In 2013 car boot sales in the UK and Europe are awash with 80s, 90s and 00s CDs. Sellers are practically giving them away.


For 50p or less is it any wonder music fans already proficient in the art of crate-digging for vinyl records are increasingly punting on CDs ?


Overlooked gems by pop stars or raw nuggets from unknown singers? Inane poetry readings or languorous PINA synth and piano workouts ?  Clatteringly raw Hip Hop or smooth jazz fusion? They're all there on tables

Cromer Smugglers

Kerry Beaumont

Forumusic peeks over the fence at this much-maligned format to suggest serious record collectors transfer their skills from the black sides to the small silvery ones on days when those big ol' vinyl records are literally thin on the ground.


Trading needle-dropping for track-skipping...



forumusic presents:

In Praise of Car Boot CDs

For vinyl lovers CDs can be tricky to spot.  Different neck muscles come into play.


CDs are not generally found on the ground in battered old cardboard boxes but on the tops of B&Q wallpaper pasting tables where sellers arrange the shiny jewel cases in neat rows or stack them in piles.


They’re easy enough to scan through and after just a few hours interesting things begin to happen. First and foremost the same names begin to appear over and over again with alarming frequency just like they do when looking through piles of LPs. The CD equivalent of Jim Reeves,  Mantovani or Parade of The Pops LPs are Sugababes, Scissor Sisters and Hard-Fi.


These are interspersed with lashings of generic and incredibly similar-looking compilations of House, Club Anthems, Trance, Rave, Chill-Out or modern R&B. But here's the rub. Looking through CDs you also begin to spot many names you will have never seen before largely because they were never released on vinyl.


Is it possible that some of these CD-only recordings are worth hearing or did music stop evolving the split second vinyl production hit the skids 23 years ago?

Daniel Pemberton Orchestra

Coloured Mix Tape Vol.1

1990 was 23 years ago


Car boot sales are graveyards for hundreds of artists from the last two decades whose moment in the sun was a two centimetre long review in Mojo, The Word, NME, Q, The Wire, Vox, etc.


Bands that got a record deal, made a teeny-tiny splash and then faded fast. 90s music magazines thrived on filling page after page with reviews. '50 pages of reviews this month!'


New artists scrambled for coverage. Smaller CD-only labels mushroomed. Reproduction was cheap and the smaller physical size of CDs meant more room for more artists in music shops in the spaces where vinyl had once been.

Broken Bells

Venus Hum


Favourable reviews, reproduced on jewel case stickers persuaded new customers to part with £12 or more.


Three out of the five reviews quoted on the sticker for Venus Hum - Big Beautiful Sky (2002) shown left.


'Lush electro-pop...Bacharach in the studio with Depeche Mode, Kraftwerk making whoopee with Liza Minelli.' The Sunday Times

'The whole shebag sounds like Bjork floating through the electric dreams of Karl Hyde and Chris Lowe.' NME

'They're epic and understated: ethereal and grandiose; recalling Charlotte Gainsbourg one minute, Cocteau Twins the next.' Logo Magazine


Bacharach, Kraftwerk, Minelli. Bjork...? Phew. Car boots have these for 50p. Were they really that good or were the music mag internee reviewers desperate not to miss the next big thing? Artists came and went in the space of two centimetres before a welter of other new bands were reviewed a month later.  


Even if the hyperbole was justified could you have kept up with them all at £12 a pop every month? Car boots deliver these recordings randomly and a quick Google helps you to source further recordings if you like what you hear. It also tells you the tracks you like on Venus Hum debut had High Llamas involvement.

Is there anything good to find on any of these CDs? probably better worded as ‘is there time to listen to every CD like this I can pick up?’ Record collectors who never get around to needle-dropping all the second-hand LPs they buy should ponder the availability of cars with fully operational record players inside them. There aren't any.


‘How long is the drive home from a car boot sale and how many records can you listen to in that time compared to CDs?’  The answer to ‘Is there anything good to find on any of these CDs? is inextricably linked to the minutes in a day when you have access to a facility to play a physical format.  In time you will find something good, maybe even sublime. 


Nick Drake slipped from view for years. Rodriguez didn’t but they made a successful documentary suggesting that he had. Vashti Bunyan may as well have been Keyser Soze until collectors rediscovered her.  Our very own Spoke Records still can't find out much at all about Tammy St. John.


