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VARIOUS ARTISTS 25 Years Of Rough Trade Four CD Box Set (Mute) 00000

he phrase ‘indie music’ I doesn’t mean shit anymore. There was time before it meant feckless guitars bands when it did mean something. Independent. Music produced and released outwith the confines of the major label corporate system. Nowhere like Rough Trade was this idea so eagerly pursued.

More than just a record shop, label, publishing company or now an on-line store, Rough Trade has always defined what could ham-fistedly be described as ‘cutting edgefi

The Buzzcocks, a classic Rough Trade band

Opening the shop in London’s then run-down Ladbroke Grove area in 1976, Geoff Travis and his motley group of associates indulged their love for the expansive punk and reggae scenes and attracted a multi-racial crowd who disseminated ideas and recommendations over the crammed racks.

The record label followed two years later with French punk outfit Metal Urbain’s ‘Paris Marquis’ as its debut release. It took until 1982 and The Smiths’ ‘Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now’ for them to get a top 40 hit, not that that was ever an intention. The label showcased many an artist who went on to bigger things: Stiff Little Fingers, The Fall, and James


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among them. Most imp- ortantly the shops (another in London’s Covent Garden, Tokyo and an ill-fated Parisian venture followed over the years) exposed punters to new music. Whether Depeche Mode or The Smiths in the early 805 or Aphex Twin or Mercury Rev in the 905, they were the places to go and find out what was new and innovative. And they still are, their on-line entity being a fabulous extra resource for new sounds.

This four CD set traces a keen lineage with CD one going from early punk and new wave gems The Buzzcocks’ ‘Boredom’ or Joy Division’s ‘Transmission’ to the grimy electronic experiments of Cabaret Voltaire and Throbbing Gristle. This is intertwined with joyous reggae vibes from The Congos with ‘Fisherman’.

The second CD is equally eclectic


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Gescom and Plastikman’s excitable bleepy nephews.

The final instalment is a contemporary collection, with future hopes Boards Of Canada, Lemon Jelly and Clinic fairing well alongside the countryish tones of Jeb Loy Nichols and Ryan Adams and Studio Pressure’s acute junglist explorations. The whole shebang is

Whether The Smiths in the 80s or Aphex Twin in the 90s, Rough Trade was the place to find out what was new and innovative.

with musical visionaries both American (Sonic Youth and Talking Heads) rubbing shoulders with Britain’s finest in the shape of Cocteau Twins, Robert Wyatt and The Smiths. Nick Cave’s rumbling hymn ‘Tupelo’ and The Sugarcubes’ floating, fleeting ‘Birthday’ provide highlights of the 805 era.

Arguably the finest ‘indie guitar’ band ever, the Pixies kick off CD three with the emphatic rattle of ‘Bone Machine’ while Mudhoney’s ‘Touch Me I’m Sick’ and Spacemen 3’s ‘Revolution’ continue the hedonistic verve. Coil’s ‘Further

Back And Faster’ is the cool electronic uncle of the Chemical Brothers,

rounded off with a most graceful of closers: Tindersticks’ ‘Talk To Me’, finishing a set that could have been billed as The Best Compilation Album In The Whole Fucking World Ever!, give or take a few tracks. But hey, nobody’s perfect.

I remember the first time I heard the syncopated madness of early jungle in Rough Trade’s Ladbroke Grove shop in 1995, catching Tortoise’s debut single waft over the speakers of the Covent Garden shop. The elated feeling of finding something hugely exciting, is what searching out new music is all about, and this is a more than fitting celebration. (Mark Robertson)

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