Cherry Red Records
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|Distributor(s)||Proper Music Distribution|
|Genre||Punk rock, alternative rock|
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
Cherry Red Records is a British independent record label founded by Iain McNay in 1978. The label has released recordings by Dead Kennedys, Everything But the Girl, The Monochrome Set, and Felt, among others, as well as the compilation album Pillows & Prayers. In addition to releasing new music, Cherry Red also acts as an umbrella for individual imprints and catalogue specialists.
Cherry Red grew from the rock promotion company (similarly named after the song "Cherry Red" by The Groundhogs) founded in 1971 to promote rock concerts at the Malvern Winter Gardens. In the wake of the independent record boom that followed the advent of punk rock, founders Iain McNay (who remains company chairman) and Richard Jones released the label's first single, "Bad Hearts" by local punk band The Tights, in June 1978.
Cherry Red's early roster included releases by Morgan Fisher under various pseudonyms, using a small studio installed in his Notting Hill flat, as well as material licensed from The Hollywood Brats, Destroy All Monsters and The Runaways. The latter was the label's biggest seller until McNay invested $10,000 in the recording of the debut studio album by San Franciscan political punk band Dead Kennedys. Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables (1979) and its attendant singles sold well worldwide. New A&R head Mike Alway had promoted the Snoopies venue in Richmond, London and been involved with the Scissor Fits, and signed groups including The Monochrome Set, Everything But The Girl, Eyeless in Gaza, Felt, and Five Or Six. McNay's view aimed for Cherry Red to be a label that offered a space for artists who would otherwise not fit the image of some of the more succinctly defined and stylised independents. "Cherry Red Records was always about musical individuality, diversity, character, commitment and passion," he stated in 2008. They also marketed other smaller independent record labels, like Bristol's Heartbeat Records, who recorded the Glaxo Babies.
Cherry Red's role as one of the keynote labels of the early 1980s independent scene was confirmed by the success of a budget compilation album compiled by Alway and released at Christmas 1982. Retailing for 99p, Pillows & Prayers topped the independent charts for several weeks.
Cherry Red continued to sign contemporary artists but increasingly moved into the reissue market from the late 1980s onwards. It has a number of subsidiary labels dealing in genre-specific releases, curating many "critically unloved" musical genres, in partial continuation of McNay's earlier advocacy of the unfashionable.
The company has also signed agreements with a number of specialist reissue labels, which operate with a degree of autonomy using Cherry Red's logistical and financial support. Mark Stratford's RPM Records label focuses on pop music from the 1960s to the advent of punk. Esoteric Recordings, headed by Mark Powell, specialises in progressive rock and folk catalogue. Mark Brennan heads 7T's Records, which reissues albums by that decade's glam/glitter generation. (Brennan originally helped Cherry Red form one of its first subsidiary labels, Anagram, covering punk, Psychobilly and Goth, which remains active). él Records continues under the auspices of Mike Alway (but purely as a re-release label), alongside other labels including Poker, Giant Steps, Mortarhate, Now Sounds, and Ork. The Cherry Red label group continues to house reissues, but is also active in the release of new studio material by established artists such as The Fall, Suzi Quatro, Marc Almond, Red Box, Van Der Graaf Generator, Jah Wobble & Keith Levene, Squackett (a collaboration between Steve Hackett and Chris Squire), Hussey-Regan (a collaboration between Wayne Hussey and Julianne Regan), Hazel O'Connor, The Christians and Ken Hensley.
Still headed by McNay, a fan of AFC Wimbledon, alongside managing director Adam Velasco, Cherry Red also has interests in football-related releases, with the most complete catalogue of soccer-related songs extant.
Cherry Red also released a plethora of prestigious frontline albums by established artists that year, including Marc Almond's The Velvet Trail, The Zombies' Still Got That Hunger, Sarah Cracknell's Red Kite, Andy Bell of Erasure's Torsten The Bareback Saint, Jimmy Somerville's Homage, The Fall's Sub-Lingual Tablet and Wolfgang Flür's (ex-Kraftwerk) Eloquence to name a few.
In 2016 Cherry Red had their highest Top 40 chart position, with the new studio album from Hawkwind 'The Machine Stops' reaching No.29 in the Official UK Charts in April 2016. They are also due to release the brand new studio album from Van Der Graaf Generator in September.
In 2017 Cherry Red confirmed they will be representing several label catalogues and artist discographies, including Procol Harum, The Residents, Arthur Brown, Captain Oi, Glenn Hughes and Tim Blake.  They also acquired thirteen artist catalogues from Warner Music Group as part of the major's divestments to independent labels, including Howard Jones, Kim Wilde, Marc Almond, Third Ear Band, Dinosaur Jr., Mel & Kim, Fourplay (shared with Evolution Media Group), Renaissance (except their debut album, which remained with Elektra Records), Be-Bop Deluxe and Curved Air.  These catalogues will be distributed worldwide through Absolute Label Services.
The 2017 BPI yearbook 'All About The Music' included Cherry Red in the 20 Market Share By Corporate Group at number 15, which explains the chart-eligible album sales of all record labels.
In 2018 Cherry Red acquired the extensive catalogue of Witchwood Media, home to the music of the Strawbs and a roster of other related artists.
Notable awards and prizes
At the 2013 Association of Independent Music Awards, Cherry Red won the Special Catalogue Release award for Scared To Get Happy - a box set that explored indie pop from 1980-1989..