With a CD player at home and in the car you may eventually find something great. Sublime even. Why wait to hear about someone else's discovery on a music forum?

Private Burns

Private Burns

Enjoy The Experience: Homemade Records 1958 -1992


Published this year (2013) and edited by Johan Kugelberg, Michael P. Daley and Paul Major this impressively researched book celebrates the phenomenon of privately pressed vinyl records.


In addition to over 1000 photographs of bizarre-looking LPs there are fascinating biographies about some of these artists who for entirely personal reasons self-financed the production of their own LPs.


The obi-strip encasing the cover (see below) gives some indication of the breadth of performers who felt an urgent need to share their music on vinyl.

Homemade Records

Private Burns

Private Burns

From privately pressed LPs to CDrs


The books cut-off date of 1992 is significant. By 1992 CDrs were an affordable reality.


Record labels themselves were already favouring CD-only releases and promoting their acts to music journalists with promo CDs instead of promo cassettes.


In 1990 the head of Tower Records was predicting the death of vinyl by the end of that year. Format obsolescence shifted Homemade Records (also known as private pressings or vanity pressings) from LP to CD whilst the affordability of home studio equipment meant more people than ever could produce their own music at home and burn it to CDrs in their computers.


Private Burns is our shorthand for privately pressed CDs.  Like private press LPs they contain the music of unsigned artists wanting to promote their live act, get a record deal, spread their own peculiar gospel or just share music with their family. 


The appeal of Private Burns is the same as that of privately pressed LPs. The percentage of releases worth hearing to those you'll never play again is also very similar. That 1% is very satisfying though.

Si Larbey

Doreen Reed

Private Burns


Out of curiosity Forumusic has spent the last six months picking up Private Burns from car boot sales and charity shops in and around the Norwich area in the East of England.


In that time we have found Private Burns from France, Germany, Africa and the US in addition to a slew of local ones.


Poetry readings, rap, rock, synthesizer duos, singer-songwriters, pop acts, comedy cabaret, lounge, glam and prog rock are all represented. We've heard several horrors, a mountain of mundane but a slither of satisfying. We'll be sharing soundclips in a Private Burns article later this year.

Mac Tontoh

Frank Sound

Private Burns cover art: graphic design from the dawn of the digital age to the present day. 


From the late 80s onwards digital technology revolutionised graphic design. A multitude of graphic design programs hit the market and the design of Private Burn CD covers reflect these.


Home telephone numbers feature prominently on releases up to the early 90s increasingly replaced by mobile numbers thereafter.  Late 80s / early 90s Private Burns have no website addresses but later ones do.


Hand printed inserts and flyers abound. Sleevenotes are fastidious and overly descriptive often suggesting which tracks are best to hear first, or in the case of Tim Poland whether tracks are reasonably accessible or takes a few listens but ultimately rewarding. Taglines are funny. The Frank Sound from Wolverhampton boast a vocalist with arrestingly bizarre diction but the sleeve ignores this elephant in the room with original twist of fantastic grooves enriched by their electrifying energy.


We haven't had this much fun from vinyl in years. Now whilst you're at the B&Q tabletop scratching around the CDs it would be damn rude to avoid some of the more ubiquitous ones.

Terry White

Party For God Be-Attitude

No Hits Required

No Hits Required: Non-Hits on Pop CDs from the 00s and 90s


Ubiquitous x 10. Pop CDs from the 00s and 90s. Not for you? Ask yourself which music you heard first. Interviewing members of the VG+ music forum many cited their interest in music stemmed initially from the chart music of their youth. Who knew Rich Hero began his musical life as a Big Country completist.


In a recent excellent VG+ chart on the joys of current J-Pop, Barry Striker shared his youthful enthusiasm for Meatloaf & Cher, Bronski Beat, Mel & Kim, Wet, Wet, Wet and the Pet Shop Boys.


Pop music is often the entry point for a lifetime obssession with music. So has there been...

The Wanted decent pop music since 1990?


Has all chart pop music from the last 20 years been formulaic and uninspired given that many 90s / 00s pop acts had material written and produced for them by production houses? A discussion about The Monkees, Motown, Joe Meek or Larry Parnes could follow here or a chat about writers who wrote songs for other artists such as Tony Hatch, Goffin & King, Chinn & Chapman or Bacharach & David.


