Rough Trade Shops Compilations – The Not Necessarily Festive Fifty

I miss John Peel. There are very few things in this world that have less credibility than a Radio 1 DJ, but Peel had an instinctive sense for the new and exciting and somehow managed to carve his own niche, retaining his cred (even into his 60s) while still holding down a slot on the most fickle of our national radio stations for almost 40 years.

If he played a track on his show that, on first hearing, sounded like an assault on all our brains understood as music, you would still be prepared to give it a second listen, because you trusted his taste. And most times he was right. But trust like this has to be earned, and John Peel had spent his entire working life earning it. Then he went and died.

I always used to tape his annual Festive 50, edit it down to a single ‘best-of’ C90 on a 2-deck tape recorder, then this tape would become my soundtrack for the following year. Looking back now on the Festive Fifties of the 90s, they trace the music of my twenties (just as last-fm is now tracking the slightly more pedestrian tastes of my thirties). But when John Peel died, so did my trust in the new sounds of the underground, because without Peel I had no longer had a crap filter.

Until now. Part of my bday present from Deb was exactly the same as she got me last year (and I would be happy to receive every year) – two of the previous year’s Rough Trade Shops compilations. These compilations have been trickling out over the last few years, to very little fanfare, but have all been superb. They are compiled by the uber-geeks behind the counter at London’s Rough Trade shops, who are obviously a bunch of hyper-obsessive 30 and 40 somethings who listen to *every single record ever released*. They are the bastard children of John Peel, and with their regular ‘best of the year’ Counter Culture CDs, they are providing a Festive Fifty for the iPod generation.

As a service to the world (because I can’t even find this list on the rough trade website), the discography to date is as follows:

- 25 yrs of … (Box Set)

- Electronic 01
- Rock And Roll 1

Counter Culture 02
- Post Punk 01
Country 1

– Counter Culture 03
– Indiepop 1

– Counter Culture 04

- Counter Culture 05
- Singer-Songwriter 1
The Record Shop – 30 years of …

- Counter Culture 06
Counter Culture 76
Protest 1 (coming soon)

Every release comes with copious sleeve notes and artwork, perhaps the only reason for not buying music down a pipe these days. And, unless you are considerably hipper than me (which isn’t hard), the vast majority of the artists/tracks featured you will have never heard of before. Whatsmore
you can rely on every track being played at the right speed.

If these keep coming I can allow JP to RIP.


posted January 30th, 2007

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Gary said...

Yup that pretty much covers it for me too. I have heard some good things about those Counter Culture albums. I shall have to make more of an effort to investigate I think.

I know it’s essentially retrospective but I post old Peelie programmes to download and links to other sites who do like wise. I too miss John as proxy filter besides just loving the old chap and don’t pick up on as much new music as I used to, although Tom, Peel’s son, hosts a weekly podcast of new music that recalls his father passion and eclectic tastes. And there’s Dandelion Radio who’ve just completed their first Festive Fifty as Official new custodians (recording available if you so require).

zenbullets said...

Protest 1 never emerged, although the next Rough Trade compilation has now been announced:

Counter Culture ’07 – out on February 11th

andy said...

Thanks for your list it’s very useful.
There is also a good compilation of their early stuff, A US (Rough US 03) one called ‘Wanna buy a bridge’ that I have a copy of but I can’t find it anywhere else! It was released (I think) in 1980, Here is the track listing:

“1. Stiff Little Fingers – Alternative Ulster
2. Delta 5 – Mind Your Own Business
3. The Slits – Man Next Door
4. Essential Logic – Aerosol Burns
5. T.V. Personalities – Part Time Punks
6. Swell Maps – Read About Seymour
7. The Pop Group – We Are All Prostitutes
8. Spizz Energi – Soldier Soldier
9. Kleenex – Ain’t You
10. Cabaret Voltaire – Nag Nag Nag
11. The Raincoats – In Love
12. Young Marble Giants – Final Day
13. Scritti Politti – Skank Bloc Bologna
14. Robert Wyatt – At Last I Am Free”
A wonderful album :)

gsnelso said...

predating the releases you have listed, check out these japanese releases that influences my tastes for years afterwards, more so the volume one that i am linking but volume two was not bad either…

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