Obsessive or Pragmatic: Which Kind Of Collector Are You?

Two days ago, commenter Thombeau said something in the comments on the Vaughan Oliver obituary that got me thinking. He described me as a “collector.” At virtually the same time, my wife was telling me about her co-worker who had a record collector partner and how they had got into a discussion about living with “a collector.” She told her about hard core collectors like my old friend Ron Kane. 30,000 titles filled his house at the time of his death! We visited, but had to leave. Yeah, it can get pretty blood chilling as collecting becomes hoarding. Even Ron wondered why he had more records than he could spend the rest of his life listening to. Little did he know just how little time he had to do that by the time that notion had occurred to him! In spite of owning a few thousand CDs and records, I don’t strictly consider myself a real collector in spite of what you may hear about me.

Late 70s Beginnings

In the late 70s when I got my first record player I bought albums. One a week with my lunch money, basically. In high school, I bought mainly albums. Singles were cheaper than albums, but you could get 7-10 songs for the price of 2-3 singles, and that made albums the better deal. Once I found out about used record stores, things really started to get interesting! The best thing about them was not even the lower prices, but the ability to buy older things that were harder to find currently. This was especially true with singles.

After high school, better record stores with heavy import sections began to beckon to me and the notion of buying singles by artists I loved featuring songs not on albums and [gasp] remixes, became to be viable to me. I can be said to have started “collecting” some time in 1981, I guess. But I was on a low budget. It was my job to make the scant funds stretch as far as they could go, and that meant collecting pragmatically. In other words, buying any releases I needed to get all of the artist in question’s non-LP tracks and variations… but only the minimum of titles necessary to do so! And the bands I did this for were still low in number. This was my method throughout the whole of the 80s. Even then, I tended to go with 12″ singles instead of 7″ singles. One, they sounded better. Two, in many cases, the 12″ had the B-side from the 7″ in addition to an extended version. Then ZTT had to go and start making multiple 12″ singles!

80s – Goldmine, Catalogs + Record Shows

goldmine magazine - ramones coverThen by the late 80s I had begun buying records by mail order. This is where serious collecting began to spread like wildfire. Especially the usually neglected 7″ part of the record collection. With Goldmine and catalogs, I had  access to even more records that I wanted beyond the scope of any of even the best record stores that Central Florida had to offer me at the time. This was when I started buying the clear vinyl 7″ UK singles from Ultravox on Chrysalis Records, in addition to the 12″ singles I was buying. I knew about these thanks to Mr. Ware, who set me straight on them even as he corrupted me with his Goldmine and Jack Wolak’s Rare Necessities catalogs! Then I started buying entire artist’s runs of things that I had wanted but never seen locally. I began the core of a serious Mari Wilson and Rezillos/Revillos collection with recources like that at my fingertips.

Then the occasional record show really opened the vistas of collecting up. I could go to a civic center full of records and buy all sorts of things. The big shows were like a catalog with immediate gratification thrown in as a bonus. The first shows were usually in bigger cities like Tampa or Atlanta, so they were rare occasions, but by the early 90s, even sleepy Orlando started getting some record shows with regularity.

If one bought singles they tended to be available for a much shorter period than for albums. This guided my hand for years in the late 80s as I would eventually opt to buy import singles instead of the album itself that they might have come from. It seemed like the album could usually be bought later, and the longer one waited, the greater chance of getting a cheaper copy. Whereas the singles would invariably rise in price from the point of issue as they became more scarce.

90s – Time, Space + Money Conspire to Make Of Me An Obsessive Collector

rock-N-roll heaven record store in orlando

The Rock-N-Roll Heaven window by spindlespider

If I could be said to have become a collector it was by the early 90s. I remember the feeling I got by having every Ultravox album and 12″ single/EP. And 90% of the band’s UK 7″ singles. I felt like I needed a bigger challenge! By 1993 I had a large apartment and the huge master bedroom was the video/book/music collection room. My career was going great. I was a UX designer before they even had a name for it! I was earning more money than I have for the last 20 years and had nothing better to do than scoop up armfuls of music releases. It was at this time that I began hitting stores like Rock + Roll Heaven and spending a few hours in there on a Saturday just buying desirable records – that I technically did not need for their musical contents!

heaven 17 we live so fast US 7

Arista | US | 7″| 1983 | AS 1-9027

That’s right, Just seeing a record like the US 7″ picture sleeve of “We Live So Fast” [only a single in America] would make me splash out the cash to buy it. I would spend an unplanned $100-150 on a weekend’s visit…just for kicks! A far cry from the way I roll now. Another factor pushing my “buy” button was the notion that soon I would be able to make my own CDs of material on vinyl only. It was almost a decade into the CD era by then and I had a fair handle on what might not ever come out on the shiny silver disc. Primarily, the many rarities by any number of bands. Non-LP A/B sides, live tracks, promo mixes, 12″ remixes of all stripes and from all nations. Since I was looking to tie up a lot of loose ends, I really started paying more attention to 7″ singles for the often unique 7″ mixes/versions that could be out there if one knew where to look. Keep in mind that I probably did not get online until some time in 1994 and back then, record collecting resources on the web were usually the providence of the occasional obsessed collector who would take their data online with the 10 MB webspace that their ISP gave them for their own personal website.

duran duran my own way japanese 7

Toshiba-EMI | JPN | 7″ | 1981 | EMS-17235

It was some time in 1992-3 when I found the challenge that I would undertake after “completing” my Ultravox collection. I was at a record show and saw some Duran Duran classic 12″ singles that I had never bothered to buy when they were current. A little voice told me to buy these for the $5 asking price and I did. I soon met new friends out of the Orlando “Old Wave” club scene that played decade old music for dancing to and discovered the Duran Duran collector’s underground. Swept up in the excitement, this was compounded by the release of their 1993 “Wedding Album” with its pair of US Top 10 singles, and Duran Duran just exploded right after I started to may some more attention to them.

