NME-Rough Trade C81
A2. The Beat Twist And Crawl Dub 4:58
A3. Pere Ubu Misery Goats 2:26
A4. Wah! Heat 7,000 Names Of Wah 3:57
A5. Orange Juice Blue Boy 2:52
A6. Cabaret Voltaire Raising The Count 3:32
A7. D.A.F. Kebab Traume (Live) 3:50
A8. Furious Pig Bare Pork
A9. Specials Raquel 1:28
A10. Buzzcocks I Look Alone 3:00
A11. Essential Logic Fanfare In The Garden 3:00
A12. Robert Wyatt Born Again Cretin 3:07
B1. The Raincoats Shouting Out Loud 3:19
B2. Josef K Endless Soul 2:27
B3. Blue Orchids Low Profile 3:47
B4. Virgin Prunes Red Nettle 2:13
B5. Aztec Camera We Could Send Letters 4:57
B6. Red Krayola Milkmaid 2:01
B7. Linx Don't Get In My Way 5:15
B8. The Massed Carnaby St. John Cooper Clarkes The Day My Pad Went Mad 1:46
B9. James Blood Ulmer Jazz Is The Teacher, Funk Is The Preacher 4:03
B10. Ian Dury Close To Home 4:13
B11. Gist Greener Grass 2:32
B12. Subway Sect Parallel Lines 2:38
B13. John Cooper Clarke 81 Minutes 0:13
Mastered By [Cassette Mastering], Technician [Volume Productions] – Alan
1st version, a free tape obtainable with an NME voucher. 2 panel inlay printed both sides. Black plastic cassette shell with black paper labels. 'C81 Owner's Manual' was also printed as a cut-out-and-keep booklet with NME.
Track B13 is unlisted.
This version has a different tracklist to the subsequent commercial release through Rough Trade (Various - NME / Rough Trade C81), which substitutes A9 ('Raquel' by The Specials) and B7 ('Don't Get In My Way' by Linx) with alternatives. It also does not include the text: "This cassette began as a mail order only offer through the NME. Two tracks (marked **) are new, due to contractual obligations. Many thanks to the NME for their efforts."
The following texts appear on the inlays of both versions.
"This is the first release (catalogue number Copy 001) of ROUGH TAPES, the new Rough Trade tape cassette catalogue. Future Rough Tapes releases will include "Voice Of America" by Cabaret Voltaire, "Colossal Youth" by Young Marble Giants, "The Art Of Walking" by Pere Ubu, new studio LPs by The Raincoats, Scritti Politti, Red Crayola and Wire "cassette only" collection of unreleased material.
The special care with which these cassettes are manufactured is your guarantee of optimum sound quality and of musical reproduction close to the master tape. All our cassette mastering and volume productions was handled by Alan of Tape To Tape Duplicating, phone No. 01 388 5392.
DAF appear by the incredibly kind permission of Mute Records. Orange Juice, Aztec Camera and Josef K are all on the Postcard label. Buzzcocks appear to be part of the of the EMI Leisure Combine; Ian Dury appears courtesy of Stiff Records; Wah! Heat appear couresty of Inevitable Records, and Subway Sect appear courtesy of Oddball.
All the rest are on the Rough Trade Label 221 - 1100."
C81 was a cassette compiled for the British music paper NME in 1981 (hence (C)assette 81) and released in conjunction with the record label Rough Trade. Featuring a number of contemporary musical acts and performers, it was intended to mark the first five years of the independent label movement in the UK record industry and Rough Trade itself. It was the first in a series of many cassette releases from the paper, including the C86 compilation of 1986.
C81 was compiled by NME journalist Roy Carr, and Christopher Rose, who worked in public relations for Rough Trade. To obtain a copy, NME readers needed to collect two coupons from the magazine and send off £1.50. The first printed coupons and advertisement for the cassette were in the issue dated 31 January 1981. By the time C81 went on general sale at the end of May that year, 5,500 copies had been sold through the coupon offer, which represented a "big commercial success" according to Carr.
The tape contained a set of 25 diverse tracks ranging from post-punk (Red Crayola, Essential Logic, D.A.F., The Raincoats), jazz (James Blood Ulmer), poetry (John Cooper Clarke), ska (The Beat), electronic (Cabaret Voltaire) to veteran 'Canterbury Scene' performer Robert Wyatt. It was accompanied by the 'C81 Owner's Manual', a 32-page booklet of lyrics and artwork that readers would assemble themselves by cutting up and folding a page from the tabloid sized magazine. This consisted of 16 small double sided panels, and was designed to be slipped into the cassette case. A running joke throughout the booklet was the comparison of a number of acts on the tape to various periods in the history of The Velvet Underground.
When C81 went on general sale in May 1981 Chrysalis Records refused to re-licence the tracks by The Specials and Linx, and these were then replaced by Panther Burns and Television Personalities
Publishing a tape was an acknowledgment of the flourishing self-published cassette culture of the time that the NME had been supporting during its short lived Garageland column. An alternative view, however, was that the C81 cassette was more akin to 'bandwagon jumping', drawing on the enthusiasm and momentum of the cassette culture movement and using this as a promotional tool, whilst failing to acknowledge that movement, and ignoring its inherent critique of the established music industry. British music writer Simon Reynolds called it "post punk's swan song", noting the appearance of three acts from Scottish independent label Postcard Records and the emerging new pop tendency of bands such as Linx and Scritti Politti, and that NME stopped publishing the Garageland column in the very same month that C81 went on general sale, an acknowledgement that the DIY cassette culture movement was on the wane.