Feb 20, 2018

Collecting log: Dead End Street, an Israeli soundtrack 12" one-sided EP

The vinyl format of 12-inch single/EP came into popularity in the 1970's for commercial releases. The first ever Springsteen's commercial title in this format was Rosalita (Come Out Tonight), backed with Racing In The Street and Night (CBS 12.7753), that was issued relatively late, back in 1979 in Holland. When 7-inch singles were cut from the albums in the 1980's, almost without exceptions (with the exception of single releases from NEBRASKA), 12-inch counterparts were simultaneously released as either or both of regular and promotional discs.

The 12-inch vinyl came in a matt-surfaced sleeve. The replica sleeve has circulated for long on collector's market, and reportedly, has rather glossy surface without a red promo sticker on the rear. By the way, could someone translate loads of Hebrew writings on the rear sleeve?
Upper: A red promo notification sticker is pasted on the
rear sleeve with both Hebrew and English writings. Lower:
The same sticker is also used for other Israeli releases.
Shown is a copy of the GREETINGS ... LP (CBS 32210)
(photo taken from Springsteenrecords).
I remember every time I saw at a record store such a new 12-inch release from BORN IN THE U.S.A. that was manufactured in and imported from the US or Europe, I used to buy a copy, for to do so was the fastest way to get a rare non-album track that was otherwise not available on standard album releases (Back then, I valued 12-inch more than 7-inch simply because the former contains extra tracks and theoretically provides better sound quality). Around in 1985, however, I learned that such purchase often resulted in waste of money because those "rare" tracks appeared again on later releases, or 12-inch vinyl discs were repacked for resale. The greediest case I recall was the UK release of The Born In The U.S.A. 12" Single Collection (CBS BRUCE 1) that put together the four already released 12-inch vinyls, even though it came in a nice-looking box that contained the then-latest 7-inch single (I'm Goin' Down/Janey Don't You Lose Heart) and a fold-out poster as bonus. Since then, for mainly this reason, 12-inch vinyls have not been my primary collecting format although I do pick them up when I see a rarity or a good deal, especially for European releases in the mid-1990's (see here for 12-inch related blogs).

Spine printing (the catalog number, tittle and artist name) is also used as a proof of a genuine copy and as a measure to distinguish it from a replica sleeve.
Before the flood of 12-inch releases that are largely ignored, there were a few real collector's gems out there. The best known example is Killer Tracks From The River (CBS/SONY XDAP 93030), the Japanese promotion-only 12-inch disc released in 1981. However, in terms of pure rarity (and peculiarity), I would rather take Kvish L'Lo Motzah (CBS DJ 428) in a Hebrew title, better known as Dead End Street, a 12-inch soundtrack to the 1982 Israeli movie with the same title. Readers of this blog do not requires thorough explanation for this mega collectible (If necessary, visit the Lost In The Flood collector's site or the Killing Floor databse). It is in a unique vinyl format (one-sided 3-track EP), features an unusual track (Jungleland) for single/EP cut, and most probably represents the only soundtrack release containing Springsteen's original recordings exclusively.

Contrary to the information available on collector's sites, the matrix number on the playing side is 
not hand-etched but machine-stamped as "DJ428A Q". In addition, there is a hand-written symbol
that looks like "C1". Do these mean that mine is a bogus copy?
However, what is most interesting on this vinyl is how it came to be released. It is well known that Suki Lahav played the definitive role in that. Needless to say, Suki was a female violinist of the E Street Band back in 1974-1975, also contributing as a backing vocalist to studio recording and live performances. She disclosed the background story concisely and clearly, when she had an interview by the Backstreets Magazine, which is featured on the 16th issue (published spring 1986), as part of a continuous series of interviews with former E Streeters such as Vini Lopez and Ernest "Boom" Carter. Asked if she's been in touch with Springsteen since her departure from the band and homecoming to Israel, she answered as follows:
  • About four years back, a film producer friend of mine wanted to use three of Bruce's songs for an Israeli film of his. He had trouble getting the okay from CBS. So I called Bruce up on the phone. It took a few days to find him at home but in the end he answered.
  • He was really pleased to hear from me and right away said that there's no problem in using these songs ("Jungleland," "Hungry Heart" and "Point Blank"). He was really nice about it. CBS made a promotional disc of that film with those three songs on it. I heard it's become quite a collector's item being that they only had thirty printed.

