DISCAHOLIC INTERVIEW SERIES Björn Thorstensson, may 2012
Are you an official discaholic? Is there such a thing?
Do you need help with it? Or are you happy as is?
-The first time ever that I heard the word discaholic was when Discaholics Anonymous first recording was released. I suppose the term discaholic is quite appropriate, official or unofficial, and I have no wish to be cured. I enjoy every aspect of my listening, record collecting and discographical activities all the time.
You worked as a dentist before, do you see a connection with your interest in grooves and teeth? Does the drilling machine has a secret connection to the way that a vinyl pick up works?
Have you ever tried to fix someones teeth with vinyl? Would that work?
- I would say that parts of some electronic music may resemble the sound of the high speed drill. Otherwise I honestly see no resemblance. I am quite certain that the vinyl grooves are much more enjoyable than the grooves I once created!
Vinyl would not work very well as a restorative material. Instead I have used quite a lot of acrylic and composite material through the years. After retiring I am strictly pro vinyl.
When did you start collecting?
Was vinyl the first thing you collected?
- I suppose I could say that my active collecting started by the end of the sixties. I had bought records occasionally before that but I got seriously hooked when the Stax and Atco soul music began to be heard. That was absolutely mind blowing for me. I still have my Aretha Franklin, Otis Redding and Sam & Dave LP´s and it now looks as if my son is interested to take care of these. Feels good!
Yes, vinyl was all there was in those days long before the CD appeared.
Did you ever play music yourself, or have you always been a listener?
- I took trumpet lessons for a short period when I was about 15 years old. For some reason the teacher decided to move far away after a few months. I don´t know if that was because of my lack of progress but that was anyway the end of my musical career. After that I have been a full time listener.
What record was the first one you bought for your own money?
- I believe that must have been some EP by Ray Charles or Sam Cooke in the early sixties. What I very clearly remember, though, is the first LP I bought in the mid sixties. That was Highway 61 revisited by Bob Dylan. I still have it and I still love Desolation Row.
The latest one is Svein Finnerud Trio on Norsk Jazzforum. That is an absolutely outstanding record.
How did you got interested in Free Jazz and Improvised music?
Was the first experince a live performance or on record?
- My first experience was from a series of radio programs in the early seventies. I have a very distinct memory of hearing two LP´s that were played then. One was I sing the body electric by Weather Report and the other was Mountain in the clouds by Miroslav Vitous. They both knocked me out. By that time I had subscribed to Rolling Stone magazine and they had an impressive coverage of the modern jazz scene in those days. There were reviews of Ornette Coleman, Coltrane, Cecil Taylor, Sun Ra, Shepp, Ayler, Pharoah Sanders, Miles etc. Reviews were written in a way that I just had to look for this new music. I had never heard about these musicians before and most of these records were very hard to find in Sweden. There were ads from various record dealers in the magazines and that way you could find records by all these artists at very reasonable prices. There were dealers selling ESP records for $1. Those were the days!
What live concert has been the most amazing you have ever heard / seen?
- I have been to very few live concerts through the years but the one that ranks very high is the solo performance by Anthony Braxton in Västerås some years ago. It was stunning. By the way, wasn´t that planned to be released?
I must also mention my first live concert back in the seventies. Pharoah Sanders at Club ArtDur (nowadays Club Nefertiti) in Gothenburg. Will never forget that.
Is Bird Notes possible to get a complete collection of? Are you close?
- I suppose it might be possible but I really don´t know. I have many of the Bengt Nordstrom records but I still miss some. I also miss Albert Ayler volume 2. Then there are the Miles and Parker 7¨ records that I don´t have and certainly never will have. I strongly hope that the plans for a Frippe box + discography will be carried through as soon as possible.
Who has been the main inspiration musically ?
What artists do you wanna have a complete collection of, no matter what ?
- There are a few Gods for me. I would say that Derek Bailey, Albert Ayler and Steve Lacy and later also Peter Brötzmann are the main ones but there certainly are several more. I just have to mention also Han Bennink and Joe McPhee.
When it comes to complete collections I have an extensive want list. I have succeeded quite well so far on the following: Sun Ra, Peter Brötzmann, Derek Bailey, Ornette Coleman, Albert Ayler, Joe McPhee, Steve Lacy, Cecil Taylor. Then there is also Mats Gustafsson. Mustn´t forget him!!
Is the nr 3 Incus Taps existing or not?
- This is a tricky one. After checking with several different sources I have come to the conclusion, correct or not, that Taps 3 was never released. I have an empty box for this tape but it seems the plans stopped there. I don´t know where the music in the Organ of Corti issue came from but most certainly it did not come from an existing reel-to-reel tape.
How many different looking versions are there of Albert Ayler´s ”Bells” on ESP?
- That is another tricky one. There are at least 8 different silk-screened vinyls + a number of non silk-screened ones. Then there are at least 6 differently colored covers + a very special silk-screened cover + another special cover that I believe was sold in Castelli´s auctions some years ago. To summarize, I would say that there are at least 12 different vinyls and at least 8 different covers. I have 7 of the silk-screened vinyls.
