The XL files files

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - MUSIC - JIM CAR­ROLL


XL Records ★★★★

Th­ese are try­ing times for record la­bels, but some are buck­ing ev­ery trend in the book by go­ing back to the future and con­cen­trat­ing on the mu­sic and artists. This pol­icy in­formed the great la­bels of the past, be it Ah­met Erte­gun’s At­lantic Records or Al­fred Lion’s Blue Note: put the artist at the top of agenda and all flows from there.

This ap­proach has made Richard Rus­sell’s XL such a shin­ing star in a sea of mu­sic busi­ness ebbs and flows. XL is the la­bel many artists as­pire to be­cause they know its in­stinct and ethos are good. The fact that XL doesn’t work with hun­dreds of acts also means there’s more time and pa­tience to go around.

Though he plays it down, Rus­sell is one of the rea­sons why XL has sur­vived and thrived over the past 25 years. He has good ears, oo­dles of per­sis­tence and a knack for at­tract­ing the right artists, which ex­plains why Ra­dio­head, Gil Scott-Heron, Bobby Wo­mack, White Stripes, Adele, The xx and many more are as­so­ci­ated with XL and its Young Turks sub­sidiary.

As this ret­ro­spec­tive of the la­bel’s first quar­ter-cen­tury shows, XL be­gan as a rave la­bel home to SL2, The Prodigy (above), Jonny L, Awe­some 3 and many oth­ers. Those roots pro­vided the foun­da­tion for what was to come: a la­bel strong on orig­i­nal­ity, artis­tic free­dom and fresh, ex­cit­ing mu­sic.

Be it the grand­stand­ing an­thems from White Stripes, M.I.A. and Adele, or gen­uinely ground­break­ing sounds from the likes of Jai Paul and Tyler, the Cre­ator, XL now cov­ers all bases. Here’s to the next 25 years. xl­record­

Down­load: The Prodigy, Out of Space; SBTRKT, Wild­fire; Jai Paul, BTSTU; White Stripes, Seven Na­tion Army

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