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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A sprawling, wistful, psychedelic hippie-folk trip
Julian Cope is one of those whispered-about individuals who seems to beknown more for his drug-addled paganistic personality than any of themusic he's made over the years. To be fair, you can't really blame thegeneral public: his seminal first band, The Teardrop Explodes, weredaringly hypnotic compared to Blondie or Talking Heads. As for his solocareer, it has been far...
Published on 24 April 2004 by lionellaurent

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2 of 16 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Save your money
No Time for lengthy review.

This CD is a Jamboree of unfocused and incomplete Cope doodles.

The whole ablum is a mess sprinked with moments of Cope Genius.

This was the Beginning of the new Cope, a Cope who started to belive and be consumed by his own mythological persona.

It not a easy record to listen too.

FAME FAME...
Published on 10 Mar 2010 by P. Frizelle


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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A sprawling, wistful, psychedelic hippie-folk trip, 24 April 2004
This review is from: 20 Mothers (Audio CD)
Julian Cope is one of those whispered-about individuals who seems to beknown more for his drug-addled paganistic personality than any of themusic he's made over the years. To be fair, you can't really blame thegeneral public: his seminal first band, The Teardrop Explodes, weredaringly hypnotic compared to Blondie or Talking Heads. As for his solocareer, it has been far too erratic (in terms of quality as well as style,let's be honest) to make an impression on anyone outside of hisdevotees.
"20 Mothers", however, is an album which actually lives up to the Copemyth and shows that all he really represents is good, simple songwriting.Consciously harking back to his career-defining 1991 album "PeggySuicide", the album is divided into 'phases' and comes with a booklet ofarguments as opposed to lyrics. Its longer running time and looser feelmay make the album less focused than "Peggy Suicide", but it isnonetheless a solid collection.
In keeping with his environmentalist, spiritual ethos (the title andpackaging celebrate community and family), Cope's songs are more folky androots-based than anything he has done before. He is still not afraid totake a few left turns along the way, as with the synth-pop of "Just LikePooh Bear" or the heavy psych-blues of "Don't Take Roots", but most of thetime the sound combines reflective pop music with hypnotic psychedelia.
So we get Grateful Dead-meet-the-Beatles on "Adam & Eve Hit The Road",swirly Krautrock on "Greedhead Detector" and the hook-filled classic "Try,Try, Try". There are less immediate moments than on his previous albums,but repeated listening does pay off as the individual strengths of eachsong come to the fore. The songwriting is surprisingly solid in fact, withonly "By The Light Of The Silbury Moon" not really clicking. The 20 songsmay not frequently rise above "good", but they don't dip under iteither.
The structured phases also help to give the album some semblance ofcohesion. Phase One is enjoyably jaunty folk-pop, Phase Two and PhaseThree mix this with forays into psychedelic prog and driving rock, whilePhase Four proves to be a fittingly contemplative end to the album. Thespare acoustic crawl through "Cryingbabiessleeplessnights" contrasts withthe soaring orchestration of "Leli B" and the epic stride of "Road OfDreams". Album closer "When I Walk Through The Land Of Fear" isreminiscent of Roxy Music's "For Your Pleasure", a haunting arrangement ofominous keyboards and disappearing sounds.
So while "20 Mothers" is not a bona fide classic, and it does take time toappreciate, it is still a triumph for Cope's musical vision. Only he couldmake a collection of 20 songs work together so well without ever soundingpretentious or desperate. Those who prefer a more experimental Cope willprobably be disappointed, though, as this album does not take too manyrisks - but I figure that he's taken enough risks in his career to livewith a gentle, cohesive and memorable record.
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5.0 out of 5 stars it's sprawling but that's a good thing! Worth buying for the first track alone ..., 12 July 2014
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This review is from: 20 Mothers (Audio CD)
Just re-discovered Julian Cope after hearing him interviewed on R6 about his new novel. Already owned Floored Genius but decided to buy this and Saint Julian. I'm very impressed with 20 Mothers - yes, it's sprawling but that's a good thing!
Worth buying for the first track alone which Syd Barrett would've been proud of.
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4.0 out of 5 stars 'Fluctuates Between Wistful, Touching, Meaningful and Crazy', 1 April 2014
By 
Antony May (East Sussex, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: 20 Mothers (Audio CD)
'20 Mothers' is most definitely my most played Julian Cope album. While it is not perfect it has a real charm about it and is forever changing musical styles, lyrical moods and theme all of which make it an engaging, if often odd and unfathomable, listen.