The plain label on the blank side has some Hebrew writings. The blue-inked memo on a white square sheet
was provided by the seller for the translation to English. Luie (Louis) Lahav is the ex-husband of Suki and
worked as the sound engineer on Springsteen's first two albums.
In this interview, what caught my attention is the copy number of the vinyl disc. She mentioned only 30 copies made. This number is way smaller than 100 copies reported in other sources such as Lost In The Flood.  In spring, 1997, the Backstreets Records put on sale a copy via auction with minimum bids of US $800, with the following descriptions:
  • Less than ten of these items have ever been known to come into collector's hands. 
  • The original run must have been less than 100.
Whether Suki's information is accurate or not remains unknown, and to my knowledge, there are no other sources of information regarding the pressing number of this 12-inch. As far as I've seen, Dead End Street appeared on collector's markets, including online auction, with much less frequency when compared to the aforementioned Killer Tracks From The River. So, in my sense, what she told seems realistic, or close to real, even though she was not a staff member of CBS Records or involved in the vinyl production.

I have no idea whether the accompanying inner bag is an
original or replaced one.
Finally, a few notes on my copy. I obtained it through eBay around in 2000 from a second-hand record shop in Tel Aviv, Israel. Back in the early years, it was rather rare that eBay auctions resulted in outrage high prices that have generally seen in the recent 10 years or so for extremely rare collectables like this one. So, it won't be possible these days to purchase a copy at the same expense (probably costing the double, at least). Notably, there is a big difference from what is being said about the matrix number on the run-off groove area of the playing side. According to the relevant information currently available on internet, "DJ 428A" is hand-etched on the dead wax. As pictured above, however, it is machine-stamped on my vinyl copy and exactly to be "DJ 428A Q". Unless mine is a fake copy, such uncertainness or errors as to copy number and dead wax information rather reflects how difficult to obtain accurate information on this peculiar release, hence its degree of rarity.

Jan 27, 2018

Collecting log: THE GHOST OF TOM JOAD and the Japan Tour in 1997 (various collector's items)

Some official and unofficial Japan 1997 Tour collectibles. Shown right is the official Japan-exclusive 8-page booklet (with flyers inserted in it) featuring the entire album lyrics in both English and Japanese, which was distributed at the entrance to the concert hall for every night performance.
The first concert at the third and last time Springsteen visited Japan was performed 21 years ago tonight, January 27th, 1997, during the promotion tour for THE GHOST OF TOM JOAD. I remember the solo acoustic tour received only a modest attention here, which was in marked contrast to the hoopla surrounding BORN IN THE U.S.A. and the World Tour when he hit Asia for the first time in
April 1985 (cf. His second visit here was
Two more collectibles from Japan: The original paper sleeve release
 (SONY SRCS 9474) that was once released publicly but immediately
withdrawn in 1999 (see here for the details; mine is a promo copy
but not a regular issue which is further rarer) and a CD-sized 16-page
promo booklet with the cover photo which was taken during his visit
to East Berlin in 1995.
September 1988 during the Amnesty tour in Tokyo). Because of this and my inadvertence, I had not been aware of his third arrival here until three or four weeks before it really happened. Even worse, all the tickets were already sold out for a four-night stand at Tokyo International Forum (Hall "A" with the capacity of 5,027 guests), which was planned only on weekdays starting from Monday (January 27th) and ending on Friday of the same week (January 31st). By the way, the concert venue was newly built back then, with Springsteen as the first performer to play there (followed by Bob Dylan as you can see an announcement flyer for the forthcoming Dylan's concerts in the picture above).

