Sunday, 14 January 2018

FREE

It feels good to finally kick off 2018, and what better way than with a new(ish) release?

The hardcore world peed its pants with excitement when news of the band FREE broke. A new band that contains (I think) 4 of the 5 members of Have Heart, anticipation and expectations were high. A demo came out in 2015 and a 7" came out towards the back end of 2017. And then, in the last week of 2017, the band flew over for a short European jaunt and Control Records pressed up a limited 12" to mark the occasion.

This is a pretty low key affair, following the same layout as the Higher Power 12" that the same label also released about a year and a half ago. Black vinyl in a plain white DJ sleeve with a sticker in the top corner.

It may be a pretty plain design, but sometimes less is more. It's good to be served this aesthetically minimal records from time to time, rather than glossy gatefold sleeves full of splatter vinyl.

So I was pretty lucky to get this. There were only 135 copies made in total, and most sold out on the tour. The label kept a few copies back to sell online. About ten days ago, the label announced during the day that the remaining copies would be sold at a certain time in the evening, and I happened to be at my computer at the time they went on sale and, even more lucky, I remembered that they were going up for sale. When the witching hour came, I grabbed a copy immediately and a couple of minutes later they were sold out...

... and then, a little later, the label posted to say that somehow the webstore had oversold the record, and some people who thought that they had placed an order would be getting refunded and their order cancelled. Fortunately, my order got through. Must have been bad to be one of the people who thought that they had successfully placed an order only to then find out that they hadn't.

So what is FREE like? Well, I haven't listened to this much as I don't usually like to listen to stuff until I have the vinyl, and this is the first FREE record into my collection. So far I'd say that it sits somewhere between the two Have Heart LPs.It's better than the second, but not as good as the first. That's about as much as I can say. But I don't doubt for a second that this band is just finding their feet, and by the time a full length comes around (if) then I'm sure they will crank it up a gear.

Sunday, 31 December 2017

2017 Unravelled

Better late than never, as they say.

In preparation for putting together this traditional end of year post, I just re-read my year-end post from last year, and the final sentence I wrote was 'Hopefully 2017 will be kinder to me!'. Wow. The power of those words kinda knocked me for six. When I wrote it last year I was referring to record collecting, because last year I had terrible luck when a parcel of almost 100 records got lost in the mail. In 2017 I definitely DID have much better luck with records, but I had much worse luck in my personal life. I don't really want to say much, but the things that happened in 2017 really put things into perspective and made me realise that, if the worst thing in life is losing some plastic in the mail, then life is probably not so bad after all.

So I look back on 2017 as a pretty shitty year, defined by two big negative events, one at the start and one at the end. But there were some good moments too. I went on a plane for the first time in over 20 years in a bid to beat my phobia of flying, and I have to say, I enjoyed it. I also started skateboarding again, in a small way, and I really enjoyed that too. And after three long years of planning, work finally started on our house extension. So there was some good with the bad. But overall I'm glad 2017 is over and we can wipe the slate clean and start over.

Anyway, as is tradition on here, I'll now get to my run down of the year in terms of music & records. These end of year posts are always a bit of fun, but damn, every year I manage to forget how much work they involve.


MY FAVOURITE 2017 RELEASES

I'm not going to attempt to rank my favourite releases of 2017, but these were the ones I spent most of my time listening to:

Precious 'Unravelings' 12" - members of Threadbare & Snapcase playing some 90s style hardcore which manages to sound fresh in 2017. This is really interesting stuff and I'm desperately in need of more.

Higher Power 'Soul Structure' LP - a great UK band playing groovy hardcore a bit like Turnstile, with a big 90s alternative vibe going on.

Miracle Drug 'How Much Is Enough?' 12" - another band made up from older dudes, this sounds different and interesting to me, and my only disappointment was that this record only contains 6 songs.

Damnation A.D. 'Pornography' LP - a long term project which finally saw the light of day in 2017, this is a really interesting and 'mature' hardcore record. Probably because it's a cover of an album by The Cure.

