by them in a 'record straight to a record' shop. There was only one made and Paul McCartney owns it and it's worth about £200,000. Thank goodness I don't collect the Beatles. Although the estimated price for that seems to have stayed the same over the last couple of years, I have been wondering over the last year, how wise an investment music is. So since August 2012 I have been keeping a track of the worth of my collection on Discogs, using the average selling price and not the highest or lowest, and comparing that against the number of items I have in my collection. Although not incredibly accurate, it does give some inkling as to what the market is doing. Of course, there are some elements that could skew the figures, such as the fact that I may already have the cheaper items in my collection so newer items collected may be worth more and therefore give a false perspective. But I suppose I can only go on what I have. On the other side of the argument is the fact that new releases when limited, always fetch a high price to begin with as traders buy possible collectables to sell. This initially inflates the second hand market, but then after time the worth decreases. So I think overall, the tracker could be reasonably accurate.

As you can see from a half years worth of data, the general worth is slowly creeping up. It's certainly not conclusive, but I will be carrying this on over the next year to see what the trend does in future.

I have also been tracking since August 2012 how much progress I am making towards my target. It is a depressing state of affairs. As I have noted before, acquiring a release is another step towards a complete collection, but then I also find more items to collect. At the moment the count of wanted items is stable and thankfully slightly falling. It is a stark reminder of how difficult this project is. The awful state of traders quality to detail doesn't help either. The number of times this year that traders have advertised, incorrectly listed, or posted the wrong release seems to be getting worse, which just makes the process even more frustrating.

Which has happened again, which means that once again, I have a release to give away for the new year. This is another Cocteau Twins release, this one is a great freebie. I am giving away the original debut album "Garlands" released in the UK in 1982 on vinyl.

To win this great freebie, posted for free to the lucky winner, find me on Facebook under the name Jonny Halfhead, friend me and send me a message telling me why why you should win this original piece of 4AD history. A winner will be randomly picked from the entries as before.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Dead Can Dance Live with Love

There is only one thing I can think of at the moment to write about. My problem is that my feeble use of the English language is insufficient to describe the event with any of the colour that it richly deserves.

Last week my wife and I saw Dead Can Dance on their world tour at the Royal Albert Hall. I was very fortunate to have been able to sit on the telephone the day the tickets went on sale and got 2nd row tickets. I have never been to the Royal Albert Hall, which is a wonderful and very impressive venue. I had wondered if, because of the special venue, we may have been in for an even more impressive concert with Dead Can Dance being backed up by a small orchestra. But I can understand why this wasn’t done. Dead Can Dance would have had to have taken weeks out of the tour to prepare and practice for such a one off special and they are in the middle of a gruelling world tour.

I had seen Dead Can Dance when they last toured in 2005. We had just managed to get tickets for that concert and were right at the very back of the venue. So we were determined this time to try and better that. Even then though, stuck right at the back of the venue, the concert was awesome and an experience like no other concert I had experienced before. The only problem with that night was people getting out to take phones calls or the call of nature after having drunk too much beforehand, which was just annoying when being caught up in the atmosphere only to have it crash down by someone’s bottom shuffling in front of you a few times through the set. 

This time we had the chance to be properly involved in the atmosphere. 

We also saw Lisa Gerrard, one half of Dead Can Dance, doing her own concert a couple of years later for the Silver Tree tour. The incredible atmosphere created at that concert was the single most electrifying experience of my life, and to prove that it was not just myself imagining this experience, my wife was also very moved and judging by the tears in the audience that evening, the rest of the venue felt it too. 

But before trying to explain what a Dead Can Dance concert is like, let me first get off my chest how easily an experience like this can be ruined. I’m really starting to get fed up with concert goers that are completely selfish and ruin an experience for others. First of all there are the talkers, that have spent good money, the same as everyone else, to see an artist perform, and then spend nearly the whole time talking through it. I can sort of understand this at a live gig at an already established club night, where a proportion of the folk that are at the gig are there for the club night and not specifically there to see the artist, but when it’s a dedicated evening just to see the artist, it’s damned selfish and extremely ignorant to ruin someone else’s experience by having a catch up or general chit chat all the way through a performance. 

