25 Years Of Being Rough Trade
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25 Years Of Being Rough Trade.

The first Rough Trade record I bought was “Paris Maquis” by Metal Urbain (RT 001) – one of the greatest slabs of 7” 45 rpm vinyl ever released in the history of the 7” 45rpm disc! For the average independent label - it could well have been a steady roll down a slippery hill from then on in. Thankfully, Rough Trade Records has no entry in its boardroom’s thesaurus for the word ‘average’.

For over a quarter of a century Rough Trade Records has continued (on & off) to release exciting records by an eclectic roster of artists for the discerning independent connoisseur. Geoff Travis & his cohorts (including, these days, one-time PIL member Jeanette Lee) have continued to keep the bar at optimum level & requested their acts to jump over it as if it were the moon. Few have let them down.

As part of their ongoing 25th year celebrations Rough Trade now have issued “Stop Me If You Think You’ve Heard This One Before” – a compilation of 16 covers by current Rough Trade associates of tracks issued by the label over the last 25 years.

The first group to sign to Rough Trade Records were Spizz Oil - & “6000 Crazy” is something I would have loved to hear The Strokes covering. Sadly, that wasn’t to be. My 1st visit to the Rough Trade shop was to purchase a copy of Stiff Little Finger’s “Alternative Ulster” (RT 004) – a tune I would gladly pay good money to hear The Libertines interpret. Sadly that wasn’t to be either. So, without 2 of Rough Trade’s greatest achievements of the label’s 2nd coming – what exactly do we get?

Eastern Lane offer a spirited reading of The Feelies “Fa Ce La”. Adam Green (The Moldy Peaches) saunters through The Young Marble Giant’s “Eating Noddemix”. Mystic Chords Of Memory murder Aztec Camera’s “We Could Send Letters” (removing all traces of lost passion in the process). Oneida skronk their way through James Blood Ulmer’s “Jazz Is The Teacher, Funk Is The Preacher” with marvellous conviction. Elizabeth Fraser puts her name to her 1st solo outing since the Cocteau Twins with a version of Robert Wyatt’s version of Chic’s “At Last I’m Free” that only succeeds in sounding like Kate Bush. The Hidden Cameras celebrate The Clean’s “Dunes” to startling effect. The Tyde wallow in the eternal splendour of Galaxie 500’s “Tell Me” as if they’d written it themselves. Royal City Americana-ise The Strokes’ “Is This It” in a very pleasant back-porch manner. Alasdair Roberts dresses Ivor Cutler’s “I Had A Little Boat” up in Wyatt-esque finery. The Delays splash Mazzy Star’s “Ride It On” with a wash of fragile beauty (this cut has been culled from the LP as a 7” 45 – wisely). The Veils cover the face of Scritti Politti’s “Lions After Slumber” with healthy disposition (the b-side of aforementioned 45). Jeffrey Lewis provides the LPs peak with a fantastic skiffle tinged take on The Television Personalities’ “Part Time Punks” (still THE key Rough Trade song, irony lovers - choice ad lib: “Hey, The Clash, yeah – they’re not bad”). British Sea Power (one of Rough Trades finest contemporary acts) re-invent Galaxie 500’s “Tugboat” (what else?) as a shimmering vision of grandeur. The Detroit Cobras stomp all over The Strokes “Last Nite” reducing it’s pace to pedestrian. The Fiery Furnaces (Rough Trade LP of 2003) drag The Fall’s “Winter” back from the very edges of obscurity to face the harsh new light of a new millennium. Belle & Sebastian bring things to a close with a typically fey discopation of The Young Marble Giants “Final Day”. And there you have it. A stack of hits & a couple of misses.

I could drone on & on about missed opportunities & glaring omissions – but that would be missing the point. “Stop Me If You Think You’ve Heard This One Before” could only have been released by one record label. That record label is Rough Trade Records. God bless.

Marquee Smith – tMx 12 – 11/03
Check: www.roughtrade.com
Buy it today: www.roughtraderecords.com

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