So low and behold I found my old record dealer still trading online and living less than ten minutes from Chateau Magpie. Given my proximity, it made sense to pick my purchases up directly from him rather than pay the postage. When I went round to his house, I found he had records stored EVERYWHERE and more importantly on Discogs for me to buy. I was treated to a tour of his gaff and a look at all sorts of vinyl and CD goodies. He’s strictly mail-order so there was no direct buying involved just for the record – it’s not a shop shop – but it was cool to see what he had and to reconnect.

Not only was I reunited with a sealed copy of the Japanese double-CD version of Violator, but he gave me some sage advice – “you could sell that on eBay, I bet a lot of people are missing it.” To what was he referring? Well, I told him about selling my original copy of the Violator import almost 20 years ago, but that I had found the original obi strip that I had misplaced and so not included in the sale. An obi strip is a piece of paper wrapped around the spine of Japanese CDs, DVDs, movies, or books sometimes referred to as a “spine card”. I found it in the sleeve of a Depeche Mode 7″ and it was in mint condition.

So I put in on eBay as suggested, at a starting price of £3.99 (I couldn’t bring myself to go any higher given that it was just a bit of coloured paper). To my surprise it sold within the week for almost thirty quid! I think, if there’s one thing that shows how bonkers people are for collecting Depeche Mode stuff this was it. Sure, if you were looking to sell the CD and you didn’t have the obi strip then maybe it would devalue it, but by around £30? I don’t know. I’m pretty sure that’s how much the guy who bought my copy back then paid me for it, without the spine card.

So that was around thirty pounds to spend on more Depeche Mode stuff. My original idea was to fill the gap in my collection which was basically all the singles that were released of the albums Ultra, Exciter and onwards. No small amount of discs. I started with CD singles because they’re cheaper than the vinyl and easier to store. The Left Legged guy sold me almost a complete set of DVD Singles including Freelove, Precious and the awesome John The Revelator.

That didn’t mean I wasn’t interested in vinyl 12″s when I thought the price was okay and I picked up a numbered limited edition of Everything Counts and Live Tracks for very little dosh of eBay. When it arrived I was pleased to find the seller had thrown in a decent copy of Leave in Silence 12″ as a freebie. It was the first freebie, but certainly not the last. I know I will return the favour to someone, if anyone would buy any of the duplicate Depeche Mode stuff I’ve recently listed on eBay. I also even bought a 7″ because I realised that I got a copy of Stripped in that format back in the day. How remiss of me.

I also bought a copy of The Meaning of Love on 7″ and this is where I learned a lesson about buying on Discogs. Wet behind the ears I didn’t realise that some sellers on the platform are a bit loose and easy when it comes to grading their wares, and this seller certainly was. Also I didn’t understand the ‘protocol’ of questioning his inability to grade said disc which arrived with a name written in biro on both sides of the sleeve and the disc label. I gave him some negative feedback about the grading which immediately appeared on his seller profile for all to see. I realise now that I should’ve messaged him directly to arrange a return or ask for a discount (my preferred option now I know what I am doing). So his knee-jerk reaction (with the emphasis on jerk) was to give me negative feedback. Okay, I thought, a bit petty but fine.

Well, actually not fine. Because rookie me didn’t realise that with so few bits of feedback on my new profile his negging meant my feedback something like 66% and so I couldn’t enter into transactions with some sellers who (quite understandably) have minimum rating requirements for their buyers. I desperately asked some of the sellers to give me feedback to get my score up. Especially because I was blocked from buying off one particular seller had the limited edition mini CD version of Enjoy the Silence at a decent price (another item that I sold back in the day and wanted to recover).

With a bit of begging I managed to get my rating up to a point where Discogs let me buy from this seller (who actually had offered to drop his rule to let me make my purchase). Also I found that I could ask Discogs admin to review the negative feedback and they were kind enough to remove the negative comment from my profile. Thank you! I see that the negative feedback I gave the seller is still there and I don’t regret it, because I see other people have had issue with his grading in the past and similarly given negative feedback. I am not alone, and he won’t see anymore trade from me.

There’s been a couple of other instances of piss-poor grading from Discogs sellers but I’m happy to say they’re in the minority. I do lean toward buying from eBay, if the prices are okay (and boy are some people asking wild prices for Depeche Mode stuff), because you get to see a bunch of photos of the item on the listing – unlike Discogs where you have to ask the seller for them or just trust them to be honest. Which they generally are.

Actually to contradict what i just said, just today a copy of the rare Best Of… Remixes promo CD arrived from eBay and when I opened it, it had these weird fingerprints all over the disc that looked like paint or glue and wouldn’t polish off, so that went straight back to the seller! I checked the original posting and realise ah there’s no photos of the actual disc. Again you live and learn.

I think the best thing I have bought so far in terms of value for money was an eBay listing of ’24 Depeche Mode CDs’. There were two low quality photos of the CD spines in two CD racks and no description of the contents. However, I know a Maxi CD when I see one, and I saw a LOT in the listing. In fact 11 of the CDs were German import Maxi CDs of the earlier singles up to Stripped. Among other things there was also the ubiquitous I Feel You CD singles and a copy of one of my favourite of the limited CDs LCDBONG20 – you know 🙂 World in My Eyes/Happiest Girl/Sea of Sin. To this day I can’t understand why Happiest Girl and Sea of Sin were not on Violator.

The CDs were covered in a film of fine dust that gave me the impression that the racks (which came with the discs and went in my recycle bin quicker than you can say “let me take you on a trip”) had been stored in someone’s loft since the late 1990s. Once the grime was removed the inserts and discs were in tip top condition and I was well pleased. I already had some Maxi CDs and with this new batch I found I had pretty much a complete run up to A Question of Lust.

My appetite for toast, I mean CDs temporarily satisfied, my attention turned back to vinyl and in particular that 1990 laser-etched beauty XL12BONG18 a.k.a. Enjoy The Silence that I let go all those years ago (trust me, I have got over it now and I will stop bonging ( 🙂 ) on about it eventually), but that’s a story for another time…