Monday, 30 March 2020

Black Days

Sometimes I wonder how many other people are still actively collecting Hydrahead records that came out in the 90s. Probably not many I would guess. As a general rule, most people who are into the label's later releases probably don't care about the earlier releases, and most people who are into the earlier releases are probably old and not interested in collecting records these days. But me, I soldier on, picking up variants of older Hydrahead releases when they appear and the mood takes me.

Well, I was pretty damn stoked for this one. A test press for the 'In These Black Days Volume 5' 7":

This record is a split between Cave In and Botch, and came out in 1999, which was (with hindsight) when both bands were at their absolute peak.

I'm guessing that most Black Sabbath fans wouldn't care whatsoever about listening to a series of Sabbath cover songs, but they'd be missing out. The whole series of these split 7"s is great, and this 7" is without doubt the best of the lot. Cave In do 'N.I.B' and Botch do 'The Wizard', and it's nigh on impossible to choose which is the best song. I'd also potentially go a step further and say that these two songs are actually better than the originals. If you disagree then I would suggest that you submit an official complaint.

I now have all versions of this 7" except the regular black vinyl, which I can well live without.

Saturday, 28 March 2020


Recently I was flipping through my 7"s and I realised something that blew my mind. Somehow I was missing a Revelation release that I never actually knew I was missing! I mean, don't get me wrong, my Rev collection is far from complete, but I at least know what I don't have. So when the penny dropped that I was missing one, and had been missing it for probably something like 17 or 18 years, I was kinda shocked.

Fortunately, the record in question isn't one that costs too much when it pops up for sale. And when I looked, there were 4 for sale on discogs. I was going to buy one when a friend mentioned that he had a spare, which he generously gave me.

The record in question is this 'final pressing' copy of the second Kiss It Goodbye 7", 'Choke'. There were 330 pressed on orange vinyl. I'm not exactly sure when this came out, but most of the so called 'final' pressings came out circa 2001-02 I think. This was at a time when it really did appear that vinyl was dying a death, and Rev probably genuinely thought at the time that they would literally never press any more copies of most of their more popular releases on vinyl again.

I'm still slightly baffled as to how I could have missed this and only just realised all these years later. The only explanation I can come up with is that it may be because Rev released two Kiss It Goodbye 7"s, and both had final pressings made on similar colors of vinyl at around the same time. I guess I must have seen this one listed for sale and assumed I already had it, as I did have the final press of the other 7" on gold vinyl. Truth be told, I always get confused with these two 7"s about which is which, and which came out first.

I'm really grateful for this one, and glad to have acquired one so easily after the initial panic and confusion. Finally my final press collection is complete... or at least, I think it is.

Thursday, 26 March 2020

Les 120 Journees De Sodome

This one was a long time coming. I bought my first copy of the Integrity / Mayday split 7" probably in about 1994 or 95. It came out in 1992, but I hadn't even heard of Integrity at that point. But at the point that I had heard of Integrity, there was only one version of this record out there, which was on black vinyl in a black and white sleeve on Endgame Records. To a young me, this was very low budget and DIY looking record, which made it cool. It wasn't the kind of thing you'd see in a high street record shop, which just added to the appeal of it.

At some point (Discogs says 1995, although in my mind it was a little later), the record got repressed on Game Two Records. I think this was a label owned by the same dude who released the first press, but he just changed his label's name. The records have the same matrix so were pressed from the same plates. Anyway, this second pressing came on on a few different colours of vinyl in a different sleeve. For years I had no interest in owning any copies of it, but in 2014 I decided that I wanted to collect them. And I have just recently acquired the last one I needed - the purple vinyl.

I had previously picked up one of these about 4 years ago but it got lost in the post. So it was starting to feel like I was cursed and destined never to get one. Fortunately that turned out not to be the case. And in celebration of this event I got my other copies out for a group pic:

What's interesting is that the white vinyl copies come in the new sleeve, but have the original labels. So I am assuming these were 'first press' reissue copies. These also come in the black & white sleeve, as do the purple vinyl and red vinyl. The gold and blue vinyl copies come in the brown and white sleeve, so I am assuming that these are 'second press' copies. But I'm guessing. Also, I have no idea which colours are rarest, although it feels as though the purple and blue copies pop up far less often.

