2020 – The Year In Buying Music [part 2]

[…continued from last post]

So the painful reality of things is that last year was my least efficient year since maintaining records again from 2011. I spent about 75% of my largest outlay for a middling amount of titles. the two graphs are overlaid at 10:1 scale with the two dots for 2020 almost reaching parity; indicating nearly $10 spent per title! An all time high. The closer the two dots are on the vertical axis are, the more expensive the music was to buy. 89 titles for nearly $900 was not an inexpensive average. Quite the opposite.

2020 was the year of the Boxed Set OF God®. I purchased four ultraboxes, and three of them were all over $100. My stats were skewed majestically by the final purchase of 2020; the Heaven 17 “Play To Win: The Virgin Years” which set me back $158, though the dealer was selling the ltd. autographed Amazon version, complete with the replacement disc pak® – all in mint, unopened condition! Good thing too, since Edsel Records, who released this, is under lockdown and unable to send out any of those replacement discs right now. I had not cared too much about obtaining the signed copy, but having the replacement discs bundled, NIB for each, was Monsastic Catnip.

The fact remains that these four titles:

  • Ultravox: “Vienna” @ $58
  • Prince: “1999” @ $104
  • Prince: “Sign O’The Times” @ $113
  • Heaven 17: “Play To Win” @ $158
nits + scapino ballet - ting! NL DVD cover

Nits “Ting” show was like Cirque Du Soleil with the best music ever!

Came to a total outlay of $433. Or roughly HALF of my entire $864 music budget. So, yeah. This was a very unusual buying year. The splits between vinyl and CD are nearly equal with vinyl up 50% from last year with the amount of 12″ singles, thank goodness. If I get vinyl, better that it’s the holy 12″ single format. Other stats that were higher on last years numbers were DVDs and DownLoads. This year there were five DVDs, with four of them bundled in boxes. The only standalone was the Nits DVD we got last January. The show was the band playing their music live with the Scapino Ballet. How we wanted to see this show live in the Netherlands back in 2016, but that was certainly not in the cards so having the DVD was as good as it would get for us. All of the other DVDs were bundled with boxes and CDs. The Ultravox one was high-res 2.0 and 5.1 mixed audio only. The Prince sets had shows from the respective album tours.

2019 Top 5

  1. John Foxx + The Maths: “Howl”
  2. It’s Immaterial: “House For Sale”
  3. The Vapors: “Together”
  4. Barry Andrews: Live @ The Tin Angel ’03
  5. Stic Basin: “Stic Basin 2”
  6. Shriekback: “Live @ The Orange ’94”

Given the modest numbers of titles this year, there were deucedly few albums released this year crossing my desk. This year just six! Though I am most often looking backwards, this was in indeed a spartan year for 2020 albums. Even so, my 2020 list consisted of two vintage live shows released only now.

john foxx + the maths howl CD coverThe John Foxx +The Maths album fit right into the uncomfortable year of 2020 with guitarist Robin Simon adding his heft to The Maths this time out for something radically different. Having It’s Immaterial release that loooooooong-simmering third album was a delightful treat that we had waited several years for. And The Vapors made regrouping after almost 40 years seem to be an easy thing.

EP Of The Year

This was an easy one. There was only one new EP under my roof, but it was a corker.

The Countess Of Fife was the new Fay Fife band of tough country music that acted as a taster for their new album coming next year. The band just had a Kickstarter last month for the costs of recording their debut album and the projected £5K budget got funded by fans at over twice the amount asked for! Fantastic, but with the higher costs of the new lockdown, they will need every penny they got. Good to know they got breathing room. It’s weird. There are no labels any more, but less than 300 fans can make an album happen. It’s astounding.

Singles Of The Year

There were many new singles this year; half on vinyl and half on DL. Try a Baker’s Dozen this year!

