In 1979 Julian Cope appeared as lead singer with the deceptively pop Teardrop Explodes just as the first wave of punk rock washed over. They were part of a new wave of Liverpool bands that included Echo & the Bunnymen. Their debut album “Kilimanjaro” was their first breakthrough and was soon followed by the Top 10 single ‘Reward’ in 1981. The band split two years later.
Cope ventured out on a solo career and had a string of single chart entries through to 1996, the best-known and biggest being 1986’s ‘World Shut Your Mouth’. His 1991 double album “Peggy Suicide” garnered many good notices and was a commercial success also. More recently, most of the music output has been collaborations as L.A.M.F, Brain Donor and Black Sheep and sufficiently extreme as to guarantee not to trouble the charts.
Alongside his music career he also developed as a writer and in 1995 he published Krautrocksampler, the definitive book on German underground music from the late 60s. 2005’s Japrocksampler was similarly definitive on post-war to punk war Japan.
He has also written outside the music world with two highly regarded books: The Modern Antiquarian, an exhaustive guide to Britain’s ancient sites, complete with maps, photographs and illustrations, and The Megalithic European, which explores the prehistoric wonders of Europe. The Independent described him as “writer, rocker, goddess-worshipper and self-styled shaman”. His Head Heritage website is a vehicle for writing about his idiosyncratic taste in the outer vistas of music old, new, psychedelic, uncompromising, highly personal and frequently uncomfortable.
This year Faber & Faber published a Copendium of this writing and, with Ace handling the backroom functions, have produced a triple CD soundtrack to the book which is now available on Faber & Faber Records.
Never less than real, the compilation is as refreshing as it is challenging. It launches from the opening riff of Lord Buckley into a chronological trip through the dawn of hard rock/psychedelia/soundscapes of the late 60s/early 70s, arriving in the outer limits of punk at the end of Disc 1. With a great leap across the 80s, Disc 2 is an intense destructo-guitar fest in the age of grunge. By Disc 3 anything goes acoustically or electrically driven, but the intensity does not abate. Not for the faint-hearted, it is held together by the Cope doctrine of music.
The booklet features a note by Rob Young, author of the highly acclaimed Electric Eden. All of the music, sequencing and audio have been overseen by Julian Cope.
By Alvar Lidell