I've only ever seen one test press of this ever, so I think it unlikely I will ever get one. I'm gonna ask around though. You never know.

Wednesday, 25 March 2020

Speed Kills

I know full well that these days I am out of the loop and not up to date on most modern bands. And I am ok with that. I generally pick up on newer bands when I hear a buzz about them, rather than check out every single new band as soon as they come out. But this generally means that I miss out on records by bands that I do eventually get into. Today I am featuring the latest example of this - the debut LP from a band called Chubby And The Gang called 'Speed Kills'.

I saw a lot of people posting this record (with its unmistakable awful cover) so I decided to check it out. This isn't my usual cup of tea, but I listened to this with an open mind to figure out what the fuss was about, and it was immediately obvious - it's catchy as hell. This band plays 70s style punk rock and it's bursting with energy. All in all it's just a fun listen.

There were a few copies on blue vinyl which sold out back when this originally dropped, and the rest of the first press was on black. I don't know how many were made, but the first press must have gone quick, because a second press on red vinyl appeared around the time that I became aware of this record. So I figured that would be fine.

The singer of this band ('Chubby') was in Violent Reaction, and some other bands that I've never really checked out. But looking at these mugshots really makes me feel old. These kids are young. Which is even more impressive that they've managed to channel a sound so well from a time before any of them were born.

I know it's relatively early to say this, but I think that this could be the soundtrack for Summer. Unless I play it too much before then and wear it out of course (which is something I often do).

Sunday, 22 March 2020

An Anthology Of American Romans

I remember when Botch were an up and coming band. They started out with a couple of 7"s on semi popular labels of the mid-late 90s (Phyte & Indecision), but at that time they didn't really stand out. They were just another new band competing for my attention. But then in 1998 they dropped their first full length 'American Nervoso' on a relatively new label (Hydrahead Records), and my attention was well and truly grabbed. It was such a huge stop up from their previous material at the time and it was an announcement to the world that Botch were a force to be taken seriously.

I was down with Hydrahead as a label from the start, and bought that record on two different colours of vinyl when it came out. I have the white vinyl and also the blueish grey vinyl. But even though I haven't listened to the record in quite some time, when I got offered a super rare baby blue vinyl copy I couldn't say no.

I'd never heard of this or seen one before. The person who sold this to me told me that there were only 5 of these. According to discogs there are 15, although only 5 people (including me) have one. So there could be either 5 or 15 I would say. Anyway, I took a photo of it next to the other copy I have to show the colour difference:

Fast forward a year and a half or so after the first album, and the band's second album 'We Are The Romans' came out. It made an even bigger impact, and is to this day often included in 'best of' lists and cited as influential to a lot of other bands. It's also been repressed several times. Just like the first LP, I bought the record direct from the label when it came out. I own two different colour vinyl copies, but when I got offered a first press test press I wasn't going to say no. Not many people would.

The band's final release came out in 2002 after they had broken up. 'An Anthology Of Dead Ends' was initially released as a 10" record, and then reissued in 12" format ten years later. It's a great record, although as you may have guessed, it's kinda short. Anyway, I also got offered a test press of the first press of this one too. It's a ten inch record in a twelve inch sleeve, which is ever so slightly annoying.

It's been years since I bought any Botch records, but these had me excited for the band again, and reminded me of how good they were. I think these records have all aged well, although looking back at their releases and release dates made me realise how they were regarded as a 'hardcore' band in the 90s, but these days that doesn't seem like the right label for them. Just a reminder of how times have moved and changed, and the past seems odd when glanced back at years later.

Wednesday, 18 March 2020

Turning Japanese

I've probably said it a hundred times before, but there are some records that you just can't not pick up again and again no matter how many copies you have in your collection. And at least this time, I know I'm not alone in this, because 'Start Today' is one of those records for a lot of people.

That said, it's somehow almost 5 years since I last picked up a copy. That last one was the glow in the dark vinyl version. How on earth was that 5 years? Jesus. Anyway, the latest one is a black vinyl copy with an obi strip, made at the end of last year for Disk Union (a Japanese record store).

To qualify as a proper Japanese pressing, it also contains a lyric sheet which has been translated into japanese. Or maybe it's just a load of random japanese words. I mean, let's be honest, nobody would ever know the difference.

