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Rough Trade (band)

Rough Trade (band)

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Rough Trade was a Canadian
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

 new wave
New Wave music
New Wave is a subgenre of :rock music that emerged in the mid to late 1970s alongside punk rock. The term at first generally was synonymous with punk rock before being considered a genre in its own right that incorporated aspects of electronic and experimental music, mod subculture, disco and 1960s...

 rock band in the 1970s and 1980s, centred on singer Carole Pope
Carole Pope
Carole Pope is a Canadian rock singer-songwriter, whose provocative blend of hard-edged New Wave rock with explicit homoerotic and BDSM-themed lyrics made her one of the first openly lesbian famous entertainers in the world...

 and multi-instrumentalist Kevan Staples. The band was noted for their provocative lyrics and stage antics; singer Pope often performed in bondage attire, and their 1981 hit "High School Confidential" was one of the first explicitly lesbian
Lesbian
Lesbian is a term most widely used in the English language to describe sexual and romantic desire between females. The word may be used as a noun, to refer to women who identify themselves or who are characterized by others as having the primary attribute of female homosexuality, or as an...

-themed Top 40 hits in the world.

Early years (1968-1979)


The band began in 1968 in Toronto
Toronto
Toronto is the provincial capital of Ontario and the largest city in Canada. It is located in Southern Ontario on the northwestern shore of Lake Ontario. A relatively modern city, Toronto's history dates back to the late-18th century, when its land was first purchased by the British monarchy from...

, when Carole Pope
Carole Pope
Carole Pope is a Canadian rock singer-songwriter, whose provocative blend of hard-edged New Wave rock with explicit homoerotic and BDSM-themed lyrics made her one of the first openly lesbian famous entertainers in the world...

 (vocals, guitars) and Kevan Staples (keyboards, guitars) began performing in a group known as "O". Their musical partner in this venture, Clive Smith
Clive A. Smith
Clive A. Smith is a British expatriate director and animator who, with Michael Hirsh and Patrick Loubert, founded Canadian animation studio Nelvana in 1971...

, would later go on to co-found the animation studio Nelvana
Nelvana
Nelvana Limited is a Canadian entertainment company founded in 1971 known for its work in children's animation. It was named by founders Michael Hirsh, Patrick Loubert and Clive A. Smith after a Canadian comic book superheroine created by Adrian Dingle in the 1940s...

.

In 1970, Smith left the group and the remaining duo of Pope and Staples changed their name to "The Bullwhip Brothers", and performed as a largely acoustic duo at Toronto art festivals and at private events. In 1974, the band expanded to a full line-up and became Rough Trade, adding Jo-Ann Brooks, Rick Gratton, Hap Roderman, John Lang and Marv Kanarek to the lineup. The band, through their combination of hard-edged new wave rock and raw sexuality (Pope often performed in bondage
BDSM
BDSM is an erotic preference and a form of sexual expression involving the consensual use of restraint, intense sensory stimulation, and fantasy power role-play. The compound acronym BDSM is derived from the terms bondage and discipline , dominance and submission , and sadism and masochism...

 attire), became a popular draw on Toronto's live music circuit through their regular shows at Grossman's.

They were the first rock band to record a direct to disc album, with 1976's Rough Trade Live. By this time, the band's line-up was Pope, Staples, Michael Fonfara (keyboards, arranger), Peter Hodgson (bass), Jo-Ann Brooks, (vocals, percussion) and Rick Gratton (drums). As would be the case throughout the band's entire career, the vast majority of the album's songs were written by the team of Pope and Staples.

On December 19, 1977, the band presented a newly-created live musical called Restless Underwear which co-starred Divine alongside the band (who by this time had added an additional back-up singer, Luci Martin-Keyes, to the line up). The show, which played at Toronto's prestigious Massey Hall
Massey Hall
Massey Hall is a venerable performing arts theatre in the Garden District of downtown Toronto. The theatre originally was designed to seat 3,500 patrons but, after extensive renovations in the 1940s, now seats up to 2,765....

, was noted for its outrageous (for the time) sexual satire. However, aside from Pope and Staples the rest of the band quit after Restless Underwear had completed its one-show run, in a dispute over payment.

After a six-month layoff, Pope and Staples rebuilt the band, adding Sharon Smith, Jon Cessine, Bucky Berger, Patricia Cullen and Terry Wilkins to the line-up at various points in 1978 and 1979. The group resumed playing regular Toronto shows, most often at the Horseshoe Tavern
Horseshoe Tavern
The Horseshoe Tavern is a concert venue located at 370 Queen Street West in downtown Toronto, and has been in operation since 1947. Owned by "JC", Ken Sprackman, Craig Laskey and Naomi Montpetit, the venue is a significant part of Canadian musical lore...