  1. Green Gartside: “Tangled Man”
  2. Peter Godwin: “You!”
  3. Steven Jones + Logan Sky: “Sons Of Hallucination”
  4. Iggy Pop: “Family Affair”
  5. John Foxx + the Maths: “The Last Time I Saw You”
  6. John Foxx + The Maths: “Howl”
  7. Steven Jones + Logan Sky: “Shedding My Skin”
  8. Peter Godwin: “You! [Johnson Somerset Mix]”
  9. John Foxx + The Maths: “Tarzan + Jane Regained”
  10. OMD: “Enola Gay [extended mix]”
  11. Ultravox: “Sleepwalk [Steven Wilson 2.0 mix]”
  12. Ultravox: “Herr X [Steven Wilson 2.0 mix]”
  13. ABC: “Look Good Tonite”

I can’t remember the last time that I bought a dozen new singles in a calendar year, but most of these were well worth the effort. The only dud was the ABC lockdown single. Amazing things from the reluctant, yet talented Green Gartside; putting an end to 14 years of musical reticence with an amazing 7″ of folk music covers transformed into pure Green/Scritti Politti music. Perennial favorite Peter Godwin released two mixes of a new single that managed to both move the needle dramatically with the rock-hued “You!” and also release it in a remix by long time partner Johnson Somerset that kept up his residence in widescreen chillout territory.

OMD and Ultravox released new mixes of 40 year old singles to worthy effect. Ultravox went back to their clear vinyl tropes and this time we now had “Sleepwalk” on a clear 12″ single. More on OMD on oxblood vinyl later. John Foxx + the Maths released three singles from their new album with edits on DL and even a 7″ single.

Steven Jones and Logan Sky are now straddling an intriguing synthpop/art rock axis most deliciously with their new material. The album, “European Lover” should happen this year and it should be another bold move by these two. We await with bated breath following on these two single efforts.

And finally, Iggy Pop somehow released a cover of Sly + The Family Stone’s “Family Affair” with Guest Star Bass by Bootsy Collins [!] this spring on his birthday without anyone mentioning it to me until last month! But it was incredible. More to come on this one.

Reissues Of The Year

This year was filled to the max with some astounding reissue material. It just exploded this year with boxed sets, and the output or Rubellan Remasters, in particular was like having a part of my brain running an actual instead of fantasy reissue label [my hobby].

  1. Prince: “Sign O’The Times” [SDLX]
  2. Berlin: “Pleasure Victim”
  3. Visage: “Fade To Grey: The Singles Collection Dance Mix”
  4. Visage: “The Anvil”
  5. Ultravox: “Vienna [40th SDLX]”
  6. Fingerprintz: Bulletproof Heart – The Best Of Fingerprintz”
  7. Divinyls: “Desperate”
  8. Ric Ocasek: “Beatitude”
  9. Berlin: “Love Life”
  10. Roxy Music: “Roxy Music [Steven Wilson 2.0 mix]”
  11. John Foxx: Concrete + Organized Noise.”

The placement of Prince at the #1 spot won’t come as a surprise for any fans. His legendary Vault tracks [this box had three CDs full of relevant material to this album era] are simply the best of breed bonus track material that no other band can touch. He’s got a probably 8-10:1 ratio of recorded/mixed songs to released material and his stuff isn’t Portastudio demos. To put it mildly. As long as the Prince Estate will be releasing boxes as heavy as “Sign O’The Times,” look for him in this spot each year. Last year’s best reissue in my list would have been “1999 [SDLX]” if I hadn’t bought it this year instead [owing to budgetary issues].

Scott Davies of Rubellan Remasters slayed me this year with six discs that take my breath away. His Visage program kicked into high gear with the “Anvil” we have been waiting for for decades, and then he topped that with the “Fade To Grey: The Singles Collection Dance Mix” CD!! When I made my copy a few years ago, I was cockily confident that it would not happen in a million years, but I’m eating crow this year! And not just the remixed album, but his laser like focus on relevant material not elsewhere on CD [or on CD sounding worth a damn] was stunning attention to detail. In any other year this and “The Anvil” would be tied for top slot, but boy howdy, he does fantastic work.

His Divinyls and Fingerprintz CDs of this summer were more things I’d given up on. I fully expected Virgin to make this Fingerprintz CD in the 90s but noooooooooo! It took 30 years further for Rubellan Remasters to do the job right. I had imagined that I would have to source an incredibly expensive “Desperate” OZ pressing to finally hear the original album released in their territory but now he’s added the stuff edited out of that album in the Northern hemisphere by Chrysalis and some further extras to make the ultimate Divinyls CD.

