Den Bosh Diary: Day Two

SDE in the Netherlands at the world’s biggest Record Fair

Read Day One before you read the below!

Saturday, 13 April was the BIG day! SDE is in the Netherlands for Record Planet’s 58th ‘Mega Record & CD Fair’ which is technically a three-day event. Friday is not open to the public though, it’s for dealers only; largely setting up of course. Saturday is the main day (open 10.00 to 17.00) and then Sunday is technically a full day, but in reality more like a half day with things wrapping up around 15.00. It’s worth noting that some dealers (a minority) may not bother doing the Sunday as well, so fans attending both days cannot necessarily guarantee a specific dealer will be there on day two! I am going back on Sunday morning so there’ll be more on that soon.

Anyway, it was a reasonably leisurely start to the day with breakfast in the hotel at 09.00 and then cabbing it an hour later to the out-of-town convention centre called Brabanthallen, where the record fair was happening.

It was very easy to get in, with the pre-booked ticket with QR code; there was no queuing. The first thing that hits you is that the place is massive! It’s two enormous aircraft hanger-type halls connected by a smaller hall (hall 2) which has a ‘terrace’ area for food and drink and a stage for live music and DJ sets (later in the day a Kiss tribute band would perform).

Hall 3 (the ‘small’ one) at the Mega Record & CD Fair in Den Bosch

Walking into Hall 3 – which turned out to be the smaller of the two halls! – is quite overwhelming. The scale of this place hits you because it’s truly massive with hundreds of dealers all ready, with their stalls set up. The dealers are from all over the world and while most are labelled as ‘general’, which effectively means standard rock/pop – there are plenty of specialists in every genre you can think of, including jazz, classical, metal, techno, trance, rap, prog, punk, hardcore, new wave, blues, country etc. Then you get artist-specific stalls. For example there was a Dutch Paul McCartney fan club stall, a guy who specialised in The Rolling Stones. I saw a Michael Jackson-specific stall and a Mike Oldfield one (he didn’t have any SDE blu-rays, I noticed!).

Anyway, early on, before I’d really done anything, I saw a couple of guys in my peripheral vision walking around with a microphone, looking to talk to punters. I was sheepishly trying to sidestep them (!), when I they came bounding over with a cry of “It’s Paul isn’t it? SuperDeluxeEdition…?” Ha! The pair were broadcaster Grant Stott (from BBC Radio Scotland) and his producer Richard Murdoch. Grant has a ‘Vinyl Collective’ show and was in Den Bosch to cover the record fair (it’s being broadcast this Friday, I believe, and will be on the BBC Sounds app).

They told me how much they liked SDE and of course flattery will get you everywhere, and we had a lovely chat! Grant asked me some questions about what I was doing at the record fair and what I was hoping to find and he and Richard were kind enough to enquire about the SDE Surround Series, which they knew all about. What a lovely start to the day!

Accosted! Grant Stott from BBC Radio Scotland chatted to me

After that, there was a lot of walking around, without wanting to state the obvious. I had been given a good bit of advice and that is if you see something you might be interested in, but decide you will think on it and come back to it, ‘later’, you must write it down the name of the item in question on a bit of paper with the stall number. Any attempt to try to remember e.g. “Oh, it’s the third one along, opposite that guy selling 60s vinyl” or similar, will end in disaster. You are basically in the equivalent of that warehouse at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark; you’ll come back, everything will just look different and you’ll NEVER find it!

The SDE wishlist

I had a few records in the back of my mind that, if I were to see them for the right price, I’d go for it. They were:

  • Paul McCartney’s 1993 album Off The Ground, on vinyl. It hasn’t been reissued, so there’s no other way to get this.
  • Any Fireman (Macca ‘side project’ with Youth) album on vinyl, but with a preference for 1999’s Rushes
  • Tears For Fears Elemental on vinyl. Like Off The Ground it’s another ’93 album pressed in very small quantities
  • Any of the clear vinyl Rykodisc Bowie vinyl reissues, which I’m annoyed I didn’t buy in 1989 when they were stacked high in the Virgin Megastore (I didn’t buy vinyl in those days, aside from 12-inch singles).

The ‘right price’ for Paul McCartney and Tears For Fears would be sub €100 which I know is expensive, but these records do regularly command very high prices on eBay and Discogs (see ebay Off The Ground). I had a feeling I’d never get a Rushes for under €100, but I also thought the chances of seeing it was minimal.