Do you have those pre releases of Sprititual Unity and Ornette Coleman at Town Hall on ESP? Those are really rare as hens teeth….
- I have the Ornette Coleman but not the Ayler one. That is one of the holy grails I am still looking for. Then there is an unreleased BLP 4210* Ornette Coleman at the Town Hall, Vol. 1. I believe test pressings of this exist. Do you have it?
What records are you looking for at the moment? Perhaps our readers might be able to help… there are many discaholics out there…. And trades can be arranged….
- Here we go. There are more on my want list but the following have top priority.
Albert Ayler Spiritual Unity (pre release 200 copies) ESP1002
Karl Berger Jazz da Camera Da Camera 7001
Roy Brooks Ethnic expressions Im Hotep 030
Byard Lancaster New horizons Dogtown FW 9683
M. Mengelberg/H. Bennink Coincidents ICP 018 (cassette)
William Parker Painter´s Autumn Centering CS1002(cassette)
Pat Patrick Sound advise Saturn 770
Prince Lasha It is revealed Zounds 71863
Sun Ra Song of the stargazers Saturn 487
Sun Ra Outer spaceways inc. Saturn 143000 A/B
Sun Ra Other thoughts ZUW Disc 0001
Sun Ra Transition outtakes acetate Fassett Recording Co., Boston MA
Sun Ra Live Jan Vander Kochenbroesel cassette
Sun Ra Pleiades Artist issued cassette
Sun Ra The Blue Set/Big City Blues Saturn SA-1001
Sun Ra The Bridge/Rocket#9 Saturn 3066
Sun Ra Love In Outer Space/Mayan Temple Saturn 256
Franco Tonani Night in Fonorama Juke Box 330018
World´s Experience Orchestra The beginning of a new birth World Productions Rec.
Various Tokyo Meeting 1984 Dessert T9A 1094
Where do you find your records? Shops ? Internet ? Friends ?
- Mainly on the internet but also by trading with you and other collectors. I used to have more international contacts before from Poland and Italy and several other countries but it seems that there are fewer maniacs around these days. Of course I try shops as soon as there is a chance but living out in the woods far from any big city limits these occasions. My son lives in Stockholm so ANDRA is always on the list when I go there. That shop is unbeatable.
How many meters of vinyl do you have in your collection?
How many meters would you like to have?
- There are about 15 meters of tightly packed LP´s. Then there is about half a meter of 7¨records. The space I have available is very effectively filled so there is no room for any extensive additions. If there was more space I could easily fill some more meters. Thinking like this is quite crazy. I have reached the age where I ought to start selling instead of buying. It´s just still such a pleasure and so thrilling to continue that I am not yet ready to quit.
Is trading records the most fun you can have with your clothes on?
Is trading records the ultimate intimacy?
- One part of trading records has to do with finding rare items for someone else. For me that is just as thrilling and rewarding as finding something for myself. Isn´t that the meaning of life? To give someone else pleasure and create joy for others as well as for yourself? What could be better? I can´t think of anything more rewarding than that.
What is your favorite format?
- From the start there was the 12¨ format almost exclusively but gradually I have grown more and more fond of the 7¨ format. If the music is interesting the format is secondary for me nowadays.
Is the availability on internet a good thing? Or is there a problem built in? With all the easy access to information and musics…
At DC we think that it is quite fun to really hunt and look for an object over a long time.. to wait and long for it… that all good and creative things are created during a long period of time…. But maybe that is old fashioned thinking? We happen to know that your son is involved in the developments of eBooks and related and we thought it might be interesting to hear your views and opinions about this.
- There is definitely a problem with the unlimited access to information over the internet. You had to work much harder before to gain information on various matters. The satisfaction then was greater when you finally succeeded. Therefore I agree 100% with you about the joy and excitement of a slow process. Perhaps that is old fashioned but I believe I have some right to be old fashioned by now. Imagine finding a rare recording that you have been looking for for 10 years. That has happened to me now and then and the pleasure when you succeed is just mind blowing. On the other hand some of these rarities finally were found by help of the internet. So, I would not want to be without the internet access. It was more thrilling and satisfactory before, however, when it was possible to find treasures at reasonable prices in many second hand stores.
The vast market on the internet has rocketed the prices of rare items to insane levels sometimes. So, as always there are pros and cons.
The eBook is still a very young phenomenon and I see a bright future for it. It will take time to be established but I am convinced that we will see a very positive development during coming years. New media always take time to be established.
What was the first vinyl you gave to your children ?
- I am not sure but I believe it was an LP with songs by the Swedish author Lennart Hellsing. He is a word magician and has published an enormous amount of fantastic children´s songs.
Do you store your collection Alphabetical or by Genre?
- Strictly alphabetical.
How much do you listen to music (on vinyl…) per day ?
- That varies a lot from day to day. I try my best to squeeze in as much as possible.
Describe a perfect shopping/ hunting day!
