It takes a certain type of person to be a record collector. It is someone who loves music, but wants more from it, to feel it, to touch it, and full immerse themselves in the experience. In our new feature, Vinyl Tales, we will be meeting the people behind some of the best record collections out there.
This month we caught up with one of our customers, Ernesto Garcia Marques from South Africa. Ernesto has a varied and eclectic collection, and has been collecting records for a number of years. He has a large number of cover version and tribute LP’s, as well being lucky enough to get items signed by Jello Biafra and Storm Thorgerson.
Firstly, when did you start collecting records, and why?
I was 12 years old and when visiting my cousin with my folks, he asked me to pick 2 and he would play them for me. I chose Schools Out by Alice Cooper and Electric Ladyland by Jimi Hendrix but he said I was too young to listen to either and he played me Creedence instead. I was disgusted and vowed to buy my own records and I begged my folks for money and every birthday and Christmas I requested a record. It was Alice Cooper and Hendrix who got me into music!
What was the first record you bought, and is there a story behind it?
I am quite proud to say that the first record I ever bought was Paranoid by Black Sabbath, the 7”. Bought it from a hardware store that sold a few records at our local shopping centre in Johannesburg. Only managed to buy the album much later when I was 16 and working at a local newspaper.
What is the most you have ever paid for a record, and how did you acquire it?
The year I bought the Rammstein – Paris 4LP/2CD + Blue Ray box set and almost had to sell it shortly afterwards because times are tough and I am unemployed. Luckily I managed to sort out my debt by selling something else. Paid R2600 for the box set, a lot of money for me!
What would you consider to be the most cherished item in your collection? (not necessarily most valuable)
In 1994 I wrote to my hero Iggy Pop and asked him if instead of writing back he could talk on a tape I enclosed instead and he did! A few weeks later I received a letter in the post with a 90 min tape with “greetings from Iggy written on the one side. It stats by Iggy stating: This sis something I don’t particularly like doing but why waste a tape right? OK, so Howdi South Africa. God, I would really, really like to get down there and play…” This is followed by 90 min of Iggy reciting poetry and I have not heard these words in any songs. I transferred the tape to my PC and have a few digital copies in other places and the original tape is somewhere in my house. I have resisted the urge to release this out of respect for Iggy but maybe one day….
The other thing I am very proud is the double CD/LP tribute to my mother in law, legendary Afrikaans poet Ingrid Jonker. Die Kind Is Nog Jonger was a limited edition release in 2017 and the CD has sold out and only a few copies of the LP are available. That is very special to me. For my wife and dedicated to my mother in law. It is personal!
What do you find is most appropriate way to store the collection?
I have always stored my records on shelves and 2 years ago I had a wall unit built for my music collection. It has 3 rows for records and 5 rows for CDS.. I also have my local record collection in the spare bedroom, CD racks all over the house and more crates of records in the garage. I need a bigger house 😉
What are you still looking for to complete your collection? Do you have a ‘holy grail’ record you just have to track down?
There are a few local South African records I am missing but they are almost impossible to find. Last year my copy of Time To Suck by Suck was stolen and that is proving very difficult to find on vinyl again. I do have the CD but of course the vinyl is the real deal.
What advice would you give to those just starting to build their collections?
When starting to collect music follow your own heart and don’t listen to what anyone else says. You should know what you really like and if you don’t then buy a few compilations of the genre you like and see who sticks out for you. Go for original pressings if possible because that is how the records were and how they will be remembered. Repressings can be nice too for the bonus tracks, demos etc but you should have experienced the original albums first.
What do you see for the future of vinyl? Do you think it will continue to grow following the resurgence of the last few years?
Vinyl is growing all the time and just the other day I read about new pressing plants were opening up in Europe and the USA. We really need a pressing plant in South Africa though as we have not had one since the mid 90’s. There is a small company who cuts records but they are limited edition 7”s and I don’t think they can cut full albums. Considering how many records are imported into South Africa a pressing plant here would make millions!!!!
Finally, do you think music really sounds better on vinyl?
Music lives in the grooves of a vinyl records and was meant to sound that way. Records are analogue, CDs are digital so some quality will always be lost….