I had once bought the occasional CD single. Now I bought everything. It was exhilarating seeing how many variations I could buy of any of their releases. I was finally seeing the band live after over a dozen years of variable fandom and now I had things like the US promo “Liberty” box that I once handed to Nick Rhodes and Warren Cuccurullo to sign in the middle of the night as they were leaving their hotel after a gig in Orlando. I probably dropped $1500 on DoubleDuran in the two year period where the sky was the limit and had over 300 releases to show for it. Then marriage, buying a house, and especially their godawful “Thank You” album brought all that to a screeching halt. Thank goodness. DD were among the most heavily marketed bands of the New Wave era with countless releases the world over. I could have dedicated my life to collecting them and still only would have had a fraction of the total at my deathbed! Fact: Duran Duran are hardly my favorite act!

2000 + Beyond: A Return To Pragmatism

john foxx complete cathedral oceans LP box coverIn 2001 we decided to move away from Orlando and have lived in a succession of ever smaller homes; necessitating much downsizing. We bought our current [tiny] home in 2004 and there is a small bedroom with everything I still have jammed in there frightfully. I still like to collect the output of certain bands, but the numbers are down from the peak 90s list which can be found here. That was pretty much every artist I “collected” in the 90s, for what it’s worth. My, how that list has been seriously pruned! I still buy every John Foxx release. He is the one artist that I have almost everything from but there are still rarities that are damned hard to source copies of.  I usually skip the pricier items [I am way too practical…] only to have my wife buy them for me!

simple minds boxed sets of god

These did have everything from 1977-1998

In 2002, I got more serious about making an upgraded BSOG of Simple Minds rarities, so I bought any single I didn’t already have [even the stuff I’d avoided for ages from the mid-late 80s] but I didn’t buy everything. Only the bare minimum to actually have as complete a music collection as I could. Even that was doomed to failure since in 2002, the band were releasing difficult to source Italian DJ 12″ vinyl of remixes from their great “Cry” album like they were going out of style. I still have none of this material almost 20 years later so that third volume of Simple Minds rarities will probably never happen. A line was crossed in 2013 when I stared selling off my redundant collector’s records that I bought for no good reason to fund concert travel and vacations. I think the profits were balanced out by losses fairly equally, which is nothing to complain about.

The notion is still there to collect but more small scale things. I think a complete Mari Wilson collection is possible. I have a lot of what it would make up. I have quite a lot of Rezillos/Revillos releases in as many formats as I can find. A few years back they were selling modern 7″ and CD singles at such modest prices I bought everything and it cost me less than $30. In my headier flights of fancy, I think about collecting every release by her label as well, as The Compact Organisation had boundless taste [thanks to prime mover/impresario Tot Taylor] and made generally wonderful goods for the dream home that had everything. There’s probably less than 150 releases in total, but I’d have to buy a lot of records from the UK mail order, and the shipping would be a deal breaker.

Another notion I could get behind would be every UK 7″/12″/CD5/Cassette single by the great ZTT label; but only from 1983-1988. After that they barely existed for me. But there are some things that would probably cost me a small fortune there. No, with my advancing age, and diminishing wallet, I think I need to just try to enjoy what I’ve already got. Maybe keep buying a dozen or so artists who have proven their worth over decades, and selectively buy the right “singles” to complement their album releases. Which is actually a challenge in this horrible intangible music era. When music is only streamed [and we’re getting there, trust me]. We’re already in a place where scant physical releases are costing a fortune and I’m priced out of that game. Record collecting is no longer a modestly priced hobby. It’s becoming a playtoy of the financial elite. So now,more than ever, is the time to collect pragmatically. It’s no longer an inexpensive hobby. How do you like to collect? Discuss below.

– 30 –

About postpunkmonk

graphic design | software UI design | remastering vinyl • record collector • satire • non-fiction
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38 Responses to Obsessive or Pragmatic: Which Kind Of Collector Are You?

  1. Mel Creighton says:

    I definitely slowed down when I got married. The peak of my collecting was when I worked at Record Bar in the early to mid eighties. My entire paycheck went to buying imports. I had access to Important, Dutch East India, and Jem as the import buyer. The occasional treks to Atlanta to see shows was an excuse to go to Wax n’ Fax and spend even more money. I worked another job at the time to pay bills. At first I had to have everything Ultravox made, as well as Joy Division and New Order stuff. Some of my favorite b side stuff was by XTC and the Smiths. The 4ad stuff kept me broke too. I still have a couple of thousand LPs and a few hundred forty-fives. I have no idea how many CDs I have. Nowadays used CDs can be bought pretty cheaply. I bought Gang of Four’s Entertainment for 2 bucks a couple of years ago. That was an obscene deal. I am willing to bet most people here have duplicate copies of things like Simple Minds’ New Gold Dream.i have the import and domestic LP as well as the import CD. Anyone else dabble in duplicate copies like that?

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    • postpunkmonk says:

      Mel Creighton – Yow! So let me get this straight; you had a job as an import buyer at a Record Bar and a second job just to pay your bills?! That is insane, my friend! You win some sort of record geek prize for such antics! I sometimes forget about Record Bar, but there was one in the Factory Outlet Mall [I think] in Orlando in the 80s and I would occasionally shop there. Good imports! Not a bad chain. Their 3×12″ domestic singles for $12.99 was a good deal, too! Went to Hotlanta to shop at the great stores too? We usually hit Wax N’Facts, Tower, and Fantasyland with smaller shops filling in the margins. Where did you live at the time?

      Duplicate copies? Lessee, for “New Gold Dream [81, 82, 83, 84]” I have the US marbeled vinyl in two copies. The one I bought in 1982 and one my wife found at the Habitat record store in town a few years back. The 1st German CD with the 12″ version of the title track. The copy in the X5 box. I think I have the 2002 kami sleeve remaster, but it’s off rack right now if I do so I csan’t verify. And then the SDLX box version. What I need is the original UK pressing on LP, even the US copy makes it look very second best. Just on the principle of the matter.

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      • Mel Creighton says:

        I was living and working in Myrtle Beach. Still do. Atlanta was a seven hour trek but it was a lot of fun. I drove to see the Smiths Queen is Dead tour to only learn the show had been cancelled. That put the brakes on those kinds or trips. As most of you know, Morrissey has a long record of cancellations. I was working in Record Bar when Thriller came out. If I never hear that LP again it will be too soon.