I also like how the back of the obi strip almost completely blends in with the back cover. You'd be forgiven for not being able to spot it at all.

What's interesting for me to think about is whether this is actually the first black vinyl copy of this on Revelation that I have ever owned. I'm not sure. The first copy of this album I ever owned was the black vinyl We Bite pressing, but I can't remember if I ditched that one in favour of a black Rev pressing or a blue We Bite pressing. Unusually for me, I can't remember. So let's just say that this might well be the first black vinyl Rev copy that I have ever owned.

Sunday, 15 March 2020

Safe And Sound

Another release from last year that I have only just got the vinyl for is the debut LP from Safe And Sound, 'Only In Death'. The band released a 7" on New Age a couple of years ago that I picked up mainly to keep my collection of 77 pressings complete. Every release these days gets a limited pressing with the same labels that were on the 1st release that the label ever put out (the Walk Proud 7"). As the name suggests, there are only 77 of each made, and collecting these became a mission in itself. And even though I wasn't overly impressed with the 7", I still wanted the LP, for the exact same reason - to keep the 77 pressing collection complete.

I also kinda wanted this for the cover. Is that an old fashioned concept these days? I'm not sure. But plenty of times over the years I have bought records because I liked the front cover. For some reason this artwork really appealed to me and made me want to pick up the record.

This band reminds me of some other band, although I can't quite put my finger on who exactly. It could be Harvest. Definitely something in that ballpark. The band are from the NW corner of the States, and have been going for a good few years now. I was surprised to discover that they have a couple of other 7"s out dating back to 2014, which I may attempt to track down at some point. But I definitely dig this LP more than I did the last 7". It feels like a big step forward, and had been my gym soundtrack these last few weeks.

So I also managed to pick up a test press of the 7" on New Age. It was just sitting there for sale at a fair price, so I couldn't really say no.

It's great to see New Age pumping out new music again. They have a pretty good bunch of bands on their roster, with more stuff coming out regularly, and generally it's good to see all their efforts going into new bands, rather than pumping out reissues of their old stuff. There will be more New Age releases on this blog this year for sure.

Wednesday, 11 March 2020

Bloom At Night

Last year I picked up the debut vinyl release by Sunstroke, and enjoyed it. When I wrote about it on here, I ended the post with these words: I just hope that the band continues and gives us more at some point as it would be disappointing to stop here.

Well, fortunately they managed to crank out a few new songs and release another 12". This one is titled 'Bloom At Night'. It came out towards the back end of last year, and I just got around to picking one up. After seeing various versions pop up on instagram, I went with a limited sleeve version that was being sold exclusively by XSentientX Distribution in Germany. It comes with an Embrace rip off cover, which wraps around the regular cover.

This version is numbered out of 50 copies.

My copy also came with a free split across the top of the sleeve.

Musically this is no different to the first 12". It contains 4 songs plus a Dag Nasty cover ('Under Your Influence'). A Dag Nasty cover seems quite apt as this band sounds a lot like the DC bands of the Revolution Summer era, despite the fact that they come from Philadelphia. Overall I'm into what this band is doing, although this record feels disappointingly short. I wish they'd have gone with 6 songs but not bothered with the cover. But it definitely leaves me wanting to hear more.

If you are interested in this version, they still have some left HERE.

Monday, 9 March 2020

Christie Front Drive

One of the best things about having a big record collection (or being old) is having the ability to rediscover things from years ago that you had neglected or forgotten about. I spend so much time listening to 'new' music, that I can go YEARS without listening to certain bands or records that I enjoyed at some point in the past.

I stumbled across a test press for the Christie Front Drive LP on eBay a few months ago, and it immediately grabbed my attention. I hadn't listened to the record for a LONG time. In my mind, it was weaker than the band's self-titled 7" and 12" EP releases that preceeded it. But here was a test press with a buy-it-now price waiting to be scooped, so I pulled my record from it's shelf and gave it a spin to decide on whether I wanted to invest my money in this band in 2019. It must have been probably 20 years since I had played this, but the tunes were immediately familiar, and I was instantly annoyed at myself for having not enjoyed these songs for so long, and somehow thinking that this record wasn't that great. I must have just got confused somewhere along the way.

