Thursday, October 28, 2010
South Korea is quite unique when it comes to record buying nations, but I don't mean their own artists like Rain, but rather when Western artists had their albums released there in the old days. South Korea would often be as conservative as their polar opposite North Korea were and are totalitarian (this is an apolitical blog, as I'm just trying to set up the story here). The Ministry of Culture had censors who knew English and could decipher anything they deemed inappropriate. Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band in several east Asian nations like Singapore (they banned "I Kissed a Girl") and Hong Kong (under UK rule) had tracks replaced that had drug references, possibly including the Republic of Korea (no Western music apart from classical maybe crosses the DMZ). Many countries in those days had to cherry pick racy and risqué tracks that they felt could corrupt the young people. Korea did this a bit which is why I singled them out.
I have albums from Emerson, Lake and Palmer and Fleetwood Mac that are filtred, making them less desirable to some collectors possibly, so I found them at the local swap meet cheap. Tracks with cussing, gambling, or drug-addled sessions would be blacklisted and removed. I kept most of the matching US editions for the banned songs and removed artwork. Hello, I Must Be Going! from Phil Collins I just got and came musically intact, but was released months after it came out in the West. This was normal practise in those days there.
Piracy also hit the peninsula. Many LPs had poor quality sound and covers that looked like they were made with a Gocco or Banda machine as they were printed in one colour (So from Peter Gabriel in green is one I saw on eBay once)! I have Queens first live album Live Killers with normal colour cover plus a rare picture added from South Korea I managed to find locally, which had a track with bleeping (on true release). The sound quality wasn't quite on par with the one I used to have but not a total loss (I found the UK CD later). The official cassette of The Works in 1984 (not 1984!) had all original tracks unabridged, which must have meant that Seoul lightened up by then, or had nothing on it to take offence of, whatever the case may be, but eventually, Korean fans didn't have to miss out anymore.
A generation later, we find CDs in the country that mirror those in Japan, meaning bonus tracks can be obtained from Korean retailers as well, but for much less. My copy of Icon II: Rubicon from Wetton Downes was bought this way. One site duped me but another I was able to save after using a gift card. I can't seem to have lightning strike twice finding other CDs with bonus tracks, so I have to look to Japan or elsewhere.
I just had someone tell me he got an Ace of Base CD from a Korean eBay seller and wanted to make sure he got it right.
If you get anything that just says "Made in Korea", we realise that South is a given. The point of this post is that its another great place for collectors to look for imports, as well as the K-pop scene in which Rain reigns as I've heard. We have some expats in my area who would know more about him than me, but thats a post for another day.
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
Duran Duran will be releasing their next album, All You Need is Now, sometime in the new year. No label has been announced, but it could possibly be released by Allido Records, producer Mark Ronson's vanity label, even though it is distributed by J Records, Sony sister to Duran's previous label Epic. Reportage may be released years ahead in future as it means Duran's answer to Smile if you like.
The Bowie charity cover "Boys Keep Swingin'" may be a bonus track in Japan. Duran covered "Fame" in 1981 and "Success" in 1995.
If nothing is reported elsewhere, watch this space!
Jon Anderson - Work in Progress - Tour of the Universe - Live at Bridgewater Hall, Manchester 11/10/05
Jon Anderson - Manchester - Bridgewater Hall - 11/10/05
Length: 98m, Quality: A-; Audio
Digitally Remastered (rare for a bootleg!)
CD 1 : Intro, Harmony, Long distance runaround, Father sky, Standing still, Bring on the day, Yours is no disgrace, Richard, You lift me up, I´ll find my way home, This is, Set sail/ Close to the edge/ Who could imagine/Am I/The revealing science of god
CD 2 : Show me, Ritual (Nous sommes de soleil), Owner of a lonely heart, Wonderous stories, White buffalo, State of independence, And you and I, Soon, Your move, O´er (Boundaries)
Friday, October 15, 2010
To some, it may be too easy to write about The Beatles, but they were and still are a big part of my life. I can't remember a time I hadn't heard of them, even though it wasn't really until 1992 that I really had a listen to the records, getting to know every vintage of the band, eventually to solo careers, though just a bit of Ringo Starr like most others, and to other bands and British culture. They represented a turbulent (a clichéd term by now) era as I was in my own. Even now, the kids get into it, and Rock Band and remasters last year helped open up to a new generation of Beatle People. Even when we're all gone, more will come to the (Fab) fore. It's hard to elaborate on the personal impact they had on me in one go, but I can say I'm better because of them.
I bought cheap import LPs from Uruguay of the red and blue albums and felt a brief euphoria in finding them. Albums like these made me become a collector and I've gained skill along the way.
I'm also amazed how the Beatles broke non-Anglophone countries, opening the door for others. Fans in these markets try to learn English as best they can so they get more out of it when they have a listen.
If you believe, I know that one day in the afterlife, we'll get the reunion we never saw on earth. But you can't take it with you.
Wednesday, October 6, 2010
As many collectors know, Japanese import CDs will usually have additional tracks. This is because of the economy over in Japan. It is actually cheaper for shops there to import CDs from the west than from Tokyo, possibly because of the high taxes that finance the country's high standards. However, if it gets too much, its bad for the Nikkei. The economy there has been almost as shakey as in the States. Having rare songs on albums are an incentive for buyers. Not all Western acts are major successes in Japan, so often releases are exported and collectors will pay hundreds of yen or up to a hundred dollars for exclusive content, elaborate packaging, and high quality sound, given Japans reputation for being on the cutting edge of technology. South Korean imports and pirates from mainland China and Russia will also mirror these releases like a copy of Wetton Downes' Icon II: Rubicon that I ordered last year which had a bonus track I was dying for. Even EU editions can have more to offer than whats available in the Americas, but its usually Japan that cater best to diehard fans.
On the other hand, its frustrating not having the Holy Grail tracks. They can't always be found on mp3, even on a pirate site. You should avoid torrents. Try and support the band when you can, even if you order used.
If you love an artist enough, you'll be willing to save up and spend a few bob once in a while on a recent album in a version that puts the rest to shame.