Thursday, July 5, 2012

Bob Mersereau!

 Next up we have Bob Mersereau! I have never actually met Bob but I feel as I have known him for quite some time! Whether it  be me reading his daily blogs on CBC or flipping through some of his great books on Canadian Music at Chapters.

Bob has a great collection and his Beach Boy's stuff alone has to be one of the greatest Beach Boys collections in Canada!


Here we go!

Name: : Bob Mersereau

City/Town: Fredericton, NB

Job: Producer at CBC, music writer, blogger and columnist, Author of Top 100 Canadian Singles, Top 100 Canadian Albums

Maritime Vinyl (MV) - What do you collect? Vinyl; CD’s; Cassettes; 8 tracks; bootlegs; music memorabilia; magazine; etc..

Bob Mersereau (BM) - I collect CD's for the most part, as they are still the main format for labels to send out to reviewers.  When I'm actually buying for myself however, I tend towards vinyl, particularly 45's.

MV - Do you prefer one audio format more than others? (example: vinyl more than cd’s)

BM - My favourite format is the 45, especially 45's with picture sleeves. I love the small artistic statement each one makes, and I enjoy collecting the variations from country to country.  Next would be LP's, and then CD's.

MV- What is your favourite genre of music? Some of your favourite artists?

BM - I collect a few artists, but far and away the biggest love is The Beach Boys.  Since 1975, I've been adding to this collection, and will pick up anything I don't have, if the price is reasonable.  I have about 300 45's, including 100 European picture sleeves, all different.  I'm closing in on completing the North American collection, at least to my satisfaction.  You can never have all the variations.  My LP collection for them is nearly complete as well, again, to my satisfaction.  I'm not sure where this puts me in Canadian terms, but I don't know of a bigger Canadian collector than myself.  I don't go for much non-music memorabilia, although I have quite a big collection of books, magazines, articles, even some clothing associated with the band.  I have a somewhat extensive Elvis Costello collection as well, with lots of 45's, albums and CD's, including many promos issued over the years.  My Springsteen collection is large as well, with 45's, 12-inch singles, and a great many bootlegs, including a huge number of hours of live material on cassette from 1970 to 1988, many of them original masters that were passed on to me by a taper who was getting out of the scene.  Because of my job as a reviewer and writer, since the early 80's, I've been lucky enough to amass several thousand (probably around 6000, although I haven't counted in years)  CD's, plus I have hundreds of 45's and LP's.

My favourite genre would best be described as 60's and 70's rock and pop, as well as soul.

MV - What is the first album you remember purchasing? Do you still have it?

BM - The first album I bought with my own money was by Humble Pie, Smokin'.  Not a great choice.  It was due to peer pressure.  I finally had enough of my money to buy something, and the guys I was trying to impress at the time were into the band.  I liked 30 Days In The Hole okay, but the rest was not really my taste, being more a fan of Elton John, etc., at the time.  I eventually traded that album to a friend, for Long John Baldry's It Ain't Easy, an album I still love to this day!

MV - What is your favourite item in your collection?

BM - I think my favourite item in my collection would be my copy of the Beach Boys' first single, Surfin', on the Canadian London label.  It was issued in the U.S. on the tiny Candix label, a local L.A. indie, and hit #75 in Billboard, strong enough for Capitol Records to sign them.  In Canada, the London label often  picked up U.S. indie singles for distribution here, as they did with Surfin'.  It was not a hit in Canada, and few copies are known.  I've never seen an accurate value placed on the single, nor have I ever seen it for sale, on eBay or elsewhere, and I've heard wild claims for it.  It would be one of those unknowns that could generate lots of interest at auction.  I have heard of two other copies, and I've seen photos of it in discographies, so it does exist out there, perhaps more commonly than people believe.  It doesn't matter though, mine isn't going anywhere. I also recently purchased a 1962 copy of Surfin' Safari autographed at the time by four of the Beach Boys, and I quite like that.


MV - Do you still actively collect or was this something you concentrated on in the past?

BM - I am very involved in collecting again, although I had let the Beach Boys collection slide for several years, other than the latest and newest items.  But about a year ago, I got back into collecting 45's in a big way, via eBay.  It's really easy, you can find lots and not overpay.  My usual buys are $20 or less.  Once I find that good deals like that are becoming rare, as my collection grows larger, I'll simply buy fewer items, and save up for the more expensive, at $30-plus.

