Saturday 31 October 2020

Between A Rock And A Hard Place

Installment 11 of my recent haul from a friend who has decided to sell his collection, aka the final installment.

Today's post is a test press of a forgotten compilation 7" from the late 90s called 'Between A Rock And A Hard Place'. It was released on a label called Witching Hour Records (which makes it an apt post for today's date) in 1997. It's not oevrly exciting to look at as it comes in a plain paper sleeve.

I picked up a copy of this compilation from a local distro when it came out purely because it had a hot new hardcore band on it that I was really into at the time. The band was called Cave In. This compilation features one of their early songs which later appeared on their 'Beyond Hypothermia' 12". It also features 3 other bands - Reversal Of Man, The End Of The Century Party and Roswell. The cover of the other copy I have looks like this:

Until today I had only ever seen the copy of this that I own, and I assumed all copies were the same. But today I learnt that there are several different covers for this record. I also learnt that the blue vinyl copy I have is pretty rare.

As I was laying these records out to take this photo I noticed the X on the singer of Cave In's hand on one of the photos on the insert. I actually never knew that there was any remote link to straight edge with this band at all, so seeing this today was kinda cool. You learn something new every day I guess.

Friday 30 October 2020

Postcard Memoirs

Installment 10 of my recent haul from a friend who has decided to sell his collection.

Today's post is a 7" by what must surely be a contender for the best band of all time, Inside. They were from Long Island and active in the late 90s. They play a style of emo that was kinda typical of the era, although they did it very, very well. To me, this is proper emo, not whatever that term came to mean as time rolled on. They put out 3 different 7"s and a full length and then broke up. Anyone who knows this band generally likes them a LOT. You'll see what I mean if you watch the video I have added at the end.

This 7" is a limited cover version of their second 7" on Motherbox Records, originally released in 1997. In all my years I had never seen this before, so I was very happy to be able to get my hands on it.

OK, so it's cool because it's rare, but it's hardly the best designed or best looking record cover I've ever seen. But what I do like, as stupid as it sounds, are the little hand written labels that have been taped to the record's labels to denote whether it's side A or B.

This record also comes with a little insert which explains the reason for this cover existing, as well as a weird sticker.

The insert reads as follows:

Due to the UPS strike of nineteen ninety seven our original covers are somewhere between our sisyer country Canada and here so I hope you enjoy these home made on the spot creations.

To end this post, I thought I would link to a video from a reunion show the band played in 2004. What I love about this video is that you can just feel the excitement in the room. These kids are all stoked as fuck to be seeing this band. It reminds me of the pure emotion that can pour out at these shows and makes me sad that I haven't been to a show and felt this level of excitement for a long time. I'd give 5 grand to be able to go back in time and attend this show. If anyone has a time machine, get at me.

Thursday 29 October 2020

Wreck-Age Odds & Ends

Installment 9 of my recent haul from a friend who has decided to sell his collection.

Today's post is a bunch of odds and ends and the only connection between them is that they were all releases on the same label, so I thought I'd group them together.

To start, a test press of the Die 116 'Dyna Cool' LP. Die 116 was a NYC band who put out two records on Wreck-age - a 12" EP in 1994, followed by this full length in 1995. I initially picked up on them because they had Gavin Van Vlack on guitar and I was obsessed with the Burn 7" at the time. The band also featured two members of Rorschach. I really enjoyed these records back when they came out, but it was pre-internet and I have no sense as to how popular they were. But given I never heard much about them even back in the day , I assume they had a fairly low profile.

I dug out my other two copies for a group photo. I rarely bought two copies of any record back in the 90s, but I made an exception. I picked this up from a local distro at a show, and flipping through the records I noticed that there were two very different green vinyl copies. SO I bought both. This was when LPs from a distro were £5 each. But I always liked the green vinyl and the cover of this record.

Next, another little known record and band. This is a test press of a 12" titled 'Patron' by a band called Gin Mill, released in 1994.

