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  • Jeffrey Lewis - A History of Rough Trade Records

About

Rough Trade Records is a legendary independent record label and a benchmark and inspiration to many in the field. Rough Trade was at the epicentre of the punk explosion right at the start and since then has gone on to release a catalogue that almost defines the genre of independent music itself. Seminal releases litter the back catalogue, from early punk classics to era defining releases by The Smiths and The Strokes. Over the years Rough Trade Records has released an undeniable stream of quality releases by some of the most talented, gifted and unique musicians of our generation.

The label grew out of the Rough Trade Record Shop which opened in February 1976 in Ladbroke Grove, which was inspired by the City Lights Bookstore in San Francisco, where visitors were encouraged to hang out in the store as much as buy books. Within a year the Rough Trade Shop had become a hub for the burgeoning DIY and punk culture and was the point of contact for a whole host of groups and labels. Releases by The Fall, Scritti Politti, Robert Wyatt, Aztec Camera, Augustus Pablo, early electronic music pioneers such as Cabaret Voltaire as well as The Raincoats, Swell Maps, Go Betweens and The Smiths, amongst many many more followed. In fact, the past 38 years has seen Rough Trade Records become synonymous with high quality, imaginative, musically diverse and innovative independent music.

In 1999, a few years after the collapse of an ambitious Rough Trade distribution arm, Geoff Travis resurrected the label in partnership with Jeannette Lee with whom he’d worked since 1987. Seminal releases by The Strokes, The Libertines, Sufjan Stevens, Antony & The Johnsons, The Hold Steady, Arcade Fire, The Decemberists and British Sea Power to name but a few quickly followed.

Still based in the Ladbroke Grove area of West London where it all started, Rough Trade Records now has offices in London and New York and Geoff and Jeannette continue to work towards helping the music they love get the exposure they think it deserves and to facilitate the artists’ growth. With releases by Alabama Shakes, Anohni, Warpaint, Goat Girl, Josienne Clarke & Ben Walker, Sleaford Mods, Parquet Courts, Emiliana Torrini, and Dean Blunt either out now or on the near horizon, the future continues to look exciting, and to push musical boundaries at Rough Trade.






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