MV - What is your preferred way of adding to your collection? Shopping online? Flea Markets? Independent music stores? Etc… Any favourite store or websites?

BM - My preferred shopping would be in used record stores and flea markets, but I live in a town with only a couple of used stores, and they don't get a lot of traffic of course.  I have found some interesting things at a large flea market here, but only because the stall is run by a long-time collector who is cashing out his collection slowly.  I picked up a Beach Boys album I'd been searching for since the 70's, plus some other nice vinyl, and he usually has something I'd like. When I go out of town, its great to get into the used stores, that's been my hobby all my life.  But because of where I live, eBay has become the easiest way for me to collect.

MV - How do you store your collection? Shelves? Boxes? Your attic?

BM - I store my collection in several different types of shelves, added on as it grows.  I had a series of shelves built for me a few years back that I love, a wall of CD's, but the guy who built them retired, so as the collection grew, I picked up some other kinds of shelves.  But to my shame, yes, there are boxes in the closet of stuff I haven't the space for.

MV - What is on your “wish list” at the moment?

BM - I have a working wish list for the Beach Boys of 45's I need to complete the North American section.  I try to check eBay each day to see if any show up.  Unfortunately, they are mostly quite pricey, but I've managed to find some great surprises and deals, when the other collectors aren't watching.

MV - Do you know any other collectors?

BM - I know lots of music collectors, but no other Beach Boys collectors personally.  I've talked via mail and email with them.  Most of the collectors I know are friends who simply like to own lots and lots of music, and don't specialize.  Although I do have a good friend with a fondness for The Who.

MV - You have been reviewing music since the mid 80’s. Where have people been finding your reviews?

BM - I first started reviewing at my university radio station, CHSR at UNB in Fredericton.  Then I started working as a casual at CBC Fredericton.  Having done some on-air work, I asked if they would be interested in music reviews on one of the programs.  That was in 1984. I have, with some breaks, been doing that ever since, and I can be heard each Wednesday on CBC Radio 1 in N.B. at 4;45 on Shift.  Also, I have written review columns for publications, including Halifax's The Coast for several years, then the Telegraph-Journal in N.B. for several more years.  These days, my reviews appear at, where I review East Coast music, and on my own blog,

MV - Since you have been reviewing music, has it been noticeable when the music styles started changing? Example, I can take practically any 80’s album and identify it as an 80’s album from the style, recording, packaging, etc... No need to look for a date on the album.. Has it been a gradual change from the 80’s to the 90’s to the 2000’s, etc? Or was it just like you woke up one morning and BOOM there was Alternative bands and no more hair metal?

BM - I think changes in music have, for the most part, been subtle, with a few exceptions, usually major breakthroughs such as Nirvana's huge success with Nevermind.  But I'm afraid I'm stuck in the past most of the time!  I'm so busy enjoying what's come before, I usually don't get caught up with some new trend for two or three years later.  I don't mind this, I never claim to be a reviewer in tune with the latest trends, I'm more in line with roots and rock material.

MV - Do you have a favourite decade for Canadian music?

BM - My favourite decade for Canadian music would be the 70's.  In the 60's, we simply were behind the pop music being created in the U.S and England.  We didn't have the studios, nor the industry.  We certainly had the musicians, but they had to leave to get heard, and only a few were able to break through in the U.S.  By the 70's, our industry had developed enough to support a Canadian scene, and that's when I was growing up and in love with the radio.  I love those hits, as they were the soundtrack of my youth, from Lighthouse to A Foot In Coldwater to April Wine and so many more.

MV - People are always critics of music critics (if that makes any sense). Somebody always has a problem with a review they read. I am a big fan of Rolling Stone magazine for example, and I know so many people that hate the reviews in it because they find them inaccurate. Well to me a review has a lot to do with taste, and my music taste relates to some of the journalists at RS so I like it.  How do you take people criticizing your album reviews?

