To represent a record label that blazed trails, opened doors and introduced a whole new world of music was never going to be easy, or definitive. But we’re giving it a go.
“We’ve always been vibrant, alive and kicking,” says Peter Gabriel of Real World Records, the label he launched in 1989, a few years after establishing the WOMAD (World of Music Arts and Dance) Festival. “We worked hard to create an environment where the artists felt respected and supported, so that they were able to deliver extraordinary performances.”
The magic was there from the off: an old mill building, transformed into state-of-the-art studios, on the edge of a pond fringed with bulrushes, in landscaped gardens bordered by a river, in the village of Box in the southwest of England.
Armed with a philosophy that variously involved openness, interconnectedness and the right to fail, Real World Records was born. There was no agenda: perhaps the closest it came to a template was the maverick aesthetic of BBC DJ John Peel, who would follow a track by The Fall with a song by a Siberian throat singer – along with that of its unconventional elder sibling, the WOMAD Festival.
Condensing 25 years of history onto three CDs was always going to be an impossible task; we knew we would only ever skim the surface of the extensive range of wonderful music we have been so lucky to encounter.
CD1 brings together tracks that have been significant highlights or ‘classic’ points in the label’s history.
CD2 delves deeper into the catalogue, shining a light on some tracks that beg rediscovery; the buried treasures.
CD3 is the listeners’ choice – we asked people to choose their favourite Real World track.
To find out more about Real World 25 go to: www.realworldrecords.com/25
In addition, if you are lucky enough to be at WOMAD Charlton Park this weekend, why not visit the Society of Sound Stage on Saturday (26th) morning at 11:30am. Peter Gabriel will be in discussion with Mark Coles (BBC Radio 4, The Shed) about two long-running projects he’s been involved with: Real World Records and Bowers & Wilkins Society of Sound.
The discussion on Real World Records, which Peter founded in 1989, aims to delve into his initial motivations for starting the label, offer some first-hand insight into the history of the label and it’s diverse roster of artists as well as explore the affect that his involvement in the label has had on him personally as a song-writer. www.realworldrecords.com/25
Society of Sound is the Bowers & Wilkins online community, a meeting place for people who are passionate about sound. It includes a member’s album subscription featuring two studio-quality downloads each month picked by Peter Gabriel & Real World. Peter will discuss his thoughts on the collaboration with Society of Sound and their shared passion for supporting and nurturing new music.
Open to everyone, but space will be limited to the capacity of the Society of Sound dome.