Walter Steding and the Dragon People – The Joke / Chase The Dragon

This is a post i thought i’d never get to make. It almost feels a bit unreal to start typing… It’s not Melodic Magic but it’s not every day that i get to add something as cool and rare as this to my collection of record covers so i’m pretty excited about this. It’s also the third and final part of my trade with Guy Minnebach and i might as well thank you again Guy right away, thanks!

Walter Steding and the Dragon People – The Joke / Chase The Dragon (Earhole Productions – WS 4000)

Where to start with this… well, as with a lot of other things the coolest looking covers are also among the rarest and most expensive. However i don’t know exactly how rare this is considered to be. I do know that it’s been a loooong time since i’ve seen this album on ebay with a low starting bid and without a reserve price. So in that aspect the market has not been able to have it’s say regarding the price of this recently. In fact, there’s only been one logged sale on ebay in the last year and that closed at around $200. For someone with a thick wallet the record is available at both ebay and discogs, and has been so for quite some time. But with a median price or whatever it’s called of around $500 i would assume this is a record that budget collectors like myself will to have hope, pray and wait on forever and ever… Going back a few years the record has sold for as much as $1000 and in may 2011 it held two places in the top ten of most expensive records sold on discogs that month.

On to Walter Steding then… not the easiest thing to read up on him either but i’ve at least been able to figure out a little bit. Seems he mostly played electric violin and got started in New York in the late seventies as a one man band thing playing opening gigs at the famous CBGB’s for bands like Blondie and one of my favourite bands The Ramones. Apparently he first met Warhol at a discotheque on lower Broadway called Infinity and they got to talking about his music and eventually Warhol invited him to perform at The Factory. I guess they got along pretty good as Steding later became one of Warhol’s painting assistants preparing and cleaning the silk screens and things like that i guess…

Then sometime in 1980 Steding formed his band The Dragon People and eventually Warhol produced some of Stedings music and released it on his own label called Earhole Productions. And this is in fact the one and only album that was ever released on that label So what about the company? Well, it has not been easy to find anything whatsoever about it’s history. No mention anywhere, nothing at all. This is a little annoying since i’m sure it’s an interesting story behind it and it sure makes me curious as to what the plans and intentions were. And why nothing really came out of it? The only thing i have found, and i can’t quite put this all together but here goes… On Walter Stedings site there is a lot of cool stuff. Videos, paintings and so on, even a portrait of Andy Warhol himself.  There is also a section of different writings, and one in particular was very interesting. In this one here Steding writes that “On aug. 9 we signed a contract for him to be my manager and to start a record company called Earhol Music…”. But since the single in question was released a couple of years earlier in 1980 i don’t really understand this. Could it have been self released or whatever it’s called under the name Earhole Productions with the intention to eventuelly start a “real” company called Earhol Music? Maybe i’m not making much sense, but this is all pretty intriguing… I’m going to look into these writings more later. The images of the cover signed by both Warhol and Steding as well as the signed drawing of the head on the front design is also very cool! I’m also curious about the catalogue numer WS 4000, could “WS” be short for Warhol and Steding? Whatever the case, why the 4000?

Anyways, on yet another side note Warhol also produced the music video to Steding’s song Secret Spy from his album Dancing in Heaven. I’ve seen this single listed on ebay as a “Warhol cover” a couple of times and Frank Edwards also has it posted on his blog. The cover features a still frame from the video, and since Warhol produced the video i guess one could argue that it is in fact a Warhol cover, of sorts…

Oh well, moving on… Warhol is credited as the executive producer but the guy controlling the actual recording, mixing and mastering was Chris Stein – co-founder and guitarist of the band Blondie and someone i assume Steding got to know during the time at CGBG’s. The recording sessions were held at Blank Tapes Studios in New York, i’m not going to get side tracked more than i already have but there’s a pretty interesting “documentary” on that place on YouTube. No mention of Warhol or Steding though, but still pretty interesting…

After reading everything i just wrote it felt like a whole lot of nothing… But oh well, at least the writings of Steding was pretty interesting. So what about the cover itself? Well, as i’ve said before i love black and white. So it might not be surprising that this cover is right up at the top in my personal favourites list. I also absolutely love the back/front design idea with a big drawing on the front together with four small photographs and vice versa on the back. And also the idea with the inverted coloring, very cool and clever! Another great thing about this is that you can just flip the cover over when it’s up on the wall and get a totally new look, great stuff! I also didn’t know that violin was Steding’s instrument of choice before starting this post, but now all the small violins on both the front and back cover as well as on the labels make a lot more sense.

I can’t say much about the condition either. Even though it does have a couple of smaller issues that can be seen in the images i would never ever complain about anything with this cover. It’s absolutely fantastic and i don’t think i can thank you enough Guy, i’m thrilled to finally have this on my wall! This surely puts a little more “oomph” into my collection, thanks again!

TheJoke_ChaseTheDragon1 TheJoke_ChaseTheDragon2 TheJoke_ChaseTheDragon3

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2 thoughts on “Walter Steding and the Dragon People – The Joke / Chase The Dragon

  1. Pingback: Highs and lows of 2014 | ratfab

  2. Pingback: The Rolling Stones – Emotional Tattoo (Reissue) | ratfab

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