Books — June 19, 2013 at 6:56 am

‘Facing the Other Way: The Story of 4AD’ to explore history, legacy of iconic indie label

Facing the Other Way

Ivo Watts-Russell’s legendary independent record label 4AD — home in the ’80s and ’90s to the Pixies, Cocteau Twins, This Mortal Coil, Throwing Muses and so many more — will be the subject an exhaustive history this fall with the publication of journalist Martin Aston’s new book “Facing the Other Way: The Story of 4AD.”

Due out Sept. 26, the book promises to tell the story of the label’s first 20 years, from its inception in 1980 through the late ’90s, via interviews with more than 100 artists and label staff, including Watts-Russell and what is being billed as the first-ever interview with label co-founder Peter Kent, who left the music industry in 1982 “and willingly disappeared into obscurity.”

In an e-mail to Slicing Up Eyeballs, Aston writes of the project:

“I’m hoping it’s going to be the definitive story of 4AD. It’s a story that you’d think would have already been told, but I guess no one has approached Ivo before… and I’ve known him since the mid-’80s, which helps. I’ve written about 4AD many times, including the sleevenotes to the Lilliput compilation in 1992, so I haven’t come to it as on outsider. Not that it’s an officially commissioned book by the label: it was my idea, and they all got on board, thankfully.”

The hardback book, published by HarperCollins imprint The Friday Project, includes cover artwork designed by 4AD’s renowned in-house designer Vaughan Oliver plus 15 pages of photographs and record sleeves.

There also will be a limited-edition run of 1,000 that will have different artwork by Oliver and will be packaged with two CDs of 4AD music compiled by Aston, one covering the ’80s and the other the ’90s (with a couple of unreleased tracks on the ’90s disc, Aston notes). All told, there will be 42 tracks across the two discs — but the song selection will remain a surprise for the buyers of the limited-edition version.

“Facing the Other Way” is now available for pre-order through The limited-edition version can be pre-ordered through for £100, or about $156.

UPDATE 6/20/13: The author alerts us that HarperCollins will create a standalone website specifically for ordering the limited-edition version — details to follow — and Amazon only will get copies if the 1,000 don’t sell out through that website.

UPDATE 9/26/13: The standard edition of “Facing the Other Way” is published today in the U.K., with the limited-edition version now due to follow on Oct. 24. Both can be ordered directly from the publisher. The U.S. publication of the standard edition is set for Nov. 12. Also, we’ve got the full tracklist below of the 2CD set that comes with the limited-edition version of the book.


Tracklist: 4AD: Facing The Other Way

Dif Juz ‘Hu’
The Birthday Party ‘Zoo Music Girl’
Throwing Muses ‘Hate My Way’
Rema-Rema ‘Rema Rema’
Dance Chapter ‘Anonymity’
Matt Johnson ‘Time Again For The Golden Sunset’
Bauhaus ‘Dark Entries’
Xymox ‘No Human Can Drown’
BC Gilbert and G Lewis ‘Barge Calm’
A.R. Kane ‘Sado-Masochism Is A Must’
Cocteau Twins ‘Musette & Drums’
Le Mystère Des Voix Bulgares ‘Schopska Pesen (Diaphonic Chant)’
Richenel ‘L’Esclave Endormi’
Modern English ‘Gathering Dust’
Ultra Vivid Scene ‘Mercy Seat’
In Camera ‘Die Laughing’
Pixies ‘Tony’s Theme’
Colourbox ‘Baby I Love You So’
Xmal Deutschland ‘Geheimnis’
Dead Can Dance ‘In Power We Entrust The Love Advocated’
Pieter Nooten and Michael Brook ‘These Waves’
This Mortal Coil ‘Song To The Siren’

Tarnation ‘Game Of Broken Hearts’
Lush ‘Laura’
Gus Gus ‘Blue Mug’
His Name Is Alive ‘As We Could Ever’
Kristin Hersh ‘Me & My Charms’
Unrest ‘Make Out Club’
The Wolfgang Press ‘Honey Tree’
Tanya Donnelly ‘Mysteries Of The Unexplained’
Frank Black ‘The Vanishing Spies’
Michael Brook ‘Slow Breakdown’
Starry Smooth Hound ‘Coco Crush’
The Hope Blister ‘Dagger’
Heidi Berry ‘Only Human’
Mojave 3 ‘Mercy’
The Breeders ‘New Year’
Pale Saints ‘Hair Shoes’
Cocteau Twins ‘Road, River And Rail’
Red House Painters ‘Take Me Out’
Lisa Gerrard ‘Sanvean (I Am Your Shadow)’
Lisa Germano ‘The Darkest Night Of All’




  1. nwilhelmy

    Anyone know where we can pre-order the limited edition run with the CDs?

  2. AMAZING!!! Many thanks for the heads-up, Matt. Order placed! Hope it’s a sign that a Lush box set will also be on the horizon!

  3. Thanks for the info. Just ordered the limited edition book!!

  4. Uh – shouldn’t the title be “Facing The Wrong Way” (i.e., the title of the 1995 compilation)?

  5. According to Vaughan, the price is likely to be three times the figure quoted on Amazon. It would seem that Amazon has jumped the gun a little seeing as V.O. has not even finished the design for the special edition yet!

  6. I have way more 4AD CDs than any other label. Their “golden age” was just mind-blowingly fun to experience as a fan — amazing bands, cool artwork by a stable of aesthetically unified designers, lots of EPs and other collectibles to track down at the import shops… Unparalleled, really. Good times!

  7. I wonder how many Eyeballers will be among the Lucky 1,000!
    Again, heaps of thanks for letting us know, Matt.

    • I will of course by buying this. I can’t afford the limited edition, but I’m definitely curious to see what they’ve picked out for the CDs. Leaving it a mystery is a cool idea!

      And the “unreleased tracks” are also tantalizing. Makes you wonder what is in the vaults that has never seen the light of day.

  8. Msrtin Aston

    Thanks to everyone interested in the book – I thought I’d confirm that anyone pre-ordering via Amazon site won’t be guarenteed a copy (the Amazon listing is misleading in that it’s automatically created when they take info from a publisher but it doesn’t mean they will get stock on such a limited edition. When HarperCollins posts the web page for ordering, i will let Eyeballs… know so that you can order it then, or in the meantime, let me know at and I will put you on the list that I have been keeping from 4AD Posters Facebook page. Talking of 4AD POsters, I should add that Vaughan Oliver was just joking when he was talking about 3x the price! Lastly, Mike, the book is called Facing The Other Way, partly as an ironic comment on the Facing The Wrong Way.. but I guss you’ll have to read the book to see exactly why..

  9. I’m in the U.S., I tried ordering this directly from the book publisher and my card was declined twice. It set off my bank’s suspicious activity alert and shut down my account until I called them to clear it up. Then it looked like I ordered the book twice, so I had to call them up to confirm that one was an attempted order and the second was a reversal, but that everything was sorted out and nothing was actually ordered yet. So I finally have it pre-ordered. GOSH.

  10. Want! Need! Ordering the limited edition now… Thanks for the news, Matt!

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