A Tale Of Two Cope Albums

OK, so last October Julian Cope kinda released two albums. I’ve been living with these for a while now, and think I can pass remark on how they’ve hit me. I feel it’s best to spend a bit of time with an album before coming to a decision. Too many times have I been bitten on the bum by loving something immediately, then realising after a week that you’re never going to listen to it again. Or throwing something aside, only to find that not spinning it at least one a week makes the your life feel empty. In these cases, however, my initial opinion of both these records has not really changed.

Brain Donor – Drain’d Boner

As the lines between his regular releases and this supposed ‘metal trio’ continue to blur (the ‘proper’ Cope albums have used the same band line-up) you’ve got to ask yourself what the point of this is. Out gores any semblance of the dumb-assed Stooges-isms that meant the first two albums could be trimmed down to a rather kicking compilation for the US market. In comes the sludgy metal that he’s been appropriating over his last two albums.

Basically, waht we get are 5 lengthly one dimensional riff based pieces with titles such as Father Death’s Tree. The only track that clocks in under five minutes is – for some reason – also the best thing on here. Where Do We Take U? is basically the opening guitar part from the Bunnymen‘s Back Of Love with Cope squealing the title over the top, over and over and over again until it’s bludgeoned any real interest out of you. If you’re gonna rip something off, you’d better do more with it than the original IMO. That said, it has made me seek out the original track which is really rather special.

A recent conversation made me dig out Cope’s previous album Dark Orgasm. And, ignoring the deliberately poor production, most of this could be slotted in without and real change of tone. In fact, in a strange way, it would probably make a more rounded piece of work than either are when they are stood alone. Mind you, still wouldn’t be particualrly fond of either.

And, similar to the Ken Bigley lyric I mentioned previously, the use of the title Nagasaki Mushroom has my taste antenna vibrating like billyo. I am not the worlds most prudish or pc person, but this kind of think strikes me as ill-conceived and, frankly, clumsy. Kinda like the whole thing.

Julian Cope – Jehovakill (Deluxe Edition)

Regarded by the serious fans as his masterpiece, I’ve always found Jehovakill patchy to say the least. For every sublime Soul Desert there’s an Up-Wards At 45° (the latter pile of new-age hippy tosh being also regarded as one of his best works, inexplicably). There’s an object lesson of the artist versus the record label in the story of it’s recording (all recounted in the extensive new sleevenotes). This new double disc version pulls together the original album (apparently unaugmented aurally – but there have been complaints about the quality of the sound), the tracks from the double Fear Loves This Place ‘companion’ piece, demos (some literally sketches taken down onto cassette) and the unedited version of one of the tacks from the album.

This is an object lesson in how to do a reissue. Extensive and beautifully packaged. Is it worth it? Personally it seems to me a strange place to start (on what it due to be a series of reissues). I suppose this album hasn’t been available for years (yes, I guess my gold autographed limited edition has just plummeted in value). But, is there anything here that the casual purchaser might find to improve on the previous version? It’s nice to hear Sizewell B again, but it’s not the first choice when I stick it on. The demo of Vivien is quite nice. The highlight of the additional stuff has to be the near 20 minute version of the funked out Poet Is Priest. but, would anyone other than those for whom the exisitng six m8inutes were not enough really be that interested? I dunno. Basically, it’s not really done anything to change my opinion of this record. (And, I can’t really see it turning on anyone new.) But, there’s still more bare-faced talent in a few seconds of this than there is in most folks’ entire lives. I just don’t think this is his best. But, as I said, I’m very much in the minority there.

Anyhoo, Peggy Suicide‘s next apparently…

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Written by Tony Kiernan

12 March 2007 at 3:46 pm

Posted in Records

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