.

Also in 1978, Tim Curry
Tim Curry
Timothy James "Tim" Curry is a British actor, singer, composer and voice actor, known for his work in a diverse range of theatre, film and television productions. He currently resides in Los Angeles, California....

 would issue a cover of the Rough Trade song "Birds of a Feather". Pope and Staples were also at the time involved in writing music for film and television soundtracks, and in 1978 they picked up a Genie Award
Genie Award
Genie Awards are given out to recognize the best of Canadian cinema by the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television. From 1949-1979, the awards were named the Canadian Film Awards...

 for their work on the made-for-TV film One Night Stand.

On February 14, 1980, the band performed their musical revue Restless Underwear at Manhattan's Beacon Theatre. However, the event was promoted by the venue as a show by Divine, who in fact only sang two songs in the revue, both in act two. As a result, the show was poorly received.

Later that year, the band line-up was again reshuffled, settling into a stable five-person line-up of Carole Pope (vocals), Kevan Staples (guitars, keyboards, etc.), David McMorrow (keyboards), Terry Wilkins (bass) and Bucky Berger (drums).

Commercial peak (1980-1983)


This new iteration of Rough Trade landed a record contract with True North Records
True North Records
True North Records is a Canadian independent record label. It was founded in Mississauga, Ontario in 1969 by Bernie Finkelstein. On December 17, 2007, True North was acquired by an investment group led by Linus Entertainment...

 in mid-1980, and recorded the group's second album, Avoid Freud
Avoid Freud
Avoid Freud is the second album by Canadian New Wave band Rough Trade, released in 1980 . It placed at least as high as #19 on the Canadian RPM Top Albums Chart on March 14, 1981...

, which was released in October 1980. The first single was the deliberately controversial "What's The Furor About The Fuhrer?", but radio stations flipped the single over and the B-side "Fashion Victim" became a top 40 hit in Canada.

The controversy surrounding the raunchy lesbian-themed second single "High School Confidential" helped propel the song into the Canadian top 20, and made the band stars. The band sang this song on a notable 1981 appearance on SCTV
Second City Television
Second City Television is a Canadian television sketch comedy show offshoot from Toronto's The Second City troupe that ran between 1976 and 1984.- Premise :...

, a prominent Canadian comedy show that also aired in the US.

The band's next album was 1981's For Those Who Think Young
For Those Who Think Young
For Those Who Think Young, appearing on the album cover as and originally to be entitled for those who think jung, was the third album by Canadian new wave band Rough Trade; it was released in 1981...

. (The title was originally meant to be "For Those Who Think Jung", a play on their earlier Avoid Freud LP as well as a reference to Carl Jung
Carl Jung
Carl Gustav Jung was a Swiss psychiatrist and the founder of Analytical Psychology. Jung is considered the first modern psychiatrist to view the human psyche as "by nature religious" and make it the focus of exploration. Jung is one of the best known researchers in the field of dream analysis and...

.) Although not as widely remembered as "High School Confidential" today, the LP's first single (the sexually-charged "All Touch") was the band's most successful single on the Canadian charts during their career, peaking at #12. "All Touch" also became their only US chart hit, peaking at #58.

During the recording of Rough Trade's 1982 album Shaking The Foundations, Wilkins and Berger left and were replaced by Howard Ayee (bass) and Jorn Anderson (drums) as unofficial members (By this point, the group was explicitly identified in the album credits as simply Pope and Staples, augmented by other musicians as needed on a track-by-track basis.) Shaking The Foundations spawned a top 20 Canadian hit in "Crimes of Passion". Dusty Springfield
Dusty Springfield
Mary Isobel Catherine Bernadette O'BrienSources use both Isabel and Isobel as the spelling of her second name. OBE , known professionally as Dusty Springfield and dubbed The White Queen of Soul, was a British pop singer whose career extended from the late 1950s to the 1990s...

 sang backing vocals on the album, and would also cover two Rough Trade songs that same year on her album White Heat
White Heat (album)
White Heat is the twelfth studio album recorded by singer Dusty Springfield, and eleventh released. It was only released in the United States and Canada....

. Many years later, Pope would reveal that she and Springfield were in a relationship around this time.

