I was reminded again recently why Rough Trade East is the best record shop in the world. They opened in the old brewery building off Brick Lane in July 2007, and have since almost singlehandedly redefined what a 21st century record store can be.
There is so much more to Rough Trade East than record shopping: you can read the books and magazines over a strong cup of fair trade coffee; listen to the latest staff recommendations; pick up a record bag, t-shirt, set of headphones or whatever you’re having yourself from their extensive range of goodies, or grab a very fairly priced ice-cold Estrella or Sierra Nevada and catch a live band.
Which is exactly what I did the other week. I’ve been to Rough Trade East countless times over the years, and must have handed over a very considerable amount of money over the till, but I’d never seen a live band play in the shop, as it also brilliantly functions as a 200 capacity venue.
I caught Kate Jackson’s former band the Long Blondes at Glastonbury in 2007, when they were at their creative and commercial peak. They performed on the Other Stage to a huge crowd on the back of a string of anthemic hit singles such as the terrific ‘Giddy Stratospheres’.
The Long Blondes were one of the great underrated British bands, and so much better than a lot of their overhyped contemporaries around the mid-noughties – but enough about the past, as Kate Jackson has a very bright future.
She’s always been a fantastic lyricist and a brilliant performer. Her latest collection of Bernard Butler produced songs is entitled British Road Movies. Kate authored the lyrics, while the music is co-written with the former Suede guitarist.
Jackson and Butler were inspired by a gorgeous sounding cocktail of Bowie, the Fall, Neil Young and Brian Eno, coupled with Jackson’s love of the work of German director Wim Wenders and the stunning Nick Cave documentary 20,000 Days on Earth, so she is clearly a lady with impeccable taste. British Road Movies is a terrific album and her Rough Trade showcase was a triumph.
Opening with the new album’s haunting closing track, ‘Velvet Sofa from No. 26’, Jackson and her new band the Wrong Moves immediately set out a daring and different stall with an arresting song about her absent father, as Jackson’s parents separated when she was only one. “Are there photographs of me in your house?” Kate sings. “Does your new wife know what you already have?”
Jackson always has been a razor sharp, witty, warm, and brutally honest songwriter. She is also a great painter and you can view her recent paintings here.
British Road Movies is out now on Hoo Haa Records. Listen on Spotify here.
An interview with Kate will be published soon in Hot Press.