4AD 1999

(April 2, 2019)

Listen to 4AD 1999 on Spotify. This is the end! Not of 4AD, but this blog series, and more importantly, an era: Ivo Watts-Russell sold 4AD to Beggars Banquet. So what did he do as the final year as the label boss? Release a buttload of Gus Gus things, and a smattering of “best of” … Continue reading 4AD 1999

4AD 1998

(March 26, 2019)

Listen to 4AD 1998 on Spotify. I asked last week whether 4AD would even release anything good again, and here we are in 1998 and the answer is… Yes! There’s Kristin Hersh’ new album, and His Name Is Alive make a comeback of sorts with Ft. Lake. And then, uh, and then… uh… Well, there’s … Continue reading 4AD 1998

4AD 1997

(March 18, 2019)

Listen to 4AD 1997 on Spotify. Listening to 4AD in 1997 is obviously listening to a label shutting down. There are no new artists, but instead there’s the first of many pilferings to come of one of 4AD’s most commercially successful bands of the 90s, Pixies. And there’s a concerted effort to make Tanya Donelly’s … Continue reading 4AD 1997

4AD 1996

(March 12, 2019)

Listen to 4AD 1996 on Spotify. Let’s focus on the positives: Dead Can Dance returned with Spiritchaser, and that’s a quite good album. Throwing Muses continued the streak begun with University and released another excellent album. His Name Is Alive went in a new direction: They discovered the Beach Boys. Heidi Berry released her final, … Continue reading 4AD 1996

4AD 1995

(March 5, 2019)

Listen to 4AD 1995 on Spotify. I think perhaps it makes sense to regard 1995 as the end of the iconic, classic version of 4AD. 4AD’s ends their association with The Wolfgang Press here, and that’s a group of people that had been with them (in various permutations) since 1980: The very first “proper” 4AD … Continue reading 4AD 1995

4AD 1994

(February 26, 2019)

Listen to 4AD 1994 on Spotify. The most important thing that happened in 1994 was that Kristin Hersh launched her solo career. While not really that radically different from her Throwing Muses music, it gave us more Kristin Hersh, and that’s always better, right? Also: 4AD signed Lisa Germano and released her stunning Geek the … Continue reading 4AD 1994

4AD 1993

(February 19, 2019)

Listen to 4AD 1993 on Spotify. 1992/1993 sealed 4AD’s fate: They had two major hits in the US college market with Belly’s Feed the Tree and The Breeders’ Cannonball; both going into heavy rotation on MTV (back when that meant something). Major label Warner Bros came sniffing seeking grunge acts, and Ivo Watts-Russell signed a … Continue reading 4AD 1993

4AD 1992

(February 12, 2019)

Listen to 4AD 1992 on Spotify. 1992 was another year of change for 4AD. Ivo Watts-Russell wanted to be able to pick more freely among things to release without getting in a serious relationship with bands, so he started the Guernica imprint which released three things at a rapid pace at the end of the … Continue reading 4AD 1992

4AD 1991

(February 5, 2019)

Listen to 4AD 1991 on Spotify. The most striking thing about 1991 is that a lot of the sleeves aren’t very good. Vaughan Oliver/Chris Bigg might have been going through a period of burn-out, and there’s some external designers used, too. Counting Backwards, Time, the Spirea X releases, Flesh Balloon are all pretty bad. And … Continue reading 4AD 1991

4AD 1990

(January 29, 2019)

Listen to 4AD 1990 on Spotify. 4AD head Ivo Watts-Russell has later said that he was going to shut down 4AD after ten years, but he didn’t because he felt an obligation to the bands. So instead 1990 turned into one of the busiest years ever, with 17 releases, and some of the biggest commercial … Continue reading 4AD 1990

4AD 1989

(January 22, 2019)

Listen to 4AD 1989 on Spotify. The playlist is, once again, not complete because Spotify doesn’t have everything. The missing songs are marked with an asterisk*. 1989 is a year of change. None of the old 4AD heavy hitters (Cocteau Twins, Dead Can Dance, This Mortal Coil, erm Clan of Xymox) release anything this year, … Continue reading 4AD 1989

4AD 1988

(January 15, 2019)

Listen to 4AD 1988 on Spotify. And here my problems really start with the “let people listen to 4AD as if they were around at the time” approach starts fraying. Over the next few years, 4AD would start getting in to the 12″ remix business, and it starts here with The Wolfgang Press’ King of … Continue reading 4AD 1988

4AD 1987

(January 8, 2019)

Listen to 4AD 1987 on Spotify. This isn’t complete, unfortunately. The Fat Skier mini-album by Throwing Muses doesn’t exist on Spotify. Three of the tracks appear on various compilations, and I’ve included them on the playlist, but you’re missing some wonderful songs like And A She-Wolf After The War, Pools in Eyes and Soap and … Continue reading 4AD 1987

4AD 1986

(January 1, 2019)

Listen to 4AD 1986 on Spotify. 1985 was a good year for 4AD, but didn’t have many surprises. 1986 ramps things up considerably. First of all, we have Le Mystère des Voix Bulgares. I don’t think anybody saw that coming or were prepared for how beautiful these Bulgarian songs could be. And Cocteau Twins decided … Continue reading 4AD 1986