In 2014, Cherry Red artist Dave Brock of Hawkwind won the Lifetime Achievement Award at the inaugural Prog (magazine) Progressive Music Awards 2014. They also picked up nominations for Matt Stevens (Breakthrough Artist) and Panic Room (Best Anthem).
The 2015 Progressive Music Awards saw Genesis founder Tony Banks receive the Prog God award after his solo material catalogue reissue campaign with Cherry Red that year. The label also picked up nominations for John Lodge and Tin Spirits in the Best Anthem category, and Bill Nelson and Anthony Phillips in the Storm Thorgerson Grand Design Award category.
2016 has seen Cherry Red's biggest release of the first quarter of the year, the new studio album from Hawkwind 'The Machine Stops', receive a nomination for Album Of The Year in the Progressive Music Awards 2016, after it enjoyed Cherry Red's highest ever Top 40 chart position at No.29 in the Official UK Charts in April 2016.
Cherry Red have had two albums in the UK Album Charts Top 40 in 2017. Hawkwind's studio album Into The Woods charted at No. 34 in May  and the Fall's New Facts Emerge charted at No. 35 in July. 
On 4 September 2018 at the AIM Independent Music Awards, Cherry Red Records Chairman Iain McNay won the Special Recognition Award for his service to independent music for over 40 years, as the label celebrated its 40th anniversary.
Hawkwind's studio album Road To Utopia charted at No 44 in the UK Albums Chart in September 2018.
Cherry Red artists
Original label artists
- Marc Almond
- Attila the Stockbroker
- Blow Up
- The Charlottes
- Kevin Coyne
- Dead Kennedys
- Destroy All Monsters
- Everything but the Girl
- Eyeless in Gaza
- The Fall
- Morgan Fisher
- Five or Six
- Grab Grab the Haddock
- The Hollywood Brats
- In Embrace
- Inspiral Carpets
- Thomas Leer
- Marine Girls
- Medium Medium
- The Misunderstood
- The Monochrome Set
- The Nightingales
- The Passage
- Pere Ubu
- Suzi Quatro
- The Seers
- The Sting-Rays
- Red Box
- The Runaways
- Tracey Thorn
- Ben Watt
- Zero Le Creche
Reissue label artists
- Marc Almond
- The Band of Holy Joy
- Be Bop Deluxe
- Blue Orchids
- Marc Bolan
- Bow Wow Wow
- Bruce Foxton
- Brotherhood of Man
- Arthur Brown
- Curved Air
- The Dancing Did
- Duffy Power
- Joe Meek
- Julia Fordham
- Frazier Chorus
- The Freshies
- Gordon, Ellis & Steel
- Paul Haig
- John Howard
- Into A Circle
- La Toya Jackson
- John's Children
- Howard Jones
- June Brides
- Katch 22
- Annabel Lamb
- Donna Loren
- Martha and the Muffins
- Kylie Minogue
- The Mobiles
- Mood Six
- R. Stevie Moore
- Martin Newell
- Bill Nelson
- Hazel O'Connor
- Red Lorry Yellow Lorry
- Julian Jay Savarin (as Julian's Treatment)
- The Servants
- Sex Gang Children
- Stavely Makepeace
- Suzi Quatro
- Tears for Fears
- Television Personalities
- Lon & Derrek Van Eaton
- Kim Wilde
- Pete Wingfield
- The Woodentops
- Yeah Yeah Noh
Cherry Red associated imprint labels
The full repertoire of Cherry Red associated imprint labels as of 2016:
- 30 Hertz
- 359 Music
- 3Loop Music
- Anagram Records
- Analog Baroque (Momus)
- Bella Casa
- Big Break Records
- Cherry Pop
- Cherry Red Football
- Cherry Red Records
- Cherry Tree
- Cocteau Discs
- Croydon Municipal
- Esoteric Antenna
- Esoteric Recordings
- Giant Steps
- HNE Recordings
- Hot Milk
- Hot Shot
- Now Sounds
- Original Dope
- Phoenix City
- Pressure Drop
- Purple Records
- Sidewinder Sounds
- SoulMusic Records
- T-Bird Americana
- The Right Honourable Recording Company Ltd
- Tune In
- West Midlands
- WiseCrack Records
Notable compilations released by Cherry Red Records include:
- Avon Calling: tracks featuring bands from Bristol
- Close to the Noise Floor: Formative UK Electronica 1975-1984
- Flaming Schoolgirls: previously unreleased tracks by The Runaways
- The Genesis of Slade: tracks by the members of Slade from before the band's formation
- Leapers and Sleepers: Duffy Power
- Milking the Sacred Cow: selection of Dead Kennedys tracks
- Pillows & Prayers: tracks from Cherry Red artists
- Scared to Get Happy: A Story of Indie-Pop 1980–1989
- Silhouettes and Statues: A Gothic Revolution 1978-1986
- Songs in the Key of Z: outsider music tracks selected by Irwin Chusid
- That's All Very Well But...: singles and rarities by the band McCarthy
- Volume, Contrast, Brilliance...: unreleased tracks and early sessions by The Monochrome Set
- Your Box Set Pet (The Complete Recordings 1980–1984): three-volume compilation of Bow Wow Wow tracks
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- "All about music report" (PDF). Musictank.co.uk. 2017.
- ""We look forward to a creative partnership": Cherry Red acquires Strawbs' Witchwood Media catalogue".
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