Integrity 'Howling, For The Nightmare Shall Consume' LP - any Integrity record is always going to get my attention. This one took a bit of getting into, but I got there in the end, and it's good to see them on a 'big' label and getting some really positive attention as a result.

Burn 'Do Or Die' LP - a Burn full length finally dropped in 2017. It seemed to me a lot of people weren't into it. My view is that you need to skip the first song and start at the second and it seems much better. Despite a high lievel of scepticism, I was into this and played it a lot.

Insist 'Here And Now' 7" - a UK straight edge band who got my attention when I saw & heard them for the first time at Outbreak fest in Leeds, which just happened to be the release show for their 7" on React! Records.

Search 'Between The Lines' 7" - a straight edge band featuring Tim from Mouthpiece on vocals, this is very much as you'd expect, and very welcome in the current day and age.

True Vision 'Against The Grain' 7" - another current UK band, this one features dudes from all the other NWOBHC bands of the last couple of years, playing straight up hardcore a la YOT or SOIA.

Rot In Hell 'A Thick Rope And A Strong Branch' LP - I listened to this one a lot, but in compiling this post realised that I somehow never posted it on the blog. Not sure what happened there. Sloppy work.


So basically I spent 2017 listening to either current UK bands, or records from American dudes in their late 40s.


MY FAVOURITE 2017 PICKUPS

2017 was pretty good to me. So much so that I've struggled to narrow this list of my favourite pickups down to only ten records. But these are the ones that stand out:

Shown in the photo:

Sensefield 'Killed For Less' test press - I never ever thought I would own this. One of my favourite records of all time, and there are only 4 test presses on the planet.

Cold World 'How The Gods Chill' LP test press - one of my favourite albums of the last few years.

Ressurection 7" with pre-release cover - so stoked to pick this up after 20 years of wanting one.

Reinforce 'One Life, Thug Free' 7" with Sporty Spice cover - another 7" that had been on my want list for 20 years or so. Such an awesome cover too.

The Damage Done 'City Of Hope' 7" Test press - a great record from a good friend.

Union 'You Fell For It' 7" on purple vinyl - one of those obscure & forgotten 7"s which I always loved, and picking up this rare and cool colour was very satisfying.

Right Brigade 7" with Clevo Sucks sleeve - had been on my want list for probably 15 years or so, and was god to get it for a good price.

Release 'No Longer' 7" in Wolverine sleeve - I was SO happy to pick this up after years and years of wanting, and this copy is brand new, which made it even sweeter.

Ashes 'S/T' 7" test press - one of my favourite bands of the 90s, I've never heard of anyone having this test before, so I was happy when it fell into my hands.

Dwarves 'Drug Store' 7" with 'Fuck You Up And get High' pin - another one that had been languishing on my want list for over 20 years. So good to finally have one.


STUFF I LISTENED TO A LOT IN 2017

Another traditional category for the end of year posts, this is stuff I listened to a lot that, for one reason or another, I didn't feature on the blog. It's either stuff I didn't get around to buying yet, or stuff that I'm not too fussed about buying on vinyl for one reason or another. But it feels good to document it as I spent a lot of time with these in 2017.

Foo Fighters - everything. One night in late June I put the TV on and came across Foo Fighters playing live at Glastonbury. I've never really been into them before (I actually saw them live in 2002 and walked out after 3 songs), but for some reason I was really into it, and then ended up downloading all of their albums and listened to them constantly for the second half of the year. That's 9 albums I got through in less than 6 months. I think I listened to Foo Fighters without fail every single day for four months straight. Crazy.

Sex Pistols 'The Great Rock N Roll Swindle' - I used to own this one on cassette when I was 16 and then forgot about it for 26 years. This year I remembered it and enjoyed listening to the songs again. I even found the time to re-watch the film. Good stuff.

