Sunday, 21 November 2010

Betrayed by Rough Trade lies?

I have just finished reading the excellent book Document and Eyewitness: An Intimate History of Rough Trade by Neil Taylor, which charts the various trials and tribulations that have afflicted Rough Trade over its 30 plus year history. I have always had a soft spot for Rough Trade, as a youth I used to buy a lot of Rough Trade singles and use their mail order, and when I first came to London in the late 1980s spent a lot of time in their Covent Garden branch especially. The book details not only all the financial and ownership problems with which they have been periodically affected, but also a spirit of adventure and a great ear for music by  Geoff Travis and others. Given my work interests I found a lot of the material about the relationships with the artists particularly interesting, including the copy of the original hand written contract, written out in biro on a notepad which says:

1. We... agree to make records and sell them until either or both of the parties reasonably disagree with the arrangement.
2.We agree that once agreed recording, manufacturing and promotional costs have been deducted we will share the ensuing profit equally.



Great stuff - and a real two fingers to the more corporate  financially oriented labels at the time. Of course such an approach does not necessarily mean a  smooth ride and a happy artist, the ethos is refreshing and brings to mind a lot of the optimism and focus of lots of these early independent labels such as Factory, Fast Product, Postcard etc. A former PhD student of mine, Oxana Chiscenco, graduates with her PhD today at the Barbican. Oxana wrote a brilliant PhD thesis based around the need to protect independent record labels  and it seems fitting to send her hearty congratulations today.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Seamless Web - popular culture and law blog

In a spirit of non-competitive bonhomie I would like to bring The Seamless Web to your attention. Lots of interesting material and links, especially looking at film and TV, and well worth a look. A great addition to the blogosphere.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Rave On? Rave Off?

Mark Townshend's piece on the huge rave that took place in central London, Scumoween: The Squat Monster's Ball, published in The Observer, took me back twenty years to the so called Second Summer of Love, and the previous conservative administration's attempts to police youth culture by trying to clamp down on raves via the Entertainment (Increased Penalties) Act 1990 and the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994. This is something that Steve Greenfield and I wrote about many moons ago in the New Statesman, although the piece we wrote now looks to be lost in the mists of time, written as it was in the days before everything seems to be available online. Townshend argues that there is a similar context at the present time to then - with both a recession and a regressive conservative government in place - and that perhaps the current climate will lead to more of these sort of events. Time will tell, now what about the return of political pop, and the halcyon days of Red Wedge etc...

Monday, 8 November 2010

The Filth and the Fury

It may not have escaped your notice that last week saw the publication of a 50th Anniversary edition of D.H.Lawrence's celebrated novel. This edition looks interesting on a number of fronts, not only does it include the unexpurgated text, but also essays by Geoffrey Roberston and Steve Hare, but also a timeline  of events around the trial and is supported by a useful website. For a useful piece on the effect the book has had on our cultural and legal landscape see Geoffrey Robertson's piece in the Guardian, The Filthy Fifth Columnist. We are looking at a number of events and initiatives in the Law School at Westminster  to celebrate this, watch this space...

Thursday, 4 November 2010


From my favourite magazine, the word, a great reinterpretation of Radiohead's Creep. While we are about it this is also a recent favourite, although the song is certainly not my usual cup of tea.