Sunday, April 27, 2008

The tale of the Chung King collection

Thinking back, my first memories of the Judge "Chung King" session came from a tape I remember listening to in Ken Olden's (Far Cry, Battery, Worlds Collide, Damnation, Better Than A Thousand, etc.) car back in 1989. Ken had come up from D.C. to Jersey to see Insight and Chain Of Strength play a back yard show. At some point we were driving around and he pulls out the Judge tape and asked me if I had heard it yet, at that point I hadn't. I guess the tape had been getting around. He popped it in and right off the bat we were all thinking, "Wow, this recording does not sound as good as the N.Y. Crew 7" recording". But still, it was cool to hear new material by Judge.

In the coming months of 1989, the Judge "Chung King Can Suck It" LP had hit the streets in super limited release. The 100 or so that were pressed were sent out through mail order and snatched up ultra quickly. You were either lucky enough to get one, or you could simply assume that it would be a record that you would most likely never own. From 1989 through the very early 1990s, I didn't know one person that actually owned one. The only rumored one that was floating around sold for $200, which at the time was a mind blowing amount of money to spend on a record.

Fast forward to what I believe was late 1992. Sweet Pete, who I had met earlier in the year, was really into the band Mouthpiece that I was doing at the time. Pete asked me if I had an extra of the first Mouthpiece shirt that we had ever done with New Age Records, better known as the "My Conscience Knows The Truth" shirt. Unfortunately at the time, all I had was one of my own and no extras. If I had an extra I would have given it to Pete in a second, but being that this shirt was the only one that I had and being that it was the first Mouthpiece shirt we made, I kinda wanted to hang on to it.

But Pete asked if there was anything I would trade my shirt for, and that's when my girlfriend jokingly chimed in, "He'd probably do it for a Chung King." Pete said, "It's yours." I laughed and of course assumed Pete was joking, but Pete assured me he was not. He basically said something along the lines of how he was given the "Chung King" directly from Porcell and ordinarily would never trade it, but felt that he had his time with the record and knew that it would be going into good hands. More than anything, I knew this was just a good gesture by Pete and in the many years that I would go on to know him, this was not an isolated incident. Pete was and I would assume still is a very giving type of person and there really aren't a whole lot of people out there like him. Within the next couple of weeks Pete and I ended up at a New Year's Eve party in Connecticut and the trade went down. I also remember that the Consequence Records LP compilation, "It's For Life," had just been released and I had a few copies of it, so I threw that into the trade. Pete was psyched and I was psyched and we both walked away from the trade pretty damn happy.

The following year, Dave Mandel from Indecision Fanzine had been out in Jersey from California, staying with my girlfriend Traci and me for a few weeks. Word had gotten out that Porcell had just dumped a large chunk of his record collection off at a NYC record store called Reconstruction. Dave, Traci and myself hopped in a car and headed off to NYC to hit up Reconstruction and see what was still available from Porcell's collection. The first records I remember seeing when we walked in were a Judge "Chung King" on the wall and a couple of Judge "Bringin' It Down" test pressings. The dust sheet simply said, "Judge Test Pressing," so everyone, including us and the record store employees, assumed both test pressings were from "Bringin' It Down." Traci bought the regular "Chung King" which if I recall correctly was about $60 and she also bought one of the test pressings for $30. Mandel snatched up the second test pressing for $30 as well. I hadn't rolled in with a whole lot of cash, so I just bought a handful of Wide Awake "CT Hardcore" 2nd press 7"s for $3 a piece.

At the time, test pressings weren't all that sought after. Not too many people had them and most people didn't really care about them, so us picking up those "Bringin' It Down" test pressings didn't seem like all that big of a deal. When we got home from the city, Mandel and I were hanging out, checking out the records we had just bought. We pulled out a turn table and decided to take a listen to the "Bringin' It Down" test press that Mandel had bought. I remember us hoping we would hear some differences on the test pressing and thinking that there was the possibility that the test was some sort of rejected version. Instead, the surprise we got was much bigger, the supposed "Bringin' It Down" test was actually a "Chung King" test! I quickly grabbed Traci's test pressing and popped that on to the turntable and indeed, her copy was of a "Chung King" as well! Considering how rare the "Chung King" record was, we knew having these test pressings was pretty cool, but little did we know what the going price for one of these would be 10 years or so to follow.

I've seen "Chung Kings" sell from $600 up into the thousands. As for the test pressings, I've only heard of two being sold. One was Mandel's, which I believe he got a pretty hefty amount of cash for. The other was Alex Brown's which I think I remember hearing sold for close to $5,000. There might have been a copy of Cappo's that sold as well, but off hand I can't recall for sure. If anyone knows the official prices for each copy, feel free to leave the info as a comment. As for Traci's, since we're now married, I'm sort of the appointed keeper of the collection and our copy of the test pressing is safely intact in our collection, along with two "Chung Kings." Thanks Porcell. -TM


Alex said...

That was a fun article to read. I guess only a record collector would truly understand what it means. I just wanted to clarify that I never sold mine. Much less for $5000! I recall a few years ago Cappo and Jordan were selling theirs and that Cappo got $3000 + for his. I don't remember if Jordan ended up selling his or not.

Also, where the hell did you get that great pic of me and Jordan behind Walter at a YOT show? I had never seen that.

Reading about Porcell selling his records kills me. I remember when I sold all mine....a painful memory indeed!

mel said...

Are you still a big record collector Tim?

Grandnagus69 said...

I am one of the few who feels that "Chung King" is the definitive Judge record...I'll always stand by that. I remember the day at CBGB's when Jordan brought the prints of the covers for "Chung King". At that moment, it was assumed by everybody that it was going to be a full release. A couple of weeks later, we found out that this wasn't going to be the case. I'm pretty sure I got a tape of it from Duane at Some Records (could be wrong) because I definitely was not in the "cool" group of people who had dibs on a copy.

The original $250 dollar sale of a "Chung King"was by Ryan Siokorski, a kid who had a lot of money and records at that point (in 1991) started going for alot. Sadly, much of it was speculation but that is what drives prices up. I can't even fathom somebody paying thousands for this.

Tim, I am curious though, what kind of condition was your "Chung King" vinyl in? Most of Porcell's records when they were sold to Reconstruction were in horrid shape. I know he brought them in a big luggage chest.

-Dave K.

Dave said...

I don't think Jordan ever sold his. I sold my test for $4500 and later sold Ray's for him for roughly $4000. Alex actually contacted me about selling his as well around that time but I couldn't find another buyer in that range. Porcell actually sent me an email after hearing of me selling that record and said (I'm paraphrasing here) "Congratulations, you have officially made more money off Judge than me." Ha ha....

- Mandel

Ramblin Man said...

I liked the 2 tracks on chung king that weren't on bringin it down.Still the 10" bootleg of it seems to command a hefty price nowdays too.I remember getting triple digits for it about 4 years ago.or maybe someone just wanted it really bad.
On record collecting subjects where's the best place to put a liquidation list?

Guav said...

Chuck Miller from Temperance Records gave me my Chung King, somewhere between '91 and '93 I guess.

When DJ (Path Of Resistance) was trying to buy his house ten laters, I sold it on eBay for $1,200 (I think) and lent the money to DJ.

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