Archive for the ‘Rough Trade’ Category

Antony & The Johnsons

Friday, December 16th, 2011

Listen: You Are My Sister (Edit) / Antony & The Johnsons

Vicki Wickham had shopped me an Antony & The Johnsons package while still at Columbia. This must have been ’04. To be honest, I don’t even recall what my first thoughts and reactions were. Well except for one, the voice was other worldly. Without skimming any of clippings or info, I wasn’t even sure if Antony was a guy. Anthony is one name, Antony is another and not quite so established. I was curious.

But Vicki had included a video clip as well, which immediately sealed Antony Hegarty’s future potential at the label. No way. Wouldn’t do this fellow such an injustice as bringing him to an intentionally mainstream environment, even if I’d had the power, which I didn’t. Columbia just wasn’t set up for left field art. Not that I had the insight or talent to help him with his work either.

As it turned out, Rough Trade became a perfect label partner. Well done Geoff Travis.

Quite unexpectedly, ‘You Are My Sister’ was one of the first records I heard on an early ’05 trip to London. Yes, Radio 1 played this midday and it caught me quite off guard. At that very moment, I was unaware of the single’s release. Only in England would you get the mainstream national pop station playing such music, regardless of the obvious controversial possibilities associated with the artist’s lifestyle. Actually, I think they celebrate themselves ever so slightly for such defiant bravery.

As on record, Boy George duetted with them for their Jonathan Ross Show appearance. Where else could such a TV moment push the single higher up the chart? Well, maybe in France it could too.


Monday, November 3rd, 2008

Take The Skinheads Bowling / Camper Van Beethoven

Listen: Take The Skinheads Bowling / Camper Van Beethoven Take The Skinheads Bowling.mp3

Do you remember 120 Minutes in the 80’s? It was on around midnight, Sundays, back when MTV still played videos. I’d been lazy and hadn’t bothered to go see Camper Van Beethoven although they were a bit of a buzz. The clip for this came on, and even more than the footage I immediately loved the song. Couldn’t get a copy fast enough the next day. Went right down to Tower and there was the 7″. This was just before actual vinyl singles started to be phased out by the labels, like their album counterparts – replacing them with cds. A great way to make everyone buy all the music they already owned again for twice the price. Sounded like an impossible plan, but it worked. Anyways, Tower on 4th & Broadway was the place for singles during the 80’s. The whole south wall of the shop was lined with 7’s. All the big titles, which included many, many acts not getting play but filling the Ritz and other big venues had their releases racked (as many as 50 copies) right next to the chart hits. You had to check the place about twice a week because once say, the new Smiths/kd Lang/Cult singles sold through, there would be the new Sisters Of Mercy/Replacements/Del Fuegos taking their slots, and on and on. Plus they stocked even more obscure bands – and imports as well. These would exist in 10 count amounts tops, all in bin rows just below the wall racked quantity titles described above. So you had to stay on your toes. Good fun though.

I quickly made my way to a few Camper Van Beethoven shows, where ‘Take The Skinheads Bowling’ was the absolute highlight for me every time. The record sounds a bit thin nowadays, but it has such a great pop chorus, kinda silly lyrically maybe, but who cares. Years later the band evolved into Cracker. Just for the hell of it, fate dealt a coincidental card: their bass player Sal lives in the building right across the street from me. I was well pleased when he told me he’d been a member of Sparks, even playing on their BIG BEAT album. We’ve since played and traded many singles. He’s another record nut. We figured we live on one of the few blocks, maybe only blocks, in the solar system where 2 copies of The Syn’s ‘Created By Clive’ exist. Again, small world.