Isolation Mix Thirteen

Lockdown ends today- at least, that’s how the government and the media have been portraying it with occasional reminders that social distancing and a 2 metre gap might be important. The government have largely dropped the daily infection figures and death toll from their bulletins. You don’t want to be depressing people at this stage of proceedings with doom and gloom, not when there are pints to be drunk! The media have been splashing stories about Super Saturday, Independence Day and the End Of Hibernation. It does look like they deliberately chose July 4th so they could call it an Independence Day. Meanwhile, Leicester is in lockdown, the R rate in London is apparently creeping above 1, there are Covid hotspots around the country, the deaths are still well over one hundred every day, and lots of people are talking about a second wave and a second spike without the people in charge actually wanting to do anything about it. We are still shielding, the medical advice we received this week is that due to our son Isaac being in the extremely vulnerable category we should stay in isolation until August 1st. Despite a few minor changes to our lockdown lives, we are still very much in isolation.

This mix is an hour and eight minutes of music with a folky, ambient, pastoral tinge with some Balearica and guitars thrown in, some old stuff and some brand new- some birdsong and synth ambience to start and finish, blissed out tracks from Seahawks, Apiento and Ultramarine, Green Gartside solo and as Scritti Politti, acoustic guitars courtesy of Nancy Noise, Michael Head and Barry Woolnough, some understated brilliance from The Clash and Sandinista!, Julian Cope covering Roky Erickson, Thurston Moore covering New Order and Jane Weaver’s cosmic/folky weirdness.

Tracklist-
Stubbleman: 4am Conversation

Seahawks: Islands

Nancy Noise: Kaia

Green Gartside: Tangled Man

Barry Woolnough: Great Spirit Father In The Sky

The Clash: Rebel Waltz

Thurston Moore: Leave Me Alone

Julian Cope: I Have Always Been Here Before

Jane Weaver: Slow Motion (Loops Variation)

Michael Head and the Red Elastic Band: Picasso

Scritti Pollitti: The Boom Boom Bap

Apiento: Things You Do For Love

Ultramarine: Stella (Stella Connects)

Stubbleman: 6am Chorus

Isolation Mix Four

A bit of a change again for this week’s hour long isolation mix, this time a trip into more psychedelic and psyche areas, some guitars, a couple of cover versions, some remixes and a re-edit of an 80s alt- classic with an eye, a third eye maybe, on the cosmic and the blissed out. One of the segues is a little bit clumsy but I can live with it. I’ve had to move the host over to Mixcloud as I’d used up all my available space at Soundcloud without going to the paid for service.

Tracklist-
The Durutti Column: Otis

Wixel: Expressway To Yr Skull (Long Champs Bonus Beats)

Moon Duo: Stars Are The Light

Curses: This Is The Day

Le Volume Courbe: Rusty

Sonic Boom/ Spectrum: True Love Will Find You In The End

Mogwai: Party In The Dark

The Liminanas: The Gift (Anton Mix)

Goldfrapp v Spiritualized: Monster Love

Julian Cope: Heed Of Penetration and the City Dweller Head Remix by Hugo Nicholson

Edit Service 8 by It’s A Fine Line: The Story Of The Blues (Talkin’ Blues)

The Early Years: Complicity

 