Other than that, it was a case of waiting to see what I might find. I was pleased to see quite a lot of CDs at the fair. It was still mostly vinyl, but there were CDs. I’d estimate about 5-10% of stock was CDs, which doesn’t sound much, but with two cavernous halls full of product, that’s still a lot of CDs. I’d say were in the following categories:

  • Cheap CDs priced between €2 and €5 that were not particularly rare, unless you were very lucky, or willing to put it a lot of time going through them to find an unexpected treasure. But if you just want to plug a few gaps in your collection, then this is a way to do it. It does require work and patience, because they are mostly never in alphabetical order. I didn’t bother much with this, because I don’t come to a record fair to buy No Jacket Required on CD.
  • Audiophile/collectable CDs or box sets that were price largely as you might expect. €20 to €50 euros for rare things, promos, Japan pressings, SHM-CDs, SACDs etc.
  • CD singles on many stalls, which I was initially excited about, but these were mostly from the late 90s and the 2000s and in the familiar plastic mini-jewel cases. You could be there for 15 minutes without coming across anything good. Of course there were stalls with good collectible CD singles (Depeche Mode, Madonna, McCartney etc.) but these were priced as expected, or sometimes higher. I saw the Quad Mix of DM’s ‘Enjoy the Silence’ on CD for €50 for example. You weren’t going to pick that up for €2!
The Vinyl Countdown

In terms of vinyl, it’s harder to pin down, because there’s SO MUCH of it, but here’s my summary:

  • Dealers selling brand new, recent-ish vinyl for quite good prices, presumably because they are overstocks (€15 to €50)
  • Rare, collectibles. €50 upwards. The highest priced vinyl I saw was €1000 (a sealed Japanese edition of Pink Floyd’s The Wall) but I’m sure there were probably some LPs even higher in price
  • Good condition second hand vinyl €5 each
  • There were a lot of bootlegs  
  • Masses of seven-inch singles
  • Crates full of 12-inch or ‘Maxi’ singles, normally very cheap

Of course, there were loads of dealers having combinations of the above and with so many dealers and so many genre specialists, the whole point of a record fair is that you should be able to find what you are after, with a bit of luck. If you do find the item you have to decide whether the price is a fair one. Even if it’s standard market value, you have the advantage of it not being sent through the post via a Discogs or eBay seller and you aren’t worrying about whether it’s ‘as described’ because you are there to inspect the item. So it’s not always about saving a buck or two.

That brings me on to Off The Ground. I saw a copy, fairly early on. Hurrah! It was displayed at the rear of the stand, which is a common tactic – to highlight rarer stuff at the back, which shows the punters that you’ve got the good stuff, with the added advantage of keeping it away from mucky paws. That said, there were still plenty of dealers that put rare, expensive vinyl in the racks.

The guy wanted €100 for this original UK pressing of Off The Ground. Not a bad price. The problem you’ve got in this situation, early in the day, is whether to ‘stick’ or ‘twist’. This could be your ONE opportunity to acquire this rarity, or you might end up seeing multiple copies, which will help you in terms of negotiating at better price. Tricky. If the record had been considerably more expensive (say, €150) I probably would have left it, but in the end, I offered €80 and he counter-offered with €90, which I accepted. That’s less than £80. At the end of the day, I’m not travelling from London to the Netherlands to not buy and potentially miss out on a record I really want, at what I consider to be an acceptable price.

That’ll Be The Sade – €420 for a 3LP edition of The Ultimate Collection from 2011

There was also quite a lot of cheap vinyl, especially if you wanted to pick up a truckload of 12-inch singles from the 1980s. €1, €2… those kinds of prices. This is a highly enjoyable part of the experience. Filling your boots with 20 records for €20. Stuff you’d see in Oxfam in the UK for £3 or £4 each. Also Dutch, or EU pressings of 12-inch singles mostly come in proper LP sleeves, with spines and inner sleeves which is nicer than the UK versions. And you do come across interesting things. I found a Dutch 12-inch of Paul McCartney’s 1986 single ‘Pretty Little Head’ for €3. I’d seen it on a Macca stall beforehand for €18. But generally, it’s just a fun way to pick up random stuff. I bought a Blow Monkeys 12-inch (‘This Is Your House’ – nice gatefold sleeve!), a Robert Palmer one (‘I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight’) and a German pressing of Joyce Sims’ ‘Lifetime Love’.

