Uncovering The Real Fakes At Last
The main purpose in writing this is to follow-up on a suggestion made in response to a previous editorial of actually posting pics of homemade and even professionally forged CDRs so as to help identify scams/rip-offs as well as prevent anyone else from losing their hard-earned scratch on something that isn’t “legit” (I realize this is somewhat of a subjective term for some traders and so forth, but I’m not here to debate morals this time around). Let me cut to the chase here…..although there are various reputable shops and vendors for newer releases, the only ways to procure older titles – especially considering how limited pressings often are, would be: eBay, Record Conventions, and private collectors/traders.
These are not bad options in and of themselves; sure, chances are this equates to shelling out a bit extra, but this is more than a hobby for most of us, and sometimes we do establish great connections that last years and are mutually beneficial, but it seems this is becoming more and more of an exception rather than the standard; every day there’s evidence of a new scam on the news, and I’m sure everyone drifting over to this site has been burned at least once.
The problem here isn’t just limited the “known offenders” out there knowingly peddling fakes though; there have been several instances where I genuinely believe that some honest folks who are casual collectors or sellers have no idea they’re dealing with forgeries! How bust is that to think that you’ve scored a “holy grail” or have made someone’s day selling them some “ultra-rare” item only to later find out it’s a clever and well-made fake?
Well, I’ll tell you it sucked to realize that I had bid a whole lot of cash on a Sirene release that I later came to find out is completely fake! A couple in fact! I’m sure many of you have noticed a recent upsurge in Sirene items coming up on eBay – and I imagine the demand will only increase as items become more and more scarce; a vast number are already permanently out of print, so it’s no surprise there are some “enterprising” types out there out to strip you of your hard-earned cash and leave you feeling quite down later on!
So, without further ado, I hereby begin a hopefully ongoing pictorial report of fakes, offering comparisons to the legit releases wherever possible!
Let just say first that I apologize for the lo-res pics – I’ve only got my camera phone to work with at the moment; in the future I’ll take some hi-res pics and update this editorial, but in the meantime, I’ll point out the details as best as I can!
My first example will be of my own Sirene misfortune mentioned above, involving Pink Floyd Offenbach 1971 (Sirene-023).
As for the packaging and inserts, from a jpeg on the Net they are nearly identical – this is a really detailed forgery, not at all fuzzy like some copies; only two things really give away the true nature of the fake: some of the text is mildly blurred on the back cover, and the inserts are actually 2 one-sided laser-copies back to back under the CD trays! Chances are, you’d never know if you didn’t physically check! There’s NO way to tell from a single pic on an auction listing for sure!
How about the discs? Well, these are a DEAD GIVEAWAY…..that is provided you have other Sirene releases to reference them against. They are SO obvious in that instance it’s not even funny…..but to a new or casual collector? Geez, just look at the differences:
First of all, in case you didn’t know, all the genuine Sirene discs DO utilize a similar font and style on the printed face of the disc, BUT they will vary according to the colour scheme of the inserts and even during what phase of the catalog they were released during. Also, the real Sirenes always have a code related to that specific release burned into the center silver ring on the underside of the disc. They are also made in Asia for sure. The real Sirene here is the blue disc.
NOW, notice the offensive green colour of the printed face of the forgery? The totally different font? Can you make out where it says “MADE IN ARGENTINA” ? Yep, this gives it away.
Also of note are the absence of matrix numbers completely, and a silver underside. This is not just a homemade CDR rip-off, but a semi-Pro counterfeit!
Now, check THIS out…first, the fake:
Now the genuine Sirene disc:
ANOTHER fake Sirene release! Notice how similar it is to the Offenbach 1971 forgery?
All this being said, what about the music contained on the discs? Well, it’s definitely what it’s supposed to be, and there’s no noticeable difference A/B-ing the real item from the fake, but I’ll have another go with headphones and get really specific just to be sure before my follow-up.
What other information can I offer about these particular fakes? Well, from what I understand they came from a guy in Florida, USA and sold to 3rd party vendors. That being said, I think these fakes may very well have come from Argentina originally , and I’ll explain that in a future edition of this series, HOWEVER, I’ll leave you with a disturbing thought: the guy I bought these two from was absolutely STUNNED when I showed him the pics and explained that these were fakes (Yeah, I gave him the benefit of the doubt) – he informed me that he “got these from a guy in Florida” and that he’d literally “sold hundreds and hundreds of these without a single complaint” – until mine that is…..
So…..keep up on your toes, request pics of the discs themselves, and really as many pics as possible before going overboard on some auction!
Remember: these Sirenes are only ONE of many examples out there, and it’s no secret that there are fakes of Highlands, STTPs, and even of some of the Pro-CDR labels out there now!