Back then (and still now), I was busy with work during weekdays and lived far from Tokyo or the East Japan area. So, the scheduled day and the venue were quite inconvenient for me. Still, I was able to obtain a ticket from a nice American guy dwelling in Tokyo at no extra charge for the 
last night (which was the only option I
Part of a "Ticket for sale" message posted on LuckyTown Digest,
which I found just before Springsteen's solo acoustic concerts in
Tokyo late in January 1997.
could take), by transactions through LuckyTown Digest, the now defunct, fan-based Springsteen mailing list operating back in the late 1990's to early 2000's. I met him at Tokyo Station on the evening of the day to pick up the ticket, and after making chats on each other's history on attending Springsteen's concerts, headed for the concert venue (located
He kindly and quickly replied to my e-mail message asking for the ticket
(only part of the message is shown).
walking distance from the station) together with him and his wife.
It had been announced that gates would open at 17:30 with the performance starting at 19:00 (In fact, it started at 19:20 and ended at 21:31, according to my memo). 

A bizarre sealed U.S. copy (Columbia CK 67484)
without paper print-outs (i.e. no booklet and no rear
sleeve inside the sealed plastic case). Most probably,
resulting from production errors.
On the first night (Jan. 27th) soon after the concert, a short interview Springsteen had on an evening news program called News Station (hosted by Hiroshi Kume) was aired through Asahi TV network across the country (around 22:30). It was probably a live interview but I don't exactly remember, although I did watch the TV program and record the interview on VHS tapes. In my memory, Mr. Kume, a nationally known TV/radio presenter who interviewed Springsteen by himself, was so ignorant about the man and his music that the interview was hardly successful, to say the least. A few snapshots taken from TV screen are used on the booklet for excellent TOKYO NIGHT 2-CD bootleg released by Crystal Cat Records. This bootleg captures the last night performance which, according to those who saw the four concerts, is the best of all. Luckily I was there where the sound was crystal clear (as you can hear on the bootleg), and personally I was glad to be able to hear my favorite tunes from the new album like Highway 29 and Dry Lightning, and those stunning versions of songs from the other albums like Atlantic City, Highway Patrolman, The River, If I Should Fall Behind, and No Surrender (one of only a few rocking moments on the concert).

Should I remove the shrink wrap?  Inset shows that the wrap was
already torn spontaneously on the upper left corner of the U.S.
LP sleeve. The EU (Dutch) copy has two stickers pasted over the
front sleeve, one originally by the manufacturer and the other
(silver) after import to Japan in order to circumvent the trademark
license issue between Columbia Records (international) and
Columbia Music Entertainment, Inc. (Japan; the company possessing
the Columbia trademark here has nothing to do with
, SONY JAPAN, or Springsteen).
Vinyl copies of THE GHOST OF TOM JOAD is one of the hard-to-find LP pressings in the catalog of Springsteen's work, such as 18 TRACKS, LIVE IN NEW YORK CITY, THE RISING and DEVILS & DUST, that are released in the period lying between the decline and revival of vinyl records. These vinyl albums are certainly rare and to me, that's all that matters. Therefore, I have little to talk about. It is worthy to mention that as reported in Lost In The Flood, counterfeits are known to exist of this title. I own both the European and U.S. pressings (Columbia 481650 1 and Columbia C 67484, respectively) that are, I believe, not fake copies. Rather, my concern is, as seen in the image on the right, that the transparent wrap of the still-sealed U.S. copy is so tightly shrunk as time goes by that the LP sleeve began to curve noticeably (which might affect the vinyl inside badly).

Two reel-to-reel tapes for the Columbia Records Radio Hour program aired on December
14th, 1995, that consist of the
interviews by Bob Costas on Nov. 21th and live recordings
from Tower Theater, Philadelphia, on Dec. 8th, 1995. I personally have never played
these tapes as I don't own an open reel deck.
As shown here, there are a few more non-vinyl collectibles in my collection that are related to this solo acoustic album release. To me, the most interesting item among these is the U.K. promo-only CD in a generic plain white sleeve (Columbia SAMP CD 3066). According to Lost In The Flood, the CD is accompanied with a "lovely, ribbon-bound" promo lyric booklet (20 pages excluding front and back of the booklet). In addition to this, my copy comes with another one that is easily distinguished by its appearance from the "ribbon-bound" edition. This previously unreported booklet (to my knowledge) is bound by a black plastic ring binder (18 pages excluding front and back) and larger in A4 size, with clear protective cover sheets on front and rear. Furthermore, the lyrics are much more easily read on this "ring-bound" booklet because the artistic "Tom Joad" font (I don't know the font name) is NOT used as opposed to the other one. This may explain the existence of the two differently manufactured lyric booklets.