The other annoyance I find happening more frequently is mobile phone video recording. These people really wind me up. Masses of phone screens held up in front of you, blocking the site of the artist you have come and paid money to see, by selfish idiots that want to be able to put a poor quality, terrible sounding, crap piece of video footage on You Tube. What I don’t get with these people is the fact that they don’t realise that the time they waste recording this naff video and watching a tiny video screen instead of watching the actual artist, they have missed the experience, and the experience certainly hasn’t been captured on a wobbly out of focus video with a scratchy soundtrack!

Fortunately for us these issues were not present from the incredible seats we had at the front. But I have heard of other folk having these issues, which is quite upsetting for these people that have paid the same money to gain an experience ruined by the selfishness of others. I also heard that one of the Royal Albert Hall’s PA speakers was crackling, obviously broken.  Personally I would ask for my money back from the Royal Albert Hall if that was the case, from such a venue, I would only expect perfection in sound quality. So if you were affected by the crackling speaker, demand some money back!

The concert however, was an absolute treat. There had been strange forum user rumours that Lisa Gerrard and Brendan Perry didn’t seemed gelled or collaborative, but from my position, I thought they worked happily together. The new album certainly harks back to days when they worked together rather than just contributed their own tracks to an album. Brendan Perry played along with a couple of Lisa’s own solo songs instead of just sitting back and letting Lisa do her own thing. The only unusual vibe I picked up from Brendan was his frustration of getting everything absolutely right, he seems to be a perfectionist, which I can relate to. I have song writing ability, but a lack of musicianship which creates frustration against oneself. I could see this in Brendan, he composes great songs, but his technical ability next to the incredible session musicians Dead Can Dance always use most likely puts an unnecessary personal strain on proceedings. 

Having said that, there was barely a note wrong all evening. 

How do I describe a Dead Can Dance concert to the layman? This was not just a concert where the audience sings along and claps to a lovely tune, neither is a concert to stand up and strut your stuff to. Instead, at a Dead Can Dance concert, the atmosphere builds from the artists on stage out to the audience, creating a hypnotic rhythm that then sends waves of love and tenderness around the auditorium. This may sound a very hippy and silly thing to describe just a concert in such a way, but the evening started out like any other concert and by the end had the whole venue crying, for many people quite literally, including myself. 

Both artists project this love and tenderness, but the more accessible emotion emanates from Lisa Gerrard. Her piercing and beautiful voice hits you with such power, force and beauty that within minutes your heart feels as though it will explode. Brendan Perry’s power comes more from his music than his voice. Although his voice has its own tenderness, he seems to really know and get the power from the combination of rhythm and strong padded yet simple keyboard strokes. This is done simply and hypnotically even though the time signatures are sometimes very complicated. 

Dead Can Dance performed the songs from their new album which sat perfectly with the other older songs dropped in, some from Lisa Gerrard’s solo material, an old Greek song, a song Dead Can Dance did for This Mortal Coil and Brendan Perry performed Song To The Siren, a Tim Buckley song that This Mortal Coil successfully covered. After this barrage of love, tenderness and emotion thrown headlong at the audience, none of us wanted them to leave and have the experience over and done, which was cause for several encores. The last encore which looked slightly unprepared, I thought was improvised, as it was just a keyboard player and Lisa and I didn’t recognise the song and Lisa does improvise very well. Whatever the song was, it was a final blast of beauty driven headlong around the marvellous Royal Albert Hall. It was an incredible end to a wonderful show that left me personally emotionally exhausted. 

Coming away from an experience such as this, I find myself bemused and bewildered by how anyone cannot “get this”, how someone that loves music doesn’t really get caught up in the way that most of the audience and myself did. I have to feel sorry for the vast majority of music lovers in Britain that missed out on this experience and even worse don’t comprehend what they missed out on. 

I keep going back to my crisp analogy, how do you convey to someone that has a complete diet of just crisps, what a Malaysian Massaman curry tastes like and convince them of what they are missing out on.

Or even worse taste it and don’t like it….

Oh well, at least this way we can feel like Dead Can Dance are our own personal and exclusive blanket of love and affection. So what if everyone doesn’t “get it”, Dead Can Dance are ours, and love ‘em to bits.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Selling my soul to pop music

Oh well, going through another phase of writer’s block, so please forgive me. Not much has happened in the last few weeks. There has been a realisation that selling music is a small source of income for buying 4AD items. There is a lot of work involved though in selling and it has opened my eyes up to what the trader does go through.

