EPISODE 3: THE EARLY YEARS OF A HEAVY METAL HUNTER


23 Dec

EPISODE 3: THE EARLY YEARS OF A HEAVY METAL HUNTER

VINYL MINT: When and how did you start collecting records and what kind of records have you collected? 

FILTHY DOG: I started collecting records when I was a little child. Actually, the records were my toys back then. I couldn't understand what exactly attracted me, but I really loved the melodies, the catchy riffs and of course the attitude & the image of the bands from the 80s. It was very addictive to me. I grew up with the classic Heavy Metal Bands like: Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Saxon, Accept, Manowar. Of course, I couldn't realize things like: ''crappy or great production'', ''playing skills'',  ''private press or big major labels''.
To me all was just Heavy Metal. Back in 1988, everyday after school, I used to run towards my local record shop to see and admire the same records again and again.  I remember that I was too short to search for the tons of records in the shelves of the Rock section. Back then you would not see ''Heavy Metal'', ''Thrash Metal'', ''Hard Rock'' section. There were all in one section: ROCK!  

You know, when I bought a record back then, it was like Christmas time for me. A reason to celebrate. I used to spend many many hours to hear the songs, to check all the details on the cover artwork, the inner sleeve with the lyrics and of course the credits and the special thanks list, where I could discover even more bands! I remember that I used to smell the paper of the cover and I hear sometimes for experiment the records from 33RPM to 45RPM and sometimes the records backwards {but kids don't do that, you are going to screw your needle (like Overkill says in the end of the Original ''Feel The Fire'' LP)}.
The records that I collected back then were only Heavy Metal and Hard Rock stuff. Of course I have also collected a lot of cassettes, which were much cheaper than the vinyl releases. A funny thing that I used to do back then was that I didn't buy any record that had a female vocalist, a keyboard player,  a short hair guy or a guy that had only a moustache...ha ha ha...really, I do not know what I had in my mind....
Mostly, I collected records that I could afford, because I didn't have my own money, only pocket money from my parents. So I used to save my pocket money and every Friday or Saturday morning it was like a ritual to me. I used to go to my local record shop that I mentioned before. The owner was a 50 year old woman and her name was Mrs Rena. Her record shop was called ''Disco Mania'' but it was written wrongly with a Greek ''n'' on the word ‘’Mania'', so it was ''Disco Maνia''..ha ha ha!!! Anyway, I used to go there and I was sitting there for almost 5 to 6 hours to check again and again and again the same records, without being able to decide which records I will buy. I'm pretty sure that Mrs. Rena was very pissed off, every time that she saw me in her store. Anyway, after 5 to 6 hours I would finally buy one or two records! Then with a giant smile on my face, I was so horny to hear what I bought, that I ran to my home to hear my new vinyl record. Needle in the groove, the music banged from the speakers and my ears were stuck to them. The record would play again and again and again till parts from the vinyl grooves fell out from the needle!!! Oh!! I forgot to tell you, that every time that I brought home something new, I phoned to my friends, to come over my place with a blank tape in order to record the vinyl to a tape and give it to them. It was very common back then. Mrs. Rena also did that. She used to record every release that you wished in a normal blank tape for a lower price like 100 or 200 Drachmas (we had drachmas back then, not Euros). Hmmm...bootleger Mrs. Rena...ha ha ha!!!  

VINYL MINT: So, where could you find records in the 80s? How could you know about all these releases (magazines, fanzines, radio or TV shows, friends) ?

FILTHY DOG: Metal Mavia store was the first that I found out. One day I had an idea, to walk around my neighborhood, to see, if any other record shops exist and YES!!! I found a few ones! The names I can remember were: ‘’Ktypos''," Zeppelin”, ''Rocker'', ''Rizos'', ''Fokionos'' and 2 others that I think that they didn't have any specific names, I think they had the owner's name like ''Kostas'', ''Mitsos'' or ''Diskoi - Kassettes'', something like that. All those record shops were like paradise to me. All of them had Heavy Metal albums, all new and not second hand. They had a lot of records!. You know, in the 70s, 80s and in the early 90s here in Greece there was a big boom in the record industry. All the people used to buy records and tapes. OK, Greek music, mostly Laiko for the  mid-class families and Pop, Dance for the youth.

