Thursday, April 12, 2012

Brown and Brown Present: Scott H.

Scott H., From Jacksonville Florida was kind enough to take the time to take some photos of some gems in his collection.  I'm very excited to host this interview as our collections have a lot of overlap. I hope you enjoy this one as much as I did!


IDIGS: What do you collect and why?

I collect a variety of progressive music -- mostly from the '70s and mostly from Europe. It's more than just progressive rock, but that's how it all got started. Jazz, folk, electronic music and combinations thereof all interest me. It's pretty much all LPs and CDs. Sub-collections would include the ECM label and the Sky label.

I started listening obsessively to Rush in 10th grade. I eventually learned that Rush were influenced by Yes and King Crimson, so I investigated them and liked what I heard. Then I read that Robert Fripp admired the Mahavishnu Orchestra, so I got into them. I guess I'm just curious about how musical artists influence each other, so I pursued all those connections relentlessly. Essentially, I'm still investigating the most distant relations of the artists who influenced Rush way back when, and that has led me to listening to stuff as disparate as Herbie Hancock, Cluster, John Surman and Ralph Towner.

Editor's Note: I've always called it the 'Yes Effect'.  I bought Close To The Edge by Yes and entered a world of 'one offs'.  I bought every Rick Wakeman, Bill Bruford and Chris Squire LP I could get my hand on.  I found out about King Crimson because Bruford drummed for both.  I then stumbled upon UK, Fripp solo LP's and Earthworks.  That Yes album has influenced over 500 LP's in my collection.  

Back in the early-mid '90s, records were very cheap and easy to find because people were unloading their LPs for CDs. It was a really good time to be getting into records. Also, the kind of music I was getting into was very out of fashion at the time, so it was just natural for me to go buy this stuff on LP because I could get them for two or three dollars a piece, which was about all I could afford at the time. A lot has changed in the 20 years since, but the vinyl habit stuck.

Roedelius signed reissue – Purchased from and signed by Hans Joachim Roedelius himself at a concert in Atlanta last October. These Bureau 180 gram Beaureu B reissues are very faithful to the Sky originals.
Sky – My collection of original Sky label LPs by Cluster, Dieter Moebius, Hans Joachim Roedelius, Michael Rother.

IDIGS: How big is your collection?

Not very big by many collector's standards. I have about 600 LPs and about 500 CDs. Most record collectors are actually record hoarders. I don't do that. If I don't like something, I'll sell it, trade it or give it away. My collection would probably be 50% bigger if I kept every record I ever bought. I don't have room or time for that many records, so I try to keep the collection "all killer, no filler." There's very little fluff in my collection.
A collection I would call Lean and Mean. 

IDIGS: Explain your storage/display techniques.

I have an old bookshelf that someone in my family made a long time ago. When I was in college, the records didn't even fill up one shelf, and my surfing magazine collection took up most of the rest of the bookshelf. Now the bookshelf is full of records and the surf magazines are in the attic. A coworker made me a really nice solid wood shelf just for CDs a couple years ago. It's meant to match the style of the first bookshelf, but I haven't gotten around to staining it yet. I really need to finish it.

IDIGS: Tell us about an odd record in your collection.

Probably the oddest thing I can think of is Dr. Hajime Murooka's "Lullaby from the Womb." It's "a unique listening environment for the newborn baby-- designed to calm and soothe through the actual recorded sounds of a mother's body beat & caressing music by the world's favorite composers." Someone gave it to me when my son was born.

IDIGS:  What elusive gem are you still looking for?

There are always a bunch of things I'm looking for at any given time. Probably Jan Garbarek's "Afric Pepperbird" is one of the tops on the list right now. It's one of the harder ECMs to find.

IDIGS:  How do you keep track of what you have/need?

I have an Excel spreadsheet that lists all my LPs and CDs with details about where and when I bought them, price paid, etc. I struggle to keep it updated these days though. My want list is partly mental and partly listed on the welcome page in my GEMM store, where I sell my excess stuff. The idea is that someone might want to trade something I want for something in my store, but it's never worked out that way. However, I once had another GEMM seller contact me out of the blue about a couple of items on my want list, and I got some extremely rare records out of that.

IDGIS: Discuss your stance on using the Internet for collecting. Are you only using Ebay, or a combination of stores and online?

I'll collect by any means necessary. I always laugh at the purists who refuse to use eBay and other online sources. They act like real record collectors don't to that. If I followed that philosophy, I'd never have found most of the really good stuff in my collection. There are no longer any real record stores where I live, and people around here simply don't listen to the stuff I listen to, and they never did. I've got records in my collection that only pop up on eBay a couple times a year, so I'd never have found them locally in a million years. All that said, however, I love crate digging as much as anyone, and I do it when I can. That's how you find the stuff you didn't know you were looking for, and that's an important part of record collecting. Fortunately, my local flea market has been surprisingly productive in the last couple of years. I also get to go to places like Atlanta and Philadelphia once in a while, and there's lots of good stuff there.

IDIGS:  Do you have any routines surrounding listening?

I listen to music in the car, at work and at home after the wife and son go to bed. I don't listen as long and as attentively as I once did, but that's just the way it is when you have responsibilities, I guess.

