Awesome bt defunct record labels?
January 16, 2008 3:37 AM   Subscribe

Can you think of any brilliant but now defunct or disestablished record labels? I'm looking for labels that were innovative, successful, fondly remembered or way ahead of their time.

wikipedia has a list, but which of them of them were awesome?
posted by takeyourmedicine to Media & Arts (52 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Sarah Records basically gave birth to Heavenly! That puts them on the map (for me, at least).
posted by Mikey-San at 3:42 AM on January 16, 2008 [2 favorites]

Factory Records was Joy Division's label, among other things. The movie 24 Hour Party People shows the rise and fall of the label.

The Elephant 6 Collective was a record label created by a group of friends that ended up launching a bunch of famous indie bands in the 90s. The most famous ones are probably The Apples in Stereo, Of Montreal, and Neutral Milk Hotel.
posted by burnmp3s at 3:58 AM on January 16, 2008

IRS Records released Wall of Voodoo's catalog and a lot of other new wave gems.
posted by SansPoint at 3:59 AM on January 16, 2008

Loud records: mobb deep, wu tang, etc.
posted by milarepa at 4:14 AM on January 16, 2008

Stiff Records
posted by Thorzdad at 4:23 AM on January 16, 2008

Thorzdad: Thankfully Stiff are still releasing
posted by handybitesize at 4:29 AM on January 16, 2008

Chiswick Records released stuff by The Damned, Motorhead and Kirsty MacColl.
posted by Mayor Curley at 4:30 AM on January 16, 2008

Southern Rock as we know it wouldn't exist without Capricorn Records, who also released Widespread Panic's first album.
posted by TedW at 4:45 AM on January 16, 2008

C'est la Mort was pretty influential in the goth world in the late 80s and early 90s, but their work was closer to being really deep, moody folk. based outside new orleans, i think.
posted by patricking at 5:36 AM on January 16, 2008

posted by nicolas léonard sadi carnot at 5:37 AM on January 16, 2008

EMI America was awesome, they released Sheena Easton, Don McLean, Kenny Rogers, and Queensryche!!!!!!!!
posted by cmonkey at 5:38 AM on January 16, 2008

Chess records, without which many important blues artists would not have been recorded.
posted by TheRaven at 5:40 AM on January 16, 2008

Studio One
posted by DelusionsofGrandeur at 5:57 AM on January 16, 2008

2 Tone Records - mostly for The Specials, but they also released early recordings by The Beat, Madness, The Selector, Elvis Costello and more.

Bigger still -

I.R.S. Records - released music by REM, The Beat, Camper Van Beethoven, Squeeze and a bunch more.
posted by mikel at 6:02 AM on January 16, 2008

SST Records is for all intents and purposes defunct (no new records from artists other than owner Greg Ginn's own projects since the late '90s) but in the 1980s, it was arguably the biggest and greatest independent alternative label in the US, essentially charting the development of alternative music in the States, from west coast punk to midwest hardcore to east coast art/noise rock and all stops in between.

Most of the big names of alt-rock in the '80s had a record out or were associated in some way with SST -- and many of them are still around today, which is why SST still resonates so strongly with certain breeds of music fans.
posted by macdara at 6:12 AM on January 16, 2008 [2 favorites]

Ditto IRS and SST. Also Twin Tone and Rough Trade.
posted by boomchicka at 6:15 AM on January 16, 2008

Oops, wait, Rough Trade is back in business. They went out of business in the early 90s but have apparently relaunched.
posted by boomchicka at 6:16 AM on January 16, 2008

More on SST: This is pretty much the definititive article you're going to read about SST Records. See also" 'Get in the Van' by Henry Rollins (basically recounting a lot of the history of the label, from the point he joined Black Flag in '81) and the recently-published 'Enter Naomi' by the label's former manager Joe Carducci (which I'm looking forward to getting soon).
posted by macdara at 6:29 AM on January 16, 2008 [2 favorites]

Oops, messed up that link, it should be:
posted by macdara at 6:30 AM on January 16, 2008

Kattullus' post about Waaaaaah! records is probably my favorite post of all time - all of their stuff (early 90's alternative pop) is free online
posted by rfs at 6:42 AM on January 16, 2008

Moon Ska Records was THE ska record label for a while. I think 2 Tone Records was already mentioned.
posted by JMOZ at 6:48 AM on January 16, 2008

Sun Records. Early releases by Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, Roy Orbison, and Johnny Cash. ("The company remains in business today as Sun Entertainment Corporation, which currently licenses its brand and classic hit recordings.")