Renee Heartfelt 'Death Of The Ghost' - I never got this album when it came out as it was CD only. But when their 7" came onto my ipod a few months ago I decided I needed to hear more of their songs, so downloaded this missing piece and couldn't get enough. Shame it was CD only.

Walleye 'Familiar Forgotten' - following on from Mike's post about this album, I decided to listen to it for the first time since it came out 22 years ago. I don't know why I missed it originally, as it's right up my street and is exactly the kind of thing I was most into in the 90s.

Fairweather 'S/T' - similar to the Renee Heartfelt record, a Fairweather song came on my ipod at some point and made me want to hear more from this band. I figured I wouldn't enjoy this album, but I was wrong. Apparently it's just been repressed on blue vinyl too, so I'll probably pick one up at some point.

Nuisance 'Confusion Hill' - not sure what brought this one to my attention exactly, as this is an old band from the early 90s that I have heard a couple of songs from on old compilation albums. But for some reason I can't remember, I downloaded this album from 1991 and it's great. Bits of it sound exactly like Nirvana.


BEST PICTURES OF 2017

And finally... kind of a dumb category, but I seemed to pick up a few records this year that 'completed' collections for me, and each time I posted an updated collection photo. It felt that there were a lot of these collection photos posted in 2017, so I thought I would put some of them up here. Because, as you know, there's little more interesting than photos of coloured records...

Thanks for the support from the few of you who still ready this. See you in 2018...

XXX

Saturday, 30 December 2017

War Justified, Hate Glorified By Patriotic Lies

Despite it now being January 2018, I've managed to go back in time to make one last post for 2017. The reason is that I just want history to show that I picked this record up in 2017. Having it sit in 2018 just wouldn't sit right with me.

This record is a limited pressing of the self-titled Ressurection 7" that came out on New Age Records back in 1991. I can't remember the story exactly (I read it somewhere once) but I think this was a pre-release edition of 50 copies made before the record was properly ready to sell. I think that this was sold at some big show (at City Gardens, NJ?). Whatever. Anyway, the point is that there were only 50 copies, they were on red vinyl, and had a limited sleeve and handwritten labels. It looks absolutely nothing like any other version of this record.

So to say that this record was a white whale for me would be understating it slightly. I first became aware of it's existence at some point in the late 90s. I think I saw it listed on someone's trade list. However, it was just words in a list of text. There were no pictures back then. So I made a mental note of it and hoped I would one day get one. But as the years rolled on, part of me forgot about it. It NEVER appeared for sale, and I never saw it on anyone else's trade list. I think it even reached the point where I wasn't even sure it really existed. I vaguely remember someone back in about 2004 on an online message board saying that they were going to interview Mike Hartsfield (of New Age Records) and asked for suggestions for questions, and I put forth 'please can you ask him if the Ressurection 7" on red vinyl actually exists?'. It was reaching mythical status and I just wanted to know.

At some point over the next couple of years I did actually see one. One appeared on eBay, but the sleeve was in such poor condition that I didn't bid. But it sold for more than I expected. Over the next few years I think I saw one or two more appear on eBay, but each time I failed to win. It started to feel like I was not destined to own this record.

In 2016 my luck changed. Some guy on instagram was selling his collection, and put a photo up of a whole bunch of 7"s. One stood out to me immediately. The limited Ressurection 7"! So I sent a message and managed to secure it. Within probably a couple of hours I had agreed a deal and paid. Job done. Or so I thought. Because fate then conspired against me... twice!

The First time, the seller posted another pic of 7"s for sale about a month later, and the Ressurection 7" was again in a pic. So I messaged him to ask why. He then told me he had sold it. I was confused. Basically, he had somehow forgotten that I had paid for it, then sold it again to someone else. And mailed it off to them. He offered me a refund immediately, but my response was quite clear - 'I don't want a refund - I want you to get the record back!'. By good fortune, he had sold it to Chris, and with Chris being such a solid dude he understood and sent the 7" on to me... although via my friend in the States.

