Skitslickers Remedial

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My friend Chris wrote to say that he noticed an ambiguity in my post about the obviously fake Shitlickers 7". Let me be clear: I have never had any doubt as to whether this sleeve was "legit." It was obviously made recently. Chris writes:

That typeface for SKITSLICKERS is definitely a computer generated font, I'm pretty sure I have it at home. You can tell just from looking at the distress marks on the repeating letters (check out those little dots in the lower part of the I's), and the baseline and kerning are too exact to not be a computer generated font.

Indeed. Why someone made this fake sleeve and sent it to me is another question. It has all the hallmarks of a record-collector jape, what with the reference to buying it from a German and all. Torbjörn Nilsson, you so funny.

But Chris raised an important point, which is Stuart, why was your post ambiguous? As I see it, recent eBay auctions have justified both greater skepticism with regard to claims of authenticity, and clarified how some ambiguities about authenticity, of Skitslickers 7"s on the market. (Philosophical and political economic discussions of "authenticity" saved for another day.)

1. Digression on "Raped Ass"

Surely you saw this auction for a copy of "Raped Ass" by Anti-Cimex that sold for $611. Like many of the other recent auctions for Skitslickers/Anti-Cimex rarities, the seller is Mats B., who was at the center of the GBG hardcore scene at the time. He notes in a recent auction that he traded copies of the GBG classics for US hardcore classics back when both were just crappy DIY hardcore records put out by ugly teenagers with acne. (Notably, one of those GBG classics, which ended up in the hands of Corey Rusk of the Necros, recently sold for a piggybank-obliterating $622. Rusk owning a 'Lickers didn't prevent Necros from sucking, unfortunately.) So what's up with this copy of "Raped Ass"? Why did it sell for almost double the price of a more typical version? As I have detailed, the clear-vinyl version is typically accompanied by a photo sheet; some other copies include the variation on the typical "Raped Ass" artwork. Another correspondent recently sent me photos of his clear-vinyl copy, which is accompanied by a slightly different sheet, seen below. Note the band name inverted at the bottom.

Because the "sleeve" is a photograph that was hand-printed in a darkroom, it would have been easy to put the band name on the sheet twice. As such, I would not consider this a "collectible" variation. It's effectively a one-off or a printing error. I know of at least one other copy that looks like this. There may be other multiple copies circulating that are like this one, but, even considering the overall stupidity and insanity of this hobby, it'd be stupid and insane to try to collect this variation of a variation. (See Tesco Vee's article about collecting punk records in Maximum Rocknroll #15 for more on this general topic.) Still, a very rare variation of "Victims of a Bombraid," about which I have yet to post, comprises a printers' error which left the band name off the front of sleeve. As if to prove the unreason of this endeavor, I do consider that one a "collectible" variation. Because of the story behind this variation of VOAB and its integral character to the rest of the sleeves (ever wonder why the common version of that first pressing of VOAB has the band name printed in opaque silver ink, rather than white?), it strikes me as an important piece for a completist to own, even if an extremely low number actually made it into circulation. Perhaps only a handful.

Anyway, the correspondent sent me a photo of the back of this "Raped Ass" photo sleeve, with these  headshots of three of the band members placed on it. He says each has Betong Negativ's stamp on the back. Seeing these lends credence to the correction to my post, courtesy of another correspondent, that suggests that there were headshot sleeves made by Betong Negativ in addition to the band photo seen above. Anyway, this is a lot of info about "Raped Ass." Why bother? The reason is to say that the sale of this record for such a high price strikes me as bizarre for the simple reason that the two-sleeves, one-vinyl "version" is not a version at all. When I saw this, I thought to myself, as otherssurely did, "I should toss the vinyl for one of my copies and put the sleeves together and sell them for more than they'd sell individually." Or perhaps I should toss the vinyl for four copies of this record and put the remaining sleeves together and sell a gigarare five-sleeve variation. Of course, some would say, "But Stuart, you are not Mats. He pressed this version. It therefore has a provenance making the record's price worthwhile." Or, one could say that because Mats is the seller, it has less legitimacy. He could cobble together all manner of rarities posthumously with whatever materials he conceivably has laying around the house. I am not attributing any malign intent to the auction or saying he did anything wrong, but this record was never distributed with two sleeves to my knowledge. Thus, one will find this variation for sale only on eBay, from Mats. It's not as egregious as the infamous Child Molesters fake. But it does suggest that one should be careful buying collectibles from the people who made the record originally.