A trader is unlikely to be a specialist in everything, but is very likely to be collector themselves. I can see sometimes how it might be difficult to let something go that has come the traders way, if it excites them enough to be in their own collection. I have heard of traders wincing at selling an item they would have loved to have kept for themselves, but after all they run a business and they have to sell stock.

This may induce a price hike unconsciously because they see the item worth more from their own prospective rather than objectively.

I have learned though, that most of the time, the trader is selling music they know little about. I know my 4AD to a reasonable extent. I also know my early goth punk stuff and a little prog from the seventies, but outside of this small scope, I am blind. The stock I am selling at the moment is nearly all chart pop stuff. While I feel dirty and sullied by just handling much of this stuff, I am also very aware I know little to nothing about the market. In my eyes, the majority of pop music is short lived and disposable, so the price of music in the second hand market for this stuff is of no surprise when it is worth practically nothing.

Sometimes though, some music looks to be worth more than you think. I was shocked at how much some releases by Dannii Minogue fetches. It would seem to me that a greater audience exposure means the greater likelihood of collectors, mixed in with that any releases that were less available than others and you have a mix which constitutes a higher price on the market. Record collecting magazines always go on about rarity, but it’s not rarity that is the prime factor in seeing a high price for a release, is the combination of rarity with demand. There are plenty of releases out there that are rare but don’t demand a high price.

A single by Cocteau Twins released with a limited number will always fetch a higher price than say a limited Ultra Vivid Scene release limited to the same amount. This is because the audience for Cocteau Twins was always and still is much larger than the audience fan base for Ultra Vivid Scene.

Of course a market trader generally doesn't know specifics such as this when deciding on a price to sell a release. Some traders will base a price for an item based solely on its rarity and will not know if the target audience is large or small. It’s a fumble really. I don’t know the market very well, so all I can base a pricing structure on is what other traders have managed to sell for in the past and what other traders are currently asking for each release.

Then, of course, the trader has to cover postage and overheads. I always think that postage is just the cost for popping the item in the post to the buyer. But of course other costs have to be covered. Instead of re-using packaging sent to me, I buy new envelopes. This is because it takes ages to rip off old tape, stickers and cover over handwriting from an envelope sent to me. If a have a few of them, I don’t want to be spending an hour, trying to re-use scrappy envelopes, I need to get the items sent to the customer with a minimum of fuss and the customer doesn't really want to see a battered old envelope when they get their package. Buying envelopes, printing address labels, taping and gluing the package securely takes a cost hit. Then of course there’s standard taxes, such as Paypal fees and, in my case, Discogs fees.

If these costs were added to the item price, the item price would then be too high to attract any custom. The only place these costs can be absorbed is within the postage costs.

Another element to pricing when selling is market value. What price a trader sells a release for will have an effect on the releases worth. For instance, if a release is generally sold for £10 and a few traders manage to sell the release for £1, then the market value for that release has dropped significantly. Buyers will not buy the release anymore at £10 if they have seen it sold before for significantly less. A trader has to think about this to some extent so as not to undermine the whole market. The same can be said for asking a high price. If the same item gets sold a few times at a higher price than £10, then it’s in the markets best interest to keep that price up if demand allows it.

Then I suspect that some traders want to hold on to some more precious items. I think this is done to show a customer what kind of trader they are by the stock they are holding. My stock, on the majority, is cheap pop stuff that is worth little. To a buyer perusing my stock, I imagine that as a trader I don’t look incredibly professional because of the stock I keep. If I had a variety of rare collectables in stock, I would probably look more serious to a potential customer. To be able to hold stock, the easiest method would be to hike the price of certain items up. This would help keep some of the serious stock and as an added bonus, if some of it sold it would be at a greater price, which is a plus for the trader and also helps the market go up in value.

So now I can see another side to traders. If a trader is selling an item at a ridiculous price, they either have made a bad judgement and don’t know the market for the particular item, or they are trying to retain stock while trading at the same time. Or it could just be that they are greedy, which is also a distinct possibility. What does this mean for you dear reader? As a trader, I would say, if an item looks overpriced, talk to the trader, give them examples of why you think the item is overpriced and make them an offer. As a buyer I know this works.