Coping

Julian Cope played the second of two nights at Gorilla on Saturday night, a wide ranging one man show with songs from his back catalogue (from The Teardrop Explodes through to the new Self Civil War) and plenty of story telling and comedy in between. Cope is announced on to the stage by his roadie and appears in Luftwaffe cap, shades, sleeveless hooded top, shorts and biker boots, promising us that he won’t talk too much and then proceeds to do exactly that- not that anyone is complaining. Cope is an accomplished raconteur as much as anything else. He kicks off with a long story about buying the title Grand Prince of Pomerania off the internet and then goes into Soul Desert following that with a new one, Your Facebook My Laptop. We get Read It In Books, interrupted by Julian filling us in on the genesis of that song, what he calls ‘the writing group’ he was a member of (The Crucial Three of legend), the birthplace of both the Bunnymen and The Teardrops, it’s riff borrowed from a Fall song (Mark E Smith and Martin Bramah are both nodded to) and Ian McCulloch’s role in it, with some gentle piss taking of Mac. It’s not nasty or personal- he takes the piss out of himself and out of us too.  All the songs bar one are played on acoustic guitar and fleshed out by FX pedals including an epic Autogeddon Blues, a brilliant They Were All On Hard Drugs (which has a lengthy preamble, as you can probably imagine, which finishes with him describing finding four different types of magic mushroom within a few hundred yards of Stonehenge), Cromwell In Ireland, Drink Me Under The Table, The Greatness And Perfection of Love, a sparkling run through World Shut Your Mouth, and Treason. When all his songs are presented like this, one man with his guitar, they seem more and more part of the same story- there’s real no separation between the Teardrops pop hits and his current cottage industry album. He jokes about the Teardrops, that he approached the others about putting them back together but the rest of the band were just too out of it. He jokes about the stream of near hits he had as a solo artist, all of them peaking at number 42. He tells us about painting a Messerschmidt- a model not a real one- and having some deep grey paint left over at the exact moment a brand new Fender guitar is delivered. He then plays the next song with the guitar he painted. He mentions his poor promotion of his new albums and then repeatedly remembers to promote Self Civil War. He reminds us of the criticism that his songs are ba- ba- ba songs, then plays the ba- ba- ba songs, proving what a great songwriter he is. There’s a long discussion about folk music and his issues with it and then we, the folk, are encouraged to join in with the ‘Oi’ backing vocals.  For The Great Dominions he moves onto the synth with his roadie accompanying him and then goes back to the guitar for a marvellous Pristeen and finally a crowd pleasing Sunspots. He hams up the leaving of the stage, revelling in the applause while undercutting it too, and then returns to play Out Of My Mind On Dope And Speed. There’s not really anyone else quite like him- so esoteric, so open, so poppy but so versed in the underground. Long may he run.

Autogeddon Blues

 

Happy Christmas

Diego Maradona and Dayglo Maradona both wish you a very happy Christmas. Feliz Navidad.

Rock Section (Andrew Weatherall remix)

They Say That Country Life Is Hard To Beat

It would be a strange trip to Brittany without taking in some prehistoric sites. These three menhir stand in the very quiet village of Plomelin not far from Quimper. I like a bit of a challenge with standing stones and dolmen, a field to trek through or a bit of a search but no such luck with these stones- they stand in a very well cared for spot at the centre of Plomelin with a space to park the car, a distillery across the road and a stream running through them with a small bridge.

Writing about prehistoric stones leads to going on to write about Julian Cope. Looking back at his rebirth in 1990 he was way ahead of the curve with all sorts of things- opposition to the Poll Tax was a very current concern shared by hundreds of thousands and then there’s his environmentalism, distrust of government, interest in women’s rights, opposition to mass car ownership and car culture, hatred of organised religion (on the sleeve notes to Peggy Suicide he writes at length about the replacement of Communism by radical Islam in the eyes of the military, governments, media etc).  Copey was in there with all of these and more. His book on prehistoric sites The Modern Antiquarian then placed him as a serious chronicler and authority with actual historians calling his book ‘the best popular guide to Neolithic and Bronze Age sites for half a century’.

In 1994 Cope released a CD single, four versions of his song/album track Paranormal In The West Country. To get it you had to buy his Queen Elizabeth album. This would come with a sticker which you had to return on a used envelope. On receipt of that Cope would send you the Paranormal CD. The best of three new versions was this one recorded with The Leone Quartet.

Paranormal In The West Country (With The Leone Quartet)

Julian has a new album for sale at his Head Heritage site, a five track mainly instrumental tribute to John Balance of Coil called John Balance Enters Valhalla, ‘five mesmerising rhythm- laden tracks… hefty grooves that shimmer and shake’ according to the man himself. It’s difficult to keep up with Cope and his output but this one is worth your time and money. Buy here.

Monday’s Long Song

The best Julian Cope album of this decade is 2013’s Revolutionary Suicide, a double disc tome taking in acoustic guitars, mellotrons, Julian’s falsetto, one of his career best songs (They Were All On Hard Drugs, an alternative look at human history), several pops at organised religion and at least five songs that could qualify for a Monday long song. This one is the longest, over fifteen minutes, a protest song on acoustic guitar with a military drum. The Armenian Genocide is about the forced march and subsequent murder of 1.5 million Armenians by the Ottoman Empire in 1915, under the cover of the First World War. Cope aims the song at modern day Turkish governments and their refusal  to recognise the deaths as genocide.