Next up? Fake Ayanamis and Blue Cafes…..I’ve got pics ready to go already for these…..so…..soon, and all the best to the lot of you in the mean time! Happy collecting!”
Update: In addition to adding a pic of the genuine Racial Violence release, having gotten permission to use some pics taken from the collection of a fellow enthusiast (thanks Hoka!), I’ve decided to include several other examples for reference purposes – especially considering the variations demonstrated below.
All of these items appear to be from the same source as the examples in the original article. Since the artwork is typically a scan of the Sirene originals, I won’t bother with more examples of inserts, and focus strictly on the discs.
On the left I’ll post the scan of the fake disc and the genuine item to the right. I will eventually update my own scans with higher resolution examples, but again, you’ll get the idea. Without further ado…
Portchester 1970 (Sirene-003):
Prog King (Sirene-099):
Roar Ends (Sirene-066):
Boston 1972 (Sirene-068):
Live In Rotterdam (Sirene-095):
Boston 1973 (Sirene-056):
Offenbach 1971 (Sirene-023) *note different colour of fake* :
A fake promo apparently was included with the Offenbach 1971 forgery; check THIS out…notice it says Hiwatt…not even Sirene! (I guess it’s safe to say there are some other Hiwatt forgeries from the same culprit based on this too!):
Double Bubble (Sirene-008):
Double Bubble, like Offenbach 1971 is a numbered item, and we know all the fake Offenbach discs can be identified as being #141; here’s a scan of the rear insert of the fake Double Bubble:
It is likely that there are other numbered Sirene items that have been forged, and as this information comes in, I’ll continue updating accordingly.
Also be aware that there is a confirmed forgery of Wolfsschanze (Sirene-100), but I don’t have any scans of it to include at this time. It is safe to assume the format/scheme of the discs are similar to those shown here.
What’s especially disheartening about some of the fakes I’ve just added is that several titles are among those most highly sought after and difficult to locate currently including: Boston 1973, Live In Rotterdam, Offenbach 1971, and Racial Violence (these along with Darkest Moon (Sirene-007), Oaklands (Sirene-055), Damn Braces, Bless Relaxes (Sirene-060), Munich 1973: Collector’s Edition (Sirene-006), and the first (blue cover) pressing of Wembley 1974 Pre-FM Master (Sirene-009) are virtually impossible to find now, and like all Sirene items, are out of print).
So be careful when preparing to purchase these rare and elusive items, stick to the reputable vendors if you can or request a scan of the discs/inserts from anyone else before you spend your pounds, shillings, and pence!
Plomerus, July 5th 2008
Comment: Most (I can say 99%) silver pressed discs out of Japan do not have the artist name printed on the disc. This can be used to identify fakes or whether its release is from Japan.
As for different brands/manufacturers of CD-R’s, it was Mitsui (not necessarily just their gold ones) that used to have the reputation as being the No. 1 best, with Taiyo Yuden being a close 2nd, so I used Mitsui just about exclusively to burn backups of Pro-CD-R’s (and for burning other discs as well), until 2003 when I quit doing so after they started becoming completely unplayable in one of my CD players. Since then I’ve switched to Taiyo Yuden. However, Fuji (FujiFilm) CD-R’s made in Japan were manufactured by Taiyo Yuden, although unfortunately now these days apparently all Fuji discs are cheap-quality ones made in Taiwan. And other brands such as Maxell & Memorex, which at least at one time in the past have had the reputation of making possibly the worst-quality CD-R’s of all among well-known major brands, have even had their discs manufactured at least at some point in recent years, possibly even still now these days, by much more reputable CD-R manufacturers such as Taiyo Yuden.
You know, I wouldn’t mind the prices for Pro-CDR releases if they utilized high-grade CDRs like the aforementioned Taiyo Yuden, Mitsui Gold, or any other master quality CDR, and included high quality inserts like the majority of silver releases BUT typically these CDR-only labels are using Maxell, Fuji, or any typical consumer grade CDR available – further, the inserts are many times lo-res, one-sided cop outs. I completely agree that there is no justification whatsoever for charging the same price or more than a silver release, but since many labels from countries that previously produced silver releases no longer do as a result of new legislation, those who remain are able to charge whatever prices they see fit. The solution? Send a clear message to the producers of such items that if its not factory-pressed-silver, then we’ll just download & burn onto higher quality CDRs ourselves for little more than the cost of the discs! OR…lower the prices to a small percentage over the cost of production. Or, offer some other incentive. I, for one, have surmised that eventually everything will turn up on silver, it’s just a matter of waiting – in the meantime, it would have to be something REALLY special for me to purchase a CDR release at this point in time…otherwise, there’s enough new silver releases every month that are far more worthy of my cash.