We lost Rick Ocasek in 2019, but gained this fully packed CD of his first solo album last year. Rubellan’s reissue of “Pleasure Victim” by Berlin was a transformative experience for me. Resulting in a completely different view of that album; now made even better by the incredible bonus tracks. I still need to review the fascinating Steven Wilson 2.0 remix of “Roxy Music” that should be a must hear for any Roxy Music fans. Too bad about the awful CZ LP pressing! And we know it’s a heck of a year for reissues when a John Foxx LP of rarities, with a beautiful Barnbrook cover sits at the bottom of my reissue list.

So this was an exciting year. Particularly from the boxed set and reissue action. Not so much from current material, which if you’re me, isn’t exactly #1 priority. But there are at least two handfuls of albums issued this year that are on my want list and I’ll probably get them in a few years like I usually do. I really should go back and issue year end best ofs 20 years onward, when I’m finally in a position to do that sort of thing. Because it might take me that long to get the new things I wanted this year but was too entranced by the re-polished gems of the past instead.

Had I not gone hog wild on the boxes, I would have been on line to spend at an all time low level last year. And I’m fine with that. I have tried in the last month to listen to the records I buy on a regular basis. I have so much vinyl bought in the last 20 years but still unheard that I could probably not buy anything and not notice! Or maybe even care. Last month I bought another Big Box O’Records® [my 2nd one this year] and that to me is about as happy-making as it gets. It’s so satisfying to bust out the Discwasher and digitize those puppies. Hopefully making REVO discs of the results. Lately I’ve been pretty active on that front and we’ll get to those in due time. I think that this year I’d like to try to hit a target of $500 for the year…if it’s possible.


About postpunkmonk

graphic design | software UI design | remastering vinyl • record collector • satire • non-fiction
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32 Responses to 2020 – The Year In Buying Music [part 2]

  1. Wow. I dare not document what I’ve spent on records this year. I don’t want tot know. I used to have rules. I used to have ‘I Won’t Go Over’ limits. Lockdown ruined that


  2. JT says:

    Hey Monk, looking forward to your comments on the H17 box, particularly vis a vis completeness, mastering quality, and how it compares to your own compilation.


  3. Tim says:

    For new music I would have to off the top of my head tip my hat to the Avalanches new album and the new Pet Shop Boys.
    Tears for Fears – Seeds of Love for the SDE.
    Real life prevented me from having the money to splurge on the Sign of the Times set, although that recent stimulus check may change my mind on that.


  4. drskridlow says:

    Nice recap, Monk. Thanks to your timely heads up last year, I luckily snagged one of the few limited edition copies of John Foxx’s Concrete and Organized Noise. Looking forward to another year of your terrific blog!


  5. Nice summary Monk. Some inspired choices there.


  6. Taffy says:

    I spent a LOT on old and new music this year, somewhat mitigated by the near zero dollar outlay on live shows! I know the Monk has no use for current dance-pop, so I won’t bore you with my full top 15 album list, as it includes albums by Dua Lipa, Kylie Minogue and Jessie Ware, amongst others. But there was a surprising number of new discs by veterans I was enchanted by. Decades after their last studio albums, I just loved the new Vapors and Psych Furs releases. Erasure and the Pet Shop Boys continue to fly the flag for synth pop. Hate For Sale (Pretenders) showed that Chrissie Hynde is still a vital force (and voice). Finally, I must concur that Rubellan Remasters is killing it in the world of wonderful sounding and compiled reissues. I too bought those seven albums mentioned, and look forward to opening my wallet for more goodies this year.


    • postpunkmonk says:

      Taffy – Don’t be too hasty! I have plenty of time for some dance pop! I cannot wait to get a disc of Róisìn Murphy’s “Róisìn Machine!” Her “Overpowered” album is simply the most awe inspiring dance pop made this century and all of her other albums aren’t chopped liver, either! I spent countless hours recently simply quantifying how many and which of her DL singles I need to make a Róisìn BSOG [surely a dozen discs or more…] and it will cost me over $175!! But at least now I have a rough idea. Her mixes and collaborations are legion and I want them all.