2. Back to Skitslickers

In my prior understanding of the known variations, as enumerated here, I did not discuss the version with a scratched-out matrix. Years ago, I had heard that prior to the Shitlickers/Anti-Cimex bootleg 7", there was a straight bootleg of the Shitlickers 7". But I had never seen one. Subsequently, as I have noted, both Mats and Lasse have offered different stories of how many "legitimate" versions of the record exist: three and one, respectively. At one point several years ago, I purchased what was sold as a test pressing of the Shitlickers 7". It was a sleeveless copy of the record with the matrix scratched out. But the matrix was still legible as a palimpsest, and it turned out to be the correct, original matrix (SL-8206). I did not know what to make of this record and I returned it for a refund. Recently, I obtained what I thought was the very same record, peddled as an original to a friend of mine. It seemed bizarre serendipity that the very same copy of this record would cross my path twice. But I recently learned that there are multiple copies of this record. It was pressed from the original plates—thus with the original matrix, but subsequently scratched out—in the late 1990s. Therefore, the rumor I'd heard long ago now turns out to be true. The person behind this "bootleg" appears to be Mats himself because he just sold one and came clean, more or less, calling it a "fan" edition. It includes a photocopy of the original "GBG 1982" sleeve. He says 300 copies were pressed. Perhaps that is true, but I have not seen very many of these in circulation at all. Perhaps 300 were made but they were sold in very limited quantities as originals for collectors' prices. Some consultation with experts has suggested that the person from whom I obtained one of these, sold as a test pressing, was involved in circulating these copies. I do not want to call them counterfeits because the scratched-out matrix and the fact that the original plates were used means a different term is needed. All things considered, I would say that if you do not mind not having an "original" sleeve—already a problematic category with this record, as I have been arguing—buying one of these could be a cheap way to obtain the original sound, which no reissue or bootleg can match.

Also, I might as well point out that the white of the labels on this version is different from the white of the ones manufactured earlier. By itself, that observation is meaningless because there are variations among the shades of white on all the copies. Moreover, white labels on many records pressed at the time in Nordic countries were bleached labels left over from other records and as such have variations in shade and tone, and in some cases still show legible traces of the previous printing. But because this pressing is separated from the original pressing by almost two decades, the label color difference seems worth noting as an indicator that something is awry.

In sum, the line between bootleg and legitimate when it comes to Anti-Cimex and Shitlickers is extremely blurry because the people in the bands/who released the records have contradictory stories about what is legitimate and what is not. And, beyond that, they were themselves involved in creating the mysterious, non-conforming versions.

Oh yeah, the guy who sent me the photos above also told me that he has a one-off variation of the Shitlickers sleeve made by Mats most likely in 1989 (which directly contradicts what Mats has said again and again about there being only three versions, including in the most recent auctions, where a "GBG 1982" sleeve sold for $434, almost a third the price of Rusk's copy, and a white export sleeve sold for $172). Mats asked that he not "spread it" around.

Ha ha ha.

One more noteworthy tidbit from all of this: Mats revealed that the matrix number (SL-8206) means that the record was recorded and manufactured in June of 1982. Also, SL is not for "Shit Lickers," it's for Studio Lane, where the record was recorded.

Mats also laid the biggest turd of all in these recent auctions: he admitted that he has live recordings of Shitlickers, something tantalizingly hinted at before. I'm expecting an e-mail from a stranger in the near future telling me that Mats sold off the tapes, but I can't hear them.

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