Rough Trade Records: Punk Mecca

Originally a London record shop opened by Geoff Travis in 1976, Rough Trade has become a poster-label for punks all over the world. Chances are that every single person who’s ever been close to a functioning radio has heard some of Rough Trade’s releases. As the demand for records in the shop grew, so did Geoff’s passion for spotlighting the bands that he loved; thus in 1978, Rough Trade Records was born. After a few “rough” years, the label was reinvented in 1999 with the help of Geoff’s longtime friend Jeannette Lee. The label still stands strong to this day with continuous releases and offices in both London and New York.

Listen to the full playlist on youtube.


“Paris Maquis” – Metal Urbain

The first single released by the label was called “Paris Maquis” by Metal Urbain, a French punk group from the 70’s. Time to study up on your french, or google translate at least.

“Rough Trade” – Stiff Little Fingers

A band from Belfast, Northern Ireland called Stiff Little Fingers was one of the next bands to work with the label, releasing Inflammable Material. They were actually a cover band before they even knew what punk was. Thank god for punk.

“The Void” – The Raincoats

Ana da Silva and Gina Birch, two students at the Hornsey College of Art in London, decided to share the product of their extracurricular activities with the world. Rough Trade stepped in and made this a reality with their self titled LP, The Raincoats. The record was re-released in 1994, partially because Kurt Cobain stated that this was on his list of favorite albums.

“H.S. Art” – Swell Maps

Swell Maps is a London band that has influenced the likes of Dinosaur Jr., Sonic Youth, and Pavement. A Trip to Marineville came out on Rough Trade Records in 1979. The first stop on our tour of Marineville starts with “H.S. Art”. Say, that’s a swell map indeed.

“Part Time Punks” – Television Personalities

English band Television Personalities released the Where’s Bill Grundy Now? EP on Rough Trade in 1978. If these songs don’t make you want to dye your hair blue and become Matthew Lillard in SLC Punk then I don’t know what will. It’s a lot of work to be a full-time punk so here’s a song called “Part Time Punks”.

“This Charming Man” – The Smiths

In April of 1983 a young guitarist walked into Rough Trade Records with a demo tape in hopes that Geoff Travis would dig it. Grabbing Geoff’s sleeve on his way out the door, the guitarist handed Geoff the tape himself. Geoff went home and listened to the demo about 20 times before he decided to give these Manchester kids a shot. Four years and four studio albums later, The Smiths were at the head of this new thing called indie music–with a little help from Rough Trade.

“Last Nite” – The Strokes

After years of inactivity and fans urging them to put out more music, Geoff and Jeannette decided that Rough Trade needed new blood. The label was stagnant and in order to reach out to the new age of indie music Rough Trade brought out the big guns. Here’s the original version of The Strokes’ “Last Nite” as released by Rough Trade in 2001.