Forumusic has been buying 90s / 00s Pop CDs searching for enjoyable songs on them that weren't chart hits. Pleasantly surprised, we're currently preparing an article called No Hits Required: Non-Hits from 90s & 00s Pop CDs to share our discoveries.


In the meantime should you chance upon the Solange CD (pictured at the top of this page) at a car boot sale buy it immediately and check out Track 3. It samples a cool bit of horn action from the German EZ maestro Heinz Kiessling and it's bloody fantastic. Track 7 on the Jay Sean CD shown here is brilliant pop.


Anyone for Blazin' Squad? Track 2 is a cod-Swingbeat / Rap delight. The Wanted track which samples Ennio Morricone is well worth hearing too. We haven't listened to the 2010 Professor Green album below yet but we think he's a pop star; have never knowingly heard anything by him and the CD cost 50p so it's in the glove box.

No Hits Required

No Hits Required

Neutral Milk Hotel

Heard of it but never heard it


Whilst they're cheaper than a Mars Bar it would be madness to leave CDs by artists you've heard about but not actually heard before.


Neutral Milk Hotel for example. Unsure what all the fuss was about. Maybe needs a few more spins? Grateful right now for not paying full price for it.


Ditto These New Puritans. Aware for some strange reason their tunes were used for Assassins Creed. Very dramatic, very drummy but not our cuppa tea.


Ian Brown - Music Of The Spheres Not a fan of his until now. This is an excellent listen. Result!


A sip of the audio juice for 50p. It's a no-brainer.

These New Puritans

Ian Brown

Collectable CDs 


In the midst of looking for CDs of


-------interesting sounding bands you've never heard of

-------Private Burns

-------90s / 00s Pop CDs ( probably just a Forumusic thing)

-------artists you've heard about but not actually heard...


....there is always the possibility of finding CDs that are collectable and worth money. Not the most laudable reason perhaps but it would be a fool who didn't act on gut instinct when something interesting presents itself. A recent TV documentary outing the rare Now That's What I Call Music 4 CD has resulted in a large amount of copies of it appearing on Ebay after viewers collectively rushed into their attics.


Samplers / promo CDs by popular bands are worth looking out for. Diehard fans are often completists. One person we know of punted 50p on a Keane promo CD that turned out to be very desirable indeed to several Keane fans bidding against each other. The same person also chanced upon three copies of an insanely rare and sought after Rave CD that was only handed out at one particular Rave many moons ago.

Music Magpie


Whilst landing big ones like those above offer returns in the hundreds (GBP) they're a rare occurence. Far more common are finds closer in value to tens of pounds. Only dedicated research can build up knowledge of these and at present Forumusic knows of no websites that give a shortcut to values in the way that Popsike and Collectorfrenzy do for vinyl records. Discogs is often useful though.


The presence of is evidence knowledge databases are being established. Advertised with the tagline get cash for your stuff, they work out what your CDs are really worth , buy them off you for a fraction of that value and resell them. Music Magpie sell under the name of Zoverstocks on Amazon.


It follows then that if you are looking to get rid of a stack of CDs and you're not sure if they're worth anything go to key in the bar code information and see what they offer you. If they offer you around 30p it roughly translates to being worth about ten times that.


Rumour has it their best offer is never more than £3 so if your CD registers at that figure you may have struck lucky. In this circumstance go straight to Amazon or Discogs to check out its current market value. We'll be doing further research into this topic for a forthcoming article on Collectable CDs.

Samba Soul

Alternatively don't bother doing any of the above if you're the sort of person that will never get around to listing them on Ebay, Amazon or Discogs. Do the decent thing and take them straight to a charity shop to raise money for a cause you care about. You'll feel good and have fresh space for whatever you're hoarding next.


Grateful thanks to VG+ members Old School Tramp, Highland Cow, The Divine One and Paul-K for supplying additional information for this article.


Ian Townsend / August 2013




Related articles coming to Forumusic in December 2013:


*** No Hits Required: Non-Hits from 90s & 00s Pop CDs

*** Private Burns: A selection of tracks from privately pressed CDs

*** Collectable CDs

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