Backstage Auctions Rolls Out a Different Type of Auction

Summer Classic Rock 'n Roll Auction
Auction Dates: September 17th - 25th

By Pat Prince

Backstage Auction’s “Summer Classic” auction, September 17-25, will be unique for a rock ‘n’ roll auction house that typically handles consignments from only those involved in the recording industry. The sole collection for the “Summer Classic” auction is that of a private collector.

Uncle Ted's favorite Indian boots.
“This is the first, and likely only, exception we are making to our standard model,” says Backstage Auctions owner Jacques Van Gool. “We pretty much knew where these items in this auction came from. This is a collection that came from a private collector who has been a buyer from Backstage Auctions, literally, from the very first auction. And he never skipped a beat — every single auction we put up, he bought. So the one thing that I did know is that a lot of the things still have the original certificate of authenticity. I know where they came from, so I’m very comfortable. And items that we found that didn’t come from us, we had the signatures verified by a third party to make sure the signatures are authentic.”

He continues: “When you have an individual who has been so incredibly loyal to you, literally from the first day you been in business, you build a personal relationship with them— which is what we had. And he sadly passed away and his family did not know where to go. And we just felt — and it’s hard to put into exact words — but if he knows that we are taking care of this, then I would like to believe that that would make him happy.”

Also, this may be one of Backstage Auction’s most eclectic auctions yet. “The fact that he was so diverse and eclectic of a collector means that you’re probably going to find something from anyone who was somebody in rock ‘n’ roll. He wasn’t discriminating towards either a particular artist or a particular musical genre or a particular type of item — from ticket stubs to videos — everything you can think of. But he did have a couple favorites.”

One of those favorites is Ted Nugent. According to Van Gool, twenty-five percent of the entire collection is made up of Nugent-abilia. “There’s a tremendous amount of Ted Nugent stuff,” says Van Gool. “I mean, it’s impressive. The rarest vinyl you can think of. A CD collection that is just over-the-top. Then there’s also the personal stuff, like one of Ted’s most favorite outfits that actually used to hang in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, which is a pair of his Indian boots that he used to wear for years and years. There has to be over a thousand photos where you can find Ted wearing those particular boots. And there are Gold and Platinum record awards (RIAA) that were all issued to Ted Nugent. These were his personal record awards, including one issued to his mother.”

1965 Pandora & The Males "Kiddie A Go Go"
He goes on: “One of the things I thought was so cool is that we came across a 7” of Pandora & the Males’ “Kiddie A Go Go” from 1965. We had set it aside because no one here had recognized what it was. Finally, when we started doing research on it, we found that Kiddie A Go Go (aka, Mulqueens Kiddie A Go Go) was a pre-teen dance show from 1965, Chicago — which was basically a cross between American Bandstand and the Mouseketeers. They had some pretty interesting artists on the show, but they also had their own house band which was Pandora (Elaine Mulqueen) and a backup band, The Males. And the soundtrack for the show was “Kiddie A Go Go.” Well, Ted Nugent was the guitar player of The Males. And this little 7” is the very first recording that includes Ted Nugent. To me, something like that, is super awesome. Yeah, it’s great to have a “Double Live Gonzo” signed album hanging on your wall, and, yeah, we have that, and it’s cool to have, but then you have something like Pandora & The Males 7” from 1965 … I get excited about that kind of stuff.”

For many, it may be hard to imagine the Motor City Madman, who is about as polarizing a personality as one can ever imagine, as the guitar player for a pre-teen dance show’s house band. Whether it has to do with his opinions or his politics, controversy attaches itself easily to Ted Nugent. But Van Gool makes it clear that it isn’t his job to be the judge of such issues. “As an auctioneer we have never looked at which artist we like for their life views or their political views because it is irrelevant. You only can look at what their contributions are to the history of music, and how relevant they are to collectors. Nugent, without question, is very relevant. But I think that, as opposed to a lot of artists, there’s no denying that the world of Nugent is a little more black and white. You either really really like him or you really really don’t.”

Long Life To The Queen
But, as stated above, you don’t have to be a Nugent fan to be attracted to this auction. There will be plenty of other artists — over 1000 auction lots to chose from and the foundation of it is probably the vinyl record collection. “I mean, we’re talking about thousands and thousands of records here,” says Van Gool. “But what makes this so interesting is that just about every vinyl lot will include some really unusual, special releases. We found a very solid number of import vinyl — British pressings, German pressings, Japanese pressings. Then we found a significant number of broadcast vinyl. Back in the ‘70s, companies like Westwood One would make these broadcast specials, print them on vinyl and distribute them to radio stations around the nation. Westwood One had their Superstar Concert Series and those were legitimate live recordings. Westwood One also had a DJ named Mary Turner and a series called Off The Record. Mostly interviews, there are also some studio sessions and live sessions.”

