Uncovering The Real Fakes At Last Pt. 4
Greetings once again one and all!
It’s been a couple months since the last edition of this series, and while in the process of updating my previous articles it dawned on me that no exposition of this ilk would be complete without including the often plagiarized Highland label, so I figured I should include a couple examples here as well as some key identifiers on your quest for pure factory silver acquisition!
Several times a week without fail I’ve seen forgeries of the Highland Pink Floyd release Beset By Creatures Of The Deep (HL194) turning up on eBay with a Buy It Now price of $12.98 – a steal, right? Wrong. That should be the first indication that something is awry; no genuine Highland release is going to be sold for even 3 times that price these days, not least of which an early, completely out-of-print title like this one.
This particular version originates in the midwest of the USA and along with a handful of other Floyd titles (Live At Winterland, Welcome To Chicago, On The Turning Away, Intersteller Fillmore etc.) is a CDR copy made available by the same seller at the same prices.
Let’s take a look at some visual evidence here…first, the genuine Highland pressing, circa 1998:
As per usual, forgive the lo-res shots – I’ll sort out some proper hi-res versions when I have the chance, but in the meantime let’s check out the “standard” Highland features…
First of all, I should point out that ALL versions of this disc have the same cover, so that’s no indication at all. Most also feature the same pic on the back as well, but the Highland original has some distinguishing features – some of which ALL Highland titles have in common such as the familiar label logo (which is unfortunately rather blurred in the above pic, rear insert, lower right corner), printed tray card, 2-sided inserts.
The disc itself is very much in the early Highland tradition; silver disc with the release title at the top, solid printed circle around the disc’s central hole, catalog number to the right. Numerous early Highland titles utilize this format (I’ll include extra examples towards the end of this editorial).
Let’s now examine a couple forgeries of this well known title (and again, I’m omitting the front cover as it’s identical in all cases):
Example 1 :
Lots of differences with the rear insert of this copy from Relixer: completely different fonts (though similar format), the catalog number of Relixer RX-318, a bar code (!) 757563303602, a “stretched” Compact Disc logo, and an incomplete date “09 May 196″…wow!
Notice the disc has the band name, along with the date/venue, and the setlist, basic printing and no graphics other than the Compact Disc logo.
The insert has a completely different picture on the inside and is a blank gatefold, while the tray card is one-sided…all typical of a forgery.
This appears to be an earlier copy as the tray card has all the same characteristics sans the barcode and Relixer catalog number, which leads me to believe Relixer used this one as their template.
The disc itself is clearly different from both the Highland original and the Relixer pressing, being a rather nice multi-coloured print job.
As this is another one I’ve borrowed from a fellow collector, I cannot be sure of the insert or anything else, but it’s not the Highland pressing, that’s for sure.
The quandry is: the version currently popping up on eBay is a 3rd version that I don’t have an example of at this time, so when in doubt refer to the pics of the Highland original for now!
Here’s another classic Highland title The Amazing Pudding (HL208/209):
Ugh, some of these pics really are shite, but I promise I’ll fix them ASAP!
Anyway, virtually every version of this item has the same front cover, and this genuine Highland disc, though an evolution from the earliest titles, is in line with the label’s traditional format.
Here are a couple examples of fakes of this item:
Example 1 (from our old friends Pink Gem):
Usual Pink Gem approach here (as seen in Pt.3 of this series); Pink Gem logo added to the tray card, faux barcode in this instance, blank insert gatefold, artist/venue/setlist printed on a silver disc face.
What’s a bit different here compared to the Highland is how the insert and tray card are white instead of black, and instead of a picture of the band on the insert, it’s a reproduction of the setlist.
Example 2 (label unknown):
The packaging and insert of this one are exact copies of the Highland pressing, but the discs are totally different; in addition to all of the information from the Highland disc, these (both disc 1 and 2 are the same format) say GEMA which leads me to believe they are of German origin. Note the mispelling of “The Embrio” and “Pink Floyd Archives” emblazoned across the top.
As far as the content of all versions of both Beset By Creatures Of The Deep and The Amazing Pudding, it appears they are copies of the originals and offer nothing different whatsoever – except perhaps lower quality sound due to being 2nd or 3rd generation copies…which certainly isn’t a good thing considering these earlier releases typically weren’t speed corrected or carefully mastered ala Sirene, Sigma, etc.
Before I wrap up this edition of exposure, I thought I’d leave you with a couple higher resolution examples of Highland CD’s for reference purposes, especially since the higher catalog numbers feature a different format.