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        • postpunkmonk says:

          Mel Creighton – If anyone hears “Thriller” again it will be too soon! The only halfway decent track there was “Wanna Be Starting Something.” I finally heard “Off The Wall” for the first time only a few years ago in-store and had to admit; that album had the goods!

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  2. negative1ne says:

    Hi Mr. Monk,
    Your story echoes mine, without the mail order.
    I went to webstores, and paid small fortunes to clean up on
    collections from sites. eil dot com is what did me in.

    I was a huge frazier chorus fan, and they had cd3 singles, cassettes,
    promos, 7 inch, 10 inch, 4ad releases, limited 12 inches.
    I think i bought about 30 items, and i’m still missing a few today.

    anyways, to answer another readers question i have tons of duplicates.
    10 more copies of big countries – the crossing, several color versions, anniversary versions,
    promos, different countries

    10 or more copies of duran duran – rio, vinyl, cd, cassette, reel to reel, etc
    10 or more copies of simple minds – new gold dream, colored vinyl, remastered,
    yugoslavian, us, uk, canadian, etc

    i’ll write more about my story later on, but you’ve already lived it.

    later
    -1

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    • postpunkmonk says:

      negative1ne – Mail order was more expensive than the web in principle. But timing also keeps prices low. The sooner you bought into something, the cheaper it would be. In 1985 I paid no more than $8 each for all of the Arista Simple Minds singles, [$12 for “Saints + Sinners,” as I recall] but overall, some of the Duran Duran I bought cost more than such records will sell for now. Web sales tend to push the prices of less rare things downward when before the web, catalogs could charge whatever they ewanted because the mechanism to make anyone in the world a record dealer was not there. Big example. Now, Japanese 7″ers are usually under $10 for anything I might want. In the 80s/90s $20-40 was common! I think tha album I have the most copies of is “Metamatic.” Original LP, 1st CD, 2nd CD, 3rd [2xCD]. The copy in the “Virgin Years” box. And the 3xCD box of 2018. I need the RDS white vinyl gatefold! But that’s only six. There’s got to be an album I have more copies of! “A Secret Wish,” maybe? UK LP, US LP, 1st UK CD, US CD, 2xCD DLX RM. Nope. Only five. Let me get back to this later…

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      • Mathmandan says:

        A Secret Wish is the quintessential example! I probably have 10 versions of that one.

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        • postpunkmonk says:

          Mathmandan – Maybe the blue vinyl LP and SACD would be nice, but that would only take me up to seven copies. Any serious Propaganda collector would also need a JPN LP with obi, though. That’s eight. Any other suggestions?

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          • Mathmandan says:

            Oops I exaggerated slightly! I have
            1. original UK LP
            2. US LP
            3. original UK CD
            4. US CD
            5. Japan CD
            6. SACD
            7. 20th Anniversary CD+DVD
            8. “Art of the Album” 2018 vinyl reissue
            9. “Art of the Album” 2018 CD reissue

            I don’t have the blue vinyl LP, that would make 10…

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            • negative1ne says:

              Hi Mr. Monk,

              Some more of my favorite duplicates:
              ABC – How to be a Zillionaire – 6 versions – UK Gatefold, US LP,
              US CD, UK 10 inch promo sampler, UK single sided sampler LP, UK Remaster CD

              A Flock of Seagulls – Listen – 5 versions – US Cassette, US LP,
              UK CD, US CD remaster, UK remaster

              Ultravox – Vienna – 5 versions – US LP, UK 94 Boxset CD, UK 2008
              CD remaster, UK 2008 CD remaster promo, UK Enhanced CD

              Ultravox – Lament – 7 versions – UK LP (thermographic cover), JAP CD,
              US LP, UK Picture disc LP, UK CD 1999 remaster, UK 2XCD 2009
              remaster, US CD

              Underworld – Dubnobasswithmyheadman – 7 versions, UK 2xLP,
              US CD, US CD promo, US Cass, JAP 2xCD, UK Bluray,
              UK Boxset

              Underworld – Second Toughest in the Infants – 7 versions, GER 2XLP,
              UK 2xCD, JAP 2xCD, US CD promo, UK Cass, JAP 2001 2xCD,
              EUR Boxset

              later
              -1

              Like

              • postpunkmonk says:

                negative 1ne – I forget how many copies of “Vienna” I have:
                • US LP
                • Yugoslavian LP
                • 1983 UK CD
                • 1994 Chrysalis 25 Blue Boxed CD
                • 1997 EMI Gold DLX RM
                • 2008 Definitive UK 2xCD DLX RM

                I should have a 1980 UK LP in there, but I’ve never seen one. In the 90s I bought every Ultravox pressing I came across. I had ample money and they were cheap. I even mail ordered a UK LP [with PVC outer sleeve] of “U-VOX!” I have not bought any modern Vox vinyl. Too expen$ive.

                I got rid of my original US LP when I got the UK CD in 1985, stupidly as was my policy at the time. But in 2016, I re-bought a US LP copy at a store we shopped at immediately before we finally saw Midge Ure play half of the album in a small dive bar 8 feet from us. Of course I asked him to autograph it, since it was my first Ultravox record.

                “Rage In Eden?” Lots of that one.
                • 1981 UK LP + poster
                • 1981 US LP
                • 1981 Spain LP + poster
                • 1981 Spain LP + poster [when you see a second Spanish pressing – with poster, you buy it again]
                • 1983 UK CD [Voice cover]
                • 1987 US CD [original cover]
                • 1997 EMI Gold DLX RM CD [poster cover]
                • 2008 Definitive UK 2xCD DLX RM

                “Quartet”
                • 1982 UK LP
                • 1982 UK Pic Disc LP
                • 1983 UK CD
                • 1983 US LP
                • 1998 EMI Gold UK DLX RM CD
                • 2008 Definitive UK 2xCD DLX RM
                • 2017 Thermographic UK 2xCD DLX RM

                “Lament”
                • 1984 UK thermographic LP
                • 1984 UK CD
                • 1984 US LP
                • 1984 UK Pic Disc LP
                • 1999 EMI Gold UK DLX RM CD

                “Monument”
                • 1983 UK LP
                • 1983 UK CD
                • 1988 JPN LD [reissue]
                • 1996 EMI Gold UK DLX RM CD
                • 2008 Definitive UK 2xCD DLX RM

                I only have two Underworld MK II CDs. I have a bigger Underworld MK I collection, for what it’s worth. With an even bigger Freur collection [but not big enough].