The second fuck up was when my friend sent the Ressurection 7" on to me in a big box along with 97 other records, which subsequently got lost en route. The box never showed up and I never received the record. And of all the records in the box, the Ressurection 7" was the one that hurt the most.

Well, eventually, in December 2017, there was a happy ending to the story. I was going to a show in London and 108 were on the bill. A friend of mine had managed to arrange for Rob Fish (vocalist in 108, who used to be in Ressurection) to bring him over a limited 108 skate deck. Given that he had his email address, I asked if he could ask Rob if there was any chance that he had any spares of the limited Ressurection 7" on red vinyl. Within an hour he had sent a reply to say 'yes' which included a picture, and said to make an offer. I was gobsmacked. So I made a very generous offer, to ensure that the answer would be yes, and lo and behold I got a positive response. He then agreed to bring it to the show. When I walked into the show, he was the first person I saw, and within five minutes I had the record in my hand. The only thing left to do was to grab a souvenir photo to mark the occasion.

It turned out that Rob didn't have any spare copies at all. He had one copy. Number 1 of 50. I told him it didn't feel right for me to own it, and that by rights it should live with him. But he told me that he had never really kept stuff, and was missing lots and lots of records he had appeared on. He also told me it was cool to have it go to someone who would appreciate it so much. It's cool to own number 1, and it's a kinda cool story, but I still don't feel quite right owning this and knowing Rob doesn't have one.

Wednesday, 27 December 2017

Freewill

This post was a long time coming.

Last year (2016), New Age Records announced from out of nowhere that the long, lost 'Sun Return' LP by Freewill was going to be released properly for the first time. Having been originally recorded back in 1988, and scheduled to be released by Wishingwell Records, for some reason the record only made it as far as test pressing stage. The official release never happened, and to this day I have no idea why. At some point Lost & Found records in Germany put it out as a CD with a really shit cover. A few years later it was re-recorded and released as a self-titled album by the (re-named) band Stone Telling, although a lot of people dislike this version and like to pretend it doesn't exist. And that was that... until 2016.

So I've always loved this record, and despite owning one of the original Wishingwell test press copies, I was up for owning another few copies. So when New Age put the record up for sale, I bought both colour vinyl options and a test press. But somehow I missed out on the limited 77 pressing. Bummed. I was even more bummed when all three copies got lost in my missing box. Then after a few weeks the label found an extra couple of test pressings and put them in their store. It was like a sign. I was going to buy them all again...

The test press comes with a sheet that also contains the track list, cover art and label art. I guess in theory this is everything that would have been submitted to the pressing plant.

The 'regular' pressing comes on two colours of vinyl. Firstly, purple vinyl out of 200 copies:

Second, the green vinyl out of 300 copies:

For various reasons, it took months for the records to reach me. And then, around the time I received them, I won a copy of the 77 pressing on eBay for a really good price. So I decided to wait for that copy to roll in before I put anything on the blog. Which means I'm getting round to putting this post up about a year and half after I was initially supposed to.

So after a long and painful wait, I figured it would be worth the effort to take a phot of every version of this record that I own. This one shows the four 2016 copies alongside with the original Wishingwell test press and the test press for the Stone Telling LP:

Tuesday, 26 December 2017

Eidolon

I've said this many times before, but there's nothing quite as satisfying as picking up a cheap test press. When I originally saw this Eidolon LP test press pop up on eBay, I decided that I wanted it, as I have a vague memory of enjoying the LP back in the mid 90s (although I will admit I probably haven't listened to it this century).

So it was cool when I won this for only $11. Not that I expected there to be a bidding frenzy or anything. Just more that I figured SOMEONE out there other than me would be a little more than $10 interested. I guess not.

