Rough Trade

Canadian Classic Rock
Biography

Rough Trade

Rough Trade

 

As the core of one of Canada's most innovative, avant garde groups, Carol Pope and Kevan Staples were a constant fixture of the Yorkville coffeehouses during the late '60's. The duo's aggressive sound was trademark long before the advent of an actual 'punk' or 'new wave' sound. They combined raw pop with political overtones & sexual innuendos and in 1970 changed their name to O (after the sexually-provacative book and subsequent movie "The Story of O"), and then the Bullwhip Brothers a year later.

By the mid 70's they'd incorporated a full band and in '75, Rough Trade was born. The music however was going in a direction too 'cultish' for most bars, and definitely not for the predominately folk coffee-houses they'd played before. Despite this, the group DID find gigs in the Toronto club scene and honed their sound, developing a motley crew following, consisting mainly of radicals, gay activists and the like in the process.

After Jack Richardson, most noteable for his work with The Guess Who, took notice of the group, their fortune turned for the better, culminating in a deal with True North Records in 1980. Later that same year saw the release of the band's debut, AVOID FREUD. With David McMorrow on keyboards, drummer Bucky Berger and Terry Watkins on bass rounding out the band, the record was an instant underground hit. Produced by Staples and Gene Martynec, who'd worked with such Canadian hard rockers as Queen City Kids, the release of "Fashion Victim" was soon followed up with one of this country's most controversial singles ever, "Highschool Confidential". Complete with risque lyrics and suggestive theme, radio stations played censored versions of the song on it's way to gold. Also on their debut was "Furor About The Fuhrer", a politically-charged track which played to right-wing activists. Whether because of, or despite of all the mixed publicity, the album went on to be certified platinum later that year.

Before the release of their next record, the band's notoriety earned them a spot on the soundtrack for the film 'CRUISING', with the song "Shakedown". FOR THOSE WHO THINK YOUNG was released in '81 and was met with critical acclaim. With the same production team and backed by the success of the title track, Rough Trade showed they had a pop sensibility about them not necessarily seen in their debut. Also featured were "Attitude" and the smash "All Touch", another sexually-charged track, though somewhat watered down from their previous work. Nonetheless, FTWTY soon became the band's second straight gold record.

SHAKING THE FOUNDATIONS hit the stores the next year. The only single was the title track, showing that perhaps trying to cater to a more radio-friendly format and perhaps less sophisticated audience was a wrong decision. Though the record contained some of the band's most intricately written works, they were beginning to lose favour with the critics, getting used to the band's image.

Terry Brown, who'd gained international fame behind the controls for Rush, was brought in for O Tempora! O Mores! in '84. Featuring a new core of musicians, "Sexual Outlaw" was released as the first single, followed by "On The Line". Again, the critics were losing interest in the group's fine line between risque and absurd, despite other noteable mentions like "Low Blow" and "Aphrodisiac".

Despite the initial reaction to their image and earlier critical and commercial success, Rough Trade acknowledged that times were changing. With the original fan-base for the most part now outgrown from their outrageous forte, the band called it quits in the mid 80's. Two greatest hits packages were released in '85, BIRDS OF A WING, which featured the title track as the obligatory previously un-released classic this side of the Atlantic, and ROUGHEST TRADE in the UK.

Rough Trade pioneered a sound before there was a catch-phrase to describe it. Although it can be said they didn't mature with the audience their music was geared to, they combined elements of punk, new wave and pop - evolving from a raucous duo isolated to the Toronto club scene into one of the most innovative groups in Canadian music history.

Written by Dan Brisebois of
CanConRox


Discography

Live! Direct To Disc
Live! Direct To Disc (1976)

Birds Of A Feather
Take Me
Refrain
Stranded
No Control
Butch
Style
Surrender (Give Up)

Avoid Freud
Avoid Freud (1980)

It's A Jungle
High School Confidential
Lie Back, Let Me Do Everything
Physical Violence
I Can't Take It
What's The Furor About The Führur?
Fashion Victim
Emotional Blackmail
Hostage
Grade B Movie

For Those Who Think Young
For Those Who Think Young (1981)

All Touch
Attitude
For Those Who Think Young
Bodies In Collision
Prisoner Of My Skin
The Sacred & The Profane
Baptism Of Fire
Fakin' It
Blood Lust

Shaking The Foundations
Shaking The Foundations (1982)

Crimes Of Passion
Endless Night
Shaking The Foundations
Vertigo
Numero Fatale
America, Bad And Beautiful
I Want To Live
Kiss Me Deadly
Fire Down Below
Beg For It

Weapons
Weapons (1983)

Weapons
If You Want It
Life Line
Beyond Love And Desire
You Must Adapt
The Deca-Dance
Race Musik
Territorial
Soft Core
Paisley Generation

O Tempora!, O Mores!
O Tempora!, O Mores! (1984)

Sexual Outlaw
Symbolic
On The Line
Pangerons
Low Blow
Threshold
Tied Up
Rescue Me
Aphodisiac
Evolution

Birds Of A Feather
Birds Of A Feather (1985)

Birds Of A Feather [New Version]
High School Confidential
All Touch
Weapons
Up Against The Wall
Insatiable
Fashion Victim
Crimes Of Passion
Territorial
Shaking The Foundations

Roughest Trade
Roughest Trade (1985)
UK release of Birds Of A Feather

Birds Of A Feather [New Version]
High School Confidential
All Touch
Weapons
Up Against The Wall
Insatiable
Fashion Victim
Crimes Of Passion
Territorial
Shaking The Foundations


Other Biographies

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