The Armenian Genocide

I Can’t Get A Fraction

A short, sharp blast of garage rock for Wednesday (also proto-punk, acid rock and psych rock too I believe), from 1966, the year of maximum garage rock. Count Five were from San Jose and this two minute fifty-six seconds is all you need.

Psychotic Reaction

Wonderful fuzz guitar riff, stomping drum, harmonica, lyric about being rejected by a girl, double speed Yardbirds inspired rave up section. Really, it’s got it all.

In 1983 The Cramps had left IRS and were recorded playing live at New York’s Peppermint Lounge. Lux and Ivy put the recordings out as a mini album called Smell Of Female. There aren’t that many live albums I’d pull out and play very often but Smell Of Female is one of them, six tracks of gloriously unhinged psychobilly, culminating in their cover of Count Five’s Psychotic reaction. Over at Julian Cope’s Head Heritage website there is a review of Smell Of Female that has Lux and Ivy as Loki and the Goddess and their music as the shamanic and barbarian spirit of rock ‘n’ roll. You should read it. It’s here.

Psychotic Reaction

The Longest Day

Today is the longest day and the summer solstice, where the sun rises earlier and sets later than any other day. Make the most of it. I’ve never been to the stones at sunrise but if I did the man I’d want beside me would be the arch-drude, Julian Cope himself. Maybe he has the answer about the ancients…

They Were All On Drugs

You Don’t Have To Be Afraid

I was listening to Julian Cope’s Peggy Suicide album last week. I was looking for something I hadn’t heard for a long time to soundtrack my drive to the Lakes and it caught my eye. Released in 1991 it signalled a new Cope. He went on to make a further opus for Island, Jehovakill, who then dropped him, at this clear turning point in his career. It was the period when the post-80s pop Cope was formed, with his lyrical references to organised religion, feminism, paganism, ecology, Mother Earth, prehistoric sites- the Cope world view. It was also a move away from the pop sound of the previous decade and into a heavier, psychedelic rock sound. He was at a peak of press interest (the weeklies loved him and the new spate of monthlies were on board too). His hatred for the Thatcher government and the poll tax demonstrations/riots took pace during the making of Peggy Suicide, with Julian attending the London demonstration dressed as Squibsy.

Peggy Suicide is a double album and an ‘artistic vision’ record. The band were a mix of old (Donald Ross Skinner, Rooster Cosby) and new (Mike Joyce and Mike Mooney). Some of the songs sound, not dated maybe, but of their time- 1990/91 drum beats, Manchester funky rock- but there are some career highs here too, perfectly sequenced, leading us through the album in a certain order, lyrically and musically. Beautiful Love is a gorgeous, lightfooted calypso song about Albion and dolphins. Hanging Out & Hung Up On The Line is dense Detroit rock. Drive, She Said is a stunner. But on the drive up the M6 the one that struck me most was Safesurfer, seemingly a tribute and ode to contraception and safe sex, from the opening line ‘I saw my old man exploding out of a tunnel’ to the huge Mick Ronson- inspired guitar track. Eight minutes of epic Cope magnificence that no one else could have made.

Safesurfer

So Shall It Be

A 1971 psychedelic/Norse crossover, this one drawn by John Buscema, from the Third Eye series. Odin resurrects Hela. So shall it be.
This can only go in one direction can’t it? From 2008’s Black Sheep album, some prime recent Julian Cope.
More from the Marvel Third Eye series, these ones are all by Jack Kirby I think, but its the colourist who’s getting most of the fun- The Infinity Man, an acid trip in spandex; the Silver Surfer, freed and unbound; magnificent Medusa.
And because Cope has more than one Marvel link, Spiderman and Daredevil threatened by Submariner- The Teardrop Explodes!
This is their 1979 single (that inspired its own tribute song by Chris Sievey and the Freshies, otherwise known as Timperley’s own Frank Sidebottom).