Rough Trade Records is thirty years old this week. DiS has already run a few bits of content to try to celebrate the label.
It's really not particularly easy to summarise a label which has quite possibly been the most influential record label upon everything that exists within the DiS remit. However, Everett True is an authority on all things Rough Trade, who has quite literally lived through it and we asked him to compile a mixtape of his favourites, which as you can see below, came back to us full of insight and it's enough to fill two CDs - although CD 1 comes prefixed with a simple note "Actually, these tracks only fit on one CD if you use an edit of The Slits’ track".
Everett True’s female-led Rough Trade post-punk mix CD
- The Raincoats – No One’s Little Girl (RT093, 1983) This has everything you could possibly need from a song. Everything
- LiLiPUT – Die Matrosen (RT047, 1980) Whistling, raucous off-tune brass, chunky beat…femme-pop perfection
- Beat Happening – Foggy Eyes (from Beat Happening, Rough 105, 1986) This is the song that turned me onto Beat Happening – and thence K Records – and thence Olympia, WA. Not for Calvin’s deeply suggestive baritone, but for Heather’s oddly unnerving cry
- Delta 5 – Mind Your Own Business (RT031, 1979) Forget Gang Of Four: this is ESG as seen through an English filter
- Young Marble Giants – The Man Amplifier (from Colossal Youth, Rough 8, 1980) Not a note, not a breath is wasted
- Galaxie 500 – Listen, The Snow Is Falling (from This Is Our Music, Rough 156, 1990) Galaxie 500 (with Naomi Yang on vocals) cover Yoko Ono covering Christmas, with guitar lines that light up like Sunderland bridge on acid
- Cerys Matthews – Arglwydd Dyma Fi (from Cockahoop, 2003) I’m a sucker for the Welsh language
- The Long Blondes – Century (from Couples, 2007) The exact point where The Long Blondes transmute from Pulp to Blondie: gorgeous
- Mazzy Star – Be My Angel (from She Hangs Brightly, Rough 158, 1990) Unadulterated lust
- Rainy Day – I’ll Keep It With Mine (from Rainy Day, Rough 70, 1984) There’s a moment where Susannah Hoffs’ voice almost breaks, and you can start to feel the joy she’s experiencing and you start to tremble all over: perhaps the single greatest vocal performance on Rough Trade (and no, I don’t say that lightly)
- Weekend – Nostalgia (from La Variete, Rough 39, 1982) The greatest Young Marble Giants song never released
- The Red Crayola – Born In Flames (RT054, 1981) Essential Logic, essentially – but with Mayo Thompson on the controls
- Kleenex – Beri-Beri (RT009, 1978) How many chords do you need? Are you sure?
- Girls At Our Best! – Politics (RT055, 1981) The band that invented Talulah Gosh (and hence the whole of cutie)
- Moldy Peaches – Rainbows (2003) Like Derek And Clive, only with soul – and great voices
- The Slits – In The Beginning There Was Rhythm (RT039, 1980) Freedom and life and silence and mud and roots and God and fucking and silence…SILENCE IS A RHYTHM TOO!
- Essential Logic – Popcorn Boy (RT029, 1979) I can hardly compile a Rough Trade mix CD and leave out ‘Popcorn Boy’, now can I?
- Taken By Trees – Lost And Found (from Open Field, 2007) Beautiful, beautiful: and harking back to Rainy Day a little, now I think on it
- The Detroit Cobras – Let’s Forget About The Past (from Love, Life & Leaving, 2004) Most groups don’t understand rock’n’roll. This one does
- Life Without Buildings – The Leanover (from Any Other City, 2001) Stuttered vocals, stream-of-consciousness and acutely nervy
Everett True’s male-led Rough Trade post-punk mix CD
- Blue Orchids – Bad Education (from The Greatest Hits, Rough 36, 1982) The greatest of all the Fall spin-off bands: downbeat, disconsolate, and unutterably gorgeous
- The Prefects – Going Through The Motions (RT040, 1980) Brutally simple punk rock, reduced to the essentials: a heavy, repetitive riff and Robert Llyod’s sneer
- Robert Wyatt – Shipbuilding (RT115, 1982) Plaintive, poignant, timely
- Jonathan Richman – That Summer Feeling (RT152, 1984) Even for Jonathan, this is a special moment: the croon and unanswerable desire of his beloved 50s rockers, captured effortlessly
- Television Personalities – A Sense Of Belonging (RT109, 1983) “I hope and I pray in my own naïve way/That one day we can reach some sort of understanding”…a mantra to live your life by
- Stiff Little Fingers – Alternative Ulster (RT004, 1978) Is this the greatest parochial punk single ever? Hey, music ain’t a competition
- Virgin Prunes – Baby Turns Blue (RT119, 1982) Bowie’s ‘Scary Monsters’ reinvented for the torn generation
- Swell Maps – Read About Seymour (RT010, 1978) I can’t do a Rough Trade mix CD and not include ‘Read About Seymour’, now can I?
- Doctor Mix And The Remix – No Fun (from Wall Of Noise, Rough 6, 1979) The band that invented Jesus And Mary Chain
- Vic Godard and Subway Sect – Stop That Girl (RT068, 1981) Postal worker sings yearning cabaret with a swing: a diamanté doo-wop delight
- Violent Femmes – Blister In The Sun (from Violent Femmes, Rough 55, 1984) Stuff to do before you die (35): dance to Violent Femmes busking outside Rough Trade (Talbot Road) on their first UK tour
- Shockabilly – 19th Nervous Breakdown (RT127, 1983) If we’d never had Butthole Surfers at least we could’ve consoled ourselves with this slice of acid-rock dementia
- Cornershop – Topknot (2005) That bass is so elastic it feels indecent
- This Heat – S.P.Q.R. (from Deceit, Rough 26, 1981) Old school, blistering, divisive Kraut/post-rock beloved by Pitchfork nerds everywhere –don’t let that put you off
- Jeffrey Lewis – Big A, Little A (from 12 Crass Songs, 2007) Inspirational polemic anarcho-punk as interpreted by NYC antifolk
- Cabaret Voltaire – Nag Nag Nag (RT018, 1979) Early experiments in electronica were punk: the line was invisible
- Aztec Camera – Walk Out To Winter (from High Land Hard Rain, Rough 47, 1983) What happened to all that b teen promise?
- Jazzateers – Sixteen Reasons (RT138, 1983) The great forgotten Scottish indie band, following the lineage of Josef K
- The Go-Betweens – Dusty In Here (from Before Hollywood, Rough 54, 1984) Rarely has the isolation of youth been better captured
- Pere Ubu – Non-Alignment Pact (from The Modern Dance, Rough 22, 1980) The band that invented the Pixies
- The Fall – How I Wrote ‘Elastic Man’ (RT048, 1980) Pure infectious joy – words you don’t usually associate with Mark E Smith
- The Hidden Cameras – I Believe In The Good Of Life (2004) It’s nice someone does
Tomorrow, we have a very special 'What Rough Trade means to me' feature also by Everett True and a special report and photos from Rough Trade's 'Looking Rough at 30' party.
DiScuss: what would be on your Rough Trade mixtape? Also feel free to share links to your favourite YouTubes of the above tracks...