IDIGS:  Are there types of covers you look for, or is it all in the grooves?

I am a sucker for a cover designed by Roger Dean. I have probably 30-40 of them. I'm a big Yes fan, so it started there and branched out to albums by Asia, Nucleus, Third Ear Band, Uriah Heep, Midnight Sun, Osibissa and others. Fortunately, most of this stuff is also pretty good music.

Some unreal English progressive rock titles.  Gentle Giant (top center) is a fantastic example of the work of Roger Dean.

IDIGS:  Do you have a long-term plan for your collection?

Not really, aside from the fact that I've willed it to a couple buddies of mine. I probably ought to just leave them specific things and let my wife sell the rest. There's a fair amount of money wrapped up into it.

IDIGS:  What is the longest you looked for a record before getting it? How did you feel once it was in your hands?

I looked hard and long for "Dedicated to You, But You Weren't Listening" by the Keith Tippett Group. It's on the Vertigo label, and it's fairly uncommon. I probably scoured eBay for it for a couple of years, and every time it got listed, it went higher and higher. I finally got lucky enough to win a less desirable Kiwi pressing of it for something like $21, which is a fraction of what the UK or German pressings go for. Now even the Kiwi pressing goes for $100. I was excited to get my copy. I think having the amazing album cover (another Roger Dean cover) finally in my hands was the best part. The music took a while to grow on me, but I like it a lot now.
The Hipnotizing Vertigo swirl.

Sadly, I think record collecting is like a lot of things. It's human nature to always want more, and the thrill of victory doesn't last long.

IDIGS:  What’s your all-time favourite record, regardless of value or rarity?

If we're just talking music, it would probably have to be "Starless & Bible Black" by King Crimson or "Relayer" by Yes. Both still blow my mind after almost 20 years.

If we're talking about the favorite piece in the collection, it's probably "Elastic Rock" by Nucleus. It's the only UK Vertigo swirl I have in my collection at the moment, and it's a magnificent and album by a band I love. It's also a Roger Dean cover, and I got a great deal on it on eBay, so it kind of covers all the bases.

German and Italian Progressive Rock.  Titles  I've dreamed of!

IDIGS:  What is the saddest record story you know.

I don't know of any really sad record stories, but I do think it's sad when people let collecting take over their lives. There's way more to life than the accumulation of stuff, and you can't take it with you when you die. That statement is blasphemy to some people in record collecting circles, and that's sad. Enjoy record collecting, but keep it in perspective.

Miles Davis, Bill Evans, Herbie Hancock, Anthony Braxton, Miroslav Vitrous- Scott has unbelievable taste in music.  


   Labels – Most of these are self explanatory, but the NZ Vertigo looks this way on both sides. There is no big swirl on side one like the usual swirl labels. The Original Virgin label was used in black & white for the first few releases on Virgin and was later changed to a full-color version. Tubular Bells was the first album on Virgin, so this is the first of the first. The Pegasus label is for Steeleye Span’s “Ten Man Mop” LP, pictured in the UK/Ire Folk photo.
Quebecois prog – Albums by French Canadians Harmonium and Maneige, both of which were as good as many similar European prog bands of the era. All Canadian pressings.

Cramps Label – Famous avant-garde/prog lable out of Italy.

ECM – Just a fraction of my ECM and JAPO collection. I have about 75 in all. These are some of the more interesting or rare ones. The Elton Dean Quintet and Barre Phillips LPs are on JAPO. JAPO was ECM’s mail-order only label (the name means Jazz by Post), and it seems to have been used for the stuff that was too weird for ECM. There are about 40 JAPO releases, and all are German pressings.

Steve Tibbetts signed promo – Before his very fruitful relationship with ECM, Steve Tibbetts released two very progressive, eclectic albums on his own Frammis label. This is his second LP, “Yr.” There are three editions of “Yr”: Two on Frammis and an ECM reissue. This is basically a promo of the first sent to a radio station and comes with an odd little manipulated photo print signed and numbered by Steve Tibbetts himself. There is a bio letter explainingg who Tibbets is, and it includes a hand-writen note at the bottom saying “Tell me how you like it.” The thought bubble with the radio station call letters on the front cover were probably also drawn on by Tibbetts, who also designed the cover art. The second Frammis edition of this album has a night sky with stars, and one track is edited substantially. It was later reissued by ECM with a completely different cover, and the edited track remains.

Forrest Fang – The first three very rare LPs by a Chinese-American lawyer who happens to release an album of electronic/ambient/minimalistic music every few years. Music from the Blackboard Jungle is hand numbered #33 of 200 with hand-glued graphics on a plain white sleeve. Migration is limited to 1000 copies.

  IDIGS: Many thanks to Scott for taking the time to respond. As a fellow collector, I commend him for having such focus when buying albums and for having such a refreshing outlook on the hobby.


  1. Nice Article! It's alway nice to hear a colletors view on collecting and their habits . You have some nice records there Scott!

  2. I've been listening to and buying 'prog' for almost 40 years. Having known Scott for a while, I can say with confidence that he has forgotten more about the genre than most people will ever learn...and that includes me.