In 1983, Rough Trade were offered a Pepsi
Pepsi
Pepsi is a carbonated soft drink that is produced and manufactured by PepsiCo...

 commercial to air in the Canadian market, but the ad was soon pulled from the airwaves as Pepsi had featured people wrapped in bandages and wearing tuxedos and sunglasses similar to Canadian musician Nash the Slash
Nash the Slash
Nash the Slash is a Canadian musician. Though a multi-instrumentalist, he is known primarily for playing electric violin and mandolin, as well as harmonica, keyboards, glockenspiel, and other instruments .Nash worked as a solo artist beginning in 1975, then founded the progressive rock band FM in...

 without his permission. The same year, lead singer Pope duetted with Paul Hyde on the Payola$ top 10 Canadian hit "Never Said I Loved You". However, Rough Trade's own 1983 album Weapons failed to place a single on the Canadian charts, marking the beginning of the group's commercial decline.

Winding down (1984-1988)


By 1984, the duo of Pope and Staples were augmented by session musicians in the studio, including Berger, Wilkins, Ayee, and Anderson, as well as guests such as Dalbello and Neil Chapman of Pukka Orchestra
Pukka Orchestra
The Pukka Orchestra was a Canadian New Wave band in the 1980s. The core of the band consisted of vocalist Graeme Williamson and guitarists Neil Chapman and Tony Duggan-Smith, although the band made frequent use of guest musicians....

. The band's 1984 album O Tempora! O Mores! spun off two singles that brushed the lowest rungs of the Canadian top 100, but it would prove to be Rough Trade's final full-length release.

Rough Trade returned to a stable five person line-up in 1985 for performance purposes, with Pope, Staples and Ayee joined by Tony Springer
Tony Springer
Tony "Wild T" Springer is a Canadian blues-rock guitarist.Born and raised in Trinidad and Tobago, Springer played with a number of reggae and calypso bands as a teenager. He later moved to Canada, settling in Toronto and playing local clubs in a Jimi Hendrix tribute band...

 (guitar) and Tony Craig (drums). This line-up would record a handful of new tracks for the 1985 greatest hits
Greatest hits
A greatest hits album is a music compilation album of successful, previously released songs by a particular artist or band...

 compilation Birds of a Feather, and their final full scale tour took place in 1986, although they continued to perform occasional concert dates in Toronto until 1988. Around the same time, guitarist Springer changed his stage name to Wild T and found modest fame as a solo artist in Canada.

Reunions, solo activity (1989-present)


After the final break-up in 1988, Rough Trade subsequently performed several reunion shows, with varying personnel supporting Pope and Staples. The first reunion show was in Toronto in December, 1994; a handful of one-off shows later took place at various times through the late 1990s and into the next decade, mostly in Toronto. In 2001, Rough Trade undertook a mini-tour of a several venues in eastern Canada.

Since the break-up, Staples has busied himself as a composer for film, television and theatre, and still lives in Toronto. Pope lived in Los Angeles for a time, and has issued a few solo singles and EPs, and one full-length solo album (2005's Transcend). She continues to play occasional shows and street fairs in Toronto and Montreal, and now lives in New York City.

Albums

  • Rough Trade Live! Direct to Disc (1976)
  • Avoid Freud
    Avoid Freud
    Avoid Freud is the second album by Canadian New Wave band Rough Trade, released in 1980 . It placed at least as high as #19 on the Canadian RPM Top Albums Chart on March 14, 1981...

    (1980)
  • For Those Who Think Young (1981)
  • Shaking the Foundations
    Shaking the Foundations
    Shaking the Foundations is the third studio album by the Toronto new-wave band Rough Trade. It was released in 1982 and became a hit in Canada in 1983, spending 21 weeks on the charts, peaking at #9 in February....

    (1982)
  • Weapons (1983)
  • O Tempora! O Mores! (1984)
  • Birds of a Feather: The Best of Rough Trade (1985)

Singles

Release date Title Chart peak Album
Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...


RPM 100
US
Hot 100
1980 "Fashion Victim" 25 Avoid Freud
Avoid Freud
Avoid Freud is the second album by Canadian New Wave band Rough Trade, released in 1980 . It placed at least as high as #19 on the Canadian RPM Top Albums Chart on March 14, 1981...

1981 "High School Confidential" 12
1981 "All Touch" 12 58 For Those Who Think Young
1981 "Blood Lust"
1981 "For Those Who Think Young"
1982 "Crimes of Passion" 18 Shaking the Foundations
Shaking the Foundations
Shaking the Foundations is the third studio album by the Toronto new-wave band Rough Trade. It was released in 1982 and became a hit in Canada in 1983, spending 21 weeks on the charts, peaking at #9 in February....

1983 "Weapons" Weapons
1983 "Deca-Dance"
1984 "Sexual Outlaw" 92 O Tempora! O Mores!
1985 "On The Line" 91
1985 "Rescue Me"
1985 "Birds of a Feather" Birds of a Feather

External links