Also included in this record collection is much sought after bootleg vinyl. “Usually in vinyl collections you’ll come across these releases,” says Van Gool. “They’re mostly from the ‘70s. And back in those days they would press like a 1000 copies, and yeah, you know, the audio quality is probably not the greatest but 30-40 years later these albums have become real collectible. It’s almost more fun to complete a bootleg collection of your favorite artist.”

1979 KISS World Tour Vintage T-Shirt
Apart from the vinyl, it doesn’t stop there. There are hundreds of signed items, over 300 concert t-shirts (mostly officially licensed), ticket stubs, backstage passes, guitar picks, drum sticks, photos, posters, promo items, reels, CDs, DVDs and videos, books and over 1000 magazines (first assorted by artist, then by genre and then by title). There is even an entire lot of Goldmine magazines.

It may all seem a bit overwhelming but one thing’s for sure, rock ‘n’ roll collectors, this is one auction not to miss.

The auction will feature rare memorabilia from KISS, Pink Floyd, Rush, Rolling Stones, The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Queen, AC/DC, Van Halen, The Who, Jimi Hendrix, Aerosmith, Fleetwood Mac, Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin, The Doors, Pretenders, YES...and these are just a few of the highlighted artists. 

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A special thanks to Pat Prince for writing such an awesome piece on our auction. Pat you ROCK our world!

DVD Review: Neil Young - Here we are in the Years: Neil Young’s Music Box

Here we are in the Years: Neil Young’s Music Box
Sexy Intellectual
All Access Review: B-

Drawing parallels between Buffalo Springfield’s raucous “Mr. Soul,” penned by Neil Young, and the Rolling Stones’ “Satisfaction” doesn’t require a great leap of imagination, nor does one have to strain to hear the sad echoes of Roy Orbison in the tender melancholy of Young’s heartbreaking “Birds.” Anybody who fancies himself an amateur musicologist could make similar connections. To construct a sort of family tree of the complex musical influences that, when combined, drove Young to become the multi-faceted, challenging and utterly compelling artist he’s been for decades takes a more skillful hand, especially when doing it as a documentary film.

In the case of “Here we are in the Years: Neil Young’s Music Box,” the filmmakers, to their detriment, often allow the hardcore musicology to get in the way of a good story. A detailed, studious survey of Young’s career and all its fascinating twists and turns, “Here we are in the Years” offers up an in-depth examination of the impact of genres as diverse early rock ‘n’ roll, surf instrumentals, the Beatles and the Stones, country and folk, punk and new wave, electronic and grunge on Young’s work. Much of it involves weaving together the thoughts of critics, Young biographers, authors, musicologists and fellow musicians with live footage and snippets of old interviews with Young taken from other sources. As with many similar DVDs from Sexy Intellectual, Young is not involved personally in the project, and the film does not have the blessing of Young’s management or record label.

His lack of participation isn’t a distraction, however. There are plenty of Young to go around – in performance clips (the MTV Awards with Pearl Jam, concert pieces from his tour for Trans, the “Heart of Gold” concert film and a televised Buffalo Springfield jam on “Mr. Soul” to name a few) and a very small part of an interview Young did in 2007 with the BBC. What “Here we are in the Years” leans on is a clutch of talking-head interviews with the likes of writers Greg Prato, Anthony DeCurtis and Richie Unterberger. It traces Young’s career from the very beginning, starting with the rock ‘n’ roll pioneers like Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis and Little Richard he idolized on through to his preoccupation with, of all people, Kraftwerk.

That open-mindedness and willingness to pay attention to, and incorporate, elements of what was happening in contemporary music – punk rock was something Young found a kinship with, even as colleagues like Stephen Stills, David Crosby and Graham Nash turned their backs on it – probably helped Young stay young, or at least artistically relevant. And even though efforts like the electronic immersion of Trans and the rockabilly-fueled Everybody’s Rockin’ were both part of Young’s early ‘80s malaise, they were signals of Young’s intentions to try his hand at just about everything, and give this film credit for delving into the stories behind these failures with as much relish as does the triumphs, like Harvest, After The Gold Rush, On The Beach and Sleeps With Angels.

There’s a lot of territory to cover, and “Here we are in the Years” does its level best to traverse it all. The thought-provoking analysis, delivered honestly and without a hint of cynicism, hits the mark consistently, and the history provided here is as deep and well-researched as can be, given the constraints of film running time. Much insight is given into Young’s dalliance with electronic music and his grandfatherly relationship with grunge icons, such as Pearl Jam, is explored with great intellectual curiosity, as is his abiding love of the folk duo Ian & Sylvia and the theory that Bert Jansch and his brand of depressed, gloomy British folk weighed heavy on Young’s more folk-oriented material.

