Music History

Origin Stories – Carole Pope on Rough Trade’s “High School Confidential”

By: Juliette Jagger (@juliettejagger)

In Toronto during the early 1980s, Rough Trade was already a local cult legend.

With fiercely audacious Carole Pope at its helm, the group’s racy live show, which combined rock and R&B with raw, unabashed sexuality and often featured Pope sporting bondage attire, was one of the city’s most popular weekly draws.

A far cry from where she and Rough Trade co-founder and keyboardist Kevan Staples began in the late ’60s as members of a folk group called O, it was that envelope-pushing appetite for the outrageous that landed them a record deal with Bernie Finkelstein’s True North Records.

The band’s sophomore album, Avoid Freud, released by True North in the fall of 1980, featured the controversial track “High School Confidential,” which took Rough Trade from underground Toronto chic to critical national acclaim.

At the time of its release, “High School Confidential,” which Pope had originally written for Mink DeVille to perform, was unquestionably the most overt and sexually explicit track to have ever garnered airplay on Canadian mainstream radio.

Continue reading via National Music Centre.

Juliette Jagger

Juliette Jagger is a Canadian music journalist. She is on Twitter @juliettejagger.

Juliette Jagger has 562 posts and counting. See all posts by Juliette Jagger

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