Established in 1976 in West London by Geoff Travis, as an anarchic, DIY alternative to the mainstream, Rough Trade grew to become a defining influence in the British music scene. Originally specialising in US and Jamaican imports, it became one of the leading outlets for the burgeoning punk scene, signing such bands as Metal Urbain, Stiff Little Fingers, The Raincoats, Scritty Politty, Robert Wyatt, The Fall, Linton Kwesi Johnson, and most famously, The Smiths. It was the signing of the Smiths that propelled Rough Trade from a cult post-punk label into the mainstream, as the Smiths became one of the biggest independent bands ever. Towards the end of the 80s, the empire had already started crumbling, and in 1991, the label went bankrupt. Travis continued to work in the industry, and by the mid-nineties had managed to revive the label. It has been riding the crest of a wave ever since, with bands, such as Arcade Fire, Antony and the Johnsons, Pulp and Babyshambles. "Rough Trade" is the remarkable story of this unique label, tracing the changes that have occurred over the past three decades, and addressing both the production aspect of the company and the distribution and record shops that operate as separate businesses with worldwide reputations. Boasting a complete discography and filled with archive images, profiles and interviews, this book is an essential for any music lover of any age. "Rough Trade" follows on from "Warp in Black Dog's Labels Unlimited" series; which surveys record labels whose innovative practices have stamped their identity on musical styles the world over.
Rob Young was born in Bristol in 1968. He has worked as a music writer and editor since 1993, when he joined the staff of The Wire magazine. He was Editor of the title between 2000-04 and continues to be a Contributing Editor and co-owner. He edited the collections of Wire articles, 'Undercurrents: The Hidden Wiring of Modern Music' (Continuum 2002), 'The Wire Primers: A Guide to Modern Music' (Verso 2009), and a selection of newly commissioned pieces on a legendary musical genius, 'No Regrets: Writings On Scott Walker' (Orion 2012).
He also wrote the first two in Black Dog Publishing's Labels Unlimited series of illustrated record company biographies: 'Warp' (2005) and 'Rough Trade' (2006). In 2010 he published his 650-page history of folk music and the British imagination, from the late 19th century to the present, 'Electric Eden: Unearthing Britain's Visionary Music' (Faber and Faber).
He has contributed to many publications including Uncut, Sight & Sound, The Word, The Guardian, Frieze and Art Review, as well as art catalogues on Jeremy Deller, Carsten Nicolai and Seb Patane.