- You know where I live and my access toshopping is very much limited. A perfect shopping/hunting day for me is an imaginary one and I would be in NYC. I would have checked all the places worth visiting and then I would do my best to fill my bag and empty my credit card. Chicago wouldn´t be bad either.
What records do I wanna steal from your collection?
- That is an easy one! I list only 3 but I suspect you would grab some more.
Steve Lacy Solo at Space Who
Archie Shepp demo acetate
Joe Maneri Byzantine Jazz
Are you still looking for an Italian tail?
- No, I have it! I have had it for many years and got it from an Italian contact for a very reasonable amount.
Limited or unlimited?
Colored or black?
33 1 /3 or 45 ?
- Well, music comes first but then the limited issues always tickle my collector genes a bit extra because they will probably be out of stock in due time and then turn up as expensive auction items.
Colored or black does not matter to me.
As I mentioned before my interest in 45 rpm records have increased by and by but I can´t say that I have a definite favorite. Again music comes first.
Protecting plastic covers or not?
- I would prefer to have every record protected by fresh clean plastic covers but I have never had the patience to take care of that. There is a mixture of covers and non-covers in my collection. I have seen my son´s collection which is very well taken care of and I wish I had the same level of ambition.
What is the first section you hit, while arriving to a vinyl shop, where you have never been before?
- Free/avant garde Jazz
- Newly added
The section where you would never look in?
- Swedish dance bands.
What is your favorite record shop in the world?
- No doubt that is ANDRA Jazz in Stockholm. I really have very little experience from places internationally but it would be most unlikely that I would ever find a shop that beats ANDRA.
First of all the totally unbelievable selection of records. Then I have some very personal affection for ANDRA. This is very important for me but I will try to make it short. Back in 1988 I had seen an ad in the Swedish magazine OJ (Orkester-Journalen) from the shop Blå Tornet (Blue Tower), the predecessor to ANDRA, at Drottninggatan in Stockholm. I went there and met Harald for the first time. I had my 1 year old son in a cart. I asked Harald if he had any of the Albert Ayler Debut records for sale. No, he said but if you wait a while there is a guy coming here who is interested in the same music as you. Then he said he had to go out for a while ¨but you can stay here¨. Harald went out and locked the door. My son was asleep and I did not mind being locked in among all the records for a while and Harald did return after some time. Then the other guy also came in and his name was Mats Gustafsson. I don´t think you remember this but that was how I met you. You handed me a thin magazine and there was a short notice about a jazz group called AALY Trio. I am very glad that we have kept contact since then. I haven´t been to Stockholm too often through the years but at every visit I have spent some time at ANDRA. From now on I will be there more often as my son is now living in Stockholm.
Favorite city for vinyl hunting?
- Referring to my comments above I must say Stockholm. I would love to check out Tokyo and Chicago too but I have never been there. There is a chance that I will hit Chicago next year.
Give us a list of your 5 favorite:
Steve Lacy records?
Solo at Space Who Space Who 52/100
Solo at Mandara ALM AL-5
Disposability VIK KVLP-200
Torments Morgue 01
Crops Quark 9998
I could just as likely have chosen 5 others. That´s how great his music is!!!
Most surprising listening experiences?
- This question makes me remember a few listening experiences from way back when, some of them long before I had even heard of improvised music or free jazz. There were some occasions when my musical world turned much or less upside down and those experiences meant a lot for my future activities. The following shook me completely when I first heard them:
Little Richard Good Golly Miss Molly
Bob Dylan Subterranean homesick blues
Jimi Hendrix Hey Joe
Wilson Pickett The midnight hour
Kjell Höglund Slutstrid
Incus, FMP, ICP, ESP, NoBusiness Records.
Free jazz records?
Don Pullen/Milford Graves at Yale University PG 286
Derek Bailey New sights, Old sounds Morgue 03/04
Peter Brötzmann Machine Gun BRÖ 2
Instant Composers Pool ICP 007/008
Albert Ayler Spiritual Unity ESP 1002
Sun Ra records?
The Magic City
Outer Spaceways Incorporated
Stars that shine darkly
Bad and beautiful
Is this interview too long?
- No way! I have enjoyed every minute of it.
Can you recognize a fellow discaholic in an ordinary group of people? Are there any specifics that give the discaholic away?
- No way! I have been very pleasantly and unextectedly surprised sometimes getting in contact with people I did not expect sharing my obsession. I must admit, however, that I know very , very few discaholics.
What jacket surface makes your breathing more irregular?
Matt? Glossy? Laminated? Plain? Silk screened?
- That depends on the whole impression. The original glossy fold-out Impulse LP covers are fabulous. So are the silk screened ESP´s. There are some recent issues on the new Japanese Kaitai label that are very nice. The matted cover matches very well the excellent music inside. Overall I would say that matted and silk-screened and of course hand made covers are my favorites.
Which record can save the world?
- I wish I could name one but… Perhaps this one will give some comfort for the future:
Joe McPhee Everything happens for a reason Roaratorio roar 09
Which record will not save the world?
- I would say a compilation from Eurovision Song Contest.