RECORD STORE TALES Part 198: Promos II
In Part 117, we talked about promo CDs: How to identify them, what they were, what they’re worth. A short while ago, Statham and I were having a conversation about promo discs. The conversation began in regards to one of my treasured rarities, a King’s X promo CD for their 1994 single, “Pillow”, from the Dogman CD.
Even though eBay (supposedly) have strict policies against selling promo discs, I just found one as I was writing this, identical to mine, on sale for $46.99 USD. It even says “Promo Copy – Not For Sale” in clear writing on the back cover, in the eBay photo! Somebody at eBay is asleep at the wheel.
I got mine for free, a decade ago!
This one found its way into our warehouse, probably via a liquidation. The warehouse manager knew we couldn’t sell it, not with that big inscription on the back, so he gave it to me, knowing I was a huge fan. As I explained to Statham:
LeBrain: We weren’t legally allowed to sell promos, at least ones that were obviously identifiable as promos, in the store. We’d been caught once when one hit the shelves .Even if I bought this CD from you for $5, I technically couldn’t sell it in store. We could have asked $20 for it easily, because of the unreleased tracks. Those weren’t on anything else.
Statham: So even on the dark days, the ones you HATED about being there, there were then moments like your getting this CD that made it OK again!
LeBrain: Yes! Although I had to keep them secret…Our warehouse manager would slide them my way, on the condition that I don’t tell. Don’t know what they would have done with them otherwise, besides throw them out. That would have been a shame. [I think the statute of limitations has expired on my promise not to tell!] We paid money for these promos though, we got nothing for free. Everything we sold was purchased from somebody else, be it a wholesaler or an individual.
Statham: Right, but all of that is pre-killed by the writing all over the promos prohibiting their sale. So there never was a [legal] leg to stand on, with those. But nobody ever reads those warnings anymore. The Interpol warning at the start of a DVD? Just something else to skip. Part of the scenery. Surely we can ignore that, right?
LeBrain: Yeah exactly. Every other store in town had promos on their shelves too. And they weren’t as discerning as we were, they’d sell anything. [But] you’re right, we didn’t have a leg to stand on. I guess in the long run it meant that I could get stuff like this for free.
Statham: Even as recently as last year, I bought a promo single from there [LeBrain’s old workplace]. So apparently things still slip through the cracks!
LeBrain: I’m sure they do. After all, it was over 10 years ago that we received a warning about selling promos. I don’t know who tattled on us, but it always struck me as unfair. We PAID for those promos. We got NOTHING for free! And I would never buy or sell a promo in the store that didn’t have something worthwhile on it, like bonus tracks of some kind. It had to have some kind of value.
And so it goes. I have a lot of promo discs from those days, stuff that you technically couldn’t buy in stores, stuff that guys at record shows routinely ask $20 for. eBay prices? Double that. Some of them are worthless, one track promo singles with no cover and no real value. Others have exclusive live tracks, like this King’s X single we’re about to discuss.
KING’S X – “Pillow” (promotional CD single, 1994 WEA)
“Pillow” was released as a single in mid-1994, and promptly went nowhere. That’s too bad, as it’s a great song, heavy and slow, fitting right in with the grunge movement that was still dominating the charts. King’s X trademark harmony vocals by Ty Tabor can be heard during the chorus, under Doug Pinnick’s soulful lead. Doug’s 8-string bass chimes while drummer Jerry Gaskill sets the groove. This track, one of the standouts from the Dogman album, simply crushes.
The two B-sides are live, recorded in Dallas on May 8, 1994. “Shoes” is another great Dogman track. What is especially cool is how great King’s X harmonies sound live! This track proves they have the goods, but the Texas crowd is more than happy to take over the vocal chores. They clearly knew the new songs backwards and forwards.
The second B-side is the complex “We Were Born To Be Loved” from the landmark Faith Hope Love album. “I like a crowd that makes a lot of noise,” says Doug, before the band tear into the intricate rhythms and harmonies involved with this rocker. It’s another Doug lead vocal, with Ty and Jerry on the harmonies. Knowing how great King’s X are, I’m sure this truly is live — no backing tapes or overdubs.
There’s not much in the way of artwork; just a sticker on the front of the case and a pretty plain white back cover. Stickers don’t age too well, as the gooey sticky stuff starts to seep through the paper. Plus if you crack that front cover, you’re screwed.
Since this single was released, both these recordings have seen the light of day on an album, called Live & Live Some More, from 2007. While that sort of destroys the collector’s value for a single such as this, it doesn’t change the fact that these songs are awesome!
Next time on Record Store Tales…
Hooray for Stock Transfer Day!