I’ve heard of knock off labels that actually press their own versions of shows (EELGRASS) I’ve got no problem with those. But what about CDR-Only labels. How can they even rationalize their prices. They are selling CDR’s??
Great suggestions there…I’ll have to look into that “CDR Identifier” program. I’m actually working on compiling a database of ALL Sirene releases (among other labels) for reference purposes as I’ve not found ANY complete lists for ANY label anywhere…it’s a very slow and painstaking process for sure, but it will be a great resource, and I don’t think anyone outside of the label really knows the full discography (maybe a distro or two)! That being said, you’re right, not only does Sirene have both Silver and Pro-CDR releases, the fact is that the vast majority of the discography is Pro-CDR! Our esteemed caretaker and some of the other long-time reviewers have strived to keep the focus on the silver pressings, and 99% of what is reviewed here (in terms of Sirene) are in fact silver discs. The Pro-CDR’s from Sirene are very similar in nature to those of the predecessor Ayanami. Anyway, thanks for the GREAT suggestions…let’s keep them coming, and Part 3 will be up soon!
Great article! one thing I wanted to add, which unfortunately adds to the confusion,is that some labels like Sirene issued some titles on silver discs and others on CDR’s so it is possible to get a real Sirene title which is a pro made CDR.
Also in addition to looking for the ink printed numbers on the clear CDR hub you can check a disc using the program called “CDR Identifier”. It will tell you if it is a CDR and what brand they are. For anyone who buys pro made CDR’s I highly recommend you make a backup using high quality media like Taiyo Yuden or even better Mitsui Gold CDR’s. While these are more expensive the media is very stable and there is less chances you will end up with a corrupted disc which will not play……….
Yes, that’s the frustrating thing now – as part of eBay’s new “buyer protection program” ALL user ID’s are kept private, and thus it’s impossible to drop someone a note anymore about the true nature of a listing. Also, good point about the numbered Sirene items – of course duplicates of the same number are another giveaway – I didn’t realize there had been previous listings of the same items from this seller…if that’s the case then they knowingly were selling fakes at top dollar. At any rate, eBay was a good starting point, and there are some good connections to be made, but better to deal with genuine shops/stores/distros for certain!
I noticed the 141 Sirene number on that Offenbach EBay lisitng and as all the copies are number 141, I thought that it was obvious what these were. You were the buyer? I have noticed, however, that EBay has changed the bidding system so that buyers cannot contact other buyers and in fact, their IDs are kept mostly private. There were some auctions from that CD seller in Argetina/Uruguay selling Sirene copies where he was counterbidding from newer accounts. He ultimately raised the price on one of them to over 200 dollars. My advice: stay away from Ebay.
Great Article! The Perils of E-Bay and the scammers are truly brought to the forefront. You really have to be careful these days. I’ve gotten burned many time on e-bay as well. Now I just stick to Asian dealers I’ve been fortunate to locate in the past. But a growing trend I’ve sen is the sale of cd’r recordings on smaller labels. They are professionally done but they are up front and open about their presentation as being cd’r recordings. It’s interesting because the price is the same (if not more) as a silver pressed disc. I guess if You want the show You will have to pay the asking price. I am in no way supporting the scammers etc. that are making the copies of known originals and selling them as such. That is fraud plain and simple. E-bay sucks because they would rather ignore and protect the seller becaue thay make money from them and not the buyer. Be careful who You purchase items from. If You see someone bidding on junk You can always send them a message informing them of the crap that they are going to receive when they send their payment. I’ve been fortunate to have several people notify Me about a fake that I may have bid on and I must Say “Thank You” for doing so and helping Me save money that otherwise would have been spent on a fake. DJB
I guess I wasn’t the only one who got ripped off on Ebay from a seller in Florida that sold me a fake silver factory pressed Silver Rarities title. For Sirene releases I purchase from two sources and have always recieved the genuine titles. Very interesting read and thanks for posting.
Lots of very valid points being made here and all worthy of consideration for sure. I would just like to point out that I actually got these fake Sirenes from someone with 9000+ feedback, 99.8% positive…certainly not a fly-by-night or suspicious operation if you know what I mean; it really just illustrates my point that not everyone is intentionally peddling frauds, and further, obviously in many cases the buyer is simply happy to have the music in question – so I suppose it doesn’t matter so much from a listener’s perspective (until of course a CDR becomes corrupted or decays away as many do), however from a collector’s standpoint and for those that intend to later re-sell an item (or say if an upgrade becomes available), surely it would equate to a loss if the item were anything other than genuine. At any rate, I’m preparing part 2 of this series right now and should have it posted in the next week or so! Cheers!
