In the second part of our extended feature on UK reissue label Mr Bongo, we get the low down on just what it takes to turn a dusty slab of wax archaeology into a bonafide shrink-wrapped reissue.
You’ve seen how to open a record shop and start a recording studio, now it’s time to find out how to go about reissuing a record. In the first half of our feature on Mr Bongo, Dave “Mr Bongo” Buttle told us about the lengths he’s gone to to get hold of an original pressing of a record he fancied reissuing. “I used to go to Venezuela and stay in this hotel where you’d check your guns in at the reception,” he explained, before speaking of clandestine record swaps at the Colombian border and days spent trawling through death registers. Naturally, we found all this pretty fascinating.
It’s no secret that reissues have both played a significant part in and taken advantage of the relative health of the vinyl industry in recent years and in some ways their continuing popularity is evidence of the market’s increasing hunger. Never mind original presses, the fact is that there are enough young, new or otherwise interested record collectors out there who want to own old (as well as new) records on vinyl but couldn’t possible justify the prices with which some of the most desirable originals change hands.
In fact, the reissue game has become so strong, that represses outnumbered new releases at this year’s Record Store Day, drawing charges of exploitation from labels – independent as well as major it should be stressed – who tease hapless fans with ‘expanded’, ‘re-mastered’ or otherwise souped-up versions of classic records at prices often several times that same record goes for on the second hand market.
After twenty five years in the business, this is not a ploy that Mr Bongo have ever bought into. Instead, this Brighton-based imprint has built a mini-empire around salvaging music from the furthest reaches of Latin America and Africa, taking pains to secure the rights, bake the tapes, repackage the album with its original artwork and generally make sure that the record they offer is as faithful to the original as possible.
Having told us the incredible stories behind five of their own reissues, we asked Dave and Matt at the label to talk us through what actually takes place when you decide to reissue a record.