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  3. Mark Moerman says:

    I am obsessive when it comes to the Charisma label, for which I recently completed — after 35 years or so — the CAS album series of Charisma and B&C label albums 1969-86. Other than that, I am pragmatic, though in younger days I was obsessive in many further respects.

    Of late, I work on completing specific sets of things that appeal to me, such as runs of original studio albums by a variety of artists, including many titles I once owned and regret having sold. I have slowed a lot since my younger days, and I buy many things that I find inexpensively which interest or amuse me, such as a 1951 10″ album by the Ringling Bros – Barnum & Bailey Circus Band in great shape for $1, or when a few years ago I put together a run of the half dozen latter 70s LPs by the great Tex-Mex artist Freddy Fender, for which the maximum cost was $2. I also actively sell things off as I determine them to be surplus to requirements; for space is limited, and I really enjoy looking for and finding things that inspire me to bring them home!

    Like

    • postpunkmonk says:

      Mark Moerman – The notion of having more JAPAN vinyl [which I certainly don’t need] has made me happy for about 20 years. I am now pining for the original UK “Gentlemen Take Polaroids” LP I bought in 1982 and [stupidly] sold off when I got the CD in 1985! Whoever was in Virgin’s art department cranking out the OMD/Simple Minds/JAPAN first-gen CD artwork was probably a first-year graphic design intern! They all looked so awful.

      During the time of maximum income in the 90s, I basically held a policy of not ever selling any music off. Since I had regretted my “buy CD/trade in LP” policy of 1985-1990. In the 21st century, selling items has been the thing to do on occasion, but when I now get a CD of a title I only had on LP I generally keep the LP if it is a “core collection” band.

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  4. Gerald McBoing-Boing says:

    I don’t think I ever considered myself a collector – I started, like you, just trying to hear everything a favorite artist recorded and released and went after anything that contained something unique. But I quickly realized that most artists have a golden period where their artistry is at it’s peak, with the exception of a handful of artists whose catalogs are almost all great aside from a dud or two which aren’t worth keeping just to be a completist. So former favorites drop off from my purchasing as their output weakens or no longer engages me. C’est la vie.

    I think of my music as a library and myself as it’s curator. The act of curation requires decisions regarding what goes in as well as what goes out, and I do that every year at this time. I pull out between 50 and 100 items to make room for what I bought the prior year, and feel happy that I’ve culled. I’ve long since moved from getting rid of bad or unwanted records and now have to be honest that the complete works of Dead Can Dance or Sisters Of Mercy never moved me and never will, or sell albums that I find just “ok” but will likely never get played again. And in all the years I’ve been doing this, I’ve only changed my mind and repurchased something a half dozen times.

    I never dabbled in the multiple copies game, and while I will always buy a CD copy if it gets released, I’m ok with having digital albums and rarities when necessary. If I am obsessive about anything, it’s hearing new and different music – the object itself is just the carrier of the experience. There will always be something to look forward to hearing!

    Like

    • postpunkmonk says:

      Gerald McBoing-Boing – For decades, I avoided Bowie’s EMI era. It was not until the “Hours” album hit me in the right way – strongly, that I considered ever hearing all of the Bowie albums, finally. Because I had to know everything then. Was it worth it? Errrr, not really. I think I have the complete Sisters Of Mercy myself! I never really rated them but clubbing in the 80s they were inescapable, and eventually, the songs wormed their way into me! I can’t think of too many other instances of that happening. Usually, familiarity breeds contempt.

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  5. Thombeau says:

    What a terrific post! Happy to have helped inspire it!

    Like

  6. Mr. Ware says:

    Always a fascinating subject as we constantly ponder just what makes us music heads tick. Having witnessed both your and Ron (The Man) Kane’s journey in real time, I always felt like a minor leaguer stepping up on occasions to play in the big leagues. I have always been a pragmatic collector. I’ve raised two children and my disposable income has had to be carefully managed over the years. While I think I have a fairly broad collection of CDs (1,200 or so), I have curated substantial vinyl collections for only a handful of bands and even those are fairly conservative – Wang Chung, Icehouse, XTC, Split Enz, and Al Stewart. (Yes, I realize one of those things are not like the others.)
    But your tastes change and your priorities continue to evolve. I bought the Australian Icehouse CD box with every album in deluxe editions for under $100. This made all my Icehouse CDs and CD singles completely redundant so I sold them piecemeal on EBay and made $200. I will never miss them. My Split Enz collection was always in tandem with Ron Kane and we shared many scores together over the years. After his passing I just felt I was over it so I decided for now to sell off all the peripheral stuff – posters, press kits, buttons, etc. Again no regrets.

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    • postpunkmonk says:

      Mr. Ware – Arrrgh! You sold off your Icehouse collection without telling me first??!! I’d bet you had things I still never got! I also have a lot of Chrysalis promo items that as far as I know, might not be accounted for in the Icebox. Woah. Misread that. You only sold off the CD material. Never mind! Not the US mix of the debut, of course! I’ve got a narrow collection of about 5000 CDs. Maybe 200 different artists make that up. I have the collector’s sickness too much for that. When I thin out occasionally, I usually go for items that are one-offs that don’t make “sense” for my collection.

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    • Mark Moerman says:

      I had similar feelings about certain things after Ron’s passing…it’s funny, because some things he provided have taken on greater importance, e.g. the Japanese Capability Brown “Voice” jewel box CD that he kindly gave me after the advent of paper sleeve CDs of both of that group’s titles. However, other things came to seem unnecessary, such as certain Charisma variations. Some things related to him that I would never have thought would seem disposable have in fact become disposable, while others are such that I will hold them for the rest of my days in this plane of existence.