If you were not into this stuff, then for sure you were Rocker or Heavy Metaller. So, as I told you before, at the start I used to buy records from my local record shops. Then I discovered the 3 major Heavy Metal records shop in the center of Athens. They were the real paradise. They were: ''Happening Records'', ''The Record Shop in Athinas'' and the amazing ''Rock City'.
Especially the Rock City was an exclusive Heavy Metal record shop. There, you could find records so bizarre for me (back then) like: Warlord, Cirith Ungol, Manilla Road, Steel Vengeance and many many many more obscure stuff. You couldn't find such records in your local shops because the local ones had mostly the Greek pressings, while in the major stores you could find imports from the USA and from European Record labels like: Roadrunner Records, Noise Records etc.
Rock City was THE SOURCE of Heavy Metal!! It was not only a record shop, but a place that you could see and meet people that they had the spark for heavy metal, just like you. There, for the 1st time in my life I saw in front of my eyes,  people with long hair to wear rings in their ears, chains and bullets, T-shirts and patches on the denim and leather jackets. Ha ha ha...they were like members in Heavy Metal bands!!!
Outside of the record shop I remember strange and weird faces to sell home made magazines and some cassettes.I didn't know what it was about and I never bought anything from them. As I grew up I realized that those guys, who sold illegally in the streets, were selling the real underground, obscure and dark metal stuff.  The thrash metal was over in the end of the 80s and then it was the beginning of the Death Metal and Black Metal era!
I have never been a fan of Death Metal or Black Metal, but Black Metal was very pure (especially in the beginning), it was something else! Weird evil covers with Satanic images. It was so cult!! OK, the music was not so good as Heavy Metal, but had something… then in 1992 I discovered a small record shop in Exarchia Square called ''GO Underground'' (GO it means George Osmak) the owner of the store. This guy was from Yugoslavia and he was running an independent record label here in Greece called ''Molon Lave”. His shop, was the source of the Underground. There, you could find not only his own releases, but also a lot of so fucking bizarre demo tapes from all over the world and releases from an amazing US underground record label called Wild Rags.
There was a place full of weird releases!!! Blasphemy, Impetigo, Anialator, Hellwitch... so so many records!!! There were also new stuff, not second hand. Later I used to go to Monastiraki where you could find only second hand releases from the past in a low price. In that place my mind was totally destroyed and my money was totally disappeared!!! You could find rare stuff in a good condition as people every Sunday sold their private collection in the streets of Monastiraki. Low prices, Heavy Bands and Hard Rock Releases from the past that you couldn't find anywhere else. That was the big shock for me & this is how I started loving the second hand vinyl records! 

Back then, we had only 2 channels on the TV. It was ERT1 and ERT2. ERT2 had a music show for the youth with a lot Pop music and few Rock Stuff. In the end of the 80s we had the first music show where you could hear the classic and commercial heavy metal bands. The name of the show was Metal Mania and the host was Dimitris Katis who had a Hard 'n Heavy Metal Band called Exoristoi. Later I discovered in a new channel, ERT3 from the North City of Thessaloniki, the music show “Metallourgeio” where the host was Stathis Panagiotopoulos. That show was OK, but again, it was playing the commercial stuff.
After 1990 the private channels appeared on the Hellenic TV. Then there was a channel, Seven X, which had also a heavy metal show with the host Steve Douzos (he was an actor). The channel “Telecity” had the metal show which was called “Metal City”, but I don’t remember the name of the host. Unfortunately, the above mentioned shows were not enough for someone who wanted to learn about music! Radio Stations (without license back then) were the source where you could hear hot and underground stuff. The name of a great broadcasting show was ''Skliroi San Metallo'' with Aggelos Georgiopoulos. Amazing radio show, full of Heavy Metal till Death Metal!! I learned so many bands from his shows, especially bands from the Hellenic metal scene!!
In Greece we had a few magazines with Pop and Rock articles, but nothing serious about Heavy Metal. Only in 1984 a magazine which was called ''Heavy Metal’' was released. In 1988 they changed the name because it was bought by a big German Metal Magazine. We had only this. From the end of the 80s some really good fanzines came to the light. I have learned so much bands from the Fanzines!!
Of course, I cannot forget the friends. As I told you before, someone would buy a record, then we would record this on tape and so on... 

VINYL MINT: Tell me an interesting story about a record of your collection.

FILTHY DOG: Hmm...really, nothing specific comes to my mind right now, but every record in here has a small or long story to tell... I will tell you one of my ''new'' stories. The internet came to my life 9 years ago. One day, about two years ago, I checked in a Second Hand Shop's internet site one photo that had an old (crappy) turntable for sale. The owner had put 4 records near it just for decoration, the 3 of them were pop rock garbage and the fourth was this amazing rare monster: DARKSTARR Original with cover!

I was SHOCKED!!! I couldn't believe it!! The photo had a date on it, it had been taken in 2013. I felt very upset and I told to myself, that for sure, a lucky bastard has already grabbed this gem. However, I had nothing to lose (ok only time) so I dressed up quickly and I ran towards the store. The second hand shop was near my house (about 3 minutes on foot). It was an underground shop, full of antiques, old paintings, black & white photos, old helmets and generally memorabilia of 60 years back. The owner was a skinny guy and his face reminded me of a mouse. He wore glasses and had a cigarette on his hands. I asked him if he has old records for sale. He says ''Sure my friend, I have a lot. Check them here''. He had about 200 records and 300 to 400 singles. In my mind I had only the Darkstarr's vinyl, so I started searching for it between the dusty records of  Greek old music, pop, dance and some reggae stuff. Finally between Dire Straits & Madonna the grand monster was there, probably waiting for me to buy it!!! My hands were wet and shaking with the fear of the price that I would hear for this, so I asked him: - ''Hey, how much do you want for that?''
The skinny rat face guy looked at me and said: - ''For that?'. Oh, God, I am trying to get rid of this for years. Give me 1 euro and it is yours…You can also check these vintage turntable…it is a really good offer only for 10 days… ” Before he finishes what he was saying I gave him the 1 euro and I quickly disappeared. I could not believe how lucky I was… Now this beauty is here to stay with me!!!! 


(to be continued…) 

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