Wednesday 26 November 2008

100th Post! UK Hardcore Test Pressings

I would like to point out that this here entry marks my 100th post. A landmark achievement. Also, my little cluster map tells me that this site has now had over 5000 views. Not bad considering I never really publicised it or really expected more than about three people (including me) to read it. So I'm pleased with the progress. Thanks to anyone who reads & comments!

Next a quick explanation... I haven't made a post on here for ages now. My last entry was over a week ago. This is the longest I have gone without posting anything since I started this thing, which is due (mainly) to having no free time at all recently. Work has been insane, and there were also things going on outside work. So now I'm trying to catch up with a whole range of things, this being one.

However, the other reason that this hasn't been updated is that I haven't actually acquired many new records recently. A few weeks ago I was expecting something like 18 parcels at the same time, and I seemed to get something in the mail every day for two weeks straight. But I haven't had anything for over a week now. This is largely due to the value of the UK currency falling against the dollar. For all of 2008 the UK pound has bought me nearly two US dollars, but in the last two months the rate has been sliding, and current sits at circa $1.5 to the £. This month the exchange rate reached the lowest rate I have ever known, around 1.43. This means, of course, that even though prices have stayed the same in dollars, records from the States have become 25% more expensive for me. I've hardly bid on anything on eBay this past month as a result. Previously records were dirt cheap. Now they feel expensive. The situation is not good. Suddenly it feels like I am being affected by the goddamn world economic crisis. And with UK interest rates likely to fall, the situation is only likely to get worse. Balls.

Anyway, enough whining. Today's entry is something I am stoked about. I picked up some test pressings of some old UK hardcore records. These bands were mainly active around the early to mid 90s. These records are special to me because some of these bands introduced me to hardcore. And some of them had people in that I knew and respected. There's more of a personal connection to these than most records.

First up, a test press of the ABOVE ALL 7" on Sure Hand records:

This band came from Southend. The best show I saw them play was around December '94 in Bradford at the 1in12 club. They supported Earth Crisis. This was when Earth Crisis only had two 7"s out, before their first LP dropped. Earth Crisis were the buzz band at the time. But Above All came on and completely blew Earth Crisis off the stage. They could have achieved great things if they hadn't signed to Roadrunner & turned into a metal band. This 7" represents their best output. An incredible record.

Next up, a test of the DEAD WRONG 7" on Armed With Anger Records:

Dead Wrong were, I would say, one of the earlier bands pushing the boundaries between hardcore, rock & emo. I guess they would have been on Dischord had they happened to reside in Washington DC (if you hear this you will know what I mean). When I went to university in September 1993 I met their guitarist Rob, who introduced me to several bands I would otherwise not have heard. He sold me a Rorschach 7" for £2. I will never forget that. Not long after I saw his band play & was blown away. Back then it was like nothing I had heard. Great dude, great band, great record.

Next is a test of the KITO 7" on Armed With Anger Records:

I saw this band the very first time I went to the 1in12 Club in Bradford for a two day hardcore festival. I think this was late 1993, or maybe 1994. I can't remember exactly. But Kito played and I thought they were great, although kinda scary. Something about the club and the band felt kinda dangerous, and I wasn't entirely comfortable being there.. although, at the same time, I didn't want to leave. Shows weren't predictable back then like they are these days. This record takes me back to that time & place. An interesting time in my life.

Next, a test press of the UNDERSTAND 7" on Armed With Anger Records:

These guys were so far ahead of their time. They always got compared to Quicksand or Fugazi, although I don't think either of those comparisons is really very accurate. But back then, if you weren't doing mosh metal or thrash punk then you were probably gonna get compared to Quicksand. Understand used to support all of the touring US bands of the era, such as Sick Of It All, Helmet, Into Another and CIV. They also toured the States and attracted the interest of Equal Vision Records, who put out a 7" circa 1995. They were shit hot, and (familiar story) got signed by a major label, alienated themselves from the hardcore scene, had an album come out which didn't do very well, then split up. A couple of years later a band called Hundred Reasons came along and did something not too dissimilar and sold hundreds of thousands of records, even though they sucked big time. I guess life isn't fair sometimes.

Next, a test of the STALINGRAD 7" on Armed With Anger Records.I'm particularly stoked on this one, since the actual 7" that was released was a picture disc. So having a non-picture disc version is kinda cool.Here's a pic of the test next to the proper 7":

This band also played the first 1in12 festival that I went to. This was without doubt the scariest band I had ever seen in my life up to that point. Come to think of it, I have never seen a scarier band since. The singer (god knows why I'm referring to him as a singer, what he did could never be described as 'singing'!) spent half his time walking around the crowd screaming in people's faces. I'd never seen anything like that at the time. The dude had a shaved head and wore big Doc Martins and looked like he was trying to figure out which member of the audience he was going to kill first. I spent most of the time hoping that he didn't come anywhere near me. Fuck, I so wish I could go back in time & watch that show again. I'm intrigued as to whether, 14 years later with hundreds of shows under my belt, I would still be scared. Probably.

Finally, a test of the IRONSIDE 7" on Subjugation Records. The interesting thing about this one is that it comes with two different sleeves:

This is also the first test press I have ever seen that has the proper label on one side. I guess the point of this is to also check if the labels would come out as the label hoped.

