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


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).

Or Is It Treason?

The idea that any band could contain three egos like Ian McCulloch’s, Julian Cope’s and Pete Wylie’s is absurd and according to legend The Crucial Three never even got as far as rehearsing, but it’s nice to try to imagine what they might have sounded like. This video for The Teardrop Explode’s Treason, a single off 1980s Kilimanjaro, is a hoot. The B-side was Read It In Books, a joint McCulloch-Cope effort recorded by both bands.


I was listening to Julian Cope’s Sunspots yesterday on Youtube and saw this linked in the sidebar- a full gig live from The Ritz in 1987 (NY Ritz I think rather than Mcr). Cope’s mid-80s black leather clad pop period is brilliant. He could knock out classic songs and singles at the drop of a motorcycle hat. Sunspots is superb, borrowing a couple of 60s riffs, and adding a recorder solo, some great organ and his cool vocal delivery… ‘I’m in love with my very best friend’. I’m sure if he put his mind to it he could still do pop hits today.

There’s an hour’s worth here including Sunspots plus, amongst others, Trampolene, Bouncing Babies, Spacehopper, The Greatness And Perfection Of Love and his 80s period anthem World Shut Your Mouth. 

I’ve Read It In Books

Nice aren’t they? This is The Teardrop Explodes (co-written with The Bunnymen, when they all got on. Hated each other but got on).

Books (Zoo Records Version)

Sleeping Gas

I was in the enormous and ostentatious Westfield shopping centre at Shepherd’s Bush on Thursday night, wandering round waiting for our 6th formers to finish their shopping (a treat for them after a long day treading the streets of London). I nipped into the Fred Perry shop, weary and wanting to get back the hotel and also slightly disappointed with the new season’s line, when this Teardrop Explodes song came on the in-store stereo and perked me up no end- almost had me bouncing round the shop like a nipper. Although as the only customer the lad behind the till began to give me an odd look.

Sleeping Gas

In the picture is Wyndham Lewis, who London Lee pointed out was the Lord of the Vorts (Vorticists that is).