This record is such an underappreciated gem. It sounds huge. It's not the typical NY hardcore type sound that Wreck-age was known for. Instead, this is a heavy noise rock type band. It's one of those records that I wish more people knew about, so I could talk about how good it is with them. But as it stands, I don't think I have ever met anyone else who has ever even heard this. But if you even remotely trust my judgement at this point, you should check this record out. For reference, this is what the cover looks like:

Next is a test press of the 2nd release on the label, the Necracedia 'Now I See Clearly' LP. This was released in 1991, and the band were active from the late 80s. To me this was always a bit more 'punk' than the rest of the Wreck-age catalogue. It's far from my favourite release on the label, but I picked up the test because it was pretty cheap.

Given that this one came in a sleeve, I also took a pic with the regular sleeve, just because it helps show which record this is. Not that any of you will know this one anyway.

And finally, a test press of the Neglect 'Pull The Plug' 7". This band was always slow and heavy and seemed to be generally focussed on suicide and death. In theory they should all have topped themselves years ago, but I bet they're still knocking about.

I'm pretty stoked on this one as I don't think I have ever seen another copy, and years ago just finding a green vinyl copy seemed difficult enough. This one came in a regular sleeve too, which is an added bonus.

Wednesday 28 October 2020

February 3, 1998

Installment 8 of my recent haul from a friend who has decided to sell his collection.

I generally have always been a bit of a loner and, especially where music is concerned, never really had many friends into the same stuff when I was new to hardcore. So a lot of the reason I was buying records was because I had nobody to borrow stuff from to check out. This also meant that I spent a lot of time and effort reading about bands, and a lot of stuff I would buy because it was on a certain label. I was constantly exploring and wanting to listen to new stuff. But of course this meant that a lot of the time I was just buying stuff with no context and no preconceptions, and being based in the UK I certainly had no idea about which bands were part of which scenes or whatever. To me a lot of the stuff I liked was just a record that I liked and nothing else mattered. Of course, as the internet has grown, it has become possible to know everything about every band ever, but now and again I am reminded about how little I know about some bands.

I have owned the next record for probably 22 years, but I know absolutely nothing about the band whatsoever. All I know is that the band was called Sons Of Abraham and the record is titled 'Termites In His Smile'. This was one of those records that I picked up purely because it was on Exit Records (which was a kind of sister label of Wreck-age Records), but immediately I was into it. I mean, the drums on the first song are phenominal.

I have owned a blueish greenish vinyl copy of this one since it came out, but decided to buy another one just because it looked slightly different. Mine is pretty solid and has white swirls in it, whereas this copy is a 'pure' clear version of the blueish greenish colour.

I was also lucky enough to pick up a test press of this record too. It comes in a plain white sleeve, and has the standard RTI label.

It also includes a piece of paper from the plant which seems to be called a 'test evaluation'. The idea is that the recipient of this test would fill out the form and return it (by fax or mail - email was not an option!) to the plant and state whether you approved or rejected the test.

I am assuming that the label would have received these evaluation forms with every single record, but would have only needed to return one to the plant. I say that because obviously this one wasn't returned, but somehow the record still got pressed.

When taking these photos I also dug out my other copy to take a group shot:

I just did a quick google of this band and found a really short wikipedia article. It's short but interesting. Here it is in its entirety:

Sons of Abraham were a five piece jewish straight edge metalcore band from Long Island, New York. They released one demo, a split EP with Indecision, and CD/LP titled Termites In His Smile. They disbanded in 1998, as guitarists Justin Beck and Todd Weinstock decided to concentrate on their other band, Glassjaw with friend Daryl Palumbo.

It's kinda funny how these three sentences are way more than I have ever known about this band before and it has taken me 22 years to find out even this much.

Moving on, and I also picked up another test which comes with a test evaluation form from RTI that was pressed on the same day:

This is a test press for the Milhouse LP 'Obscenity In The Milk', which was released by Wreck-age records. I wonder how the label owners decided whether to put a band on Wreck-age or Exit? I don't think the two labels were actually too dissimilar. I mean, its not like one label was hardcore and the other was emo or something. So seems slightly odd to have two labels both putting out mainly NYHC bands. Anyway, this was the last Milhouse recording after a couple of 7" releases and, for me at least, their finest moment. This was another record I listened to a lot at the back end of the 90s, but I have largely forgotten in the years that followed. But I am glad to have rediscovered this again recently after picking up this test press. A real 90s gem.

