Various Artists – Real World 25

How, then, to condense a quarter century? How to represent a record label that blazed trails, opened doors and introduced a whole new world of music? It was never going to be easy, or definitive. But with Real World 25 – a celebratory 3CD set boasting big names, hidden gems and tracks chosen by listeners – the label are giving it a go.

“We’ve always been vibrant, alive and kicking,” says Peter Gabriel of Real World Records, the label he launched in 1989, a few years after establishing the WOMAD (World of Music Arts and Dance) Festival. “We worked hard to create an environment where the artists felt respected and supported, so that they were able to deliver extraordinary performances.”

The magic was there from the off: an old mill building, transformed into state-of-the-art studios, on the edge of a pond fringed with bulrushes, in landscaped gardens bordered by a river, in the village of Box in the southwest of England.

Nearby, the ancient standing stones of Avebury and Stonehenge. About the grounds, in cottages built from wood and warm Bath stone, a team of music enthusiasts with vision and know how.

Into this place of freedom and possibility, this mix of the handmade and the high-tech, came musicians from elsewhere. Says Gabriel: “I was thinking about this sort of music when we designed the studios” – where a large interactive space called The Big Room puts artists on a par with engineers and producers – “and eventually Thomas Brooman, WOMAD’s former artistic director, convinced me of the need to try a label.”

  • CD1 brings together tracks that have been significant highlights or ‘classic’ points in the label’s history.
  • CD2 delves deeper into the catalogue, shining a light on some tracks that beg rediscovery; the buried treasures.
  • CD3 is the listeners’ choice – we asked people to choose their favourite Real World track.

Label: Real World Records
UPC: 884108002513
Catalogue Number: CDRW203
Release Date: 29 September 2014