      And yes, I still need The Furs new album. Rome wasn’t built in a day! And I’m glad you are also tithing your income to Rubellan Remasters as well as I am. Have you ordered the Missing Persons box? He lost me there, but I’m still happy that the care went into something that will make others happy with such fine works. Meanwhile, that 2nd Divinyls DLX RM has my name on it!


      • Taffy says:

        Oops, my bad! I too love Overpowered, and have seen Roisin Murphy live (she’s simply kooky and wonderful onstage), but for whatever reason Roisin Machine didn’t move me. Can’t say exactly why, but many spotify replays later and I still haven’t gotten into it.
        I must preorder that Divinyls What A Life CD, and I’m considering the Missing Persons box. Spring Session M has been in my collection for decades, but I’ve literally never heard a note of albums two or three and am curious. Dale Bozzio is an acquired taste I enjoy, and Lady Gaga was obviously paying close attention!


        • postpunkmonk says:

          Taffy – Anyone with a pulse should love “Overpowered!” It’s head-scratching failure to dominate World Culture in a way that put “Thriller” deeply in the shade is one for the books.


      • bpdp3 says:

        The majority of my music spending goes to looking for unexpected treasures in the used vinyl bins. With the (thankfully temporary) closure of so many of my go-to haunts, I needed to scratch that itch. Thank heavens for Discogs… there I could pick an unfamiliar but well-recommend seller (ie walk into their shop) and peruse their inventory (ie flip through the bins). Not the same as actually doing it, of course… but helped keep me sane.

        Monk, I do a fair amount of music-related reading every year… but I want to thank you for what was some of my favorite journalism EVER, the discussion of the Prince 1999 box set. Your enthusiasm was palpable and contagious; ….and a skillful way to honor one of the true originals of our lifetimes. Kudos!


        • postpunkmonk says:

          bpdp3 – Thanks for the shout out on the “1999” ultrabox. I’m glad that resonated with you. You’re not the only one who liked that one so I’m glad that I resist those voices in my that sometimes say “this could use a little tightening up,” because that’s not always called for. Not that I tighten up anything at PPM! No time for such dacadent luxuries!

          I also am prime to wander into stores [especially ones involving travel] and buy intriguing discs. But that sometimes annoys me in that I am not spending money on very specific wants that have tormented me for years!

          One of the thrills in Discogs is in finding a dealer with 40-60 items on your want list at great [$1-4/ea.] prices and doing a surgical strike that has way more value than random bin diving. Getting that 12.5″x12.5″x3″ [or sometimes more!] box of goods that might have had a $5 flat US media mail shopping cost is about the finest music buying buzz I can get these days! I find that it’s also cheaper than indiscriminate binging. Especially when 30-40 old 12″ singles [my main thing] are being ripped out of stores to make room for more 180g Fleetwood Mac reissues! [spits on ground]


          • negative1ne says:

            hi mr monk,
            i do the same thing. every month or so, i splurge on 10 or so items from sellers that have them for $1-$5, and get a whole bunch, since the shipping is $5, the quality is pretty low, but i dont care, since i’m not listening to those albums anyways. they are purely to fill in gaps in the US 7/12/vinyl promo collection.



            • postpunkmonk says:

              negative1ne – I find that the quality of the inexpensive vinyl I buy from Discogs is generally quite satisfactory. Occasionally, I might get a record that has seen a lot of play. My Shock 12″ of “Angel Face” which I wanted since 1981 was at $17 the cheapest copy I’ve ever seen in Discogs since discovering that there was such a record. It’s usually a solid two figures. And my copy was played a lot in clubs, I guess. VG at best for sure. But there’s great software now that can make it sound very clean without heavy artifacts. Thank goodness. Since I used to de-click by hand! 100-1200 manual edits per song taking hours. Glad those days are gone.