First, here’s another older title that is consistent with the printing format of that era of the label, Breast Milky (HL174/175):
Finally, a later Highland title Break Down Co-Ordinator (HL582/583) that is demonstrative of the higher catalog numbers, which feature a solid “bar” across the face of the disc, but the same information typical of earlier releases:
So with that we’ll end the latest installment and I certainly hope all of these entries will help to guide the aspiring collector to the “real deal” and avoid getting suckered into shelling out absurd amounts of cash for forged items that are usually lower-quality and perhaps not as valuable in the long run (unless all you care about is content, then fair enough – but remember CDR’s are indeed prone to damage and/or corruption, so nothing beats genuine factory-pressed silver in that regard!).
I realize the scope of my articles has revolved around Floyd primarily, but keep in mind all of the labels in question also have countless titles from Genesis, ELP, Yes, King Crimson, etc. and if anyone wants to step up to the plate on the Zeppelin or Dylan or any other front, by all means!
Cheers for now!
Plomerus, July 6th, 2008
Update: More examples of fake Highland releases – all from the Argentinean “Pickwick Label” (and all CDRs):
I just got a “real” Beset By Creatures cd.
Green Is The Colour on acoustic guitar live!!!
A very good sounding tape from back then, eh??
There’s a guy on Discogs selling Sirenes from Florida as I type.
Took a chance on one but I already know I’ll get burned.
“Oops I did it again”! Hehehe. Thats a good one, and yes, a real crime.
Futher, expect to pay roughly double the original price of older factory silver items and in some cases far more for the rarest on eBay or otherwise. It’s an individual’s choice to knowingly buy CDR titles pro or otherwise – but consider that you should only be paying what it’s actually worth for the format (for what you can do yourself more or less). I can live with paying $10-20 for a CDR item, perhaps more for a pro-CDR with exclusive content, but certainly not hundreds of dollars.
Again, there’s always a question everyone must ask themselves: Am I collecting for content or for the sake of collecting or both? What I’m striving to do with these articles is to educate new enthusiasts and provide references for the collector seeking releases professionally produced, primarily factory pressed silver. If one is simply seeking the content, fortunately all of these forgeries do contain the material they say they do…it’s not a situation where you’re expecting “Careful With That Axe Eugene” and getting “Oops I Did It Again” or something, but the issue is when sellers claim an item is the “real deal,” silver pressed when in fact they are not. I know those Pink Gem items came from a record show overseas, and in many cases they are somewhat rare shows, BUT they are CDR’s and often have the same title/art as the release they are copied from so if you’re after the original Highland or STTP or Heartbreakers release, then you’re going to be disappointed. There are other releases that are copies of previously circulated shn/flac files as well that have never been released on silver or are even more rare, so in those cases the Pink Gem items serve something of a purpose, but one could just as easily download the show in question and burn it to a CDR for free too. All that being said, nothing compares to real factory silver – for durability, longevity, and collectibiity. In many cases, fan-produced CDR’s are culled from lossy formats and thus don’t sound as good as the original CD or file, so that’s also a concern. Keep in mind that for older titles and silver in general, your best bet is to stick with tried & true distributors, the small private shops, and record conventions as opposed to eBay. If you are going to bid on eBay, request additional photos of the discs themselves, ask for matrix numbers, etc. Above all, remember if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!
tmoq has a good point about the ebay sellers.
I’m guilty of being stung by “Pink Gem”. I had to fill some gaps in my Floyd collection, and the seller conviently had them. Now, thanks to this site I know better. The thing is, this same seller has contacted me since I won these CD’s, about buying more. They claim to have bought them from a dealer at a record show. Be careful.
What drives me crazy is looking at the feedback for these Ebay sellers. You can click on recently purchased items when feedback is left and the vast majority of the feedback is positive-so either people are being duped into thinking they’re getting something rare or they simply don’t care that they’re paying for a crummy knock-off.
I’m all for an indentification “guide” period, and was even thinking it might be a good idea to include disc scans of new releases even in the future. As for Highland, the earliest item I have is probably Pink Floyd “Pepperland In The West” (HL172/173) which (although misprinted as “Remember The Wrong”) exhibits the “ring style” and I know that more or less remains in effect through at least the 400’s, my reference being Roger Waters “What Pink Want” (HL438/39). In the 500’s and above there’s the solid bar style, with the notable exception of Pink Floyd “Over The European” (HL163/164/165) which was either re-released later or not released until the 500’s range as it also has the solid bar. That being said, it would be great to see some of the earliest examples and other variations for sure!
As a Highland collector, I think it would be interesting to catalog the different disc styles as they changed throughout the release cycles. I know the earliest releases had unique graphics for each title, then they went to a very bland style with no graphics, just HIGHLAND written across the top with the title on the bottom. Then they went to the ring style shown above, then a grid background, and finally the solid bar you have pictured here. If anyone want to join in to get a comprehensive Highland listing going, I’m in!