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You want your "Monster" prog album?

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  • You want your "Monster" prog album?

    Here it is: this one is rare and its reputation as a recherché collectible overshadows its musical merit, which is considerable. On Vertigo Swirl, no less. An in-depth look at the record with some possible short-cuts to owning a copy. http://thevinylpress.com/still-life-st-vertigo-swirl/

  • #2
    Bill, there seems to be an Italian re-issue on the Arkarma label from 2003 that has high ratings on Discogs. Have you tried that one?
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    • lasercd
      lasercd commented
      Editing a comment
      Akarma reissue is either a needle drop or more than likely sourced from the Repertoire CD. Akarma tended to take advantage of the oddball copyright laws in Italy. The vast majority of their reissues are unauthorized but there are exceptions. You can bet with certainty that none of the Vertigo titles are officially licensed or sourced from master tapes.

    • Madfloyd
      Madfloyd commented
      Editing a comment
      Drats. OK, thanks for letting me know.

  • #3
    Originally posted by Madfloyd View Post
    Bill, there seems to be an Italian re-issue on the Arkarma label from 2003 that has high ratings on Discogs. Have you tried that one?
    There is some controversy over the provenance of those if you do your research- i have a few that I bought for the uber rare Vertigos that I never intended to buy as originals (Dr. Z; Tudor Lodge and a couple of others) and none of them sounded very good. The packaging is quite good though, and whoever was curating their catalog of selections had good taste. I think your best bet, as I suggest in the article, is to try and source an ex-UK Swirl copy from the era. For example, I picked up an original French pressing of Clear Blue Sky in excellent condition for under $50. That record is another quite rare Vertigo (though it's not very good musically). Ditto on Affinity, an uber Vertigo which I have as a UK; I found a contemporaneous NZ Swirl for a fraction of the price commanded by the UK that is very close sonically (and a much more interesting album to me than Clear Blue Sky). Repertoire has redone a few Vertigos which I have here, but I haven't yet compared them to original pressings- the shape of the "swirl" looks more like an Easter Egg on the Repertoires. There are also some Asian pressings from back in the day but if you want my advice, I'd stick with the Philips originals if you can. You just have to be patient- I bought several UKs in superb condition from a seller in Italy- at a reasonable price. The problem is, for the big ticket ones, high prices are sought for records graded VG+, which as you may know, often means "not very good."

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    • #4
      Thanks. I wasn't aware of this album and listened to most of it on Tidal today and really liked it. I'll keep an eye out for a copy.
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      • #5
        So how rare and collectable is it? What does a UK On Vertigo Swirl in solid NM cond. go for nowadays?
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        • #6
          Originally posted by JCOConnell View Post
          So how rare and collectable is it? What does a UK On Vertigo Swirl in solid NM cond. go for nowadays?
          This is by no means the most expensive Swirl, but the asks for alleged NM of Still Life are in the neighborhood of 900-1000 U.S. It also seems to be less common than some of the more sought after and even higher priced Swirls, e.g. Cressida s/t. The problem I have found is that many at fairly high prices that are graded VG+ or above still have noise or "crackles" and many of the listings admit as much.(e.g. Ken as a joke sent me a Cressida listing for $1,200 that was graded EX and had "some crackles.") According to Olav Wyper, who ran the label (and was responsible for putting together the whole concept at Philips), a run would typically consist of approximately 1500 copies in the UK. Some, like Sabbath, were big sellers, so many more were pressed-and those still fetch real money; others were pressed in even smaller quantities than 1500. No one seems to have exact figures on this, the company went from Philips- a huge enterprise to Polygram and then to Universal, who still has a lot of the tapes, but the distribution was also not always international, e.g. Sabbath signed with Warners in the U.S.so the US records are entirely different. Documentation on pressing quantities and other manufacturing details from 1969-73 may still exist, but who knows where that's buried--not exactly high priority information in buying or selling the rights to an old catalog, and probably very little institutional knowledge--I was fortunate to get to talk to Wyper, who had a long illustrious career and really didn't need to do interviews about Vertigo at this point in his life.
          As to collectability, these are for the most part "niche" records that will have appeal to people interested in more obscure prog (at least the deep catalog, not the obvious stuff like Sabbath, which is traded constantly, though still desirable and expensive given their popularity).
          The other issue--not quite as much a problem for this particular record, Still Life--is that many of them had elaborate die-cut covers which were easily damaged. So, to get minty cover and dead clean record often requires buying a couple copies. This Still Life record is a bit of a sleeper and you don't see it as often as some of the others-- the "big" ones are typically Cressida- s/t UK, Dr. Z, Ben (exceedingly rare) and a few others, like Linda Hoyle's Pieces of Me, which can go for several thousand dollars. The prices also seem to have softened of late, and given the exchange rates, are a "better" deal than they were if you are buying from the U.S. EIL had a mint Cressida last year, it went for over $1,500 a couple days after it listed.
          These are, even at these prices, still not in the same price league as certain blue chip collectibles- which can go much, much higher. But, I buy these to play them, not as collectibles. So, when you start adding up the prices--and you have to hunt for really clean copies even at close to 4 figures, you are going to make a big outlay if you are planning to buy a number of the records. Few dealers have much breadth of stock either, so buying a bunch at one time from the same dealer and getting a price break isn't likely. I bought most of mine over the course of several years, from all kinds of different sources, dealers, private sellers, and leads from other collectors, and reckon that I have roughly 45-50 UK Swirls and another 1/2 dozen or more ex-UK Swirls, not counting some select older reissues. I don't know of anyone that had all of the UK originals, let alone the additional ones unique to Germany--maybe Ken does. There were roughly 87 or 88 UKs, a few that were unique to Germany and a couple of other odds and ends, like singles. (I'm not a completist and honestly, some aren't really of the same calibre musically as the great ones). Other countries selectively issued some of the UKs, not all. And the information on them is somewhat spotty. A South African copy of Cressida showed up recently for sale- not in great condition-but as far as I can recall, none of the sources of information had even listed that pressing.

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          • #7
            Reading this thread makes me sad I sold my copy.
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