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  7. SimonH says:

    What a subject!
    It’s only about the music for me, but while I’ve started to use streaming, I don’t really like it beyond filtering and maybe to avoid buying an album for one song. Each to their own, but if I like an album I want the cd.
    I don’t collect singles, variations etc.
    So I have 5000 cds.
    Probably too many.
    I’ve been switching plastic cases to polythene sleeves and have created a lot of space that
    way. It’s still too much so I would really like to reach the point where I buy just one album a week, my problem is I like a lot of stuff!
    My dream would be to have one room with everything stored neatly…instead it’s in storage cabinets and under beds.
    There’s no doubt getting older makes you consider these things.
    Oh and this week I have bought just one cd and it was Tim’s fault:)

    Like

    • postpunkmonk says:

      SimonH – Just can’t let go of the jewel box. Especially since I cart CDs with me every day in the car and they need the protection. A year ago I built two extensions that made my two “short” homemade CD racks go from 10-15 shelves tall [and now all four main racks nearly touch the ceiling]. The “big racks” now hold ~800 CDs. This weekend I am finally taking a revolving CD rack I bought at a rummage sale last spring online. But I have to make room for this to happen. The rack has sat in the Reocrd Cell for nine months as I was spending my free time building a portfolio website.

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  8. SimonH says:

    I don’t really have a choice, to be honest I don’t really like them anyway.
    Ten go and that’s space for thirty more CDs…
    I’ll go on dreaming of that room.
    There’s a house in my area where the owner collects DVDs and Blu Rays and has a room with store style racking and the whole lot is neatly on display. Very nice.
    Just a dream for me though!

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  9. Taffy says:

    I’m a rabid collector of just two artists (Blondie/Debbie Harry and Pet Shop Boys) in the sense of “must own every morsel they’ve ever produced, no matter how obscure or inconsequential.” But I am also an annoying completist in that if I own all the albums by an act (on CD, don’t care about vinyl) then I continue to buy them even if there’s been a drop off in quality. Nothing irks me more than owning all but one album by an artist. Exception to this rule…Duran Duran, funny enough. Nothing but nothing could convince me to buy that hideous covers album, but I picked up again with Medazzaland. Go figure.

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    • postpunkmonk says:

      Taffy – You are cutting close to the bone with that comment! In the 90s when I was not enjoying the $12.00 CD single dance mixes I was buying at the time I went from buying every PSB track out there to nothing at all 2/3 through the “Very” campaign! I figured that If I was not enjoying collecting everything then why continue buying anything at all?

      I once owned three copies of “Thank You!” The US CD, JPN CD with two bonus tracks (inc.JPN only “Diamond Dogs!”), and the UK LP. Selling that LP netted me three solid figures! So ultimately, a good move, but when I bought it new at a record show in 1995, it was the last DD release I bought for a decade.

      “Medazzaland” is sort of interesting and of course it’s better! (So is dental surgery) But I still don’t own a copy. I’m glad I stopped collecting PSB. I’d have gone broke over the last quarter century!

      The decision when not to collect any more can be a tough one to make. I kept up with Simple Minds CD singles even if I waited years to buy the albums when I was not liking them to put it mildly! Eventually I wanted to make a complete set of rarities and in 2001-2 I ended up buying some singles on vinyl that I had not bothered with a dozen or more years earlier. But it’s not like I had every single variation of the 85-90 period! Then, once they made that acoustic album I could not buy it. And the notion of at least having every simple minds album went out the window. Which conceptually frees me up to throw out albums like “Street Fighting Years,” which I well and truly despise. Though I have not done it yet. Which causes conflict with the “collector’s sickness.”

      Like

  10. Tim says:

    Can you be a conservative obsessive collector?
    I don’t really think that I fall into either camp. If I like an act a lot I will buy most if not everything I can however when they hit a spell of producing music that doesn’t overall work for me I stop buying.
    To qualify though, while I may try to buy whatever I can find I draw the line at things like single edits (unless the track has been remixed for the single release) or buying things because the sleeve in the US looked one way and in Japan it looked another. That’s just not enough of a draw to own something, sorry. Same with the superduperuberdeluxe stuff, I am not going to buy this stuff if the set is loaded with things like 7” edits, live tracks, demos, duplicated material (say the same stuff on cd and then they throw some vinyl in….why? why/ WHY?), badges posters, t-shirts, nope, just frou frou I don’t want.
    I did have my financial glory days, too, and spent way too much on cds, those days are long behind me. Now i pretty much play with what I have, make my own mixes, deluxified things, etc. and my purchases are pared down to acts that I really like.

    Like

  11. Tom says:

    Fantastic post, Monk! If we ever meet, I have no doubt we would have a very long conversation since our musical tastes (especially China Crisis, John Foxx, Ultravox) seem to align on most bands you love and write about.

    With the exception of Teardrop Explodes and Julian Cope, I was never super obsessive about needing to collect everything from the artists I love. I don’t have everything from the aforementioned band and its lead singer, but a pretty healthy amount (+- 75%) spread across albums and singles on vinyl and CD.

    My holy grail with Teardrop Explodes is a vinyl recording of a concert they played in 1981 that we had for a short time at my college radio station but for some odd reason had to be sent back to the distributor after it was played. I have a digital version of the album, but am always searching for the impossible to find unicorn that is the vinyl version. Not that I am advocating for stealing but I wish it had “accidentally” disappeared into my collection back then. ;-)

    I had a pretty healthy collection of around 400 mostly British punk, new wave and post punk records from my college days (1978-1983) and beyond, then made the switch to CD like everyone else in the late 80s. My vinyl was packed away, along with my awesome Technics SL 1600 turntable (still very much in use today!), for about 25 years before I unearthed it a couple years ago. I was amazed at what I had in my collection and how much some of it is worth now – not that I have any intention of ever selling any of it.

    Over the past year, I have since added another 110 or so vinyl LPs to fill in the gaps of things I never bought back in the day for some reason. All that combined with about 600 CDs is a pretty healthy and right-sized collection for me – but certainly not near the thousands that some collectors have.

