The Playlist: Hebden Bridge Trades Club

Stevie Mackenzie-Smith
Photo of the band members of Elephant.

The small but celebrated Hebden Bridge Trades Club curate The Playlist, our top 5 music recommendations chosen by taste-makers in the north.

A small market town at the edge of the Pennines with a population of just 4,200 might not seem an obvious stop-off for touring bands, but the Hebden Bridge Trades Club bucks the trend. Patti Smith stopped by this much-loved and celebrated social club and music venue to play a benefit gig following the town’s devastating floods in 2012. The Fall, Africa Express and Wilko Johnson have all recently walked its stage – and there was also, of course, the time when Nico turned up too.

There is little arena concert hierarchy here. With a 200 person capacity you’re fairly likely to bump into the band outside for a post-gig cigarette. The venue also boasts a fully-sprung dancefloor, leftover from the days when trade union members practiced ballroom dancing there. And so it is that the Trades Club is one of those wonderful places that rewards people with intimate, one-off gig anecdotes – whether it’s a mesmerising but lesser-known act, or the bands whose posters plastered your teenage bedroom walls.

With this in mind, we asked Mal Campbell, promotions manager and booker at the Trades Club to curate our latest Playlist. With Gruff Rhys, Jeffrey Lewis and psychedelic funk-dance act Kangaroo Moon all booked to appear at the venue in coming months, we picked Mal’s brain for his Top 5 musical go-tos, from the classic to the up and coming.

1. Neil Young – On The Beach

I can’t put my finger on why I love this record. Not a lot happens, it’s pretty repetitive and there’s no lyrical bombshell. But there is some kind of alchemy at work. Although, I’m not the first to say so, of course.

2. Elephant – Skyscraper

This track belongs in a Sofia Coppola movie – and I mean that as big compliment. I even loved her film Somewhere. There, I said it. Skyscraper is woozy and mysterious and no one-off; just listen to the album.

3. Toy – Left Myself Behind

This is a classic debut single – I just love everything about it. As someone who has an annoying tendency to over-analyse records, my favourites are the ones that just are. I’ve been trying to book Toy since this was released in 2011 – it’s going to happen soon, I can feel it…

4. Patti Smith – Piss Factory

Speaking of great debut records…if you haven’t heard this before, I envy you. I’ve loved Patti’s music for many years, so it was a big deal for me when she came to play the Trades Club. Hebden Bridge had just been flooded and she donated her fee to the town.

5. Serge Gainsbourg & Brigitte Bardot – Bonnie & Clyde

Another record that has fascinated me for a long time. I haven’t read a translation, or wanted to – in my mind it’s a message from beyond the grave from Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow.  As a song, there’s nothing to it – but as a record it’s majestic.

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