With so much available material via bittorrent downloading, it has made it easier for ebay scammers/dealers as well as real bootleg labels to source new/upgraded concerts & studio sessions for release/auction. I always buy any new release via dealers I’ve known for years who sell original label titles.
I have bought less than a handful of titles via ebay and only from legitimate ebay dealers — the feedback/ratings are
there for anyone to read before they buy and unknown quantity, ending up with a
“pirated bootleg” or the dreaded CDr copy.
In the past I have had some luck asking legitimate bootleg dealers for older titles that were out-of-print, for example scoring an original Bowie – Va Va Va Voom gold disc on the original label. After months of waiting, however.
Often the only way to pick up European produced titles for me is to go through Asian dealers who have connections to the various wholesalers, and I buy these when they are new releases. Never wait thinking a bootleg will be available six months from now; not these days.
I don’t buy nearly anywhere as much as I used to with bittorrent lossless concerts available, but when something really astounding comes along like Stolen Moments, or a Rolling Stones golden era
concert upgrade, I consider it a must to have a pressed silver CD to put with my collection.
I look forward to the future installments in this series, a necessary archive for future reference.
Yes, I will say that the contents of the discs are indeed what they are supposed to be, and sound great…but would I have knowingly spent the amount that I did if it was advertised as a “boot of a boot”? Probably not. It’s that fine line between procuring these shows as a listener, versus being a collector. Personally, I’m a listener first and foremost,thus glad to have good versions of all shows that I do, but I’m sure most folks would prefer to get what they believe they’re paying for. The thing with these Sirene items in particular…starting prices are in the $80 range (for an older, out-of-print 2 disc set…often Sirene release 3-6 disc sets!) and go WAY beyond that for the rarest items, so it’s definitely a serious issue. Anyway, it’s really up to the individual to judge what is more important to them…the contents or the legitimacy…I’ll be posting future installments in this series to help identify the fakes, strictly for reference purposes. Cheers, and thanks for the responses so far!
I’ve been aware of the Argentinian counterfeits for several years, I had a very reliable E-Bay Dealer from Uruguay for a couple of years back in 2003-2004, he had several rare Vig-O-Tone, Highland, and Swingin’ Pig titles that I bought from him– they were quite well forged. The discs themselves seemed to be cloned from the original CDs, the faces of the original discs were scanned and factory laminated or silk-screened more often than not, and they were factory made CDs; If the original CD came in a protective cardboard jacket, that jacket was included, really *nice* product; so I didn’t feel *too* ripped off at all paying $20 a disc for them. I didn’t even know that a few of them (like the Vig-O-Tone) were fakes at all for several months, although it was obvious with The Swingin’ Pig title, as it had a design on the CD face that Swingin’ Pig never used. But that was the only clue–these weren’t the shoddy Russian made Beatles Ultra-Rare Trax series (for example) that the market was flooded with in the late 90’s. These were highly detailed counterfeits, damned good ones!
I paid him in Montevideo, Uruguay, but his shipments were always postmarked Buenos Aires, Argentina. He always had dozens of titles available. Many of his non-rarity titles were South American shows that I’ve rarely seen bootlegged anywhere else, like “Old Chots Live In Argentina” the Page & Plant concert that was telecast live from Buenos Aires, for example. Always high-quality stuff. One day I got an E-mail from his partner saying my connection had left town, but he’d be able to fill my order, and I eventually got the discs, but he never answered another E-mail, and his E-Bay Account closed.
So I’m of mixed opinion about this. If some enterprising bootlegger out there wants to duplicate classic rare releases at an affordable price, more power to ’em. I’ll put together a wish-list of classic Tarantura, Yellow Dog and Vigotone titles that I wish I’d bought when I saw ’em on the old mail lists I used to get.
However, if someone were charging me $50 apiece (or more) for them as originals because of their “rarity” I would feel robbed. Thanks for providing photos of the fakes– I’ve never purchased any Sirene product, so I wouldn’t be able to guess.
Nice article and a great eye opener for newer collectors who may not know the difference between CD’s and CDR’s. I myself bought a few Beatles and Pink Floyd Cd’s from the person in Florida until a few years ago when I realized they were fake. I remember the posting as “not a cheaply made CDR”. I guess I bought expensive CDR’s! Last year, after a seller of a Pink Floyd CD replied to my request that his listing was indeed a silver pressed Cd, I was shocked to receive a CDR. The seller did promptly return my money, so I never filed a negative feedback. However, numerous other buyers seemed oblivious to this and seemed content to pay close to $40 for double Pink Floyd live CDR sets.