The Ron Kane Files

Writing About Music

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Most expensive music purchases

3-25-09 Most expensive music purchases

Everything’s relative. In Japan, even normal CD’s in shops are $30+! But please understand, I didn’t get to be known as Mr. Mega-Collector by sheer tonnage of spenditure. I bought all those $200+ LP’s when they were still $4.99! But I can certainly spill the beans on some of my youthful folly.

I’d only been working for a few days, maybe didn’t even have my first paycheck (If I didn’t already have it, it was imminent). A friend took me to a long-gone South Bay record store where the erratic owner was selling his ‘rare records’ ostensibly to fund a drug binge. I paid US$50 cash for the 45 “La Tua Casa Comoda” by the Italian progressive rock band Il Balletto Di Bronzo. “$50!”, you say. I’ve still got the only copy of it I’ve ever seen – I got mine in the summer of ’76. Both songs are now ‘bonus tracks’ on re-issues of their “Ys.” album.

I believe I paid US$60 for a German pressing of “Sort Of” by Slapphappy, towards the end of the 70’s. Another one you don’t see everyday. Took ages for it to get issued on CD, which thankfully it has (in Japan, as a kami sleeve CD).

In Udagawa-cho in Tokyo, I was once in a tiny record store (that no longer exists) that had three of the “Major Force” (Toshio Nakanishi) Japanese 12” singles that I was after, for about US$60 each – I bought all three.

My white label mono promo “We’re Only In It For The Money” LP by Frank Zappa & The Mothers Of Invention set me back about US$30, when they was a heck-of-a-lot to pay, even for a rare rock LP (a friend spotted it at a swap meet in the mid-70’s, and called me, woke me up, and asked my permission to buy it on my behalf. I’m still glad he did. Thanks, Ed!). I’ve passed by more “too expensive for me” Zappa records that I care to recount ($500 promo 45’s etc.)

I impulsed The Who “Ready Steady Who” original EP, when I saw it on the wall of a collectible record store (no longer there, of course) – mint mint mint, and US$50. I bought many original British EP’s from this dealer, but most of them were in the $8 - $15 range (at that time, the early 80’s).

I recently paid US$25 for the 2nd Heebeegeebees LP, “20 Big No. 2’s”. In fact, another spoken word / comedy LP, Barry Humphries “Sandy Agonistes” set me back about US$35…on eBay. Not many big buck purchases on eBay, however. Too much chance of it getting squashed / crushed in transit. Crazy Casey “The Beast & I” ($40), the first Bo Hansson (“Hansson & Karlsson” original LP, $40). But, believe it or not, those are the only above regular retail purchases from eBay that I can even remember!

I remember mail-ordering LP’s from Switzerland was extraordinarily expensive, at least in the late 80’s. I think two different Thomas Diethelm LP’s set me back about $60 (for both) – and they were just regular new ‘in print’ LP’s + postage.


Anonymous Jim Donato said...

Re: “La Tua Casa Comoda”

In other words, you paid $50 (in more valuable 1976 dollars) in order to have these songs available to listen to for a good 30 years; or half an average human lifespan. Sounds fair to me.

Note to readers: Ron Kane saved me from paying $40 for a copy of the only Palais Schaumburg album I have ever seen (and therefore an explanation as to why I was interested even at that price) last summer. And it's available on CD now for under $15! This man... this saint among men, is the veritable Vic Hedges of record collectors!

I have purchased a few records in the over $50 category. I try to keep that way under control. I recently scored a copy of "Ecstacy," the rare as #@!! 2nd album by faves Torch Song, for about $18, most of which was shipping from Hamburg! I have scoped this one out for almost 2 decades and have never chanced upon a copy for <$50. Many of those years were way before William Orbit working with (feh!) Madonna and then getting a following! Just try to find even an expensive copy of this album on the internet!

8:08 AM  
Blogger Brian Ware said...

