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).

Spiked

Since not going to see Julian Cope a couple of weeks ago I pulled out his recent compilation album Trip Advizer, a sixteen track cd that rounds up the best of his work from 1999- 2015. If you only get one Julian Cope cd from this millennium etc. Also, Trip Advizer is the best name for a Cope cd (and strangely when listening to it I can kind of hear parallels with Half Man Half Biscuit- the wordplay, the music, the playing it straight). Anyhow, I don’t always agree with the archdrude but I always enjoy him and his songs, and it may be the case that Trip Advizer works best as a dipper (play a few songs from it every now and then rather than an eighty minute one sitting album), but every song on it is a good one. They Were All On Hard Drugs is my favourite, a sweetly sung ode to ancient civilisations and their psychedelic drug practices with a Casio keyboard hissing away underneath but I’ve posted that before. In Psychedelic Revolution Julian promises to settle some scores tonight and then sings about spiking a range of targets- fat cats, greed-heads, moneybags, fuckers generally.

Psychedelic Revolution