The vinyl compilation box set The History of the House Sound of Chicago, which I needed to purchase because M/A/R/R/S Pump up the Volume was on it, came up for sale on ebay. This was a trader and not a private seller and was selling it for about £130 on buy it now. I sent the trader an email showing the prices it had sold for on Discogs for around £50 and £60 and offered £45. The trader accepted, which was great. Always give it a try.

Of course, there are still greedy and know-it-all traders out there, so my previous opinion of some traders is still valid, damn it. I am right to moan, and carry on moaning I shall, for I am all knowing and wise and I want bargains. Hmph!

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Dead Can Dance Resurrected

Well done to Slow Pulse Girl at  Nightmares On Wax  for winning the Clan of Xymox Blind Hearts 12" promo. Hopefully another competition will come up again soon, as collection duplication is a constant and ongoing issue.

The piece I did on the Bauhaus singles of Dark Entries was kind of the way I wanted to go with this blog. I wanted it to become a good source to find definitive listings of a release. Yet even at the stage I am at, I am struggling to complete a release with all of it's variations. I suppose it comes back to the question again, how far do you go? The Dark Entries collection of 7 versions that I listed does not include any test pressings, if any test pressings exist at all anymore.

I starting to think that maybe I should just bite the bullet and stick my neck out with a few releases and say "this is every version that exists". I'm just wary of making out I'm an arse that thinks he knows it all, when in fact we are all on a journey that constantly changes and cheats (sometimes).

Maybe I will start and add more now that the collection is starting to take a decent form. I'm currently at 596 items collected that doesn't include posters, postcards and oddities. I still have roughly 900 items left to collect that I know of (again not including non music formats). So I still have one hell of a way to go.

To add to this, I'm not exactly shutting myself off to other music in the process. Dead Can Dance have their new album out called Anastasis, which I just couldn't help but buy, and of course not just in one format either. The album came as:

"Exclusive Limited Edition Box Set (Edition of 2000); boxed in custom made deluxe hardbound book, embossed with band logo and album title, and featuring 8 specially designed pages of album art and lyric sheets. Autographed 6" x 8" lithograph artwork print; USB drive contains the full album in high fidelity 24bit digital audio and album artwork." 

I'm a sucker for it. I had to have it and, of course, I couldn't let the chance of having the double clear vinyl version pass me by either. So I spent £55 on both of them and then had to fork out over £18 extra to get them delivered. The price for a second hand copy of the limited edition CD has rocketed from its new price. This always happens generally when a limited stock runs out. Some of the stock gets bought by traders who bet on making a quick from the flurry of interest the new album has created. Demand is up but supply has dried out, perfect for a quick price hike. I suppose you can't blame a trader wanting to make a living and a trader's prices only reflect (mostly) the price the customer is prepared to pay. 

The Dead Can Dance Anastasis limited edition has already sold twice on discogs for over £130 and  there are 5 for sale at the moment for between £120 and £220. It's very likely that the price will fall as initial excitement wanes. 

The album itself is wonderful. It seems as though Brendan Perry and Lisa Gerrard are collaborating more as they did in the eighties. In later albums of Dead Can Dance the music was more separated by the two artists and less collaborated. But now they do seem to be working together more as the style of the album is of both artists. I also think that it is probably the most accessible of all the Dead Can Dance albums, an album that would be a good introduction to Dead Can Dance if you have never listened to them before.

It has whetted my appetite to see them live in October. The only issue I could have with this album is that the mastering seems rushed. I waited to give the album a listen until the vinyl was delivered. The sound quality of Vinyl far surpasses the sound quality of CD's or downloads, so I wanted to listen to it at its best. Unfortunately the sound was a little flat. At first I thought it was the vinyl mastering, as these days vinyl records are made from a digital recording, which is actually defeating the object of having it on vinyl. But the CD version is also a little flat, but perhaps not as obvious. It's such a pity as the music is just awesome. 