BM - I have no problem with people disagreeing with my opinions on music. What bothers me is when they insult me, which happens often on the internet, it's the anonymity of the medium, and people seem to believe they have the right to say things they never would in person.  Usually they focus on one thing in a review that they don't agree with, and can't see past that.  Recently I had somebody furious with my review when I quite plainly said I liked the album.  They also seem to feel I have to structure my reviews under some sort of guidelines they want; but I'm doing the writing, it's my blog, I get to choose how I review or write about something.  If you don't like the format I use, they are another 40,000 people writing music reviews on the internet.  But my main annoyance is that many people who complain simply have no idea how to disagree or even argue with an opinion they do not share. Their only recourse is to insult, rather then debate.

MV - Do you share the same hatred towards Nickelback as many Canadians have started to?

BM - Nickelback.  I do not like them, but I do not hate them either.  I think Rockstar was a pretty good song.  But yes, they do seem to repeat themselves and it is generic rock.  They are like Bon Jovi, it's very limited music with basic lyrics and dull melodies.  Why people feel the need to hate a band they don't like is what frustrates me.  So what if they have lots of fans and gets lots of airplay? People have so many choices now, it's not like it was in the 70's when there was only a couple of radio stations to listen to.  You can easily avoid Nickelback, Lady Gaga, Beiber, whoever you want.  I never hear these acts, unless I purposefully play them.  So let the fans have their fun, they don't complain about your music.

MV - You have written two pretty well known books; “The top 100 Canadian Albums” and “The Top 100 Canadian Singles”. I am a big fan of these books. What has been the general response?

BM - The overall response to the Top 100 Canadian books was very strong. Yes, there was lots of debate, some of it quite vehement, but it was always over the lists.  Once people saw the actual books, the wonderful visuals and layout that Goose Lane Editions designed, and understood that this was a celebration of Canadian music, the bickering would usually end, and they would enjoy the reading experience.  The stories and interviews are a big part of the fun; even if you don't like Seasons In The Sun, Terry Jacks had some good stories about the song.  Yes, there was a lot of debate over what did and didn't make the lists, but that was for the most part a good experience as well, because it proved people were interested in Canadian music, and held strong opinions and feelings for it.  I never doubted it; but even booksellers were shocked at how well they did in their stores.  We had been told by some that list books and music books don't do well.  These became national best-sellers. And of course, the lists themselves were generated by big national polls, hundreds of people involved in Canadian music voted for their favourites, and all I did was do the math.  So I wasn't really responsible for who showed up and who didn't.  Now, it will never be a perfect system, and I went into it realizing fully that there is no accurate way to rate art.  You can only come up with a consensus at best.  My goal was to have an all-Canadian celebration, as hard-cover coffee table books.  That is something that had never existed before these books came out.  For the first time, Canadian popular music was treated with the same respect as other Canadian art, and the public responded very well to it.

MV - You also run your own blog, .. Do you ever have a hard time finding enough new albums to review?

BM - I never have a problem finding music to review, I always have a huge surplus, which drives me crazy.  I wish I could review everything sent to me, but I simply don't have that much time.  I am staring at roughly 50 CD's that have been sent over the last two weeks, plus there are links sent via email as well.  I try to review two a day, but usually I'm happy with about 10 in a week, and that is an awful lot of listening, since I usually listen at least twice to a disc before writing.


  1. I wonder if he has their 1992 album "Summer In Paradise" on CD or better yet on vinyl.

    I noticed that he had 3 Beach Boys records sticking out on one of his photos:
    Surfin' Safari
    LA Light Album

    I found that very curious! "LA" album is one of their worst, "Sufin Safari" is their first album, and "20/20" is a very good record with a lot of "Smile" leftovers on it (and some great non-"Smile" songs too . Seemed like a curious 3 to show out of all the ones he could have shown. It certainly made me think. Unless of course he did that at random LOL

  2. The above comment was sent from Matthew Phillips. Any feedback Bob?

  3. You're right,it was entirely random! L.A. isn't great, but I'll vote for Summer In Paradise as their worst. I do have it on CD, but as far as I know, there's no vinyl pressing. I saw sales figures on it a few months back, it was incredibly low, like just a few thousand. It's become a bit pricey on eBay, $20 - $40 bucks, and the European CD is much more expensive. It had some versions re-recorded, in the hopes that would improve sales. Nope. If Matthew has any info on a vinyl pressing, I'd love to know about it.

  4. Matthew PhillipsJuly 6, 2012 at 10:46 AM

    Vinyl pressing from South Korea?


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