What is this?
Trouser Press was a New York-based rock music magazine that specialized in a number of genres — British Invasion history, new wave, progressive and independent-label releases — during its existence, 1974 to 1984. In 1983, the editors of the magazine authored the first of a series of record guides. The entire run is scanned and indexed here. The contents of the books is in the Reviews section.
What was the Trouser Press Record Guide?
Five books of album reviews were published under that name.
- The first edition, quaintly titled The Trouser Press Guide to New Wave Records, was published in hardcover and paperback in 1983 and covered the music’s roots in groups like the Velvet Underground, New York Dolls, Flamin’ Groovies and Stooges up through the techno-poppers of the early ’80s.
- The New Trouser Press Record Guide, published in 1985 in hardcover and paperback, greatly expanded and updated both the stylistic and chronological scope of the coverage, taking into account the increasing popularity of CDs and other developments.
- The third edition was issued under the same title (but only in paperback) in 1989, reviewing more than 6,000 records by nearly 2,000 artists in 658 pages.
- The fourth edition was published in paperback in 1991. With all the updates and revisions, it ran to 764 pages, covering 2,500 artists and nearly 10,000 records. We had reached a dead end in terms of the ability to keep adding entries and updating entries ad infinitum, so we decided to start from scratch.
- The Trouser Press Guide to ’90s Rock, published in early 1997, was an 846-page paperback containing almost entirely new material — 2,300 bands and 8,500 records — from the era that nominally began with Nirvana’s Nevermind. Read the preface.
So what reviews will I find here?
The archival contents of the first four Trouser Press Record Guide books (written in the ’80s, covering everything from the ’60s roots of punk and new wave to the end of the ’80s), the content of The Trouser Press Guide to ’90s Rock, which was published in 1996, and a whole lot of updates and new entries.
Can you give me some tips for searching the site?
- The search is for the entire site, with results ordered by relevance. Primary review entries are labeled as such.
- Spelling and punctuation count; capitalization does not. Some variations of artist names are included. Try typing only the first part of a name if you’re not confident in the spelling. Use quote marks to search for a specific word or phrase.
- Articles (like “the”) in band names are typically omitted from the headings, so leave them out when you search.
- Secondary headings (like Tin Machine under David Bowie) are searchable as well.
- You can always look for review entries by scanning the alphabetic listings.
What are those abbreviations in the discographical headings?
Click here to view a detailed explanation of the abbreviations used on the site.
Who’s in charge?
Ira Robbins. I was one of the three founders of Trouser Press magazine and the editor of all of the Trouser Press books. If you care to know more about it, here’s a lengthy online interview for your perusal.
Who are the critics?
Over the years, many fine writers have contributed to the Trouser Press books and have reviews posted on this site. Many more joined them here for the first time. Click here for a complete list of contributors.
What happened to the first TrouserPress.com?
The site we created in partnership with SonicNet in 1997 was unceremoniously taken down at the end of 1999, after SonicNet was acquired by MTVi. They were very nice about sorting things out with us, and that enabled us to create the second TrouserPress.com, which took a frighteningly long time to do. This version is owned and operated independently, joining the content of the old site (but not the bulletin boards, which got lost on a server somewhere) with a second section of more modern reviews for your edification and irritation that has never been online before. Ending a period of disrepair and neglect, this third version of the site was launched in the spring of 2020.
For old time’s sake, can I still buy the books?
The books are all out of print, but used copies occasionally show up on Amazon and eBay Also, old copies of the magazine are often for sale there as well.
Is there a new book or CD-ROM in the works?
How do you decide which artists get reviewed here?
It’s a highly refined scientific process that involves weighing numerous factors, listening to diverse arguments, gathering critical assessments and then making a seat-of-the-trousers decision, subject to ignorance, bias, time and energy.
Can I write reviews for the site?
Perhaps. E-mail us for submission guidelines.
Will you correct a factual mistake I’ve spotted?
Sure. E-mail info.
Can you sell me a record I’ve read about or help me track down a copy?
No, sorry. Please don’t ask. But…if you roll over a record title in a discography, you’ll see an icon that links to a pre-populated search in Discogs.com, where you should find info, images and possible sales offerings.
As for out-of-print, obscurities, rarities, collectible releases, etc., you might try looking in eBay or putting up a query on the Trouser Press message board to see if any of your fellow TP visitors can help you find what you’re looking for.
What’s a trouser press anyway?
It’s an archaic (but still made and used) device used to flatten out the wrinkles and put the crease in pants. But that’s only part of the answer. In late 1973, when three New York City friends got the idea of starting a rock fanzine, they named it Trans-Oceanic Trouser Press in honor of a song by the Bonzo Dog (Doo-Dah) Band. Written by Roger Ruskin Spear (who later provided us with an explanatory drawing of the device), “Trouser Press” — a track on the group’s 1968 Urban Spaceman (aka The Doughnut in Granny’s Greenhouse) album — became a good if unintended journalistic pun and conveyed the dada whimsy we envisioned for our little magazine. (The rest of the cumbersome name, which was eventually relieved of its “Trans-Oceanic” aspect, was an indication of our Anglo-American geo-cultural sensibilities and an acronymic tribute to England’s great music television show, Top Of The Pops, as well as the great Kinks song of that title.)
On a related note, several organizations in the US and England have taken up the name “Trouser Press” for publishing and other enterprises long after we did. None of them has anything whatsoever to do with us, and they should find names of their own.