You never know, if the unmixed tracks have been kept a better mastering may be done in future. But don't let it put you off, to the average ear the mastering quality probably won't even be noticed. What's more important is that the music on Anastasis is incredible, give it a listen

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Win a Clan Of Xymox Promo and Feel Loved

Clan of Xymox are a difficult band to figure out. They started with real genius, pushed their luck a bit too far following trends instead of exploring and experimenting with what they were doing, flopped in a huge way, then tried to pick up where their invention was last dropped but finding some of the talent was gone. Of Course Clan of Xymox themselves would never agree this is correct, except most fans would agree that this is the simple but accurate depiction.

Don’t get me wrong, the re-invented Clan of Xymox aren’t rubbish, but they do lack a certain flair that set them apart from their counterparts. The biggest issue is the fact that there seems to be way too much ego in the way to have any accurate or factual history simply laid out about the band.

The first album Subsequent Pleasures was a self released album that has a shroud of mystery over it from the beginning. As mentioned in earlier blogs, it is rumoured that Ronny Moorings, the singer of Clan of Xymox, didn’t like the quality so threw away most of the 500 copies made. Whether this has any truth is difficult to prove, but these rumours have helped the original version become very collectable, fetching a handsome price.

Once signed to 4AD their first Official album that was released called Clan of Xymox. Again some interesting confusion is raised because the band were calling themselves just Xymox, a Tag, I suppose you could call it, that Ronny Moorings had given himself (a bit like Jonny Halfhead...although someone gave me that, I didn’t invent it). The first album title was supposed to be Clan of Xymox by the band Xymox. But in the understandable confusion the Clan Of.. stuck.

The debut album is very much in the vein of New Order. Quite dark, quite dancey and electronic, with hints of industrial, or what was to become industrial music. Detail was its greater hallmark. Interesting shifts and lots of little samples and noises keep you interested and adds an atmosphere and realism to the music. This was something for me which defined a difference between Tangerine Dream and Jean-Michel Jarre’s music. Tangerine Dream were session electronic musicians. They could bang out an album every six months. Their music had a handful of layers and was clever in its simplicity. But Jean-Michel Jarre’s albums took time in the production process of adding a very rich texture using many, many layers and tweaks which gave his music more depth and realism. Clan of Xymox has this depth and multi layers.

The next album took the same ideas from the first album and galvanised them. Medusa is a perfect album. The production is spot on and the mix balanced just right. The songs have interesting and unexpected twists. The lyrics are simple, but have an air of honesty that allows the user to relate and feel the mood without being patronised. The whole album feels shared and equal between the musicians, but it would seem that tensions were building, there were too many talents wrapped tightly into too small a space.

The next single was to be their last with 4AD before the band changed their name to what it was going to be originally “Xymox”. The single was Blind Hearts, which was released on 4AD and then also released on the label the band moved to, Wing Records. This song was to feature on the next album Twist Of Shadows. Twist Of Shadows is the Medusa album made more accessible. It’s a lot lighter and more pop orientated, which is where the inner band tensions were. The band had a good balance of experimentalism and a desire to be popular with Medusa, with Twist of Shadows the urge to be popular was starting to win out at the detriment of experimentation.

Twist of Shadows is probably the most accessible as an introduction to Clan Of Xymox. Because of its desire for popularity, it is a little dated with a typical ‘80’s sound.


The band went on towards the pull of dance music in the early nineties like bands were trying to do at the time, latching onto an emerging house and techno scenes. But this drive for success and trend contributed to their downfall and by the mid nineties, the talents within Clan Of Xymox (or Xymox as they were now called) where pulling so hard in several directions that the whole band split apart.

Eventually the singer, Ronny Moorings, was left alone in the band. He decided to start from scratch and return to the dark moody, industrial sound that had originally defined Clan Of Xymox. Although this has been a partial return to original form, you can tell a lot of the talent is no longer with Clan Of Xymox. I have only heard the first album of the resurrected Clan Of Xymox called Hidden Faces and then a couple of later singles and I wasn’t too impressed. But then my musical period of experimentation from the early nineties was swamped with wannabe Sisters Of Mercy bands that got so repetitive and predictable, so when I hear another band doing the repetitive and predictable and also sound like they are trying to mimic the Sisters of Mercy, I automatically switch off.

Maybe the more recent Clan Of Xymox offers more hope, I don’t know, maybe one day I’ll give them yet another go.