    Like you, I have now shifted to a “need versus want” approach when adding vinyl to my collection. I was just in Tokyo and Kyoto and visited a bunch of record stores. Kyoto was especially amazing and fertile, with some of the best record stores I have ever seen. I could have come back with a lot, but I had to force myself to make some tough decisions that only netted out at John Foxx’s “In Mysterious Ways”, a red vinyl 12 inch of B-Movie’s “Nowhere Girl” backed with “Remembrance Day” and “Marilyn Dreams”, and a double vinyl release of Blossoms’ “Cool Like You”, which was a recent UK-only Record Store Day release with some cool cover versions of songs by Stone Roses, Bangles, etc. Without any guard rails, I could have easily hauled in another 10-20 albums at least.

    Anyway, keep up the great work. I love that I discovered your blog about a year ago and have become – and will remain – an avid reader of all your posts.

    Like

  12. This has certainly been one of the many posts on this blog where the discussion is just as interesting as the post itself. Like most of the others, I’m generally not an obsessive — I try to get at least all the major/studio albums and related b-sides/extra tracks of the core artists I collect, but I am quite content to let go any “duds,” live cash-in type albums (unless they are great documents, like Talking Heads’ Stop Making Sense, et al), or extremely minor variations on songs I like. There are a small handful of exceptions to this, but they are mostly artists where owning everything is affordably achievable.

    My circumstances forced me to store (in a controlled environment) the bulk of my CD and vinyl when I left the US in 2007, and so much of it is still there and — apart from occasional visits — I haven’t seen much of those physical objects in over 12 years! “Music Jail” indeed, They Might Be Giants!

    I was stupid not to spend a bit of money and time when I had more of both to go retrieve them to be here with me, but they’d still be in storage up here because only my new apartment has some space for a Monk-like “record cell”. It will happen one day, but I now suspect I will have to (and want to) cull a huge amount of the “ordinary album” releases after cross-checking if there is a super-deluxe (et al) type replacement version … and yes I probably have at least 200 pieces that were bought so cheaply at the time that I thought I might like the artist and was willing to take the risk. Back in the golden era of New Wave, I often bought music unheard if the name/label/look/artwork/song titles were intriguing enough!

    I have continued to buy (much more lightly) since moving to Canada, but combined with what’s in storage I would guesstimate around 3K CDs (by far my main interest), and somewhere between 500 and 1K vinyl pieces (my vinyl policy is to purchase copies if a) that’s the only physical format they’re available in, and b) like Mark, if they are unusual/odd/artsy/fun enough to persuade me to take them home. Through sheer dumb luck I have a few vinyl pieces that have become three-figure valuable. I also have some very select vinyl up here (a few dozen) that just caught my eye or hit my nostalgia bone. I obsessively collect a handful of particular New Wave compilation albums and just routinely buy every copy I see of it, since it is increasingly rare (and have country variations on tracks, something I normally pay no attention to but was of interest at the time and ongoing).

    In these days of SuperDeluxe and Remastered With Craploads of Bonus Tracks issues, I’ve taken to buying more CDs again in a single year than I did for during my first decade up here (where other priorities — like sustenance — took precedence). Sadly long gone are the days when I would go at least once a week to Park Ave CDs and scour the used bins, bringing home at least $50 in $5-ish CDs per visit! These days, I use Apple Music to a) play stuff I do own but don’t have access to now, and b) investigate new artists — and when I find out that I know I will reliably like (such as The Decemberists), I go buy the main back catalog on CDs.

    It’s a little weird to now think of CDs as your backup files, but essentially that’s what they are to me now. So I guess I’m a very pragmatic collector, with an emphasis on collecting so as to hear all the work of a “core collection” artist (such as Bowie, Eno, Amazing Blondel … speaking of “one of these things is not like the other, Brian), along with as much of other artists as I find I like, alongside a few novelty/oddity releases that I might like for more than just the music (see the Monk’s previous posts on graphic design — a background I share with him).

    Like

  13. Tim says:

    I forgot to add a recent story to my post, the surprised collector.
    I have a few music blogs in feedly and one of them did a “this was my favorite music of 2019” write up and I was scanning it fairly quickly when what to my wandering eyes did appear but the words OCEAN + BLUE. I surely thought that the blogger had in 2019 found the now 20 year old album Cerulean and was singing it’s praises as a 2019 discovery but…..no…..they are making music.
    After their third album I had heard that they called it quits and for a few years I kept looking, hoping, and never finding anything. I’ve heard stories about the why of their demise at the time, stories that I don’t know if they are true or not, but the silence coupled with the stories sorta made sense.
    I headed over to Amazon and sampled the new album and the original vocalist is back/still there as is their lush sound.
    But wait, there’s more!
    I clicked on the band name and there wasn’t just one new album that I didn’t know of but many.
    Not only that but they are all affordable…..$6 full album downloads!
    Greedily I grabbed four albums by a band that I love that I haven’t heard anything new by in 20 years and have just been loving this serendipitous surprise.

    p.s. for other obscurity hunters who may be reading this…..that Shakespeare’s Sister/Richard Hawley collaboration that came out at the tail end of 2019 was something special, wasn’t it?

    Like

  14. Mathmandan says:

    I started collecting in 1981 and became obsessive for more artists than I should have. It would just irk me if I had all the 12” singles but one. I feel like either you have the collector gene or you don’t. Soon enough, as you might guess, all the spare cash I could scrape together was going to records. My first obsessions, where I felt I had to own all the regular UK releases as well as many extras, were Visage, Depeche Mode, Vince Clarke, Blancmange, Gary Numan, OMD.

    I too started doing the mail order route for the harder-to-find things. That was Goldmine of course, but then I discovered “Record Collector” magazine which some record stores would import from the UK. Well their listings in the back were chock full of rarities. And in those days, that meant getting an international money order to send for payment. That made for some pricey acquisitions. I also discovered record conventions, specifically a monthly one (in Orange County, California) that I never missed. I always came home poor from that one.