Also, on the press release sheet that came with the test, it mentions 'LP on oreo cookies & cream color vinyl only 1000 pressed'. So I got my copy out to have a look, because in my mind it came on a nice grey vinyl that nicely matched the cover:

So there you go - it would seem that in 1992 'oreo cookies & cream' was an inconvenient way of saying 'grey'. Who knew? Although, having said that, I looked on discogs and it also seems to exist brown vinyl, green vinyl and blue vinyl. So perhaps one of those is really the cookies & cream color and mine is a later pressing. Who knows?

Monday, 25 December 2017

Howling, For The Nightmare Shall Consume

Back in July this year a new Integrity album dropped. A few weeks earlier the pre-orders went live and, as was to be expected, there were several versions available. I had a couple of people message me and tell me that their thoughts were with me. I mean, it's pretty well documented that I have a few Integrity records, and I think people almost felt sorry for me knowing that I was immediately put in this position whereby keeping up was going to be a difficult and expensive game.

Well, truth be told, I felt a weird mix of excitement and apprehension. On the one hand, a new Integrity record was bound to be something that I was into, but having to shell out for several copies wasn't something that I was overly excited about. So when the pre-orders went live I hesitated, and then before I knew it the most limited version was already sold out. Fuck my life. Then I just felt confused and didn't know what to do. So I did nothing.

A few weeks later and I still hadn't ordered anything, but then I stumbled on an opportunity to pick up several copies in one go and from one source, which actually made it relatively cheap and easy. And once I was off the mark, I just went for it. In a relatively short space of time, I had the full set accounted for. So here goes...

First up, the test press. This is a 3 x 12" in a cover handmade by Dwid.

Next up is the most limited 'regular' version. As you may know, Relapse Records always make a limited edition of 100 copies of every release on clear vinyl. These are not sold to the public, but given to friends of the label and band. Given that it's not possible to buy this version, I'm pretty stoked to have been given a chance to buy one.

You're probably not surprised that a triple LP is gonna come in a gatefold sleeve, the inside of which contains a live photo of the band.

The back carries on the same artwork as the front. It's pretty dark shit.

There are also two inserts - a lyric sheet, and a booklet of art.

So that's pretty much the package. As you can see, there's a lot going on, and a lot of time and effort clearly went into it. It looks awesome. So all that remains is to quickly run down the other versions...

The most limited 3xLP version is this Blue / Grey / Clear Tri-color version, limited to 100 copies. This was the one that sold out super fast at pre-order stage.

Interestingly, this isn't actually a 3 x LP at all. It's a 2 x LP with a bonus 12". That's an important detail, as the bonus 12" was only given away with the first press copies direct from the label. But aside from the clear vinyl version, the bonus 12" is only on black vinyl.

Next is the other pre-order version that was initially available, being the 'blue and grey half and half with splatter', limited to 400 copies.

Next, the first press 2xLP versions. The first is this 'milky clear with splatter', limited to 100 copies:

Another first press 2xLP version is the 'clear with blue smoke', limited to 100 copies. To me, this one looks like one glow in the dark record and one pale blue record. But what the hell do I know?

And finally, the first press was rounded out with this standard black vinyl version, limited to 1,200 copies:

Then, after those versions, two second press colors were released. The first is this 'silver & baby blue merge w/ splatter' version, limited to 200 copies:

The second version of the second press is the one that I'm still waiting on. So that will have to follow in a separate post at some later date.

Anyway, as usual I put this post off for far too long. I received a couple of copies, and then a couple more a couple of months later, and then a couple more a couple of months after that. At some point I decided that I would wait until I had them all before I put them up on the blog. But before I knew it, the year had pretty much ended and I was still waiting for one copy, so I decided to just put this post up anyway. Somehow it seems more appropriate to have this post up in 2017 rather than wait until that final copy comes in.

Sunday, 24 December 2017

More Pornography

One of the more interesting releases of the year was Damnation A.D.'s cover of The Cure's 'Pornography' LP. It was released as a Record Store Day release and, despite there being 800 blue vinyl copies, it seemed quite difficult to get. I didn't think that there would be too much interest in it, given that it had been a long time since the band had been active, and their sound was probably not what the modern hardcore kid would be interested in. And I didn't think that there would be many older kids still around and interested in buying records. Well, somehow I got it wrong and it seemed like everyone was into it.