Despite realising instantly that I wanted the test press, I didn't really want to pay the price it was listed at. It was just more than I wanted to pay. So I added it to my watch list. The one of two things happened, and I can't remember which. Either the price got reduced after a few days, or it ended with no bids and then got relisted. Whichever happened, the new price was about 30% lower, and I thought it was ok. So I grabbed it.

This is actually the test press of the first pressing of this record on Caulfield Records, from 1996. The regular black vinyl copy used to command a lot of money, until it got reissued by Magic Bullet Records in 2010. It has since been pressed on numerous different colours of vinyl, to the point where half the population of the known universe probably owns a copy. I also found a listing on Popsike for a test press of the reissue that sold for more money than I paid for this first press test, which I think it kinda cool... well, for me.

This was such a good trip down memory lane. A band from an era when everyone wanted to sound like Sunny Day Real Estate, but only a couple of bands pulled it off with any real success. It also made me go back to some other similar bands I was into from those days, all of which I think still hold up. They just don't make records like this anymore, sadly. Or, if they do, they are part of a totally different scene that I know nothing about.

Sunday, 8 March 2020


Another release from late last year that I have only just picked up the vinyl for is the debut release from London straight edge outfit Payday. The record is titled 'Second To None' and features ten songs of music which (if you didn't guess from the name) is in the same ballpark as the stuff that was coming out of Cleveland about 30 years ago.

I was listening to this one through the second half of December, mainly on my walks to and from work. This seemed like the perfect soundtrack to walking in the freezing cold, dark and wet streets after returning from the laying on a beach in Miami. Life seemed miserable and pointless, and this record helped me get through it. Man, I fucking hate December.

As seems to be the case with pretty much every UK band these days, this band contains a former member of Violent Reaction (Tom) on drums. Not that this really means anything. But I had to mention it.

Interestingly, there were only 300 copies of this record made in total, with all being on green vinyl. Given how popular the label (Quality Control HQ) is to be these days, this does seem like a very low number. Even more interesting is that its been out for 4 months and there are still copies left (HERE).

Friday, 6 March 2020

Upper Class Bum

One of my favourite current hardcore bands is Restraining Order. I only really discovered them last year, but looking back I see that somehow they didn't make it onto my 'best of 2019' list. If nothing else, this just shows how stupid my end of year lists are. But there is a kind of logic to it - the LP didn't make it onto the list because I didn't really get around to listening to it until this year, and the 7" didn't make it onto the list because, even though I enjoyed it a lot, it actually came out in 2018.

Regardless of the fact that Restraining Order were missed from my list, I'm pretty damn stoked on this band right now. So I was pretty excited when New Age Records put up a post on instagram to say that they'd put some rarities up for sale in their online store and there was a Restraining Order test press available.

It's always good when tests come in sleeves, and even better when it's a non-standard one.

Once I had added a test press to my cart, I figured I should also pick up the second pressing blue vinyl copy.

Interestingly, the second press is a more budget version of the record. The first press copies came in a hard, glued sleeve with a big insert. The second press comes in a folded paper cover without insert. So if you missed the first press, you really did miss out.

When this record was first released I was disappointed to miss the limited 77 pressing as it went almost immediately. So I held off buying a single copy. So I count myself lucky to have picked up an almost complete collection from the label and without having to pay market prices.

Wednesday, 4 March 2020

Able Baker Fox 'Visions'

Back at the end of 2011 I picked up a test press of the first Able Baker Fox LP. Back then I didn't even own a regular pressing of the LP. In fact, I still don't. But recently I also picked up a test press of the second LP that came out in 2017 on No Sleep Records.

I'm guessing that not many people (if any) who read this would know who this band is. It features Nathan Ellis (vocals in The Casket Lottery & bass in Coalesce) and three members of Small Brown Bike. Musically the band is not a million miles away from The Casket Lottery I would say. I remember listening to the first LP a lot when I got it, but its been a few years since I have listened to this band at all. As soon as this record started playing, I had a big smile on my face. It's a bit like seeing an old friend I haven't seen for years.

The front cover is blank except for a stamp with all the necessary information. The small text reads 'careful the test press you're about to enjoy is extremely rare and limited'

The record itself comes in a paper sleeve that tells you all about test pressings... in 4 different languages. Useful information to have.

Just like the first LP, I don't own a regular pressing of this record either. Just the test press. I really need to fix this at some point. Somehow it just doesn't seem quite right.