Monday, August 30, 2010

POST-PUNK




"Clause one: Rough Trade and dot dot dot agree to make records and sell them until either or both of the parties reasonably disagree with the arrangements. Clause two: We agree that once agreed recording, manufacturing, and promotional costs have been deducted, we will share the ensuing prophet equally."

Yeah, that's basically it, the entire manual on How To Fairly Conduct The Music Business. Except that nowadays there aren't that many records to sell. There's still plenty of great music, but I can't see a record company like Rough Trade ever existing again, unless all personal computers suddenly stop working. That's a little cynical, though... couldn't a band still sell 30,000 copies of a record on this level? That's what the "TV O.D. b/w Warm Leatherette" single by The Normal sold. For all I know, maybe Pitchfork-approved bands can still sell 30,000... how many copies has the Best Coast album sold? I guess what I'm really asking is couldn't a GOOD band still sell 30,000 copies of a record on this level?

Anyway, I'm way into all this 1978-1984 stuff right now because I'm reading Simon Reynolds's book Rip It Up And Start Again: Postpunk 1978-1984. I was never really a big Reynolds fan, having read his techno history Generation Ecstasy and various random articles over the years, but this book is just great, gathering up all the stray ends of an amazing time when music exploded with creativity and individuality. Plenty of great descriptions of the music, like this one: "Another Cabaret Voltaire hallmark was the dehumanizing of Mallinder's voice via creepy treatments that made him sound reptilian, alien, or, at the extreme, like some kind of metallic or mineralized being."

So many sweet tunes, like "TV O.D." (better than its more famous B side "Warm Leatherette")...



Thomas Leer "Private Plane"



Desperate Bicycles "Smokescreen"



Cabaret Voltaire "Nag Nag Nag" (so killer!)



Orange Juice "Falling and Laughing"



Scritti Politti "Skank Bloc Bologna"



And last but totally the opposite of least, Public Image Limited doing "Death Disco" live on Top of the Pops in 1979. Keep smilin', Jah....


3 comments:

bp baggins said...

"Yeah, that's basically it, the entire manual on How To Fairly Conduct The Music Business. Except that nowadays there aren't that many records to sell. There's still plenty of great music, but I can't see a record company like Rough Trade ever existing again, unless all personal computers suddenly stop working. That's a little cynical, though... couldn't a band still sell 30,000 copies of a record on this level? That's what the "TV O.D. b/w Warm Leatherette" single by The Normal sold. For all I know, maybe Pitchfork-approved bands can still sell 30,000... how many copies has the Best Coast album sold? I guess what I'm really asking is couldn't a GOOD band still sell 30,000 copies of a record on this level?"

i read that dirty projectors only sold 84k of that last album. not that i'd say they are good or anything. i'm guessing if it was 96 they would be on dgc and sell 300k. at this point if a good record sells 3k i'm happy.

Larry said...

OK, 84K for the Dirty Projectors is actually a lot more than I would've guessed. So there is still a chance. Not that I'd say they are good either... I've never heard 'em, but that says there's still a chance for a Rough Trade style record company to exist. I guess Domino and Matador and Merge are companies that can still sell in the 30s and 60s and sometimes maybe even 100s of Ks... but other than that 3K would seem to be the new 30K for roughly the same quality of music (i.e. the best post-punk, post-rock, post-anything sounds of today)

Joe Nolan said...

Thanks so much for the great Rough Trade video. What great footage! Your mention of Simon Reynolds caught my eye. I just finished reading his Totally Wired - a bookend to Rip it Up'. You'd probably like this one a lot too. They stand alone, but together they are rather the definitive take on those times. I've posted a review here:

http://www.joenolan.com/blog/?p=473

Enjoy - and keep up the good work!

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