Sunday, February 07, 2010

Rough Trade

Reading obituaries of the recently departed J D Salinger, I was awestruck by his achievements. After having a big success with Catcher in the Rye he disappeared from view, declining to publish anything else. While doing that, he had various affairs with young women. At the age of 53, he had a long affair with 18-year-old fan, and then he married another woman who was 40 years younger than him.

So basically, Salinger lay around doing nothing very much, living off his royalties, while young women just threw themselves at him. This man is my hero.

I wish I could spend the rest of my life lying on the couch watching SpongeBob SquarePants, meanwhile women are beating a path to my door. It sounds great. It's the ideal life for a writer, never actually having to write anything again. You have to take your hat off to J D Salinger for managing to do this.


Every time I make a foray into modern music the results are disappointing. I was listening to Joy Division's Transmission, and thinking, as I generally do 'This is a great record' and also thinking 'Oh dear, that came out a really long time ago, and I remember watching them play it live before it was even released, so I must be getting old' - when I became aware that there was a cover version, by Hot Chip. I am informed that Hot Chip are a popular modern band. I head for youtube to listen to their version. I don't like it. It makes no sense to me. I can't imagine why they made a cover version like that. (But hey, everything else they've recorded might be great, I wouldn't know)

So, that was another disappointing exposure to modern music.

Watching Joy Division on stage at the end of the 70s was a mesmerising experience. I remember buying the single Transmission, at Rough Trade Records, in their original shop in Kensington Park Road, Notting Hill. Which would have been in 1979, I suppose.

That original Rough Trade shop was like a small wonderland at the time. The walls were covered with picture sleeves from singles, which, in original punk days, was a new innovation. You could go into the shop and end up buying things just by seeing what looked good on the walls. They sold fanzines, too, which was also a new innovation. Somewhere, packed away, I still have some original copies of Sniffing Glue, original punk fanzine.

Here's a picture of where the first Rough Trade record shop was, in Kensington Park Road. It's now a toy shop, Cheeky Monkeys. This picture is slightly distorted, possibly because I'm not very good at manipulating Google street view.


  1. Anonymous2:51 pm

    Don't worry Mr. Miller, if you didn't like there cover of the Joy Division song you probably wouldnt like the rest of hot chips stuff. But im with you on the fact that I dont much like them. Despite that, there are good bands out today, it just depends on if you want that gloomy sound or not

  2. Judging bands by their covers is probably not a fair way to wiegh them up. There is plenty of new interesting music out there but - like Joy Division in 1979 - not many people are listening.

    Old punk troubadour Tom Robinson does a show on 6Music devoted to finding new bands straight off the net without any record companies, And with the power of the internet, you don't have to have a DAB radio or even tune in at the time it's broadcast in order to hear it

    Meanwhile, back to covers of Transmission, how about this steel band version?

  3. Live long enough you have similar experiences. I was transported via nostalgia last week when I was in Seattle and saw the shop Singles Going Steady - which is shockingly still in operatioon. I remember reading a zine which became a band, "Some Velvet Sidewalk" and another zine which became a band, "Vomit Launch." I wonder when kids will start producing xeroxed zines again and making show posters out of press-on type, just to be contrary?

  4. I can relate, even though I might be slightly younger than you. When I hear a good track on the radio I invariably (well usually at least) discover that it's from the early 80's. Sometimes I wish I was born earlier so I could enjoy the music the first time around, but then I remember how people dressed back then...

  5. Anonymous11:12 am

    I thought you'd gone out on an expedition to photograph the shop!!! "Google street view", indeed...I get seasick using that.

    Ciao Martin!! Gailxxx

  6. I'd beat your door down to have an affair with you. Just sayin'.

  7. Take a listen to Exit Calm .. that should restore your faith that somewhere there are still bands with attitude, a sound and something to say ....

  8. I appreciate people's suggestions for music... but these days, I'm always disappointed.

  9. Curt, I remember the days when fanzines could become bands. I miss the old photo-copied posters too. I suppose these days lurid Myspace pages are the equivalent of the old band posters.

  10. Gail, I'm not much good at making expeditions!

    And Germaine, thanks for the support, I appreciate it :o)

  11. Love Joy Division and wish I could have seen them live. And, yes, most modern music does suck. I am officially an old fogey. Heh!