Dick’s Picks: How the debut album from Judge became one of the most expensive records in existence

There are a lot of known rarities out there; First stereo issues of Please Please Me by The Beatles, the A&M pressing of God Save The Queen by the Sex Pistols etc. And then there’s Chung King Can Suck It by Judge. Dick looks at how this rough around the edges record became one of the most expensive records in existence.

Who exactly are they then, Dick?

Judge came out of the fertile New York hardcore scene in the late ‘80s, formed by Youth of Today guitarist John ‘Porcell’ Porcelly and former drummer Mike ‘Judge’ Ferraro. The band was Ferraro’s reaction to the criticism Youth Of Today had received after being perceived as a militant straightedge band, despite the fact they were driven by positivity. Ferraro wanted to give them the militant straightedge band the press were looking for. With more of a metallic edge akin to Agnostic Front than the hardcore punk that populated the New York scene at the time, Judge would go on to be one of the most influential hardcore bands of the time.

So what makes this record so special, then?

In 1989, Judge headed to the legendary Chung King studios – known as the Abbey Road of Hip Hop – in New York City to record their debut album, Bringin’ It Down, and they had only three days to do it. The session seemed doomed from the start; the engineer assigned to the band was, somewhat ironically, dealing with a cocaine addiction, leaving an inexperienced engineer to handle the recording.

The result was, for lack of a better way of putting it, terrible. It had barely been mixed, the production was thin, and given how powerful Judge had intended on sounding, it would have made for a lacklustre debut. The songs were there, but it sounded rougher than your average demo tape. However, Revelation Records boss, Jordan Cooper, had already paid for the recording, mastering, and pressing of the record, which had reached a point too late halt production.

Pre-orders had already been coming in for Bringin’ It Down, so the band and Cooper agreed to press 100 copies of the record on white vinyl. There was the customary 10% overrun during printing, and 110 individually numbered copies were produced. The band didn’t pull any punches when it came to their dissatisfaction with the studio, and named the album Chung King Can Suck It. It was sent out for free to tide over fans who had pre-ordered the album. Eventually, Bringin It Down would be recorded at Normandy Studios in Rhode Island, the same place Cro Mags recorded their 1988 classic, Best Wishes, and is regarded as a milestone in New York hardcore.

Chung King… would go on to be a collector’s item of epic proportions. While it may not be mentioned in the same breath as some of the more known rarities mentioned above, it’s legacy alone has given it an approximate value of around £5000. It did, until very recently, hold the record for being the highest sold record on Discogs.com when a copy changed hands for $6,048.

eil.com… the world’s largest online retailer of rare and out of print vinyl, CDs and music memorabilia – since 1987.

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