But, there’s a limit to the amount of serious, almost academic discussion of Young’s influences a viewer can take. This is master’s class in Young and his art, his lyrics, his guitar playing, his politics and his songwriting. From the undeniably British narration – quiet, unassuming and intellectual – to the all-business attitudes of the commentators gathered here, “Here we are in the Years” is a death march to the end. With one eye watching the clock to see how much running time is left and a finger on the fast-forward button, it’s not always easy to stay awake for the whole thing. The more dedicated Young scholars will go for extra credit and review the extended interviews and digital biographies included among the extras. The C students among us who want to go play our Harvest records or try to copy the wild, noise-drenched solos Young plays with Crazy Horse will ditch school and try to avoid the truant officer.

-          Peter Lindblad

CD Review: WhoCares: Ian Gillan, Tony Iommi & Friends

WhoCares: Ian Gillan, Tony Iommi & Friends
Armoury Records
All Access Review: B

Across the WhoCares marquee, in big, bold letters, read the names Ian Gillan and Tony Iommi, icons of a bygone time in rock history. Any pairing of the groundbreaking Black Sabbath guitarist and, for all intents and purposes, the voice of Deep Purple — with apologies to David Coverdale and Glenn Hughes — is bound to raise a few eyebrows, just as it did in 1983 when Gillan joined Sabbath for heavy metal's version of "Plan 9 From Outer Space," the laughably awful LP Born Again and its "Spinal Tap"-like supporting tour.

Long considered the worst album in Black Sabbath's otherwise awe-inspiring monolith of a catalog, Born Again was a debacle — Gillan's hairy-chested bluesy vocals ill-suited for Sabbath's trademark gloom and doom, a problem made even worse by lackluster songwriting. Even the album cover, that demonic infant born with devil horns, fangs for teeth and sharp claws, proved to be comic fodder. And yet, here we, almost 30 years later, with Gillan and Iommi back together to rewrite the wrongs of the past — or at least trying to get by with a little help from their friends — and make some money for charity. Again into the abyss, the two legends gain a measure of redemption with the WhoCares project, whose purpose is to raise money for the music school of Gyumari, Armenia, an area still struggling to recover from the devastation wrought by a horrendous earthquake in 1998.

A two-song digital single, WhoCares features the tracks "Out of My Mind" and "Holy Water," the former an epic, heavy-duty collision of the thick, crushing riffage of Iommi and HIM guitarist Mikko "Linde" Lindstrom, the insistent, surging keyboard swells of Gillan's old Deep Purple mate Jon Lord and the monstrously huge rhythmic wrecking ball swung over and over by Iron Maiden drummer Nicko McBrain and former Metallica bassist Jason Newsted. As for Gillan, he doesn't sound as out of place here as he did on Born Again. There's a seething undertone of menacing madness in his vocals that rises and falls with every pummeling sonic wave, with a seething Gillan dramatically expressing the scrambled thoughts of a man losing his grip on sanity as nightmarish imagery flashes in his brain. Unexpectedly, Gillan seems to have picked up on that undefinable "it" that made Ozzy Osbourne's vocals work so well with Iommi's unique hammer-of-the-gods guitar work.

"Holy Water," though, is more tailored to what Gillan does best. The star power dimming on "Holy Water" — as the supergroup of "Out of My Mind" gives way to less prominent musicians, like guitar duo Steve Morris and Michael Lee, drummer Randy Clarke, bassist Rodney Appleby and keyboardist Jesse O'Brien — Gillan gives a more reflective, contemplative performance, finding solace and comfort in that "Holy Water" that drowns so many alcoholics. An exotic, dreamy, Middle Eastern intro, perfect for a movie about the politics of that war-torn region starring George Clooney, wafts through the air until smashing headlong into a powerful, bluesy train of Hammond organ, noisy guitars and steely bass and drums that slows in the verses, riding on golden rails of acoustic guitar, and then chugs full-steam ahead toward its destination. It's a song that looks ahead, while still managing to seem full of regret and haunted by a troubled past. And Gillan perfectly captures that combination of hopeful yearning and  twinges of repressed pain in thoughtful singing that can only come with years of bold living.

Still, neither track would ever approach the proto-metal classics that Gillan and Iommi recorded with Purple or Sabbath. There's a slow, but strong, current that pulls "Out of My Mind" along that is magnificent to behold,and while able to roll along through one's mind like the Danube, the song labors and meanders to the finish, despite some beautifully drawn twin guitar work from Iommi and Lindstrom near the end. And while there is character, grace and guts in "Holy Water," it's a fairly bland offering that lacks a memorable melody and doesn't seem to notice it is traveling down a road to nowhere. Still, with Iommi and Gillan both drifting outside their comfort zones, the pair seem energized by their reunion and willing to explore new horizons, even as they bask, somewhat, in the glories of their respective histories.

The enhanced CD is fleshed out with a 30-minute, behind-the-scenes documentary of the recording sessions — plus a video for "Out of My Mind" — and it offers interesting insight into the project, inspired by Iommi and Gillan's trips to Armenia to see the damage and recovery for themselves. In a way it perhaps mirrors the motivation Iommi and Gillan might have had in trying to fulfill the potential they saw in their partnership the first time they joined forces back in 1983.

-Peter Lindblad