There was a stall selling new Beatles albums on vinyl (standard stereo versions of Rubber Soul, Yellow Submarine etc.) for £15 a pop and triple albums (Anthology, Live at the BBC) for £25 each.

Fab Four going cheap

Expensive rare vinyl spotted included Sade’s The Ultimate Collection 3LP for €420, an original vinyl pressing of the Lemonheads’ It’s A Shame About Ray for €100, Michael Jackson’s HISTORY vinyl for €300 at one stand and €450 at another; an original pressing of David Bowie’s Black Tie White Noise for €100.

After more than three hours walking around it was time for a break and a snack in the terrace area, in the smaller, connecting hall. The food was a bit disappointing. Choices were limited. There was an unappealing looking burger and a place that served fries with mayo. I was thinking of just doing without until I saw the traditional ‘Bossche Bol’ a pastry associated with Den Bosch specifically. It’s a bit like spherical chocolate éclair, filled with whipped cream, although the chocolate covers almost the entire ‘ball’, not just the top. It was only €3.50 and was absolutely delicious, if messy to eat. Apparently you are supposed to turn them upside down, because the whole at the bottom is where they squirt the cream in and when you bite into it, it starts to come out of the bottom. Rookie error! If you try to use a knife and fork the locals will run you out of town!! The sugar rush was a great reviver and it was time to carry on looking around the record fair. At some point I moved on to the other hall, which as I said earlier was significantly bigger.

Bossche Bol: Before and after

I came across a French dealer that had all their CDs at £5. I was first attracted by Jean Michel-Jarre’s 2004 Aero album, which had a DVD with it which included a 5.1 mix (albeit Dolby Digital & DTS on DVD-V) but then I noticed they had a lot of Bowie CDs: Tin Machine, Never Let Me Down, Tonight etc. Obviously, I do have all these, but not these relatively rare 1995 Virgin editions with bonus tracks. For example, Tonight adds ‘This Is Not America’, ‘As The World Falls Down’ and ‘Absolute Beginners’. Never Let Me Down appends ‘Julie’, ‘Girls’ and ‘When The Wind Blows’ to the album proper (although not ‘Too Dizzy’, which Bowie hated!). Tin Machine has the live ‘country’ version of ‘Bus Stop’. These are also quite well mastered. For good measure, I spotted a promo CD of Paul McCartney’s ‘C’mon People’ (the second single from Off The Ground, of course). It has a commercially unreleased 4.00 radio edit, so I grabbed that!

After seven hours in what amounts to a giant second hand record shop, I was done for the day. I had acquired one expensive item on my wants list, not managed to acquire another (no Tears For Fears) bought a load of great CDs and added a sprinkling of 12-inch singles. But this is a two-day event, and so I’m coming back on Sunday to do it all over again. I’m told on day two that there are more bargains to be had, as dealers contemplate lugging all their unsold stock back to their shops or premises or wherever it’s kept. It’s also less busy since many people are happy to do just the one day. I have to say though that because there is so much space, there is never a feeling of “too many people in the room”. No crushing, no frustration trying to get to stuff. The worst that happens is a bit of polite hovering in the background while you wait for a fellow fan to finish flipping through ‘Beatles / Solo & Related’ so you can get in!

“Fancy meeting you here!” Piet Blank and Paul Sinclair in Den Bosch

There’s a lovely postscript to today’s events. Back in Den Bosch town centre, after dinner, I popped in Doogan Records again and who do I see in there? Only Piet Blank from German electronic music duo Blank and Jones! Piet is a great friend to SDE and I last saw him in person in London in 2019 (pre-COVID) when we had lunch together. As fans will know, their SoEighties series is somewhat dormant, these days, so we haven’t talked much about Blank and Jones on SDE for a while, but the pair are still very active on their own music and doing ad hoc remix projects. Piet was with David Dutreuil, who is Head of Catalog at Warner Music France. SDE has covered some of David’s great Yacht Rock type compilations here, such as California Groove and his Michael Franks deluxe set.

What a long, but exciting, day! The final day of this trip to the Netherlands (Sunday 14 April) will be posted on SDE tomorrow (16 April). Thanks for reading and more to come!

Read the Day Three Den Bosch Diary

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