I also dug out my white vinyl copy to make a more complete photo.

By the way, the title of this post is the date that these tests were pressed (or that the evaluation forms were completed), but it also happens to have been my 23rd birthday. I have no idea what I was doing on that day, and have no way of finding out, but it's kinda cool to think that thousands of miles away these records were being manaufacured and would then embark on a 22 year voyage to my collection.

Tuesday 27 October 2020

Mind Over Matter

Installment 7 of my recent haul from a friend who has decided to sell his collection.

Mind Over Matter was a band out of Long Island, NY around in the early to mid 90s. They had 4 releases, all on Wreck-age Records. I probably only gave the band a chance because I picked up on Wreck-age at some point early in my hardcore career, enjoyed their releases, and eventually scooped up everything that the label released. I then spent some time in the late 90s trying to track down the colour vinyl pressings that I was missing, some of which proved very difficult to find, as the label generally subscribed to the 90s model where they would press a small number of colour and a vast quantity on black. Anyway, I digress...

So I managed to pick up a complete set of Mind Over Matter test pressings, with all but one of them coming in a regular sleeve for the release in question. In release order...

First is the self titled 7", which is Wreck-age release number 7, from 1992.

Second, the 'Hectic Thinking' 7" (Wreck-age 11) from 1993.

Third is the first full length, 'Security', which was released in 1994 as Wreck-age release number 15.

I was also gifted a red vinyl cpy with black swirls in it, which is just a quirky copy that results from the press not being cleaned between colours. Fun fact - I already have a red vinyl copy, which I have had probably since about 1997/8 and which I distinctly remember trading from some dude called Aaron Turner in the late 90s. It's funny what I remember sometimes.

And finally, the second full length 'Automanipulation' which was released in 1995 and is Wreck-age number 23. This is the only one that does not come in a regular sleeve.

At this point I wish I could tell you something cool about Mind Over Matter. All I really found out is some of the bands that members went on to play in, quite a few of which I have enjoyed over the years - The Movielife, Inside, Silent Majority, Errortype:11, Milhouse, Neglect, and more. Aside from that, all I can say is that I listened to this band during the 90s but haven't done a lot since. What I always liked though was that they were a band who really showed progression with each realease. For me, their pinnacle was the final LP, which sounded so far ahead of the previous releases.

I took a photo with all 4 tests and added the second LP cover into the mix.

The other thing I discovered is that the band have a bandcamp with both albums up for free download. You can't say fairer than that huh?

Sunday 25 October 2020

Most Precious Blood

Installment 6 of my recent haul from a friend who has decided to sell his collection.

Hot on the heels of the last post, today I am featuring another record by late 90s New York band Indecision. Their second full length 'Most Precous Blood' was released by Exit Records in 1998. The only vinyl version made was a picture disc (BOO!), for which 1,000 copies were made. I bought it when it came out and could never have known that I'd be buying a test press of it 22 years later.

I'd probably say that this is my second favourite Indecision LP. It was the last full length to feature the original vocalist Tom Sheehan, who also happens to be my second favourite vocalist in this band.

I don't have much more to say about this one, so to complete this post here's a pic of the test press next to the original picture disc that it was a test for. Just because.

Saturday 24 October 2020

To Live And Die In New York City

Installment 5 of my recent haul from a friend who has decided to sell his collection.

