Document and eyewitness: an intimate history of Rough Trade

document eyewitness(Photo credit: Document and eyewitness: an intimate history of Rough trade by Neil Taylor. Published by Orion. Image above shows the title and author of the book in black and red text against a white background)


There never has been and there never will be another record company like Rough Trade.

From its pre-punk beginnings in the 1970s, through its coming of age during the post-punk era, Rough Trade has been responsible not only for some of the finest material committed to disc, but also for championing a radical ethos that has constantly challenged what has gone before.

Rough Trade is practically a byword for the history of independent music over the last thirty years.

Document and Eyewitness traces the history of the company that started out as a humble record shop and turned itself into an alternative global empire, before self-imploding and eventually re-emerging in its present form.

Many of the best independent artists found their start or did their best work, and often both, on Rough Trade – Cabaret Voltaire, The Fall, Scritti Politti, Robert Wyatt, The Smiths, The Sundays, The Strokes, The Libertines, British Sea Power and Eddi Reader to name but a few.

An equally impressive and even larger number of artists were beneficiaries of Rough trade Distribution, which, prior to its collapse in 1991, handled, among thousands of others, releases by Rough Trade’s own acts as well as those by Joy Division, Depeche Mode, The Specials, Orange Juice, the Cocteau Twins, and The KLF.

Neil Taylor presents a frank, reflective, absorbing, atmospheric account of what many consider a national institution.

The book blends the voices of over seventy participants, all interviewed for the project – musicians such as Green Gartside, Robert Wyatt, Johnny Marr and Jarvis Cocker and the workers, many of whom speak for the first time about their experiences – with a hitherto unpublished archive of documentation.

From the early records of Cabaret Voltaire, Kleenex and the Swell Maps, through to groundbreaking releases by The Fall, The Smiths and Scritti Pollitti, on through the collapse of the independent collective and the rebirth of Rough Trade at the turn of the century, this will be the definitive, essential account for any serious independent music fan.

You can find further details of Document and eyewitness on the main catalogue, available in ‘Catalogues’ on the Library’s website.