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  • Rob


Ah, Julian Cope, madman or genius? It is a fine line in his case and this compilation does a good job of reflecting it.

The LP is split into phases. Phase 1 is with The Teardrop Explodes covering 1978-1982 and includes some of his best work in my opinion. ‘Reward’, ‘Treason’, and ‘Passionate Friend’ are all right up there.

Phase 2 covers 1983-1985 and Cope’s first foray out on his own. There are some great pop songs here including ’The Greatness And Perfection Of Love’, ‘An Elegant Chaos’ and ‘Sunspots’ but there is also some of the madness in ‘Reynard The Fox’.

‘Reynard…’ is a chaotic 6-minute reworked folk tale with a spoken word part which builds to a howling scream about the singer cutting his stomach open and spilling his guts all over the stage as the song descends into a chaotic crescendo. I do love it though…

Phase 3 covers 1986-1988 and is probably Cope’s most accessible period. His biggest hit to date, ‘World Shut Your Mouth’ was released in this phase which also includes probably my favourite tracks from him, ‘Trampoline’, ‘Charlotte Anne’ and ‘China Doll’.

Andy yet, and yet the madness is still there! ‘Spacehopper’. A high-energy, jangly song co/part written by Ian McCulloch in the late 70s.

It has questionable lyrics ("I've got a spacehopper baby but it's strictly one seater, you gotta hold on girl to my special feature") and feels alien to the tracks around it. Again though, I love it!

Phase 4 covers April 1989-March 1991 and is where it goes utterly wobbly! When you hear that a track is called ‘Out Of My Head On Dope And Speed’ you know it isn’t going to feature on a Disney soundtrack. Neither is the following track, ‘Jellypop Perky Jean’ which sounds like it was written while on dope and speed!

The album is rounded out by ‘Safesurfer’, almost 9 minutes of tortured guitars, Balearic beats and that annoying thing where the song fades out then back in again then out. Grrr.

In the middle of all that noise are ‘Beautiful Love’ and ‘East Easy Rider’, two of my favourite tracks on the record which kinda sums up the album for me, crazy avant-garde noise and then punchy pop goodness.

So, is Julian Cope, a madman or a genius? After listening to this album many, many times and reading his autobiography, ‘Head On’ I’m going with both in the best possible way!

Tracks To Try: Any of them.


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