So when Organized Crime Records then announced that there was a much more limited version available, I figured it would sell out quicksmart, so I grabbed one right away. There were only 213 copies on 'clear with white smoke' vinyl, which also came in an additional screen printed cover:

The screen printed cover is, like so many, an additional cover that sits on top of the regular sleeve:

Also, I have to say, I'm not sure which side of the screen printed cover is supposed to be the front. The way it opens (right to left) suggests the text and numbered side is the front, but in my mind this makes the other side seem almost pointless.

Weirdly, it's taken me about three months to get around to posting this, and it was probably for sale for a good couple of months before I even received it. Yet despite having been released probably 6 months ago now, I was surprised to see that somehow there are still copies available in the Organized Crime Records store. Maybe the kinds of people who went crazy for this on Record Store Day aren't as interested in buying direct from labels online? Or maybe not many people are bothered about owning a second copy? Whatever the reason, there's something odd when a version out of 213 copies is easier to obtain than the common version out of 800.

Saturday, 23 December 2017

Battery

Trying to mop up some more stuff I got this year, and I realised there were two records I could lump together, because both are from the same band, and both were also gifts from fellow collectors.

After many years in the wilderness, Battery reformed this year to play at Damaged City Fest in Washington, DC. In my mind it was in Summer, but looking online and it seems it was back at the start of April. Crazy. Anyway, they recorded a new song and Revelation also released a 'greatest hits' type LP in time for the occassion. As you may expect, when an old straight edge band reforms and Rev outs out a record, demand was gonna be high, but thankfully my man in DC and fellow test press chaser, Chris, picked a record up for me at the show. It was a few weeks before he sent it, but somehow I just realised I never got around to featuring it on here until the end of the year. I think this is because I was waiting for the other versions to show up to feature them all at once, although for one reason of another I didn't actually get around to pick up and further copies.

These first copies made for Damaged City came without the thick booklet that the subsequent pressings had, and were numbered out of 200 copies. Definitely the most 'DIY' looking of all the versions that came out.

So after Damaged City, and the Rev record being released, the band then announced a European tour for the end of the year. Here's a video I shot of the opening song from their set in Leeds, which was the first night of the tour. Most of the band members had only landed in the UK that day, so were slightly jet lagged. I'd spent good money and time travelling to Leeds for this show, as I firmly believed it would be a better show than the London show the night after, but from what I've seen it was probably the weakest show of the tour. The venue wasn't full and the energy just wasn't quite there. But the band still played well.

Despite the lack of energy, I still had a great night. I spent an hour or so after the show chatting to Ken and Mike about all kinds of things. It was fun. And I saw some friends I'd not seen in a while. And I got to see a bit of Leeds again. So all in all a good night.

After the UK, Battery went on to Europe for a week or so. The final show was at Conne Island in Leipzig, Germany. The venue is now world famous in record collecting circles after both Sick Of It All and Gorilla Biscuits made special edition records for shows they played there. Like a lot of these older bands, Battery played there in the past and always went down well, so it seemed a fitting place to end the tour. And to coincide with the show, Unity Worldwide Records made a special repress of the first Battery 7", featuring different artwork. I didn't even try to get a copy, as I figured I would have no chance, but my man in Germany and fellow Bane collector, Ralf, came through for me and sent me this 7" as a thanks for helping him out with something.

I've always been a fan of detail, and I love how they translated the song titles into German for the back cover of this. Very Minor Threat-ish.

The song titles are shown in English on the lyric sheet though. I guess translating the lyrics would have taken a bit too long.

It also comes with an insert featuring band member and crew memories from previous shows at the venue.

So that's that. A tour and two reissue records in 2017. I wonder whether Battery will continue to play shows or record new songs into 2018? I really hope so.