My most expensive 45 was the German XTC "Science Friction"/"She's So Square with perfect unique pic sleeve for about $80 back in the late 80s. Also paid about $40 for a French one, again with a unique pic sleeve. I've spent tons of money over the years in many cases to just get a unique pic sleeve or international pressing - no rare music at all!

The most I've ever plunked down on a counter in a store for a CD is $35 for a Japanese "Quiet Life" by Japan.

6:09 PM  
Anonymous Jim Donato said...


Well, shock me, Spandau Ballet have buried the hatchet and reformed. In 1999, almost a decade after disbanding, they had a hugely acrimonious royalties lawsuit between the Kemp Brothers (Gary wrote all but 1 of their songs) and The Other Guys Who Used To Be In Spandau Ballet. The Other Guys lost that vicious court battle.

I can see it in my mind's eye: Gary Kemp says "here are my songwriting notebooks and home demos of all Spandau Ballet material." The Other Guys say "wait, you know that bit that came after that other bit? Well, I thought of that when we were rehearsing that song in the studio! Yeah!" Judge: "next case."

Anyway, if these guys buried the hatchet (and 2 years ago they were adamant they'd never work together again) I suspect it has everything to do with how your retirement funds (yes, YOU reading this right now) have all but evaporated in the last year!

Take the average ex-rock star. If he was making hits in the 70s and 80s, right now he's 50-65 years of age. Even IF he was smart enough not to suck his prodigious earnings up his nose in his salad days and actually make "smart investments" for his retirement, chances are he's advancing on retirement age only to find his portfolio has lost at least half of everything he put away for his golden years.

What's a guy going to do but suck it up and reform the band for one last run at the golden trough of money before he's too damn old to do anything about it! So we've got Devo, Ultravox, Magazine, OMD*, and even The Eagles of New Romantcisim, Spandau Ballet, reforming and taking one last stab at it. Chances are they will get more moolah for a single world tour than they did for the whole shebang before they packed it in. And if they're smart, they'll listen to Gary Kemp and put those earnings into "Gold" instead of the more conventional investments they probably had in their portfolios. It may see them entering their retirement in some form of comfort which until last year, seemed all but assured.

* It's fair to point out that OMD had regrouped several years prior to the current economic crisis.

5:50 AM  
Blogger chas_m said...

My Delicious Library database is WOEFULLY incomplete, containing only the (bare minimum) CDs I brought up to Canada with us from Florida as well as the few purchased since then.

But according to it, my largest single purchase was the $58 I laid out for that Bowie box set, which breaks down to about $10/disc, a fair deal for mostly-excellent Bowie material.

The second highest is £13.99 ($24.28US at current rates) for Amazing Blondel's "Live Abroad" which I note has almost tripled in value (!).

Interesting side note: the most valuable CDs in my current -- highly abridged -- collection are Ting by the Nits (which Amazon claims is now worth $250US!) and "From Brussels With Love" (CD version) for which I paid $5US but is now worth approximately $195US.

If only I could bear to sell these -- I could use the money ...

... to buy more music of course! :)

4:41 AM  
Blogger Ron Kane said...


Why on Earth would "Ting" by The Nits be worth more than 'face value'? Perhaps someone silly ASKS $200 for it, they actually get it? Definitely not a $200 CD in my book, and I like it!)

- RK

6:42 AM  
Anonymous Jim Donato said...

"Ting" Is OOP and in my opinion, worth whatever you have to pay to own it! I'm just glad that I've had it for almost a decade. It is not only my favorite Nits album, it is my favorite album - period

But I do see than GEMM still has it for $13-105. And $250 is the (ludicrous) high-end of Amazon's Ting pricing, which starts at a more reasonable $52. I was just listening to it this morning and it still captivates me with its beauty and delicacy. Henk Hofstede says that it is the most mysterious Nits album in that after it was finished he still was learning new things about it even now.

8:30 AM  
Blogger mechanicoid said...

i paid $360 for The Residents' Pollex Christi, only to see it reprinted the week i bought it. Oh well.

10:20 AM  

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