The Ron Kane Files

Writing About Music

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Record Collecting #8

7-9-08 Record Collecting #8

I was first poached away from my record distributor job by a company that was an importer of records based in New York. I was hired as the “Buyer” – and promised a certain amount of money. I eventually quit and walked out, when it was becoming obvious that they were never going to give me the money that I had been promised.

At this job, I learned how to work a telex machine! In 1981, fax machines were only just on the horizon (they were the size of a washing machine!) What they would do to me is send my orders to a guy in New York who ‘approved’ what I was ordering. An example of this was: I knew about The Birthday Party; I knew them, I had written to them. I knew their new album, “Prayers On Fire”, was going to be huge. I asked for 4 boxes (100 copies) – and they questioned my order, saying “I’ve never heard of them!” I’d say, “Trust me – this is going to be big!” – and they wouldn’t believe me. The salesmen would get pre-orders for 125 copies, and they’d only have ordered 50 (of the 100 I had requested). This kind of thing happened a lot.

In the fall of ’79, I met a New Zealander in Helsinki, Finland. I corresponded with her all through 1980, and in January 1981, I went to New Zealand for the first time.

I was first poached away from my second record distributor job by a gentlemen I had met when I was working at my first record store job, in 1977: Mr. Tony Harrington.

Tony had been going to Japan, and he knew an exporter who would work with him. He had a tiny office in Studio City. I think there was me, Tony, a salesman and a secretary. I worked for Tony from 1982 – 1987 (approx. – as I do not exactly remember when I started working with TH). We moved office a few times, and he let me put together a mail-order company that I called “ANZ Imports” ( = Australia and New Zealand ). However, mostly, our company, USS&M, sold Japanese-pressed re-editions of Blue Note label jazz LP’s.

Through ANZ, I met Brian Ware and Bob Gaulke, both of whom I still know today and count as old friends. There were others, but Bob & Brian are still around!

I tried to go to NZ every year, but I missed a year or two. My last visit there was in ’87. I used to take my friends want lists and look for stuff in Auckland and Wellington. In fact, most of my young adult travels largely revolved around where I wanted to go to try and look for phonograph records.

In Europe, I’d met Holger Czukay of Can, Aldo Tagliapietra of Le Orme, Gilbert Artman of Urban Sax (and Lard Free). I also met a lot of people in Holland, notably Henk Hofstede of The Nits, and The Nits’ manager, Aad Link.

At home, in the 80’s, the bands I knew (and / or worked with) were few. I knew Human Hands and Dread Zeppelin. I had my own band, The Decayes. We made 5 LP’s, from ’78 – ’83.


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