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The Teardrop Explodes
Kilimanjaro (reissue) Nix Lowrey , August 3rd, 2010 13:07

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The Arch-drude, His Copeness, Saint Julian, that hippie eccentric from the BBC: there are many identities of Julian Cope. His work continues to pour forth seasonally, from writing on the ever-brilliant Head Heritage site to his panoply of side projects which regularly gestate into releases ranging from Odinic chanting to proto-metal. He continues to attract a loyal and tribal following of fans, dissenters, amateur archeologists and 'heads' to his ever increasing array of books, CD releases and performances, and it would be just a willow wand's width from the truth to say he is one of Britain's more baffling yet most beloved Renaissance Men. He embodies the Fool - in the mythical sense - juggling both wisdom and neo-spiritual nonsense as he capers about remote hillocks, poking optimistically at the fabric of time, space and music.

However, back in 1979, he was yet to be any of these things. Back then, he was just Julian Cope from Liverpool Polytechnic: post-teen acid head, friend of pop-curmudgeon Ian McCulloch and pre-Wah! Pete Wylie, signed to Bill Drummond"s Zoo Records, and lead singer of emergent shambling Scouse-pop band The Teardrop Explodes. Having released both 'Sleeping Gas' and 'Bouncing Babies' to some North Western acclaim (a nod from Tony Wilson) and some national attention (a begrudging acknowledgement from the NME and alleged fear from nascent pop darlings U2 and Duran Duran), Cope and his lysergically-challenged bandmates headed for the Welsh hills to concoct a haphazard and unruly record filled with pop promise, but somehow never quite achieving the potential glory which had Vox and Le Bon worried. This, of course, might have had something to do with Cope and co's minds achieving The Great Unravel on a daily basis - Cope"s memoir Head On recalls the band regularly riding to the studio on imaginary horses.

In fact, it's no small wonder that in Killimanjaro, (including the technically post-album track and arguable Explodes zenith 'Reward'), they managed to create such a precocious collection of shimmering pop. Killimanjaro has all the urgency of an ambitious first release, the unkempt charm of blatant talent, and the sound of supreme confidence wrestling with inexperience.

In the album's lyrics we detect things going psychedelically skewiff for the Drude - meanings shrouded in vague metaphor, a hint of megalomania and concurrent paranoia in tracks like 'Second Head': "I know the banisters are leaking" becomes "Beware of false promises, You must be wary of people". Of course, the most obvious signpost is Cope's own acid confessional 'Went Crazy', detailing an inability to manage a literal relationship with information, with social interaction: "And I looked all around, And went crazy".

The second CD on this re-release tells the not-particularly-hidden tale (Head On"s gospel according to Drude himself is a finest testament of that) of 'Killimanjaro's experiments and excesses, including unhinged live track 'Bouncing Babies' with Cope's laughably ADD attempt at audience interaction. The Teardrop Exploded not with a bang but a whimper in 1982 after a patchy second album Wilder and the inevitable internal disputes: the band that drops together often stops together. Cope retreated to a small dark room to cocoon himself around his obsessions and ingestions, triumphant with the surprisingly cogent World Shut Your Mouth. And indeed, for a short while, it did.

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12xy
Aug 4, 2010 1:39am

But... Wasn't this album written when Cope was 'straight'. And it's the follow-up that's 'Acid Cope'.

So... Is this review just bollocks?

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drudez0r
Aug 4, 2010 4:23pm

apparently near the end of the Killimanjaro sessions Cope renounced his 'straight' stance and went on a massive acid fueled binge...

allegedly Bill Drummond helped him start on his acid-brick road...

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drudez0r
Aug 4, 2010 4:23pm

apparently near the end of the Killimanjaro sessions Cope renounced his 'straight' stance and went on a massive acid fueled binge...

allegedly Bill Drummond helped him start on his acid-brick road...

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typewriteriloveyou
Aug 4, 2010 5:12pm

"Wilder", the second album, is genius, one of the great lost records. It sounds like the songs themselves have been taking acid, until a couple of moments of unbearably poignant clarity: "Tiny Children", "And the fighting takes over," "The Great Dominions"

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Johnny Nothing
Aug 4, 2010 7:22pm

Arguably a stronger record than anything the Bunnymen put out. Consistent and almost perfect. Essential purchase.

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Johnny Nothing
Aug 4, 2010 7:24pm

In reply to Johnny Nothing:

Kilimanjaro, that is. Wilder has its moments but is patchy and rather dull in places.

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bar har
Aug 5, 2010 2:43pm

Although flawed, Wilder has some great moments, as does Everybody Wants to Shag.. despite the dodgy drums
Ouch Monkeys is a brilliant lost song, a personal favourite... deep piano riff, spooky synth, and a really damaged Cope on top of it. Soft Enough for You, Strange House in the Snow and Terrorist are also good examples of post-LSD meltdown Cope.

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t watson
Aug 6, 2010 2:18pm

In reply to 12xy:

Yeah, Cope allegedly got into drugs via Alan Gill half-way through a re-recording of this LP in Wales. Whilst pretty much everything on here was written by a pre-drugs Cope, the vast swathes of re-editing and re-recording (including ALL the vocal takes, guitar parts and mixing) that took place whilst under the influence means its pretty fair to consider this a 'psychedelic' record.

Presumably the first song they wrote as true acid fiends was 'Reward', quite bizarre considering its pretty much the most strait-laced and successful thing they ever did.

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