Document And Eyewitness: An Intimate History of Rough Trade
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Document And Eyewitness: An Intimate History of Rough Trade

3.51 of 5 stars 3.51  ·  rating details  ·  37 ratings  ·  8 reviews
The British record company Rough Trade has been a pioneer in the independent music industry for more than 30 years. Document and Eyewitness tells the definitive story of this trailblazing label through the voices of founder Geoff Travis, Jarvis Cocker, Robert Wyatt, Green Gartside, and other musicians. Serious fans of punk, dub, and rock will learn more about the bands the...more
Paperback, 384 pages
Published July 22nd 2010 by Orion (first published March 30th 2010)
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This is strictly for the hard-core music nerds! If you wanted an exhaustive oral history of the record shop and record label Rough Trade, Document and Eyewitness will make all your dreams come true. This book seems to have found virtually everyone who has worked for the shop/label in some capacity since it began in the 1970s. After reading this, I feel like I worked at Rough Trade. It's probably too exhaustive to be honest. I didn't care for all the talk about distribution and financials, but gu...more
As someone who is a major music nerd (and obsessed with the history of British indie music), this was an incredible look inside one of the most influential record labels of the 1980s. And it thankfully doesn't devote most of its space to the Smiths! (Love the Smiths, but I don't need to read another book about them, y'know.)
Steve Duffy
Most of the books you'll find on the music shelf concern themselves, understandably perhaps, with product, rather than process - with the song, or the album, or the oeuvre, rather than the record label, or the distribution, or the sales. There's a reluctance to discuss the nuts and bolts which amounts almost to a distaste: in that earnest muso phrase, it's all about the music.

The funny thing is, the people who started Rough Trade would surely have agreed with this proposition. In DOCUMENT AND EY...more
Jay Hinman
This is not a book I can say I completely and fully finished, for it was so jaw-droppingly boring and poorly-written that I just couldn't eke out the final third. Far too much navel-gazing reverence for its subject material, which is an esoteric taste at best: a record label and distributor that happened to build a strong and vibrant network right as punk arrived in the UK. Its releases are great for fans of the genre, and they uncovered some of my all-time favorite bands, but Rough Trade's impa...more
Jim Jones
The book starts out great and interviews all the key players. The middle part bogs down with discussions of Rough Trade's lack of organization and structure and begins to read a bit like a "What not to do" business course text. When The Smiths arrive it picks back up again. No discussion about Rough Trade USA, which I was looking forward to. Overall the book is worth reading if you are fan of the label, but I'd rather read about the bands than the business.
Shehab Hamad
super fun read for all who spent formative years in london, listening to rough trade bands, and those interested in how great labels happen (lots of fumbling by combined with love and blind faith).

bonus: lots of insights into the ambient-lefty political culture that seems far more hidden in london today.
The history of the Rough Trade record label and shop told almost entirely through interview with employees and artists. It contains surprisingly little of the story of the labels' artists but is still a very interesting document of what alternative culture and the record industry were like in the UK's recent past.

Not too bad. The long passage about money and shares sort of spoil the book's mood though.
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