Apple Records (still a company, but not releasing new records).
posted by kirkaracha at 6:51 AM on January 16, 2008

Nessa Records in the avant-jazz sphere.
posted by thedanimal at 6:59 AM on January 16, 2008

A few of my favorite albums were released by Slash Records.
posted by D.C. at 7:00 AM on January 16, 2008

posted by languagehat at 7:00 AM on January 16, 2008

Tamla Records, Barry Gordy's first label, released records by Smokey Robinson & The Miracles, Marvin Gaye, and Stevie Wonder and was later folded into Motown.
posted by kirkaracha at 7:06 AM on January 16, 2008

Posh Boy was pretty influential in the early 80's OC punk scene. And yeah, Slash was great too.
posted by malocchio at 7:16 AM on January 16, 2008

Grand Royal and Amphetamine Reptile.
posted by drezdn at 7:18 AM on January 16, 2008

Nothing Records was run by Trent Reznor and had some of the better industrial bands on it.
posted by dosterm at 7:30 AM on January 16, 2008

Nobody's mentioned Enigma or their subsidiary Restless, but to me, they were generally the sound of the slightly-unhinged mainstream alternative rock of the 80s and 90s. If 120 Minutes was IRS and Factory, Postmodern MTV was Enigma/Restless.
posted by I EAT TAPAS at 7:34 AM on January 16, 2008

not just a record store ... wax trax!
posted by lester's sock puppet at 7:36 AM on January 16, 2008

posted by languagehat at 10:00 AM

For those interested, the NPR music reviewer on Fresh Air just yesterday did a retrospective on Vee-Jay Records.
posted by aught at 7:55 AM on January 16, 2008

Mo Wax was hugely innovative and influential in its time...
posted by tnai at 8:52 AM on January 16, 2008

Em:t Records is a very highly regarded ambient label that died, came back, and died again. Sealed copies of their CDs go for big bucks on eBay.
posted by zsazsa at 9:29 AM on January 16, 2008

Mushroom was a huge label in Australia through the 70s and 80s, with The Swingers, Split Enz, The Saints, Paul Kelly, Skyhooks and some of the biggest names in Australian pop (eg Kylie). Sadly missed as an independent label.
posted by goo at 9:32 AM on January 16, 2008

Simple Machines was pretty important in the world of 90s indie rock, and the two (female) founders also wrote and published "Mechanic's Guide to Putting Out Records, Cassettes, and CDs", which supposedly inspired many folks start their own labels, or put out their own music. (Though I haven't tracked down any specific band/label references for that claim.)
posted by chr1sb0y at 9:39 AM on January 16, 2008 [1 favorite]

What about Stax and Volt? Motown/R&B/Blues like Sam and Dave. Extremely huge impact on our culture.

Also, does it count if they were slurped up into a big conglomerate? Casablanca seemed to release every band I loved in the 70s when I was about 10 years old..Kiss, etc.
posted by spicynuts at 9:56 AM on January 16, 2008

The Numero Group specializes in re-releasing almost-forgotten soul music from defunct regional labels - their choices are simply fantastic.
posted by deliriouscool at 10:38 AM on January 16, 2008

Nonesuch was pretty cool when it existed. The brand name is still in use, but the soul of it is dead.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 10:45 AM on January 16, 2008

Decca, Ze, Charlie, EMP, Apple, ESP, A&M, Gordy, Top Sound, Gold Standard Laboratory, Schoolkids… In different stages of decrepitude, but all essentially dead to new music and ahead of their time.
posted by klangklangston at 10:55 AM on January 16, 2008

posted by Oriole Adams at 11:01 AM on January 16, 2008

Nuphonic. 1994-2002. RIP.

Innovative and way ahead of their time.
posted by BillBishop at 11:37 AM on January 16, 2008

posted by Human Flesh at 12:24 PM on January 16, 2008

Beserkley Records: Greg Kihn, Jonathan Richman/The Modern Lovers, and the Rubinoos.

What about Stax and Volt?

I was going to mention Stax (Volt is a subsidiary), but Fantasy Records bought them after they went bankrupt, then Concord Records bought Fantasy and started releasing new records on the Stax label in 2007. Soulive's No Place Like Soul was the first album of new material on the revived Stax label.
posted by kirkaracha at 12:42 PM on January 16, 2008

There's Trojan Records for reggae, and probably a lot of other small reggae labels in the UK and Jamaica. And SubPop is sort of a living legend.
posted by theseampsgoto11 at 1:33 PM on January 16, 2008

Man's Ruin for heavy/desert rock.
posted by ersatz at 3:49 PM on January 16, 2008

Seconding Twin/Tone. They launched the Replacements, Soul Asylum, etc. whilst subsidiary Coyote put out early Yo La Tengo and Feelies... super. Now they're down to making custom CD-Rs of out-of-print albums...
posted by punchdrunkhistory at 4:29 PM on January 16, 2008

Homestead records from 80's & 90's
posted by stavx at 6:09 PM on January 16, 2008

Amphetamine Reptile (basically defunct now) - Cows, Melvins, Unsane, Halo of Flies
posted by citron at 10:13 AM on January 17, 2008

Gah, how could I forget Creation Records,fostering shoegazers for us all.
posted by goo at 10:29 AM on January 17, 2008

Clear Records

Starting in '95, during a mini electro revival, Clear released electro-tinged IDM music from several old + new artists. Among them: Plaid, u-Ziq, Reload / Global Communication, Autechre / Gescom, Herbert, As One.

FWIW, Plaid's Android EP was voted EP of the year on the IDM mailing list. Good times.
posted by shortfuse at 3:16 PM on January 23, 2008

Trance Syndicate is one of my all-time favorite labels. They released records by many of my personal favorite bands like Ed Hall, Windsor for the Derby, American Analog Set, …And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead, Bedhead, etc. More info here.
posted by mds35 at 10:58 AM on January 2, 2009

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