Ladies and gentlemen, the terribly glorious (gloriously terrible?) reign of Chung King Can Suck It is over. We have a new heavyweight Discogs marketplace champion.
Before we get ahead of ourselves, though, it’s important to take a moment to remember that Discogs isn’t just a place where high-priced records are sold. We were founded in 2000 with the primary goal of developing the most thorough catalog of music releases in the known universe. Well, we’re looking back on 7.1 million database entries, forever reaching forward for more and better descriptions of releases, and that remains our central goal to this day. [Shameless plug: if you want to join the unparalleled Discogs community by adding releases, get yourself a free account and dig in to the database!]
What about our marketplace? Well, in 2005, after feedback from the Discogs community, we opened our doors to buying and selling records, CDs, cassettes, 8-tracks, reel-to-reels and just about anything else that transmits pre-recorded audio. Buyers and sellers from around the world who are passionate about music connect there. We want our community members to feel secure in the marketplace, whether they’re dropping an entire paycheck on an obscure rarity or spending a few dollars on a well-loved copy of Hotel California (oh, believe me, that still happens).
Every now and then, something pretty exciting happens in the marketplace. Those big-ticket items aren’t necessarily our bread and butter, but they’re fun to talk about. Exactly a year ago, we had a lot of fun talking about Chung King Can Suck It, a little-known 1989 LP from NYC punk crew Judge, when it brought home $6,048 worth of bacon. That was a record for the Discogs marketplace at the time, and it held up, month after month, right through 2016.
Now there’s $6826 worth of bacon on the line. And normally I’d like nothing more than to joke about the reclusive Belgian prog group that recorded the sounds of live bees in a repurposed railway station, produced only 42 copies of their debut (and final) LP, and somehow found their way to the top of the Discogs sales list fifty years later, but I don’t have it in me this month. After all, the new record belongs to one Mr. David Bowie.
See, in 1969, Bowie released his second album, a self-titled space oddity featuring wild-eyed boys, cautionary tales about success and sounds from inside a tin can. Finding a good copy of the first UK pressing of that album is no easy feat.
Is it almost $7k difficult? Maybe not. Is it Bowie’s best work? Many would argue otherwise. But, honestly: what does it matter? His music deeply touched generation after generation. I didn’t listen to my favorite Bowie albums for the first time until thirty-ish years after they were released, but they crackled with an urgency and a vitality that would make you swear they were sent back from the future.
I know that we’ve all been tripping over ourselves to praise Bowie since his passing. The last thing anybody needs is another voice in the choir of exaltation. But Bowie’s music moves me deeply. He meant a great deal to his fans. This sale is, itself, a kind of beautiful tribute to what he still means to people.
I’m not sure where this expensive record is going. I don’t know who is looking after it now. But I hope, wherever it is, it’s being treasured in whatever way the buyer finds appropriate. I hope that future generations will be able to grab it off the shelf and give it a listen, and I hope the first time they start side one they get completely swept away in the story of a man who was looking back at his home planet at a time when that still seemed like a tenuous proposition. Above all else, I hope that David Bowie’s art continues to matter, because he certainly put a lot of himself in all of those songs. I want to see that part of him echo forward.
Anyway, just remember we’re having fun here. Okay, well, kind of fun. Serious, reverential fun. There’s a lot more fun in the rest of the Top 30. No beekeepers from Antwerp, but we’ve got primordial British stoner jams, jazzy ’70s rock sounds from Germany, fuzzy Greek psychedelia, and some really early reggae from, well, Jamaica, I guess. And that’s just the rest of the top five. I swear to you: you cannot make this stuff up. Hang on to yourself, watch that man, scream like a baby, and look back in anger at the rest of the Discogs Top 30 Most Expensive Items Sold List from March 2016.