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No. 205 June 2021


Text: WOJCIECH PACUŁA / Translation: Marek Dyba
Images: Wojciech Pacuła

No 206

June 1, 2021


Or: shortly about physical carriers
And, by the way: on May the 1st „HIGH FIDELITY” celebrated its 17th birthday!!!

UR PERSONAL STORIES SOMETIMES HAVE THESE TWISTS that even a good writer would not be able to come up with - maybe someday, and it would be AI rather than human. The story that I would like to tell you goes back to my school days, when we wandered around the Bieszczady Mountains for weeks with friends of both sexes, right after we returned from a traveling scout camp in one of the Lakelands - sometimes in the vicinity of Międzyrzecki Rejon Ufortyfikowany (Fortified Region), sometimes just around some small, then still completely undiscovered area with lakes hidden somewhere in the woods.

⸜ ADAM ZIEMIANIN and Kilim o samotności - you can find more about the story below

There are - or actually were, it's already a prehistory - a few "iron-clad" rules governing such an excursion. Such as the fact that everything we needed must have fitted into one backpack, and that we cooked ourselves on the fire, in the forest, and finally - that such a group must have had a guitar with it, or even better - two of them. We met all these requirements, and one of the players was yours truly. In retrospect, I can see that I was not particularly good, after all my band was rejected in a few qualifiers to various competitions, but for the around the fire playing, apparently, what I represented was enough.

The repertoire of a given guitarist could have differed, but there were a few „sure” items on the playlist, such as songs of WOLNA GRUPA BUKOWINA, most often, however, we played the songs of the STARE DOBRE MAŁŻEŃSTWO, by the way this band discovered by the leader of the Wolna Grupa Bukowina, Wojciech Bellon. Usually, the repertoire of EDWARD STACHURA was also played from the Dla wszystkich starczy miejsca (Pronit, 1990; a fun fact - a vinyl version of this album is available), and later from the ADAM ZIEMIANIN’s Makatki (Pomaton EMI) released in the same year.

The members of SDM were for us absolutely unattainable gods of guitar, singing and composition, which we tried to copy with the same enthusiasm as any aspiring guitarist tortures the beginning of the Stairway to Heaven by Led Zeppelin. You have no idea how many versions of the Z nim będziesz szczęśliwsza were created, how many arrangements of the Nie Brookliński most! The Makatki turned out to be much more challenging, both because of the more complex lyrics and the more difficult music. We did not do much better with the Czarny blues o czwartej nad ranem (Pomaton EMI) released in 1992, and yet we tried to copy our heroes as accurately as possible, down to the last note and the suspension of the voice.

⸜ One of the easiest and surest ways to get an autograph is to wait for an artist after the concert; the photo shows the Transition album of the SKALPEL duo, a ticket for the concert and the Companion by PATRICIA BARBER - the concert took place in Tychy

Seen by us several times at concerts, they were the epitome of the lyrics they sang, despite the fact that we realized that it was not their words, not their experiences and ultimately also not their emotions. The first time, during one of such concerts, I saw the author of Makatki, who usually performed with them while reading his poems, his image completely did not match what I heard, but it was an important experience - after all, it was my first contact with an author, even if we were twenty rows apart.

Knowing my fascination with Ziemianin's texts, on my eighteenth birthday my friends who lived in Wieliczka gave me something that I had kept for years as a relic: signed by the poet - with his own hand - and calligraphed by Dorota Kilim o samotności. As it turned out, the author of the poem was their neighbor with whom they exchanged pleasantries over the fence.

The epilogue of this story takes place several years later, when we moved from Nowa Huta to Ruczaj. Imagine my amazement when it turned out that Adam Ziemianin was our neighbor living in an apartment directly below us! Although I had some experience in contacts with celebrities and popular people, years of work at the Juliusz Słowacki Teatr did the trick, I still almost passed out when I met him.

