(Early) Vigotone vs. Howdy!

 

The Vigotone label got its CD start in 1990 by releasing eight John Lennon titles.  Because these initial Vigotones made such a splash, it was thought by "the powers that be" to start a new label in order to continue the Lennon series (in order to confuse the authorities) .  Hence, the Howdy! label was born in 1991.

The initial three releases on Howdy! featured John Lennon, and the fourth was a Beatles' release (1968 Demos).  The first two Lennon releases later turned up on the Vigotone label (more on this below), the third became part of the Absolute Elsewhere box, and the fourth was reissued on the Vigotone label in 1993.

The question now is: are the two "Vigotone" versions of Dreaming of the Past and My Love Will Turn You On authentic Vigotones, or are they knockoffs?  Both of these releases "look" different than the rest of the "Early Vigotone" releases.

First, let's look at the original 1990 Vigotone releases:

- The 1990 Vigotone releases have boxes around the catalog numbers on the back cover, and a rather bold font is used. 
- The catalog number on the back cover appears in the upper right corner of every release.
- The Vigotone logo appears in the lower right corner of every release.
- The text on the spines runs top to bottom on both the left and the right.


- Most of the "Early Vigotone" releases also feature a Vigotone copyright notice, and a "Made in EEC" notation.  (Only VT-CD 01 through VT-CD 04, VT-CD 07 & VT-CD 08 lack this notation.)

 

- The 1995 releases use a thinner font than the 1990 releases.
- The catalog numbers aren't inside boxes.
- The catalog number, Vigotone logo, and a "Made in France" notation appear in the lower left corner of each release.
- The text on the left spine runs "bottom to top", not "top to bottom".
- It's quite obvious that the 1995 release is a reissue (or knockoff) of the 1991 Howdy! release:

These are two extreme close-ups of text from the back covers of the Howdy! release (top) and the Vigotone release (bottom).  If you look closely at the Vigotone version's text, you'll clearly see how it's a bit rougher that the original Howdy! version.  This suggests that an actual Howdy! CD was used as the basis for the re-issue.

 

Another view of the spines, and catalog numbers from the back covers.

 

Now, let's look at the discs themselves:
- The 1990 releases have matrix numbers that don't match the catalog numbers.
- The 1995 releases have matrix numbers that match the catalog numbers.
- The 1990 disc style is unlike the later Howdy! or Vigotone-family releases.  But, the 1995 release is very similar to the style of discs Vigotone had made in 1996 (matrix numbers that appear backwards from the front of the disc).
- But, by 1995, Vigotone was having its discs made in Australia, not France!

 

So, it's clear that the Lennon versions of VT-CD 09 & VT-CD 10 are not from the original 1990 line of releases.  They may well be official Vigotone reissues from 1995, but then again, they could just be very clever knockoffs.  (But, I tend to think that they are legitimate reissues!)

The final question is: why were they numbered VT-CD 09 & VT-CD 10, when those numbers were already used and that the next numbers in line would be VT-CD 19 & VT-CD 20? 

I think one reason my be linked to the captions found on the back of the Howdy releases:
- Part nine of a collection of unreleased demos and outtakes.
- Part ten of a collection of unreleased demos and outtakes.
When the reissues were done, a simple mistake could have been made, and VT-CD 09 & VT-CD 10 were reused.

Another reason is more speculative:
I've learned that the person who was responsible for the later Vigotone releases didn't have full say in what was released in 1990, and that some of the 1990 releases were done without his permission.  It's possible to assume that these "unauthorized" releases could have begun with the original VT-CD 09 (Acoustic Troubadour), and that these were therefore not considered legitimate by "Mr. Vigotone".  When the time came to do the reissues, he may have just continued from what he felt the next number in line would be (VT-CD 09).

So, there you have it.  Another Vigotone mystery is solved!  (maybe!)

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