  7. Christopher Merritt says:

    GREAT recap! I spent, way, way, way too much this year – but agree Sign “O” The Times beats all – it was an unparalleled listening/watching experience. That concert – can’t even. Tightest band ever. The Seeds Of Love box by TFF was amazing as well. Both that and the Ultravox box sets were stunning in 5.1. All of the above were almost too much to listen to. But the real revelation was the discovery of Rubellan Remasters (thanks to your site) and his incredible Berlin, Visage and Danielle Dax re-issues. I agree 100% that Scott Davies is making the baby Jesus smile. Fucking incredible year for re-issues.


    • postpunkmonk says:

      Christopher Merritt – As usual, I have not watched the DVD in the SOTT ultrabox, but these things take [me] time. Glad that I could be of service re: Rubellan Remasters. Scott is having a great year and is poised to go over the top with the latest RR releases… a definitive 3xCD set [and optional box] of Missing Persons. Not my favorite band by a long shot, [I can like “Destination Unknown”] but already a hit right out of the starter blocks for him, so good for him! Let’s all remember buy directly from his website and feed the glorious beast since his wholesale profits are smaller per unit than his direct sales.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. negative1ne says:

    hi mr monk,
    this was a banner year for me, probably one of the greatest in the last decade, so i loved pretty much all of it. including getting many boxsets, and holy grail items throughout the year. it really hinged on the last few months with a few hundred items, as i got a work contract, so was able to afford many items i could not purchase before.

    here’s the rundown, in a chart similar to yours:
    1) 2013-2018, did not include ebay/amazon – although those were negligible
    2) most years don’t include shipping prices unfortunately thanks to discogs
    3) 2018-2020 are pretty accurate, as thats when i started really tracking things

    Year Items Cost avg cost
    2013 12 $200.00 $16.67
    2014 21 $151.00 $7.20
    2015 63 $615.45 $9.76
    2016 42 $349.25 $8.31
    2017 21 $172.88 $8.23
    2018 135 $666.82 $4.93
    2019 113 $655.00 $5.80
    2020 302 $2,926.75 $9.69

    So basically, i had no idea about the large fluctuations from 2014-2015,
    back to 2017. i thought i was spreading it out, but i guess not.
    in the first 6 years, spent about $4k, which was almost eclipsed by 2020.

    The further breakdown for 2020:
    Formats – Vinyl
    (flexi) 3
    (7?) 60
    (7?, Single, Promo) 5
    (7?, Single, Clear) 19
    (7?, Single, Ltd) 5
    (7?, Single, Pic) 9
    (7?, Single, Poster) 3
    7 inch color 2
    7 inch gatefold 1
    (10?) 2
    10 promo 3
    (12?) 32
    (12?, Ltd) 10
    (12 clear) 5
    (12 colored) 3
    (12?, Single, Gat) 1
    (12?, Promo) 13
    (2×12?, Promo) 2
    Album 6
    Total 184

    Format : Cassette
    (Cass, Single) 5
    Cass album 3

    CD Vinyl 2
    Vinyl 12
    CD 4

    Format : Cd
    (CD, Album) 27
    (CD, Maxi) 34
    (CD, Promo) 20
    CD3 1

    Formats : video
    (CDV) 2
    (DVD-V, Comp, Multichannel, NTSC + 2xCD, Comp, Bla ) 3
    Laserdisc 1

    All items : 296
    Vinyl 62.16%
    CD 27.70%
    Boxsets 5.40%
    Cass 2.72%
    Video 2.03%


    3 Cass album
    5 Cass single
    2 CDV
    107 7″
    6 LP
    3 10″
    51 12″
    15 12″ promo
    1 CD3 single
    20 CD Single promo
    34 CD Single
    27 CD
    Items : 274

    Cass : 8/274 = 2.92%
    Vinyl : 182/274 = 66.42%

    [7 inch 107/182 = 58.8%
    10 inch 3/182 = 1.64%
    12 inch 72/182 = 39.56%

    CD : 82/274= 29.93%
    2020 Total : $2926.75
    Items : 274 Items

    As usual vinyl is the majority of the purchases,
    and 7 inch is the format of favor.

    will go into boxsets and other things in another post.
    the vast majority of specialty 7 inches, were all due
    to Ultravox, as i wanted to fill in the gaps for many
    of the releases.



