Monday, January 8, 2018

"Property of Ronald Kane" by Tosh Berman

I went to Rockaway Records this week, and I purchased two albums: the late Ronald Kane owned Gavin Bryars' "The Sinking of the Titanic" (Obscure Records) and "The Joe Meek Story" (Decca).  I know this is true because there are stickers on both albums that says “The Property of Ronald Kane.”  One on the back cover, and another on the record label itself.   I may have met Ron Kane when I worked at Licorice Pizza music store chain during the 1980s.  He was the import record buyer for the entire chain, and it’s considerably possible that I met him perhaps at a Christmas party for the store, or when we had to get together for work meetings.   Then again I worked at the West Los Angeles and Reseda stores, so, for instance, I never went to their Glendale headquarters.  At least, I have no memory of going to the main offices.   That would be where Ron Kane worked, and now, I only know of him due that he passed away not that long ago.  

Ron built up his record collection over the years, and like me, it seems he has visited Japan numerous times to buy and searching out recordings.  I have my favorite record stores, but oddly enough, for the past 25 or so years of going back and forth to and from Japan, I always find a new place to shop for vinyl.  A collection is very much an activity that shows one who you are, and what your obsessions are.  It is just as truthful as if finding one’s DNA on a murder weapon - it can’t help itself in not telling some history or narrative through one’s collection of objects or things.  Ron Kane, right before he passed away, sold his entire collection of vinyl to Rockaway Records.  

Going through the new arrival bin at Rockaway, I see that Ron had a thing for European prog rock, or bands/artists that error on the side of experimental made music.  The sense of exploration on his part is awe-inspiring to me.   It would be interesting to know if he kept notes or a journal regarding his record hunts throughout the world.   What I see here is a man of intelligence and curiosity.   There are focuses on countries, such as Italy, as well as France, that put out numerous experimental/prog albums throughout the late 1960s to the mid-1970s.   When you are a fan of a particular artist or group, you become interested in what part of the world that they came from.  Which leads one to study that culture that would produce such an artist.  

I’m not the most excellent collector in the world, but I suspect Ronald Kane was one, in that he spent his life being intensely focused on the issues of records and where they came from.  The vinyl albums here in the store are all new looking.  Nothing tattered or torn, and every piece of vinyl, when I open the package seems in perfect shape.  The only alteration is the sticker with his name and that he owns the object on hand.  I often wonder why people put their names on albums.  For one, you can presume that they loan out to friends or institutions, and they want to make sure that they get their record back. Or, the essence of owning an object, you want to make sure there is some physical sense of ownership of that object.   Signing one’s name to an object or a collection is very much the same as an artist who signs their own artwork. 

So, with my memory, I’m not entirely sure if I met Ron Kane or not.  As an employee at Licorice Pizza during the 1980s, I purchased a lot of vinyl that came through the central office of licorice Pizza from the U.K.  Mostly due to the buying power of Ron through the store.  Although I never met him face-to-face or at the very least, a mere passing perhaps being in the same room together, his work had affected my record buying (with discount) adventure.   I’m a believer in museums to obtain a collection or one’s holdings.   I don’t know the number of albums owned and sold to Rockaway Records by Ron, but I have to imagine it was at the very least a few thousand titles.  As time goes by people will come to the store and more likely purchase a brilliant album with the sticker on it saying “The Property of Ronald Kane.” 

- My homage to Ronald Kane, and collecting - Tosh Berman, January 8, 2017

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