#426: The History of the Holy Grail


#426: The History of the Holy Grail

I don’t know when I started referring to this list as my “Holy Grail” items, but the idea is simple.  I wanted to create a wishlist of musical items that would be my ultimate, most sought after records and CDs.  For example, there is a rare Iron Maiden EP called Live!! +one.  It was released in Japan in 1980, and featured two exclusive recordings still unavailable anywhere else:  “Sanctuary” and “Drifter” from the Marquee show.  In 2014, I found a copy in Mississauga.  Should I have bought it?  It was $100.  It was not in the budget that time.  Will I ever see it again?

Those are the kinds of things I’m referring to as Holy Grails.  The kinds of things that you see only ever one or twice in your time as a fan.  When you find a Holy Grail item, how much are you willing to pay?  I paid $300 for a copy of the rare live album marillionrochester on eBay.  I don’t think I’ll ever do that again though.  That was a once in a lifetime buy.  (Only 2000 copies of it were ever made, which were sent directly to fans who donated to their 1997 American tour fund.  It will never be reissued.)

In the digital age, curating a Holy Grail list has never been easier.  My solution today is simple.  I have entrusted my Holy Grail list to Aaron over at the KeepsMeAlive site.  There, he has created (and continues to update) several bloggers’ personal lists as the Master Grail Search List.  Using this list from our smartphones, we have hunted for items for others, too.  The increased range provided by the Master Grail Search List has resulted in a couple scores.

While searching one of my hard drives, I discovered what is probably the very first Grail list I ever made, and it is over 10 years old now.  Apparently I wasn’t calling it a Grail list yet (like I said, I don’t know when we started using that term), but below is my 2005 “Ultimate All-Time Want List”.  I have since found a number of these…but have also added many more to my list!  Check out the list, with added notes from today in [red].


Date: 2005/06/11


To be modified and added to periodically.

In no particular order:

  • KISS – Chikara (CD or LP)

[I should have bought this when I had the chance in ’96 at Dr. Disc in Hamilton!  I blew it.]

  • marillion – Web Christmas 1998 CD
  • marillion – Web Christmas 1999 CD

[Still missing these two.  I’ve downloaded them from their official site, which is nice, but not as nice as an original CD.]

  • Metallica – The 5 1/2 Year Anniversary Box Set LP

[Saw this one at Flying Monkey Music in Waterloo in 1997, priced around $120.  I should have bought it.  Scott, our Heavy Metal Overlord has a copy, but he is also apparently immune to my Jedi mind tricks.]

  • Tommy Shaw – Girls With Guns CD

[Hahaha, what!?  I don’t remember wanting this!]

[I mean, sure, I’ll take it, I like that one song…it’s a great music video too, all one continuous shot with no edits…but the CD is certainly not a Holy Grail item anymore!]

  • KISS – Alive III (Japanese CD)

[No longer needed, since the release of Kiss’ comprehensive Alive! 1975-2000 box set!]

  • Iron Maiden – “Wasting Love” (CD single)
  • Iron Maiden – “Hallowed Be Thy Name” (CD single)
  • Motley Crue – Generation Swine (limited edition Japanese with bonus track “Song To Slit Your Wrist By”)

[FOUND, FOUND, and FOUND!  All of these came from eBay.  None were cheap, but I had a budget threshold for each under which I was willing to pay.]

  • Black Sabbath – “The Shining” (12″ single)

[No longer needed, due to the excellent Sabbath deluxe edition of Eternal Idol.]

  • The Sultans Of Ping F.C. – Casual Sex in the Cineplex CD

[FOUND by Aaron in 2012!  Holy Grail lists work!]

  • ZZ Top – Chrome Smoke & BBQ (limited edition CD box set)

[FOUND, quite easily, and very soon after I made this original list.  I just went down to Best Buy and bought it.  Hey, sometimes it’s the simple way.]

  • KISS – Instant Live CDs (ALL of them)

[Three have been FOUND!  I would still love “all” of them, but I’m not made of money!]


I’m actually surprised to see so many items crossed off this decade-old list!  Surprised, and pleased.  I know how much I wanted some of these items, such as those Iron Maiden CD singles.  That Motley Crue import also dogged me for years.

