Castle Cary resident has limited edition vinyl reissued 35 years after original release!

An album, recorded in a house in King’s Gate, Aberdeen in 1977, has been reissued by a national music magazine – over 35 years after it was first made. The album – Strange Stone, by Paul Hansford – is book-listed at £500 and typically changes hands for over £250.

Now, the vinyl collector’s monthly magazine Record Collector has remastered the album and is offering a Limited Edition of 500 copies in its Rare Vinyl Reissue series. The album (priced £19.99 +p&p) is officially released on 24 August, and is available for pre-order through the Record Collector web site.

The album’s story features in the September issue of Record Collector, which is in the shops from 14 August.

Strange Stone

Strange Stone was originally released in Aberdeen in January 1978. Only 255 copies were made; the album sleeves were screen printed and hand-numbered, like a limited edition print – which they were!

From around 2005, copies of Strange Stone started appearing on eBay – at asking prices of up to £600. Since 2006, the Record Collector Rare Record Price Guide has consistently valued Strange Stone at £500 (mint condition).

In July 2014, a vinyl collector spotted a copy of the album in a charity shop, offered for £150. Referring to his copy of the Rare Record Price Guide, he found it was book-listed at £500. He wrote to Record Collector magazine to find out why the album was so expensive. Ian Shirley at the magazine ran a half page article on the album, reporting that little was known about it and inviting Paul Hansford to get in touch with a view to reissuing it.

One year later, and the album has been remastered on 180gram vinyl, packaged in a gatefold sleeve with liner notes and a track commentary by Paul. It is offered as a 500-copy Limited Edition as part of Record Collector’s Rare Vinyl Reissue series, available through the magazine and its web site.

Original copes of Strange Stone still appear occasionally on eBay and on vinyl dealer sites. A copy sold on eBay for £296 on 5 April this year; another sold for £280 on 12 April. The highest recorded price paid for an original copy of Strange Stone is £566 (in May 2013).


The album was recorded in two weeks, in September 1977, by Paul Hansford – with a bunch of friends and personnel from local Aberdeen bands – at his home in Kings Gate, Aberdeen.

They recorded on commercial hi-fi and home-made equipment. They were limited to one backing track plus one overdub, to minimise sound degradation and tape hiss. They did not have the luxury of punching-in, splicing or post-production tools. Having only 4 tracks to play with on the tape machines that they used, dictated that the music, its stereo arrangement and the mix had to be captured as one. Any error required re-recording the entire take.

The core crew comprised songwriter and producer Paul Hansford (guitars, vocals), Alan Davidson (bass) and Phil Arthur (drums) plus engineer Jim Forbes, who had recorded together since 1974. For the Strange Stone sessions, Phil Arthur recruited fellow band members from Aberdeen band Pryer: Doug Argo (keyboards) and Niall Mathewson (lead guitar). The basic line-up was completed with Ian McLennan on violin and Lynn Balsillie, Wilma Moncur, Susan Pert and Sandra McGinley on backing vocals.

Recording started on 12 September 1977. Most recording sessions took place in the evenings: following a quick rehearsal, the backing track would be laid down, followed by a single overdub. Engineer Jim Forbes would return the following morning, when he and Paul Hansford would review the previous evening’s work – maybe, remix the track – and finalise it. They would then set up the ‘studio’ for that evening’s session. The album was sequenced, and the master tape completed, on 30 September 1977.

Dumbarton-based Deroy Sound Service was chosen to press the album: 255 copies were ordered. Album crew members designed and screen-printed the album sleeves at the local art school, thus creating a limited edition print: so, they decided to number the sleeves – which, as it turned out later, would alert collectors to the rarity of the album. The original package included a lyric sheet; album crew members stuck the centre labels on to the LPs by hand!

The album crew members today…

Paul Hansford works in the IT industry, and still writes and records from time to time, from his home studio in Somerset.

Alan Davidson balances his day job with writing and recording; gigging around Aberdeen and further afield, as The Kitchen Cynics.

Niall Mathewson joined prog-rock band Pallas, with whom he remains to this day as their lead guitarist, co-writer and producer – alongside running his professional recording studio, The Mill Studio, at Banchory near Aberdeen.

The album’s artwork designer Lynn Howarth is nowadays a fine artist, working in various media and based in Glasgow.