    The early “new wave” days gave so much music to explore, and like chasinvictoria I would sometimes take a chance and buy a used LP just on the look of the cover alone. On many occasions it just felt like something I was going to like. More often than not, my gut was correct. That’s how I ended up a Depeche Mode fan! I thought the album cover of “A Broken Frame” was irresistible.

    When CDs were invented and started getting released, I bought a few before I could even afford a player. Once CDs became established, I was so excited each time a favorite album got released on the format. I sometimes sold my original vinyl version of the album, but luckily I was too attached to many and still have most of them. I was in college and money was tight; I would try to keep my lunches to $3 or below. But if there was a new $23 import CD that came out? Had to have it, no hesitation! That’s the weird thing about being an obsessive collector, you treat it with different rules. I unwisely got myself into credit card debt with this attitude. I’ve since dug out of it but it took a while. I was attending college in LA, and lived only a couple miles from a legendary store, Aron’s Records. I was in there at least twice a week. I, of course, had to see what gems showed up in their import used bins, and I quickly learned what days new imports arrived.

    As I’ve gotten older, I would still be considered obsessive by many, but I’ve calmed down with my completist tendencies. It took a while to recognize that on many occasions I was buying records or CDs that I really didn’t think were that great, it was just to keep my collection complete. Sometimes a release would just put me over the edge and it would flip a switch. I was a completely devoted Depeche Mode fan for many years, but when I just couldn’t get into “Songs of Faith and Devotion” I stopped. I practically worshipped Vince Clarke, and collected anything he appeared on in even the most minor of roles, but when Erasure’s releases started to get uninteresting to me and there were Vince Clarke remixes of other artists that I didn’t even find out about until years after the fact, I stopped needing everything.

    The ones I am completist with still, in the sense that I buy all their normal releases (not necessarily promo-only obscure 12”s etc), include John Foxx (coincidentally Monk!), In The Nursery, Blancmange, Chris & Cosey, and Richard H Kirk. John Foxx is interesting, because Ultravox didn’t grab my collector tendencies as much as others back then, but the John Foxx releases are just fun to keep up with and I still enjoy his output.

    In this age of streaming, people are shocked I still buy CDs. For me, if there is an album I like, I want to own it. I like the object, as art, in addition to the music. As someone here pointed out, a CD is almost like a backup, a permanent archive that you can always access regardless of who does or does not have the streaming rights for it.

    My current standing: About 5,000 vinyl records, about 5,000 CDs. I am planning on some serious culling in the near future. I’d like to get it down to about half that. I like one of the commenter’s view as the curator of a library. I don’t feel any need to have a collection bigger than someone else’s, I just want it to be recordings that are personal and valued to me. In my younger days, I suppose there were some bragging rights, as I could say I had this rare remix on this limited out-of-print 12” single, or the Japanese import CD with extra tracks. Now anyone can conjure up in seconds pretty much any song, any version they can think of. So I don’t need to own anything to impress anyone but myself!

    Like

  15. Mathmandan says:

    I started collecting in 1981 and became obsessive for more artists than I should have. It would just irk me if I had all the 12” singles but one. I feel like either you have the collector gene or you don’t. Soon enough, as you might guess, all the spare cash I could scrape together was going to records. My first obsessions, where I felt I had to own all the regular UK releases as well as many extras, were Visage, Depeche Mode, Vince Clarke, Blancmange, Gary Numan, OMD.

    I too started doing the mail order route for the harder-to-find things. That was Goldmine of course, but then I discovered “Record Collector” magazine which some record stores would import from the UK. Well their listings in the back were chock full of rarities. And in those days, that meant getting an international money order to send for payment. That made for some pricey acquisitions. I also discovered record conventions, specifically a monthly one (in Orange County, California) that I never missed. I always came home poor from that one.

    The early “new wave” days gave so much music to explore, and like chasinvictoria I would sometimes take a chance and buy a used LP just on the look of the cover alone. On many occasions it just felt like something I was going to like. More often than not, my gut was correct. That’s how I ended up a Depeche Mode fan! I thought the album cover of “A Broken Frame” was irresistible.

    When CDs were invented and started getting released, I bought a few before I could even afford a player. Once CDs became established, I was so excited each time a favorite album got released on the format. I sometimes sold my original vinyl version of the album, but luckily I was too attached to many and still have most of them. I was in college and money was tight; I would try to keep my lunches to $3 or below. But if there was a new $23 import CD that came out? Had to have it, no hesitation! That’s the weird thing about being an obsessive collector, you treat it with different rules. I unwisely got myself into credit card debt with this attitude. I’ve since dug out of it but it took a while. I was attending college in LA, and lived only a couple miles from a legendary store, Aron’s Records. I was in there at least twice a week. I, of course, had to see what gems showed up in their import used bins, and I quickly learned what days new imports arrived.

    As I’ve gotten older, I would still be considered obsessive by many, but I’ve calmed down with my completist tendencies. It took a while to recognize that on many occasions I was buying records or CDs that I really didn’t think were that great, it was just to keep my collection complete. Sometimes a release would just put me over the edge and it would flip a switch. I was a completely devoted Depeche Mode fan for many years, but when I just couldn’t get into “Songs of Faith and Devotion” I stopped. I practically worshipped Vince Clarke, and collected anything he appeared on in even the most minor of roles, but when Erasure’s releases started to get uninteresting to me and there were Vince Clarke remixes of other artists that I didn’t even find out about until years after the fact, I stopped needing everything.

    The ones I am completist with still, in the sense that I buy all their normal releases (not necessarily promo-only obscure 12”s etc), include John Foxx (coincidentally Monk!), In The Nursery, Blancmange, Chris & Cosey, and Richard H Kirk. John Foxx is interesting, because Ultravox didn’t grab my collector tendencies as much as others back then, but the John Foxx releases are just fun to keep up with and I still enjoy his output.

    In this age of streaming, people are shocked I still buy CDs. For me, if there is an album I like, I want to own it. I like the object, as art, in addition to the music. As someone here pointed out, a CD is almost like a backup, a permanent archive that you can always access regardless of who does or does not have the streaming rights for it.

