Quality not quantity is the watchword for Northern Irish collector Barry Hassan, whose record collection began with 90s indie, but branched out into classic and hard rock…
What was the first record you bought?
“In 1994, I was eight years old and grew up in the north west of Northern Ireland. There was pretty much only one record shop in the city at that time, and it was called Sounds Around. I remember regularly going in as a kid; I had just really started getting into music and Definitely Maybe by Oasis had just been released. It was on display on the wall as a new release, and that’s the first one I bought with pocket money. It’s still around, even if that great shop is not.”
Which artists and genres are you most interested in?
“I think a lot of the stuff you first listen to sticks with you, so for me, that’d be The Beatles and a lot of 90s indie. But since the late 90s, I’ve been more swayed towards classic/hard rock and heavy metal. That’s what I try to collect these days, as well as some classic punk and modern rock. Sabbath, Judas Priest, KISS, Alice Cooper, Zeppelin, AC/DC, Scorpions, Ramones – all the greats! I have their original-pressing repertoire. My tastes vary wildly… basically, anything but jazz!”
How many records do you have?
“It goes against the very basis of being a collector, but I try to keep a modest collection. At one point, I decided to only collect a specific genre, but that quickly became a thing of the past! Currently, I have around 300 LPs; at most, it’s been around 500. I have a small gathering of 7″ singles of some of my favourite songs. When it starts to get a bit unwieldy, I tend to swap out a few less-sought-after records for one of my Grails. If I had more room, I’d have more records!”
What’s the most valuable record in your collection?
“It used to be some Vertigo-swirl Sabbath pressings, but they went the way of Discogs a while back. The most valuable record monetary-wise in my collection I believe is a Sun Kil Moon one, Among The Leaves, on blue vinyl. I have their whole back catalogue – they’re usually short-run and quite popular with collectors. Some early Dylan and Beatles pressings are in there, too. The most valuable to me, though, sits framed in our living room, the 7″ single of Breathless by Nick Cave – it was the first dance at our wedding.”
What’s the Holy Grail record that you’d most like to own?
“I’ve had quite a few over the years and it changes often! For a long time, it was the first two Gomez LPs, but this was before they were reissued. Then it was The Boatman’s Call by Nick Cave. There usually isn’t a problem finding some of the metal and hard-rock LPs I want, they usually have good prices, too. However, my current Grail is Ozzy Osbourne’s No More Tears – it’s got some wildly varying prices on the market. It’s definitely one that deserves a reissue and is actually some of his best solo work.”
What’s your listening setup?
“I have a Pro-Ject Essential turntable – the first one, I don’t think they make them anymore. I bought that with some scratch-card winnings, actually! That goes through an old Sanyo amplifier from the 70s, which belonged to my wife’s grandmother – a DCA 30. That combination has a great warmth to it and suits a lot of the classic and hard-rock LPs I own. That all goes through some noname hi-fi speakers from the 70s; it’s a mash-up of a setup but sounds great!”