    • postpunkmonk says:

      negative1ne – Isn’t it great to have a handle on what you are doing? I love knowing exactly what’s going down in my collecting. And you bought 2 CDVs last year? I have not bought a CDV in maybe as many as 30 years! You have to say what they are! This comment got caught in spam and I’m just able to get to it tonight. Sorry. 302 titles is an awful lot of releases! My best year since blogging was 240 titles in 2018. But I had a friend that would burn through 300 titles in about two months. His intake capacity was insane. He lived in L.A.so there was a metric ton of cheap goods from around the world there. I can get some real deals where I am when the local “hip” store has its usual anniversary sale. But that did not happen last year. I read online about people buying CDs for $1 or less, but where I live, IF you can find them [getting harder every day] they are still in the $5-8 range.


      • negative1ne says:

        hi mr monk,
        actually, it’s only been in the last 2 years, that i’ve been keeping track. thanks to seeing your charts, and graphs.

        yes, its interesting to see where things went, and was bought.

        as far as the two CDV, they are these:
        Curiosity Killed The Cat – Free (CDV, 5″, Single, PAL)
        Curiosity Killed The Cat – Misfit (CDV, 5″, Single, PAL)

        Its a band that i really liked their first album, diidn’t like their 2nd,
        but loved it when they rebooted as ‘curiousity’, and came out
        with a 3rd album.

        anyways, i have a soft spot for this band, and am still filling in
        tons of gaps:
        groups items
        abc 5
        big country 4
        curiosity killed the cat 5
        depeche mode 12 (8 vinyl boxsets)
        duran duran 6
        frankie goes to hollywood 6
        frazier chorus 5
        heaven 17 – 11 (2 cd boxsets + 1 vinyl boxset)
        midge ure 20
        morel 5
        new order 8 – 2 boxsets
        scritti politti – 4
        simple minds 13 – 1 boxsets
        tears for fears 4 – 1 laserdisc (going to california)
        fixx – 4
        human league – 5
        thomas dolby – 3
        thompson twins – 11
        ultravox – 55 – 1 boxset

        i also bought a refurbished reel to reel deck from sony,
        for my parents, but couldn’t find where they had their tapes.

        i only own one commercial title – rio on reel to reel,
        and have been looking for more, but haven’t found
        any from groups i like at a reasonable price.



  9. negative1ne says:

    Hi Mr. Monk,

    Well, we are a few weeks out from the end of 2021. So I checked out your purchases, and it looks like a lot of interesting things for you this year.

    For myself, I went overboard even more this year, than last year. So it is a little scary, in between extra cash from jobs, and a contract I picked up at the end of the year. So, although I was at roughly $3k last year, it DOUBLED this year. YIKES. I know $6k, is a lot. (And actually, I have more items incoming before the end of the year.).

    So what happened? Well, I will go over the numbers and purchases when your post goes up. Lets just say it was a very good year for Depeche Mode, and Duran Duran, and knocking another 25 or so holy grails off my most wanted list.

    Looking forward to your report. Take care and happy holidays.



    • postpunkmonk says:

      negative1ne – If you read the Steve Hoffman forum thread, this year was my smallest budget for buying music …possibly in 20 years. Which make me happy since I always want to spend less and enjoy more. Because I work full time and will never get any time to indulge in the enjoyment of my collection, the latter is almost impossible. But the former is much more possible and I’ve only spent about $425 this year.

      You speak of Duran Duran. 1990-1995 was the time when I spent like a demon on the DD collection. Giving me a collection in the hundreds of releases. I might have 125 of the critical items left from that. I amortized the excessive parts of it to fund a lot of travel and concerts almost a decade ago. No regrets! [Except for maybe the Italian “Strange Behaviour” picture disc…but I still have the Japanese one! I have my standards.] I still need to buy the new album, once I figure out which configuration gives me the most of the music. The band tend to leave their best material as cast-off bonus tracks these days.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Pingback: 2021: The Year In Buying Music | Post-Punk Monk

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