I never actually saw this band. I think they played the festival I went to that I have mentioned twice already, but I missed them for some reason. In fact, I never got to see them play. But I remember picking up the 7" from a record shop in Leeds called Bad. I was amazed that this was a UK band. So good.

I was going to post up MP3s of these records so that anyone unfamiliar with these bands could check them out. But I don't have time. However, I will post them up later if people would be interested. Let me know via comments. If I get a sense that people would appreciate hearing these things then I will make the effort to post them up.

Tuesday 18 November 2008

Darvocets 12"

I know absolutely nothing about this band whatsoever. I just bought this record because it is on Painkiller Records, and because the record itself looks cool. This band seem to have a UFO theme going on, hence the name of the record - "Authentic Music From Another Planet". Musically, the only band that this vaguely reminds me of is The Dead Kennedys.

The record has a crop circle pattern screened onto the second side:

Looks kinda cool huh?

Thursday 13 November 2008

Kid Kilowatt Test

I used to love Cave In. I still listen to them occasionally. But back in 2000-2001 I was WAY into them. And then Kid Kilowatt appeared on the scene - a kind of project band featuring half of the Cave In members. An album came out and I was stoked. But when I got it I was disappointed. I thought it was boring. I listened to it maybe twice and then gave up. A couple of years later I decided to give it another chance and (as often happens) learned to love it. My experience shows me that most of my favourite records are ones that I didn't get on the first few plays, but which grew on me over time. Same with Kid Kilowatt. Anyway, I picked up a test of their 7" on ebay for $20, which I thought was pretty reasonable. I like how Second Nature tests all have the logo on the label, it looks cool. Well, as cool as a record in a plain dust sleeve can look I suppose.

Wednesday 12 November 2008

Blacklisted & So Be It

I finally got around to picking up a copy of the Blacklisted "...And The Beat Goes On" LP a few weeks ago. It was cheap on ebay. I can't remember why I didn't get this when it came out. I just missed it somehow. Even though I've had the songs for quite a while via the magic of modern technology, it's great to finally have the vinyl. I had to email the seller because after I paid two full months passed and I had received nothing. But today, finally, it showed up.

To make up for the delay, dude sent me a bonus 7" of a band called So Be It:

I'd never heard this band before, and I still haven't had time to listen to this yet. I like the cover though - a dude wearing a hood kicking another dude in the head, about to whack him with a chain. I hope it sounds as good as the cover suggests it might be. Maybe one day I'll get around to finding out...

Tuesday 11 November 2008

Black Flag Damaged - Red

My mission to collect all the colour vinyl pressings of Black Flag LPs continues. Although they are not first pressings, they are cooler than first pressings in my opinion. I used to have a couple about 15 years ago which I subsequently sold, and now regret. Anyway, today I add this one to the pile:

"Damaged" LP on red vinyl. I also have this on solid purple. Interestingly, each record has different colour labels, so one must be an earlier press than the other. I wonder which is earliest & which rarest? I figure red must be rarer, solely on the basis that I have only seen the red one once before, whereas I have seen the purple one a few times. Oh yeah, and I have also seen it on clear purple too. Is it possible that yet more versions exist? Does anyone know?

Also, I've just added a "Black Flag" label to this post and all previous Black Flag posts. Click the label (below) and it will show you all the coloured Flag records I have picked up in the past few months without you having to trawl back through all the crap in this blog to find them. Cool huh? I should probably try to add more labels too, although I'm not sure how many other "themes" there are running through this thing. Hmmm...

Saturday 1 November 2008

Retard Alert!

Yet another parcel of records, and yet another reason to be pissed off. I bought a couple of 7"s from an eBay seller, both of which were pretty cheap.

First, the Time Flies 7" on Malfunction, with limited 'Captain Harlock' sleeve. I already have this, but my sleeve has gone a bit dicky, so this is a replacement copy. A bargain at $3.99. A great 7" too.

The second 7" is a test press of the Up Front 7" on New Age records. The record is stamped, both on the labels and the dust sleeve:

What pissed me off about this is that some fucking retard saw fit to stamp the dust sleeve with huge logo for some shit record label. This test has no cover, and comes in a plain white stamped dust sleeve. So, in this instance, the dust sleeve IS the cover. It is stamped, to can't be swapped for another. So why the fuck would anyone decide to stamp a stupid pig logo on here?

I'm still not sure what to do with this. Send it back & ask for a refund? What do you think?

Bad Brains

This probably sounds crazy, but until the American Hardcore movie came out I never liked Bad Brains. This is because I tried to get into them years ago, but got given the wrong record. To me, reggae is pretty much the worst form of music there is. I hate it. So years and years ago, when a friend taped me some Bad Brains, I was appalled by the reggae sounds I then found myself listening to. I have no idea what record or what songs were on that tape, but the majority seemed to be reggae, so I decided on the spot that I didn't like Bad Brains and left it there. But after watching the Bad Brains clips in the American Hardcore movie, I changed my mind. The songs and the atmosphere at the shows blew me away, so I decided to give them another chance. I downloaded the record with the iconic cover, and then didn't stop listening to it for about three weeks. This week I finally picked up a vinyl copy, which I found pretty cheap on eBay. Shame the seller turned out to be yet another retard without a clue how to pack records for the mail. The corners got bent up & I am pissed off.

I think the world is ready for a parody band called BAD BRIANS. Anyone out there called Brian - feel free to take this idea & run with it.