There is another interesting psychological twist to my tale and Clan Of Xymox that works against myself picking the band up again. In the early nineties, I loved the first three Clan Of Xymox albums. When going to alternative and goth nights several times a week I would proclaim how great they were with the DJ’s and event organisers constantly and even lend copies for them to listen to. But as always, it fell on deaf ears because they weren’t in vogue, and everyone wanted to listen and dance to the same predictable stuff. Now they have become the goth underground darlings, with everyone proclaiming how they loved this stuff years ago. Bollocks! So I can’t help but be annoyed and want to steer clear of this fickle trend and current opinion shite. That doesn’t help trying to keep and unbiased opinion either

So to commemorate this great band, and of course because of the fact that I am a dimwit and yet again I have in my possession two versions of this release...I am once again giving away a 4AD release. Well that’s not strictly true as this version isn’t on 4AD, but you can forgive me for that. The winner this time round will receive a copy of Xymox’s 12” single of Blind Hearts. This is the US Promo version on Wing Records that was the bridge between Clan Of Xymox and Xymox. An interesting piece of history.
I will even post it for free. Feel the love.....

Please don’t enter just to sell it...that’s not the point.


For a chance to win this lovely article, just friend me on Facebook and send me a message telling me you want it, because you just want it OK! One lucky winner will be chosen at random by picking the entrant that shouts the loudest

I’m Jonny Halfhead and you have been a wonderful audience

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

It's all Greek to me...

A number of things this last couple of weeks. I found a guy on ebay selling a load of 4ad stuff. Not just a handful, but a boat load of stuff. I was curious, so asked him why he was selling what was obviously a collection. It turns out he had bought the whole lot as a collection from someone else to fill just one or two gaps in his own collection, then was selling the rest on. This has been a nightmare. A whole collection being sold off one release at a time, with at times, only 4 minutes between each item finishing on ebay. I wish a had a couple of thousand pounds spare, but I don’t. So I have had to watch many fantastic items disappear from view without even a close sniff at getting them.

Bidding has to be tempered I think. It’s too easy to get caught up in the frenzy and pay out a ridiculous price for something because at the time you feel desperate not to lose out. But it is surprising how many things come around again. From this lot of auctions a Colourbox release went for over £100. It’s hard to quantify paying anything over £20 for a colourbox release, they come up so often and so cheaply.

In the last couple of weeks this humble blog passed 10,000 views since its inception. Well.... what can I say? Ah, ah, bloody ‘ell, no way, I can’t believe it....or comments along those lines. I’m lost for words for you wonderful readers, thank you so much for your company. I hope I can keep you entertained for a few years to come.

There has been an interesting new addition to the collection. Staying with the Bauhaus theme, it’s the album “Burning from the Inside”. After the first album with 4AD and a couple of singles, Bauhaus moved to the parent label, Beggars Banquet. This is what 4AD was kind of set up for, find talent, sign it, promote it and if it takes off, pass to the parent label. This only happened with Bauhaus, why other 4AD artist didn’t follow the original plan I don’t know.

So the next handful of albums were under Beggars Banquet. But a few strange anomalies appeared from Greece. Rumour has it that the distributors in Greece didn’t have any Beggars Banquet labels but did have 4AD ones, so used them. But the labels are quite unique for 4AD, so I’m not sure of this explanation. Whatever the reason, the record label on the Greek album has 4AD labels.

It would seem the Greek Mask album also has 4AD labels, but I haven’t acquired that one yet. The Greek Ziggy Stardust single also has 4AD labels

These make for lovely little collection pieces.

Moving on... after the last blog entry about the seven versions of the Bauhaus’ Dark Entries I had managed to piece together, and of course after all the praise I generally give Discogs, this week the seven entries I had carefully tried to list in Discogs have been hacked down to six entries. This is in accordance with the Discogs rules that states that only separately defined releases are to be listed and that this does not include matrix variations. This has become very annoying, as it becomes difficult to track matrix variations within Discogs. The only way to get this changed is to argue a lot in a forum about it...humph

Well if anyone has a Discogs account, have a read of my argument and enter into the discussion if you wish
I shall be back soon. I’ve fluffed up yet again and bought a duplicate item, triple Doh..., so I may be giving away a Xymox promo 12”.
If you wish, have a look for me on Facebook and Twitter
Jonny Halfhead