    My current standing: About 5,000 vinyl records, about 5,000 CDs. I am planning on some serious culling in the near future. I’d like to get it down to about half that. I like one of the commenter’s view as the curator of a library. I don’t feel any need to have a collection bigger than someone else’s, I just want it to be recordings that are personal and valued to me. In my younger days, I suppose there were some bragging rights, as I could say I had this rare remix on this limited out-of-print 12” single, or the Japanese import CD with extra tracks. Now anyone can conjure up in seconds pretty much any song, any version they can think of. So I don’t need to own anything to impress anyone but myself!

    Like

  16. Mathmandan says:

    I started collecting in 1981 and became obsessive for more artists than I should have. It would just irk me if I had all the 12” singles but one. I feel like either you have the collector gene or you don’t. Soon enough, as you might guess, all the spare cash I could scrape together was going to records. My first obsessions, where I felt I had to own all the regular UK releases as well as many extras, were Visage, Depeche Mode, Vince Clarke, Blancmange, Gary Numan, OMD.

    I too started doing the mail order route for the harder-to-find things. That was Goldmine of course, but then I discovered “Record Collector” magazine which some record stores would import from the UK. Well their listings in the back were chock full of rarities. And in those days, that meant getting an international money order to send for payment. That made for some pricey acquisitions. I also discovered record conventions, specifically a monthly one (in Orange County, California) that I never missed. I always came home poor from that one.

    The early “new wave” days gave so much music to explore, and like chasinvictoria I would sometimes take a chance and buy a used LP just on the look of the cover alone. On many occasions it just felt like something I was going to like. More often than not, my gut was correct. That’s how I ended up a Depeche Mode fan! I thought the album cover of “A Broken Frame” was irresistible.

    When CDs were invented and started getting released, I bought a few before I could even afford a player. Once CDs became established, I was so excited each time a favorite album got released on the format. I sometimes sold my original vinyl version of the album, but luckily I was too attached to many and still have most of them. I was in college and money was tight; I would try to keep my lunches to $3 or below. But if there was a new $23 import CD that came out? Had to have it, no hesitation! That’s the weird thing about being an obsessive collector, you treat it with different rules. I unwisely got myself into credit card debt with this attitude. I’ve since dug out of it but it took a while. I was attending college in LA, and lived only a couple miles from a legendary store, Aron’s Records. I was in there at least twice a week. I, of course, had to see what gems showed up in their import used bins, and I quickly learned what days new imports arrived.

    As I’ve gotten older, I would still be considered obsessive by many, but I’ve calmed down with my completist tendencies. It took a while to recognize that on many occasions I was buying records or CDs that I really didn’t think were that great, it was just to keep my collection complete. Sometimes a release would just put me over the edge and it would flip a switch. I was a completely devoted Depeche Mode fan for many years, but when I just couldn’t get into “Songs of Faith and Devotion” I stopped. I practically worshipped Vince Clarke, and collected anything he appeared on in even the most minor of roles, but when Erasure’s releases started to get uninteresting to me and there were Vince Clarke remixes of other artists that I didn’t even find out about until years after the fact, I stopped needing everything.

    The ones I am completist with still, in the sense that I buy all their normal releases (not necessarily promo-only obscure 12”s etc), include, as with Monk, John Foxx. John Foxx is interesting, because Ultravox didn’t grab my collector tendencies as much as others back then, but the John Foxx releases are just fun to keep up with and I still enjoy his output.

    In this age of streaming, people are shocked I still buy CDs. For me, if there is an album I like, I want to own it. I like the object, as art, in addition to the music. As someone here pointed out, a CD is almost like a backup, a permanent archive that you can always access regardless of who does or does not have the streaming rights for it.

    My current standing: About 5,000 vinyl records, about 5,000 CDs. I am planning on some serious culling in the near future. I’d like to get it down to about half that. I like one of the commenter’s view as the curator of a library. I don’t feel any need to have a collection bigger than someone else’s, I just want it to be recordings that are personal and valued to me. In my younger days, I suppose there were some bragging rights, as I could say I had this rare remix on this limited out-of-print 12” single, or the Japanese import CD with extra tracks. Now anyone can conjure up in seconds pretty much any song, any version they can think of. So I don’t need to own anything to impress anyone but myself

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Jordan says:

    Great thread.

    I would say I was a cautious collector, starting in 1980.Ultravox, Gary Numan, New Order, and Depeche Mode were the big 4.The music was always at the forefront.If the track was weak no matter the artist, I did not buy.However, often you simply could not hear the song though in Montreal we were fortunate to have several excellent import record stores as well as distributors and live shows.

    I did follow certain labels such as Factory and 4AD. I would add an artist only to get home and hear the music and cast it aside. Sometimes I would buy just for the artwork.

    The next phase was with FAX records from Germany in 1993. It seemed every month a new CD was released and they were difficult to find. So I bought them all only to find that some of the music was not to my liking. Since this collection is in high demand, glad I never sold any of it.

    I sold all my vinyl and CDs after making digital copies that were not to my liking about 5 years ago and do not regret it. I now have about 500 LPs/EPs ( Of course kept all the Factory/4AD) and about 1500 CDs.

    I kept my records and CDs as backups for all my digital devices. I have not played a CD in over a decade and vinyl in over 20 years though I have a CD player and turntable and high-end ones at that.

    I am a digital-only buyer now.CD only if the digital is not available. Those Deluxe CD editions are always tempting and I have given in to the occasional box set but by and large, that era is over.

    Like

    • postpunkmonk says:

      Jordan – I can’t be said to really have collected until 1981 when the notion of getting singles became a thing. But since I have the Collector’s Sickness, even duds were purchased. But sometimes not kept. In a fit of pique nearly 20 years ago I divested myself of copies of “Go Bang” by Shriekback. “Outland” by Gary Numan. And “Pleasure One” by Heaven 17. I would buy cheap copies of the Shriekback and H17 if only to have full runs for a Rock G.P.A. series on those two. I will never own every Numan album so that doesn’t bother me. I could review the Beggars Banquet and Numa runs since I have all of those.

      Like

  18. Mathmandan (and others): I feel so … less alone now! Hahaha

    Like

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