Supposedly, the U.K. promotional CD set (disc pressed in Austria) was originally distributed with the two booklets, one adopting the album-style, artistic font (a little bit hard to read) while the other using a generic font (easier to read). According to the credit card receipt, this was purchased from a U.K. dealer on December 1st, 1995 (the album was released on November 21th, as indicated on the front cover of the "ring-bound" booklet).

Dec 30, 2017

Collecting log: Collectable acquisition in 2017 (Part 3 of 3)

Here is the final part of the three consecutive posts on this year's collectable selection (Part 1 and Part 2 here). As written on the last paragraph of this post, a question arises on the item introduced here which hopefully gets answered from knowledgeable visitors. This post is also the latest addition to a featured blog series DARKNESS US pressing LP variations.

DARKNESS ON THE EDGE OF TOWN US white label promo LP - Terre Haute pressing (US Columbia JC 35318)

From the auction page: I hadn't noticed a indigo-blue rubber stamp on the front sleeve indicating
where this copy came from, until I received the record shipped by the U.S. seller.
Ok, probably you wonder why this relatively worn, white label promo (WLP) vinyl disc is chosen here as one of the three collectables from this year's acquisition. It undoubtedly pales by comparison with the previous two collectables in terms of rarity. In fact, I am not sure whether this rather common, WLP deserves a year's selection or 
Hand-etched "T2" and "T1" markings specify where this WLP
copy is pressed (i.e.
Terre Haute, Indiana), so the matrix
number suffixes -1D/-2E (side 1/side 2) are specific to this
Columbia Record plant. Other suffix combinations found in
my collection include -1D/-2H, -1E/-2E, and -1F/-2H
this pressing plant. "TML-S" and "TML-M" machine stamps
serve as
the signature for early U.S. pressings of this album.

not. Maybe, it should have been expressed as a "potential collectable". Anyway, I obtained this promo LP from an eBay seller in the U.S. That was part of my effort to collect US-pressing copies of the DARKNESS album because I have recently been curious about how many different factories participated in pressing the first run of the album (The reason is explained in the first post of the relevant series here). I had two reasons for bidding this particular copy. One was the demand for a variety of WLP: For some reason or other, all my DARKNESS promo copies are Terre Haute pressings (this copy also turned out to be the same, though). Another reason was a relatively low competition of the bidding (resulting in a winning bid of US $5.77), although the shipping from the U.S. cost more than triple of the winning bid ($19.95). Still, in my opinion, the total expense ($25.72) is comparable to or cheaper than the prices here generally assigned to used WLP imports from the U.S., provided that a given copy is at least in acceptable conditions.

Obviously, this WLP copy was a property of the WMMR radio station. Then who had kept and played this copy at the station?
A clue to this question may lie in what seems to be
someone's initials that are handwritten with a silver marker underneath the gold promo stamp.
As shown by the rubber stamp on the front sleeve, this WLP copy was previously owned by WMMR, a rock radio station in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, although the seller did not mention anything about it (and so I was not aware of it at the time of bidding on the auction till I received it). Consistently, the seller's address is right there one of the oldest and most historically significant U.S. cities. This prompted me to check further the LP sleeve, and just below a gold promo stamp on the upper left corner of the rear, I found a signature-like, silver-inked handwritten script probably indicating someone's initials. Living in a country where English is practically not needed, I am not familiar with hand-written letters and still not sure of what the spelling is exactly in this case (and what it means). I was seeking to draw what connected with Springsteen, DARKNESS, promo LP, Philly, radio station, and WMMR ...  and an idea pinged into my head: Isn't this "ES" that refers to a radio legend Ed Sciaky (19482004), one of the earliest known enthusiastic disc jockeys/supporters of the Man and His Music?  No information as to this was available from the seller. I am totally not confident about my guess, and so probably I got the wrong idea (wondering if someone can answer this). However, at least I had some small fun delving into this simple handwriting, which explains why I picked it up here. Finally, I'd like to wish everyone who has visited my blog a Happy New Year. Happy hunting, happy collecting, and enjoy your lovely vinyl discs!