1986 was the year of the first release by Greentrax Recordings. Catalogued CDTRAX001, it was Ian Hardie’s: “A Breath of Fresh Airs.” A 30 year project with hundreds of releases and distribution partnerships around the world was far from founder and managing director Ian Green’s intentions when he suggested the record to Hardie as a means of promoting an upcoming tunebook.
Hardie had every reason to go to Green for promotional advice. Recently retired from the police force after 30 years of service, Green had been heavily involved in the burgeoning folk scene in Edinburgh: From his legendary police folk club – affectionately nicknamed “fuzzfolk” – to the Edinburgh Folk Club, the Bells Broadsheet and Discount Folk Records, a mail order record company, Green had a wealth of experience.
Green’s suggestion to Hardie to make an LP to promote his book posed a problem – a lack of organisations to produce, distribute and promote the work of Scottish artists. Taking the matter into his own hands, Green invested some of his police pension and Greentrax was born. CDTRAX001 just the first of a wealth of releases by the label.
Thirty years later, with a catalogue numbering in the hundreds, an international partnership with Alasdair Fraser’s Culburnie records and spinoffs including G2, Celtic Connections and Grian Music Publishing, Greentrax has become much bigger than Green could have imagined. Initially the plan was to release three or four albums per year, but due to his connections within the folk scene people kept knocking at his door. After seven years, the business outgrew his and his wife June’s home, and they moved to a dedicated premises in Cockenzie, where they run the business to this day.
Over the years, Greentrax’s releases have come to reflect the variety of the Scottish music scene at the present day. Their catalogue includes releases from pipe bands, ceilidh bands, Gaelic and Scots singers, folk bands, singer songwriters, instrumentalists, international artists, and even School of Scottish Studies archive material.
The label’s all-encompassing attitude towards Scottish music sees this archive material available alongside some of the last 30 years’ most innovative, game-changing albums, such as Shooglenifty’s Venus in Tweeds. In 1994, the album was a shock to some and criticised by purists, but Green’s commitment to promoting the work of Scottish artists saw the release go ahead. This commitment is as strong today, with the continuing innovation of young artists a big part of the ever growing Greentrax catalogue.
It’s impossible to find anything but universal praise for the work of Greentrax. Sheena Wellington, who has had a part in six recordings they’ve released, said: “Ian and June Green’s names are a byword for integrity and goodness. I am very proud to be a Greentrax artist, as is everyone who has had the honour of being part of the Greentrax family.”
Far from being the small project that Ian Green had intended, Greentrax has become a leader in its field, its work helping the Scottish Music scene to grow and making a vibrant, varied sea of recordings available internationally. From CDTRAX001 in 1986, the company is now at CDTRAX390, with no plans of stopping any time soon! In the words of Gordon Gunn, another Greentrax artist: “Ian Green’s vision has turned the Greentrax catalogue into a huge, classic collection which will live on for future generations to enjoy”.