⸜ The second way to get an autograph is to buy a special edition of the CD - in the photos PAUL YOUNG’S Tomb of Memories, Anabasis by DEAD CAN DANCE and KRYSTYNA PROŃKO’S Osobista kolekcja – komplet; the albums come from the times when it was not a widespread way to promote physical media, but just a curiosity for fans

The shock was so big that although we became friends, we talked about the weather, shopping, wine, etc., I never told him about my scouting past and my musical fascinations from that time. Until Mr. Adam asked me for a little help at home and when I saw rows of Gold Records on the walls, confirming the sale of SDM records. Then I stumbled out something like: "Because you know, Mr. Adam, you know ... well, that ... And by the way, I have to go ..."

⸜ In Poland, you can also buy very interesting autographed musical artifacts - in the photo there are three different possibilities available on the MICHAŁ URBANIAK’s website, the only Pole who played with Miles Davis: limited photo by RYSZARD HOROVITZ, musician's autobiography entitled Ja, Urbanator, and two of the many violinist CDs

Fortunately, my interlocutor is a more sensitive man than me and can read between the lines, so he quickly realized what was going on. And then he asked for this piece of paper, and then "confirmed" its authenticity with additional greetings to his neighbors. I was delighted and touched. And yet it is just an ordinary A4 format sheet on which someone wrote something. So why did it end up in a frame as one of the most important artifacts I have? I think you can feel it - the artist's personal contact with an object, best related to his work, causes that this object becomes much more valuable, it’s like it is turbocharged. It is no different with music releases.

An autograph on a CD/LP, ticket or T-shirt with the name of the performer can be obtained in two ways - in person, by hunting for artists after the concert, or by buying a previously signed item. Both methods are validated, although the former gives more reliable and more long-term results - we see who actually autographs the item and we have memories related to the event. The problem is, of course, the availability of a given performer, because we will never be able to meet most of them.

What’s left is buying signed items. However, there is a risk of fraud - after all, we do not know if it is a real signature or not, it often happens (I have something like that in my closet) that a signature is printed. Appropriate certificates from specialized companies help in dispelling these doubts, but they are expensive and in the case of records, unless they are rare copies of performers such as The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, etc., the cost of such expertise exceeds the value of an autograph.

For several years - let's say ten - a strategy used first by less known artists and small labels, and now strongly supported by the biggest ones, has been gaining popularity. We are talking about special editions of LPs and CDs autographed by the artist. These versions are most often available on the artist's or publisher's website. The advantage of such a solution is that, almost certainly - we never have 100% certainty - the items was autographed by the person in question.

⸜ Recently, more and more signed CDs in their online store are offered by Deutsche Grammophon, using different strategies: in the case of the HILARY HAHN Paris CD, an additional graphic is signed (the so-called art print), with the ROLANDO VILLAZÓN & XAVIER DE MAISTRE Serenata Latina CD (on the left) an additional booklet (the same as in the packed CD) is included, and in the case of Mozart's works for oboe and orchestra with ALBRECHT MAYER in the lead role it is signed in the middle of the digipack.

For a long time, such editions were available only in the online stores of the respective artists. This is how I bought a special version of the Anabasis album of the Dead Can Dance duo, this is how I got the The Minutes by Alison Moyet, an artist for whom I have a special weakness, and that’s also how I acquired a special edition of Paul Young's greatest hits, entitled Tomb of Memories. Nota bene - for some time there was a beautifully published, five-gold-disc edition of Krystyna Prońko Osobista kolekcja – komplet available with her beautiful autograph (it included songs from the radio play Moomin Summer!).

I bought both Moyet and Young thanks to the information provided by Paul Sinclare, editor-in-chief of the „SuperTheluxeEdition”, a place where the physical form of the album is one of its equally important features. Sinclair apparently sensed something, because in a short time both the artists themselves and their releases began to promote such special editions, thus drawing our attention to physical media. The reason was simple - they created the biggest cash flow, and nowadays - it’s all artists make money of; only the absolute biggest stars live from the streaming.