Friday, 29 June 2012

Bauhaus Dark Entries - 7 Heavenly Versions

First I thought there were four, then I found out there were five, yet so far I have found seven. Seven different variations of the AXIS / 4AD release of Bauhaus’ Dark Entries. Years ago I used to think the song was called “Dog Entries”, doh.. then years later I swore that a single by Florence and The Machine I heard was called “Dark Days Are Over” only to find that it’s actually “Dog Days Are Over”. Damn it! I now call it “Dark days for Rover” (Rover being a popular dogs name the UK)

Ah, slightly off subject there. The Bauhaus single “Dark Entries”. I get the feeling that 4AD were shocked and unprepared for the popularity of Bauhaus and the demand for this single as it has been re-printed so many times.

Version 1

The first release was under the AXIS logo and, of course, the label had to change it’s name to 4AD. Then later Bauhaus moved to Beggars Banquet.The single was also released in the Netherlands. So I can see immediately why there would be at least four versions.But so far I have found seven versions, all slightly different

At last I can share with you what I have discovered and acquired so far (I am so geeky aren’t I?)

The first is the obvious release on AXIS. As shown previously, the 4AD label was going to be originally called AXIS until they discovered another label with the same name. The first four releases where actually done under the name of AXIS, which included the Bauhaus Dark Entries single.

So the first release of Dark Entries was AXIS 3

Axis 3 on Rear sleeve
Red Axis labels

This release is quite distinct as the disc label is obvious. The sleeve is different from the other releases as it only has an AXIS logo on the back, as below

Version 2

The next obvious version is the single released in the netherlands under the Beggars Banquet label

This has the text “venus asleep by paul delvaux” in the bottom left under the picture and also has a Beggars Banquet logo on the bottom right. This is the only sleeve with the beggars banquet logo on the front

The disc label is also very distinctive, with blue Beggars Banquet labels

Beggars Banquet
Beggars Banquet 144 760 Netherlands
Beggars Banquet logo on front
Blue Beggars Banquet labels
144 760

Version 3

The next version has the 4AD traditional blue square labels

Axis 3 and 4AD square on Rear sleeve
Blue square 4AD labels with AD3 Axis Records

The rear sleeve has both the AXIS logo and the Square 4AD logo

There is also a piece of text below these logo’s reading 1980 4AD records Distributed by WEA.....etc. You can see this on the picture above

Version 4

Another 4AD labelled version has the Wrestlers picture on the label, used later than 1980 by 4AD so this must be a re-release, I think it’s safe to assume.

Again the labels are quite distinctive, so to make it easy to define which version is which

4ad Eye logo with AD 3 on Rear sleeve
“Wrestlers” picture label on one side and 4AD eye logo with AD3

....and as before there is another slight sleeve change on the rear of the sleeve

Version 5

The next three versions shown here are all marked as BEG 37 which is a BEGGARS BANQUET catalogue number. The first follows the pattern of progression of some of the earlier versions above

Axis 3, 4AD square and BEG 37 on Rear sleeve
Blue Square 4AD labels with BEG 37

This is the same blue 4AD pattern shown before, but this time with BEG 37 instead of AD3. The rear sleeve also shows a progression, with Axis, 4AD square logo AND BEG 37 showing. The text above the picture now reads (Copyright) 1980 4AD Records

Version 6

The next version is again quite different. The sleeve, however, is the same as the one above, with all three logos. Axis, 4AD square and BEG37. But the disc label is very distinct, with a red Beggars Banquet label

Beggars Banquet
Axis 3, 4AD square and BEG 37 on rear sleeve
Red Beggars Banquet labels BEG 37 K18179
Side 1 - W-2 AD-3 BEG 37A AXIS 3 A-1 MADE IN FRANCE
Side 2 - W-2 AXIS 3 B-1 MADE IN FRANCE AD 3B BEG 37 B

Version 7

Finally, the last version I have found has no picture sleeve. I don’t know if it was issued without one or not. I do know that some versions of records get released, the sleeves are produced separately and records and sleeves can be mixed and matched, overlapping releases at times. So there isn’t a hard and fast rule of sleeve with vinyl. I can only show what I have discovered..

