Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past 25 years, chances are big you have heard of Bonzai Records, one of Belgium’s most legendary dance institutions. This year marks the iconic label’s 25th anniversary and while our sister website Red Bull Elektropedia is celebrating in style with a documentary, modern day reworks of Bonzai classics and an event at Waagnatie on November 18th, we thought it would be interesting to seek out the most valuable twelve inches the label released in the past quarter century. We searched and found the five most pricey pieces of Bonzai wax for sale on the Discogs platform (date of search: 19/10/2017).
1. DJ Franky Jones - Trance-O-Logic EP (Bonzai Records - BR 94064)
For sale on Discogs for: €99 to €999 (never sold on Discogs before)
Trance-O-Logic is Franky Jones’ solo debut on Bonzai Records. Throughout the mid nineties, the producer from Mechelen (real name Frank Sels) would deliver a handful more solo efforts on the label. His first one has never actually been sold on the Discogs platform but that doesn’t hold people back charging ridiculous amounts for it. Funny detail: it’s actually the mispress (with both sides containing the same two tracks) that’s going for big bucks, while you can snatch up a regular copy for about the same price as back on release day. Admittedly, “Overwhelming Rain (Love Mix '94)” still sounds fresh, but for all that hard cash surely one also deserves B-sides “Me And My Two Friends (Techno '94 Mix)” (fast breakbeats and that “gotta be moving” sample that ended up on a certain Herbert production) and the real winner of the package, “Trancid Overdose (Extreme Mix)”, a techno stomper with squelchy 303. Our call? Get more for less and buy the regular twelve.
2. Axis - Come On (Bonzai Records - BR 95080)
For sale on Discogs for: €150 to €299 (max price paid: €75)
This pumping hard trance three-tracker was released in ‘95. Specifically the prices of the green marbled promo have skyrocketed, although all different pressings are worth good money, cementing its reputation as one of the most sought after hard trance classics. Axis are Spain based German producer duo Michael Kronenberger and Steffen Harding, also known under their house moniker “Milk & Sugar” and unfortunately responsible for one of the worst tracks ever released: a horrible electro swing (by lack of a better word) version of Belgian legend Vaya Con Dios’ “Hey (Nah Neh Nah)” (no, we’re not linking to that one). They’d have been better off writing more hard trance and leaving that one alone.
3. Jones & Stephenson – The First Rebirth (Bonzai Records - BR 93034)
For sale on Discogs for: €249,99 (max price paid: €200)
We already caught Franky Jones right on the top of this list but having this one in the top three comes as no surprise. "The First Rebirth", his collaborative effort with Axel Stephenson, is one of Belgium’s proudest dance music moments. According to Jones’ own website, it “has been remixed and/or re-released every year since (its) initial release” (1993). On the flipside, the lush ambient tones of “The Life Of Flow” are also much recommended. Are you one of the 100 lucky owners of the first yellow translucent pressing? Congrats as you’ve won the jackpot. There’s also a yellow translucent, dark flamed version (https://www.discogs.com/Jones-Stephenson-The-First-Rebirth/release/5294403) that looks even more badass, but that’s never been sold. If you’re just after the music though, we’d advise to hunt down a less pricy pressing such as this black one (https://www.discogs.com/Jones-Stephenson-The-First-Rebirth/release/20340) which will likely sound better than its coloured counterparts anyway.
4. Love Religion – Don't Cry My Love (Dancer Planet Record – DPR-06-MX)
For sale on Discogs for: €79 to €150 (max price paid: €59.99)
“Don't Cry For My Love” first came out on Bonzai sublabel “Progressive Attack” but oddly, it’s the re-release on Spanish hard trance imprint “Dancer Planet Record” (who licensed from Bonzai Records fare at the time) that’s worth some dough. Maybe because it contains a few alternative mixes such as the “House Religion Mix” ((mis)spelt “Mouse Religion Mix” on the sleeve?), or because of the fact that one of the two gentlemen behind the project, Andres Romero, is Spanish?
5. Dave Davis – Transfiguration (Bonzai Records 96100)
For sale on Discogs for: €62.95 to €150 (max price paid: €61.62)
Though credited to Davis’ name, this EP is actually a collaboration between him (real name David Henrard) and Bonzai heavyweights David Brants (aka Axel Stephenson) and Peter Schiettekatte (aka Frederico Santini), the latter two responsible for many of the label’s underground hits. To this day, “Transfiguration” is considered a trance blueprint, while B-side “Assyrian Transfixion” is a more more stripped back outing leaning closer towards progressive house. Henrard, born and raised in Spa, moved to Antwerp aged 17 to work for Bonzai Records. The Walloon producer and vocalist later provided vocals for David Guetta’s albums “Guetta Blaster” (2004) and “Pop Life” (2007).
Repulsive 2 / D & S - Recactussed / Its Not Over (Bonzai Records - BRLTD 004)
For sale on Discogs for: €15 to €111 (max price paid: €30.99)
This limited edition black label was given away to the first thousand visitors of Bonzai's second anniversary party in Brecht (September 23rd, 1994). The two tracks are also featured on "Bonzai - The Fourth Level" cd compilation released one month later. “Recactussed” contains the famous “I’m gonna diss you right now” sample while “It’s Not Over” samples the First Choice track by the same name.
Gary D. – Kinetic Pressure / Overload (Bonzai Records Italy – BRI 005)
For sale on Discogs for: €24 to €110 (max price paid: €35)
Gardy D is an alter ego of German hard trance DJ and producer Gerald Malke, who released his first few records on Container Records and Tunnel Records before signing with Bonzai, one of his favourite labels. Both 'Kinetic Pressure' and 'Overload' are considered hard trance anthems. Unfortunately the hard trance pioneer passed away last year, though his legacy shall never be forgotten by his fans.
Words: Tristan Jong