The internet helped me gain access to many of these.  It has also broadened my realization of what lay in the nooks and crannies of a band’s discography.  When I made this list 10 years ago, I didn’t even know about Maiden’s Live!! +one EP.  I didn’t know that the same band’s Best of the Beast 6 LP box set had one exclusive bonus track (“Revelations” live) that was tucked away unnoticed.  As I have crossed items off my list, two more sprang forth in their place!

Thanks to Aaron’s Master Grail Search List, the never ending quest continues!



      1. They don’t seem to be pricing it in the spirit of an auction. It will probably sit there for a while as potential buyers shy away. It looks like the same seller out of the UK on both sites.
        You’ll find it again for a good price. Maybe $40 to adjust for inflation :)


      2. I’m wondering whether contacting independent used record/CD stores would be worthwhile. Maybe a master list of North American stores would help with this endeavor. If it did, the master list could expand to include the UK and Japan, for example.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Interesting suggestiong. I need to think about that. I don’t want to get myself into a situation where I’m committed to buy something. Having said that, I have a wishlist at one major Canadian chain. It probably won’t help with some of these items, but you never can tell!

          Liked by 1 person

        2. Maybe it could be like a lottery system…one quiet September day you decide to call a small shop in Wyoming and ask about the Kiss album…maybe they happen to have it.


  1. Excellent stuff, Mike. Always nice to see scores through items that are on these types of lists. I recently put a score through Johnny Cash’s At Folsom Prison and it felt real good. And, of course, Aaron’s Grail List resulted in me scoring Neko Case off that list no so long ago …

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I was, yeah. I found it more difficult to get my hands on that the San Quentin release!

        I have that box set (with the DVD, yes?) and it’s mighty fine, aint it just?

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Man, collectors like us have probably ALWAYS had Ultimate Want Lists! I know I have. I remember highlighting items in the Columbia House mail catalogues as a kid, even.

    You make an excellent point about the internet opening things up. It’s so much easier to find the things you’re after when you can access stores around the globe! I never kept track of how many Grail Items I’ve found but it’s been many, over the years, and a large chunk of them come from online – more than I’ve ever found in person in shops (even in the city).

    I’ll bet the Grail List name came from the KMA list! It’s the best name for this sort of thing – seemingly impossible-to-find items, almost mythical in their existence, and worthy of religious reverence when they’re found! Ha.

    And this is (once again) an invitation to one and all to head over to the KMA’s Grail List (Mike linked up there several times, thanks buddy!) and send us your lists. The more of us looking for your most wanted items, and in several countries as we all are, the more chances you have of getting them! Give ‘er!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yeah I was thinking you probably originated the name “Holy grail”! Either way, you are now the curator. Long live the list! Hopefully this is something that continues a long time and helps us all acquire the music!


  3. Also, good point about getting one item off your list only to have two more spring up in its place. That’s totally what happens, man. Friggin’ Medusa action over here! hahaha.


  4. I’ve always liked the concept of this list, because it’s equal parts hopeful and doable. It’s cool to have these small aspirations, and maybe you’ll get them and maybe you won’t, but the search is fun in and of itself~!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Agreed! Any collector loves the search. We like the rush of the big find, but it is the hunt that keeps us up at night! I love that I found an old version of this list, so I can see what has gone down!


    2. The whole idea of the list is to help each other out. Blog community! So Jay, if you’ve got items you just cannot find in the shops or online (or at a reasonable price), send us your list, Jay! We’ll get it up there for all of us to give you a hand. Never know when or where these things will turn up, but I’m all for increasing everyone’s chances!


  5. You should have said Mike, I’ve got a sack of those MarillionRochester CD’s in the garage – I was going to throw them out because they’re taking up way too much space.

    The most I’ve ever spent on a record was £85 a long, long time ago for AC/DC Live At Atlantic Studios – money I really didn’t have. I had to virtually live on baked beans for 3 weeks as a consequence.


  6. My only Holy Grail items at this point would be the Big Cheese / Love Buzz original. Pennyroyal Tea single was on there for sure, but I think I ended up finding that one. I also heard there was a version of “In Utero” that was from Walmart where they changed the name “Rape me” to “Waif me” on the back of the cover art. I would still like to find that, it it exists. :)


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