And now - in times of a pandemic, this practice seems to be spreading. Please visit the websites of Blue Note, Verve, Deutsche Grammophon, and you will find quite a lot of new, artist-signed publications there. Blue Note offers signatures on new releases, for example of the CHARLES LLOYD, on the Verve website you will find an LP, CD, and even Test Presses autographed by DIANA KRALL, DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON offers boxes with graphics bearing HILARY HAHN's autograph, the signed graphics can also be found in the special edition of the PAT METHENY’s Road To The Sun.

Most titles can be found on the website of the DECCA label (; accessed: 19/04/2021).

⸜ And finally the Verve label, with the The Dream of You by DIANA KRALL (here TEST PRESS of the disc), and Blue Note with the albums CHARLES LLOYD & THE MARVELS Tone Poem and THE NELS CLINE SINGERS Share The Wealth; In the first case, a signed artwork was added to the set, and in the second, the autograph was on the cover - the case of Verve requires no comment :)

The strategies adopted by publishers and related to the form of signatures are quite interesting. The first albums that I mentioned bear rather symbolic signatures - in the case of DCD they are only the first letters of the artists' names. Apparently, it turned out to be insufficient, because on all the new releases I recently bought, the autographs are clear and large - in the end, after all what we pay also to enjoy the so-called "owner’s pride", right?

It is also interesting that these special, signed releases do not differ in price from the basic ones. As if it was not about additional earnings in their case, but about promoting releases, their physical versions. Perhaps this is part of the trend that has recently been paid attention to, namely the halt in the decline in Compact Disc sales and the growing number of LPs sold. The absolute king is streaming, whose share in the music market is still growing, it's obvious. However, it is growing not at the expense of physical releases, but due to the growing number of music lovers.

So maybe this model will be established for the next few, maybe even ten years: promotion of music through streaming services - which benefit us, not musicians - with a large, stable share of sales of physical carriers, which will be used by artists as a source of income. For us, the good news is that for publishers, special versions of CDs will become more and more important as regular CDs will be harder and harder to sell.

So let's take advantage of this state of affairs, collect and enjoy shopping. Autographs have a special power, they are like a spell cast on an ordinary object which, thanks to it, acquires special properties and influences us. Like a poem written by a friend and certified by its author's signature, it becomes something more that transcends the visible reality, anchoring this scrap of paper beyond "here and now".

Having said that, I would like to add that a few days after I saw Mr. Ziemianin on the stairs of my apartment building, my wife came up with the idea of starting a magazine that you are currently reading. It's good to have a wise person around you! The magazine was launched on May 1, 2004, 17 years ago to be exact. We would like to thank all of you, our readers, for being with us all this time and we bow deeply to all manufacturers and distributors who, with their money, through advertising banners, allow you to read it for free.


Chief editor

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Our reviewers regularly contribute to  “Enjoy the”, “”“”  and “Hi-Fi Choice & Home Cinema. Edycja Polska” .

"High Fidelity" is a monthly magazine dedicated to high quality sound. It has been published since May 1st, 2004. Up until October 2008, the magazine was called "High Fidelity OnLine", but since November 2008 it has been registered under the new title.

"High Fidelity" is an online magazine, i.e. it is only published on the web. For the last few years it has been published both in Polish and in English. Thanks to our English section, the magazine has now a worldwide reach - statistics show that we have readers from almost every country in the world.

Once a year, we prepare a printed edition of one of reviews published online. This unique, limited collector's edition is given to the visitors of the Audio Show in Warsaw, Poland, held in November of each year.

For years, "High Fidelity" has been cooperating with other audio magazines, including “Enjoy the” and “” in the U.S. and “”  in Germany. Our reviews have also been published by “”.

You can contact any of our contributors by clicking his email address on our CONTACT  page.

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