Today's post is on one of the better bands out of New York in the late 90s. There was a point in the 90s where my brain associated New York hardcore with 25 Ta Life and Back Ta Basics Records, and huge tattooed dudes who described their bands as 'beatdown'. I wanted no part of that. But one band of that era that I really enjoyed was Indecision. I don't remember exactly how they originally got my attention, but they definitely seemed like they had a lot to say, and they also had a girl on guitar, which somehow made them less 'tough' and interesting. Well, over the years I have got the impression that most people rate their first LP 'Unorthodox' the most, but for me it was always the third full length, 'To Live And Die In New York City'. It was released in 1999, with the CD released by Wreck-Age Records and the vinyl put out by Jawk Records. I had a couple of colour copies since it came out, but took the opportunity to pick up a few other copies recently.

First up, the silk screened cover version. I'm not sure whether this was made for a special occassion or whether it's just another variant that was put out at the same time as the others. It's hand numbered out of 150 on the back cover and contains a black vinyl record.

Next is one that used to be legendary but took me years to even see one. The Britney Spears cover. I guess this really does show how old this record is now, but this version was put together to mark Britney's 18th birthday. It's just a piece of paper containing a few pictures of Spears glued onto a regular sleeve. It's also appropriately hand numbered out of only 18 copies.

And finally, the test press. It's a good example of why most people have no interest in test pressings, because it has no cover and nothing visually interesting about it whatsoever.

I pulled out one of my other copies just so that I could put the test next to it. I always liked this cover. And here's a fun fact for you - after the events of 9/11 back in 2001, eBay banned the sale of this record. I don't actually know how I know this, but I definitely remember it being an issue that I read somewhere. Somehow this got identified as an offensive record, even though it had been released two years previous.

When taking these photos today, I also took out the two colour vinyl copies to take a photo of the whole lot together.

I figured this was now a complete collection, but I'm clearly out of touch, because there was another version made in 2016. Sounds like it was a limited cover made up to sell some leftover copies, so in my mind it doesn't really count. There's also a test press in a stainless steel cover, which would be impossible to own but would be nice to see at some point.

Friday 23 October 2020

Key Of Crime

Installment 4 of my recent haul from a friend who has decided to sell his collection.

Today's post is a record that I literally have no idea what anybody thinks about it. Another test press, this one is Equal Vision Records number 56.

The band is called The Stryder and the record is titled 'Masquerade In The Key Of Crime'. It was released in September 2000, which is now somehow 20 years in the past. At the time this came out, I was still firmly buying everything that Equal Vision Records released as they were a really solid label at that point. So basically I just bought this blind with no clue about who the band were or what they sounded like. But on first play it seemed to me this was some new band who were ripping off Saves The Day. It came out a year after 'Through Being Cool' and a year before 'Stay What You Are'.

What I remember about this time period was that this is when it started to feel like things were changing. Bands like this were somehow still part of the 'hardcore' scene, but they clearly weren't really hardcore. This was also when I started to notice a younger generation of kids appearing at shows, and also more girls. And I remember that at the time there was some kind of controversy about the cover. If you've never seen it before, this is what it looks like:

I actually thought that this cover was kinda funny. The band legging it down the street, then you flip it over to find that they're being chased by a bunch of female fans.

What stands out about looking at this cover now is how young everyone looks. I was 25 when this came out, and these people didn't look like they were much younger than me. Now, the band and the girls on the back all look like kids. Crazy.

Anyway, back when this dropped and did actually find it quite catchy. I liked it enough to then buy their second album that came out 3 years later on CD only. But in all the years that have followed, I don't thinkg that I have ever heard anyone speak of this band or record even once, and I have literally no idea how big they got nor whether anybody ever really cared, or if anyone cares anymore. Judging from the prices of their records on discogs, I think the answer is 'probably not'.

Thursday 22 October 2020

Nice Guys Finish Last

Installment 3 of my recent haul from a friend who has decided to sell his collection. The bulk of stuff I picked up is mid to late 90s stuff, and today's post is about a band that I used to enjoy but haven't listened to in a while - Yuppicide.

Yuppicide was a band from Brooklyn, NY mainly active in the early and mid 90s. I probably stumbled upon them in about 1994 when I picked up a copy of their second LP, 'Shinebox'. I don't remember exactly why I picked it up, but it was definitely one of the releases that made me start to take notice of Wreck-age Records, and in the years that followed I would go on to pick up pretty much everything that the label released.

