Album Review – Recorded At The Automat: The Best Of Rough Trade Records

Rough Trade at the automat

Various Artists -‘Recorded At The Automat: The Best Of Rough Trade Records’ (Rough Trade Shops)

The legendary Rough Trade record shops in London have been putting together awesome compilations for well over a decade now – and it was surely only a matter of time before they came up with one that focused on the label that grew out of the original shop (though shop and label have been separate for many years now).

The band that took Rough Trade into the bigtime were, of course, The Smiths. It’s quite telling that the Smiths’ contribution here is a b-side, ‘London,’ which shows how shop and label tended to think out of the box and of course, just how wonderful The SMiths were during their brief four year run of making records.

There’s some wonderful records that may have passed many of us by (Rainy Day’s take on ‘I’ll Keep It With Mine’), and records that are well-known (Scritti Politti, The Strokes and Pete Doherty is represented by both the Libertines and Babyshambles). There’s a nod to a number of the great Scottish artists that have been on the label over the years – Belle & Sebastian, Life Without Buildings, The Prats and Motorcycle Boy, though it’s criminal that Aberfeldy are missing. There are tracks from the lies of Antony and the Johnsons, The Fall and The Pop Group which show (amongst many others) how Rough Trade understood that indie music was -and still is, to those of us of a certain age – about being independent in your approach to making music as much as how it was released.

I could list numerous artists who’ve been on the label – but that might end up serving as more of a criticism than I intend this to be. The reality is that this is a very comprehensive overview of a wonderful label that over nearly forty years has helped discover unknown and original talent and help them reach a wider audience. Sure, you’d hope any label would do this, but they’ve managed to do it with style and panache. Mostly!


Recorded At The Automat: The Best Of Rough Trade Records is out now on Rough Trade Shops