Our Favourite Record Labels of All Time – Number 14

caroline

Caroline Records

There are at least four brilliant things about Caroline Records, the first involves me telling you a story from 20 years ago.

When I was a student back in the day I lived in a shared house on the outskirts of Guildford.  In the house next door was an American lad called Andy – American Andy we used to call him.  We liked to wind American Andy up by telling him all sorts of nonsense and by and large he used to lap it all up (like Stonehenge is not real, its only there to fool American tourists).  Andy took it all with good spirits and said that ‘one day he would get us back’.

In June 1998, I had literally just graduated and a bunch of us were hanging around student digs waiting for ‘job offers’ to come in or until the university kicked us out.  On Thursday afternoon the phone rang, as I was sitting next to the phone at the time I answered it.

Which was lucky because a voice asked for me.  An American voice.  The voice told me that he was ‘Kurt’ from Caroline Records and then he proceeded to talk to me at length telling me that he loved my writing and how Caroline Records was really looking for people like me in their promotions department.  Then he offered me a job.  Not just any job, head of promotional development at Caroline Records based in New York.

I was speechless and I think I said “Wow”.  Then it slowly dawned on me that this was a wind up.  This was Andy.  Last week I told him that I was looking for a job in the record industry and had sent my CV and portfolio off to a bunch of companies, but I hadn’t put Caroline on the list, because they were based in the USA.

So I started to laugh and about a minute later I started to recognise the voice that Andy was putting on – I mean he was from Kansas and you can tell that accent a mile away.  So eventually I said “I don’t need a job anymore Richard Branson has just personally made me his official beard trimmer” laughed again and hung up.

Precisely 3 minutes later Andy and my house mate Matt came in, drunk and laughing.  I stood there in the lounge , arms folded and smiling.  I looked at Andy and said “you almost had me there…” to which he looked blanked and Matt looked blank as well.  I retold the story and Matt shook his head and said “Mate, we’ve been in the pub all afternoon, I swear Andy has made no calls this afternoon”.

It took him three attempts to convince me.  Kurt never returned my calls or emails.

So the first brilliant thing about Caroline Records is that they remain to this day, the only record company in the world, to phone me, offer me a really well paid job, in New York, and for me to not believe that it was actually them.

The second brilliant thing about Caroline Records is

Underground – Ben Folds Five (CAR 008)

Who I once interviewed in the bar at the Water Rats in London.  They were accompanied in London that day by their manager, a cropped hair young man named Kurt.  Nice guy, had a Kansas accent if I remember rightly.

The third and fourth brilliant things about Caroline Records are

Doll Parts – Hole (‘Pretty On the Inside’) (CAROL 1710)

Rhinoceros – Smashing Pumpkins  (‘Gish’) (CAROL 1705)

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