No sleeve
Blue Square 4AD labels with BEG 37
side 1 - W-3 AD-3 BEG 37A AXIS 3 A-1 MADE IN FRANCE
side 2 - AD 3B BEG 37B W-4 AXIS 3 B-1 MADE IN FRANCE

The main difference are the matrices, which are similar to the red labelled Beggars Banquet release but with higher numbers, which may suggest they were around the same time. It would be great to know what order they were produced. The square 4AD labels were typical from 4AD of 1980, while the picture label of 1981-1983. The red Beggars Banquet labels typical of 1979-1980 (especially with the K number as well).

According to this Bauhaus fan site
the single was released by Axis, then while waiting for the name change to 4AD, was issued by Beggars Banquet. Then the rest would be reprints and re-issues

As a bonus, take a look at this. A Dark Entries postcard. As is usual it’s hard to know if it is genuinely of the period, but if it is, this is another lovely extra to the Bauhaus Dark Entries releases

17th March 2013 - A new amendment. Much to my annoyance I have found another version and hope that this is the last. 

Version 8

Same sleeve as version 3
Blue Square 4AD labels with BEG 37
side 1 - W-2 AD-3 BEG 37A AXIS 3 A-1 MADE IN FRANCE
side 2 - AD 3B W-1KD BEG 37B AXIS 3 B-1 MADE IN FRANCE

There are also two very small stamps on the run out, one with the letters LX and another with letters so small that its nearly impossible to make them out, but they look like RLACE.

Is this the last version? Who knows and watch this space...

Sunday, 10 June 2012

The Full AXIS Collection

After acquiring the first AXIS record a few months ago I realised that I had all 4 first releases. This realisation didn’t last very long and somehow I got side tracked. I’ve just figured it out again and got very excited (I’m easy to please!).

The first releases of 4AD weren’t actually under the name of 4AD. Ivo Watts-Russell and Peter Kent were given a budget from the independent label Beggars Banquet and told to start a new label. Ivo and Peter started calling this new label AXIS. The first four releases were made under this label name until they realised there was another record label already called AXIS. The record label they may have been in trouble with could be the Axis label from Australia, a budget label that seemed to mostly deal with EMI re-issues.

Realising that they couldn’t keep the label name AXIS, Ivo Watts-Russell and Peter Kent changed the label name to 4AD.

But four releases had already been produced with the label name as AXIS.

AXIS 1 – The Fast Set – Junction One
AXIS 2 – Bearz – She’s My Girl
AXIS 3 – Bauhaus – Dark Entries
AXIS 4 – Shox – No Turning Back

The first release with the catalogue number AXIS 1 was by a band called The Fast Set and their 7” single Junction One. This was written by David Knight and could be the same person who was involved with Shock Headed Peters and also Danielle Dax later in the decade.

This single seems to sell around the £35 mark, but can sell for over £50. It’s difficult to find this in good condition as the sleeve was made from very thin paper.

The second release was by a band called Bearz with a 7” single called She’s My Girl.

This single on average fetches around £17, but rarely goes for above £19, although that doesn’t stop traders trying. It looks as though it was also released in Italy on the WEA label, with a promo version released as well. Both of these I am yet to confirm

The third release was a lot more successful. The band was Bauhaus and the single called Dark Entries. This wasn’t Bauhaus’ first single as they had released a single before with the label Small Wonder. The success of this single was so great a further 5 versions of this single were subsequently released. I will have a look at all 6 versions soon.

This is a great release to try and get hold of, as traders don’t always know which version is worth more than another, and versions of Dark Entries turn up all the time and are quite common. This version, however, can easily be worth £18 and can fetch up to £35. But some traders will also try their luck, this trader is asking £80!

The fourth and final release from AXIS was from a band called Shox, with their 7” single No Turning Back. This release is also difficult to get in good condition as the sleeve is white, which always dates very easily with printed media. For some reason this seems to fetch a good price, around £22, and can fetch over £48. I’m not sure why this is. This single may have got re-released by Beggars Banquet, again I’m yet to confirm this

The AXIS releases have “A”XIS on side A and “B”XIS on side B

So there you go. The complete AXIS releases. Out of these the Bauhaus Dark Entries single is the most interesting as it got re-released a further 5 times. I was struggling to get all six versions, but if the last one I purchased this last week arrives, I should have all six to show you. Watch this space….