4AD 1985

(December 25, 2018)

Here’s 4AD 1985 on Spotify. In 1985, there weren’t really any major revelations: It’s business as usual, but, oh, what a business. The Wolfgang Press finally (after a complicated band story that started with Rema-Rema, the first “official” thing 4AD released as a label in 1980) came into their own after five years. With a … Continue reading 4AD 1985

4AD 1984

(December 18, 2018)

The B-side to Kangaroo, the single by This Mortal Coil with the confusing name “It’ll End In Tears” is not included here, because I can’t find it on Spotify. It’s basically a short instrumental version of Kangaroo, though, so it’s not a catastrophe, I guess. But it’s a nice version. Somebody should fix that on … Continue reading 4AD 1984

4AD 1983

(December 11, 2018)

Here’s 4AD 1983 on Spotity. 1983 is the watershed year for 4AD, when they transition fully from a post-punk label into something much stranger and something that people will still obsess about decades later. Most important commercially (and musically, for that matter) are the Cocteau Twins releases. The Peppermint Pig single was a major step … Continue reading 4AD 1983

4AD 1982

(December 3, 2018)

The 4AD 1982 playlist on Spotify. In a shocker, not everything from 1982 is available on Spotify. The Birtday Party/Lydia Lunch split isn’t, but I’ve substituted some other live Birthday Party tracks. The Lunch track isn’t available at all. And the We Means We Starts single (with a different version of Not To) by Colin … Continue reading 4AD 1982

4AD 1981

(November 27, 2018)

Here’s the link: 4AD 1981 on Spotify. Working with the 4AD data set brings back memories… In the early days of the WWW, before Mozilla came on the scene, I had written a 4AD database (called “eyesore”, written in C++) where you could mark what releases you owned, and it would spit out a list … Continue reading 4AD 1981

4AD 1980

(November 18, 2018)

Some years back, I read the excellent Facing the Other Way book by Martin Aston. It’s about the British independent record company 4AD, which I used to be an er somewhat obsessive fan of in my teens, which resulted in absurdities like this. I decided to listen to everything 4AD had released, chronologically, while reading … Continue reading 4AD 1980

4AD Bootleg Tapes

(December 3, 2017)

During the 90s, I was involved with a lot of tape swapping related to the British record company 4AD. These tapes have since languished in a box in the basement, but this autumn I went on a I Must Tidy Things! jag and carried the box up to the apt. and digitised all the tapes. … Continue reading 4AD Bootleg Tapes

Of Interest to 4AD Fans of Olden Times

(November 28, 2017)

Back in the late 80s/early 90s, I was a huge 4AD fan and did many fannish things, like running VHS tape chains of 4AD-related video clips and the like. It’s a bit difficult to remember at this remove just what was so important about watching video clips and interviews with these bands now, but this … Continue reading Of Interest to 4AD Fans of Olden Times

I Am The Product Chooser

(September 6, 2014)

I was too poor at the time (1993, I think?)  to buy the limited-edition version of This Rimy River by Vaughan Oliver, but reading the 4AD biography reminded me that I had to buy it. The regular version is very pretty, and has an overview of Oliver’s design career.  The limited edition is weirder. The … Continue reading I Am The Product Chooser

It’ll End In Tears

(August 14, 2014)

I finally finished Facing the Other Way by Martin Aston. It’s tells the story of the record label 4AD, and it’s really good. I would normally have gulped it all down in a couple of sittings, but I had to listen to all the music 4AD released (sequentially) at the same time?  Right?  And that … Continue reading It’ll End In Tears

4AD Yearly

(July 14, 2014)

After buying the 4AD biography half a year ago (or something), I’ve been planning to read it while listening to everything 4AD has released chronologically.  I mean, you have to. The only problem was that I didn’t have everything 4AD has released.  I pretty much had everything between 1984 and 1997, where I began to … Continue reading 4AD Yearly

Wall of Vaughan

(July 12, 2014)

I still haven’t read the 4AD biography (any day now), but I was reminded about my plan from, like, 20 years ago to make a Vaughan Oliver wall.  That is, nail a lot of 4AD sleeves designed by Vaughan Oliver (and Chris Bigg (aka 23 Envelope/v23)) to a wall and behold the beauty. I didn’t … Continue reading Wall of Vaughan


(December 16, 2013)

Last night I dreamt that I was mentioned in the index of Martin Aston’s 4AD biography “Facing the Other Way”.  Which I bought a couple of weeks ago, but haven’t looked at yet.  So I just checked… … and I’m not. But it turns out that I’m on the akwnowledgement page.  (With a mention of … Continue reading Clairvoyancy

4AD in the Early 90s

(February 2, 2013)

I used to be a 4AD fan and kept a discography going back in the 80s.  Or 90s, I guess.  I also used to buy lots of British music papers. Rooting through the basement storage here today, I found a cache of snipped 4AD-related articles and reviews that I had apparently collected back then, but … Continue reading 4AD in the Early 90s