The best (the best):
90Mag’s Writer/Contributor Maggie N. Counts down her favorite merch
As a collector, one of the most dreadful things you can ask me is, “What are your favorite items you’ve collected.” It’s like asking a mother who her favorite child is or which fourteen year old does Jimmy get to take home tonight.
Please, don’t make me choose.
But after some good thinking, I’ve reduced it to a few items that I hold most dear. I was surprised at this list myself, for the items on it aren’t necessarily rare or special- they are only special to me. I think that’s what matters the most. It’s funny that the most valuable pieces I own are the ones with comprehensive stories or backgrounds rather than high prices or values.
On to the countdown!
What: Skin Yard - Start At the Top
Why: In a quest for the most comprehensive Matt Cameron collection in this hemisphere besides his own, it is only common sense to have everything Skin Yard has to offer. Even though Cameron’s career with Skin Yard was hardly a year, Start At the Top was produced by the drummer and also features some outtakes he played on.
Finding this album was not an easy task. It was nowhere used and no store carries it. It was easy to obtain an illegal copy, but a legal one seemed elusive. I would find out that only 1200 copies of Start At the Top were made by C/Z records and the only place to buy the album was from the source. I sent a letter straight to Seattle and received #484, hand numbered.
What: Hater Discography
Why: Again, as the Matt Cameronophile and Soundgarden sideproject enthusiast that I am, Hater was a required element in my collection. It’s enough to have found Hater’s 2nd album, literally called “2nd,” but to have come across the “Who do I Kill” single and a cassette of their first album was a delight. The 2nd was actually quite difficult to obtain, only three copies were around last I checked, and all at insane prices. The single I found was tucked in a shelf in Ann Arbor, Michigan for only $4 when it usually goes for something like $15. Having much of the Hater collection is what I call an accomplishment.
What: Wellwater Conspiracy Discography
Why: I have all four full-length albums from Wellwater and am working to get all of the singles on vinyl. Like the others, it was necessary for my Soundgarden sideproject collection. On top of that, these albums are every bit as rare as Hater’s. I forget the exact number, but a very limited quantity of Declaration of Conformity exists. The search and capture of this album was a highlight of my collecting history.
What: Soundgarden - Hands All Over EP Special UK Edition
Why: On a quest to acquire every Soundgarden release possible, Hands All Over was a tough decision. There is the rather boring American version that only comes with two songs in a regular sleeve or this steroid-injected UK version with quad sleeves filled with beautiful color photos and two extra tracks.
The choice was easy.
Had to buy it from over the pond and do a lot of searching to find it at a reasonable price after conversions.
The unboxing of this EP was legendary, to say the least. The full-sized glossy images of a supple Soundgarden were just as pleasing as the music itself. There was no hesitation to hang this up on the wall immediately.
What: Soundgarden - UK Superunknown Singles Boxed Set
Why: Yet another foreign piece of merch I had to chase down in the UK. Though I’m not quite clear on its exact rarity, let’s just say it’s not easy to find and even harder to find in one piece. I was lucky to be able to finally track his boxed set down on ebay and call it mine. It was worth the healthy dent in my pocket afterwards and took care of quite a few missing pieces of my collection in one go.
What: Wellwater Conspiracy - A Metal Creep’s Portico
Why: From some strange psychedelic magazine called the Ptolemaic Terrascope, 3000 copies of this magazine were released with an EP attached to the back featuring two instrumental Wellwater Conspiracy songs.
Again, damned near impossible to find. (would have loved to find this with the magazine it came with). Having access to two Wellwater Conspiracy songs that are literally unaccounted for on the internet was a great experience, as was listening to two songs I literally hadn’t and couldn’t have heard before. It didn’t even have a sleeve or cover, simply etched by hand. Afraid that it was a mistake, I looked it up and all thse albums had been etched.
What: Soundgarden - Superunknown Blacklight Poster: Galactic Stairs
Why: This is one of the best things I own in general. Not only is it incredibly rare, valuable, unique, and beautiful- I paid nothing for it. I fished it out of the trash can of a local record store throwing away old items and came across it. They just gave it to me for free, not knowing it’s sold on ebay for upwards to $300.
What: Dain Bramage - I Scream Not Coming Down
Why: Probably one of the rarest items I have, or the most valuable. After a literal battle on an ebay auction for it and checking ebay every day for months in hopes that someone would even sell a copy- I finally won a bid and got to take this rare Dave Grohl artifact home. Two and a half paychecks well spent.
What’s my favorite merch item ever, you ask?
What: Wellwater Conspiracy - Sandy
Why: If it wasn’t already difficult enough to get your hands on regular Wellwater Conspiracy items, there’s this amazing vinyl, limited to 600 copies. Released on Mudhoney guitarist Steve Turner’s label, Super Electro, this gorgeous piece of music with two of Wellwater’s greatest songs Sandy/Nati Bati Yi is an item to be loved and admired. Actually recorded some time in 1994, it is an important first ever release from one of my favorite bands that I will always preserve.
White Limo Tour Shirt: obtained by showing up to White Limo’s arrival in Detroit
Vs/Vitalogy boxed set: obtained by winning Grungereport.net’s contest