Well, I always liked Yuppicide as they kinda stuck out from the rest of the NY bands of the time. There was just something more punk about them, partly due to the singer's (almost) english sounding accent, and the photo of the band that I have etched in my brain of the singer covered in blood. Well anyway, I picked up a couple of versions of their records for the collection.

First up is a brown vinyl copy of their first LP, 'Fear Love'. This one came out on Wreck-age Records in 1992. I have an old Wreck-age discography which says that there were 500 copies of this on multi-coloured vinyl. This one is on brown vinyl.

I already had a completely different colour copy that I have owned for many years, so I took it out to photograph the two together. Such is the luxury afforded to me by working from home.

I also grabbed a test press of the 3rd Yuppicide LP, 'Dead Man Walking'. This one came out on Wreck-age in 1995, and all things considered I think is my favourite of all their records. The test comes in a regular sleeve and has labels that I'd never actually seen before on any other record, which is kinda cool.

If you haven't heard Yuppicide before then I'd recommend checking them out, although be prepared for something a little different. I have no idea what they would sound like in 2020 to someone who had never heard them before, so maybe check this video for a song from the third LP and let me know your thoughts. (Oh, and just so you are aware, that's not some crazy tattoo on the singer's face)

Wednesday 21 October 2020

Keep Never Changing

Installment 2 of my recent haul from a friend who has decided to sell his collection. Today's post is two copies of an album that I initially didn't rate too highly, but which over the years grew on me. The third album by The Movielife, 'Forty Hour Train Back To Penn'. This album came out in 2003, and I clearly remember ordering it when it came out from the label. I got a marble green vinyl copy back then, but I don't remember there being any choice of vinyl colour other than green or black. But some years down the line, I found out that there was also a white vinyl version, which was apparently much more limited than the green. So when given the chance to grab one, I couldn't resist.

Well, if I was tempted by the white vinyl, I simply could not resist the test press. I was actually surprised that this one was up for grabs, but given it was I didn't want to miss out, despite the fact that it doesn't come in anything other than a white paper sleeve. Apparently only 8 copies exist.

So not much else to say on this one. But given I was taking photos of 2 copies, I figured I may as well get the other copy out for a group shot. And damn, how nice is that marble green colour?

It's also worth mentioning that this album was repressed a few years later (in 2014) on a different label on 3 different colours of vinyl. I'd probably give them a home if someone was giving them away for free, but given that is not going to happen, I'm more than happy with this little collection as it is.

Tuesday 20 October 2020

Out Of Business

I recently bought a bunch of records from a friend who had decided that it was time to let his collection go. It's always sad to see people bow out of the game, but I always respect people's decisions on these things. And as much as I would like to see people keep their collections and keep going, if their decision is to quit then I'm happy to help them out by scooping up a few gems. So I picked up a nice haul of 24 records, and thought I'd post them up here in batches rather than in one or two posts.

Day 1, and I thought I'd start with a couple of Capital records. Capital is one of those bands that I don't listen to enough. Every time I listen to them I wonder why I don't listen to them more often, because every time I do listen to them I think 'this band is great'. The first record is a test press of the first full length, 'Signal Corps'. I actually had one of these in a parcel that went missing in the mail in 2016. So it's nice to finally get a replacement.

This one doesn't come with anything other than a white paper sleeve, so I pulled out the regular sleeve just for a more interesting photo.

The second Capital record is a copy of the 'Blind Faith' 7" with a release show sleeve. I've always been a fan of nice, simple designs, and this one looks great.

This one is numbered out of 50 copies in the bottom of the sleeve, although it's written pretty small, so not sure it shows up too well in this pic. In total there were 100 copies on white vinyl, so I assume 50 come in this sleeve and 50 in the regular sleeve.

So that's the first couple of records from the batch, and I have 22 more to get through. I'm hoping to cover the rest of the stuff I picked up in daily posts from now until they're all done. It will probably take about 10 posts to do it justice and I'm aiming to do one a day from now until then end.