‘Rough Trade’ were a Canadian New Wave band that first formed in 1968 and over their career they have released 6 full length studio albums. Despite a number of talented musicians coming and out of the line up, the band always centred around the two core members, singer Carole Pope and multi-instrumentalist Kevan Staples. Much of their fame stemmed from their provocative lyrics and stage show, with singer Pope often performing in bondage attire and singing often sexually explicit lyrics. The band, through their combination of rock, R+B and raw sexuality, became a popular draw on Toronto’s live music scene.
Over the 70’s the band underwent a number of line up changes in between several independently released albums and they even wrote and performed a live musical entitled ‘Restless Underwear’, which featured famous American actor and singer Harris Glenn Milstead, or better known for his stage name as “Divine”. This version of Rough Trade was able to build on this success and in 1980 they landed a record deal with Canadian independent ‘True North Records’. Through this new deal they recorded their second album ‘Avoid Freud’ which was released in October 1980. Their first real break into the mainstream came with the controversy surrounding their raunchy second single “High School Confidential”, which helped propel the song into the Canadian top 20, and made the band stars.
In 1982 the band then recorded the album ‘Shaking the Foundations’ and this was to be their most successful release. The album became a hit in Canada in 1983, spending 21 weeks on the charts, peaking at #9 in February, putting it at #1 on the ‘CANCON’ listing. The album would go Gold (50,000 units) in Canada within four weeks of it’s release. The opening track and first single ‘Crimes of Passion’ proved to the most popular song on that album and after seeing it’s potential, FM Revolver released the single in the UK.
In 1984, the duo of Pope and Staples were paired with new producer Terry Brown, who had been ‘Rush’s’ producer on all their albums from ‘Fly by Night’ to ‘Signals’. The duo became augmented by session musicians in the studio and with all these collaborations they created and released the band’s 1984 album ‘O Tempora! O Mores!’. Rough Trade released two singles that peaked at the bottom of the Canadian top 100, but it would prove to be Rough Trade’s final full-length original release. The album was also released by FM Revolver in the UK with some commercial success.
Under a new line-up the band would then record a handful of new tracks for the 1985 greatest hits compilation ‘Roughest Trade’, which would be their final release. Their final full-scale tour, dubbed “Deep Six in ’86”, took place in 1986, and proved for a few years at least to be their last live performances, although the band completed a few local concert dates in Toronto in 1987 and 1988. Since the break-up, Staples has been a composer for film, television and theatre, while Pope recorded a few solo singles and EPs; as well as her full-length solo debut album, entitled ‘Transcend’, which was released in 2005.