Lone single, 'Try Try Try' is just about the catchiest pop song Cope has produced since his Teardrop Explodes days and I often find myself unable to stop singing the chorus once I've played this. Don't let that fool you, however, as 'Try' is by far and away the most commercial track here. This said, the song itself is not the happiest of ditties reportedly about Cope's strained relationship with his mother. There are a number of personal /community related songs on 20 Mothers and the gentle, 'I'm Your Daddy' is a short delight as are the two excellent tracks that end the album, the anthemic 'Road Of Dreams' and moody, brooding and thought provoking, 'When I Walk Through The Land Of Fear'.

Other more 'druidy' songs are also a delight. Take 'Stone Circles And You' for example or opener 'The Wheelbarrow Man' both are bright, cheery almost 'light relief' songs and I also love the wistful 'I Wandered Lonely As A Cloud'. 'Senile Get' is catchy but controversial and 'Don't Take Roots' more a repetitive chant than a whole song. There's an element of an artist 'doodling' here sometimes though as with the disappointing, loud, whispered, shouted and muttered, 'By The Light Of The Silbury Moon' and the similarly rocky 'Greedhead Detector' but overall Cope keeps his focus well throughout and the album works all the better for it as an album listen.

To my mind, in spite of its occasionally sloppy moments, '20 Mothers' is essential Julian Cope and I would not want to be without it. Hopefully, if you can learn to live with its lyrical and musical twists and turns you will feel the same way about it as well one day.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars SPRAWLING, INCONSISTENT WITH FLASHES OF BRILLIANCE, 2 July 2008
By 
9ftneil "9ftneil" (UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: 20 Mothers (Audio CD)
That's about as concise as I can be about this colossally meandering album from the great ArchDrude himself. Released in 1995 CE (Common Era as the Copemeister would say) the huge range of styles, moods and atmospheres conjured up here will no doubt delight long standing Cope fans but those unfamiliar with JHC's vast and varied catalogue really should look elsewhere because this is an often difficult listen that requires patience (I'd recommend neophytes towards the "hard rock" stylings of `St. Julian', the monumental rock/dance/folk of the epic `Peggy Suicide', `World Shut Your Mouth' for his best pop flirtations and `Jehovahkill' and `Autogeddon' for his ecological powered folk).
What's on offer here with '20 Mothers' is almost a complete melting pot of all of those albums but with the spontaneous home-recording feel of `Fried' and the rare `Skellington' much to the fore. Folk, rock, dance, electronica, garage punk, even gospel, and the Drude's own penchant for doom laden epics abound across this sprawling album, but be warned some of these songs sound somewhat throwaway on first listen - mixed between basic arrangements and perhaps too many intrusive scatter-gun synth noises - but persevere because the Drude is on serious form.

The arrangements are often sparse with Cope playing guitars and bass and adding colour with various horn, organ and string sounds from a mellotron 400 - used to great effect on the opening duo `Wheelbarrow Man' and `I Wandered Lonely As A Cloud' - and this keeps the songs refreshingly simple and allows his always impressive grasp of melody to really shine. The "hit" single `Try Try Try' which is a big production gem and another fine demonstration of Cope's unabashed ability with a pop song hits home early and then the weirdness sets in...

Long-term collaborator Thighpaulsandra adds synthesiser washes, bleeps and clangs on many of the tracks that displays Cope's long-lasting fascination with all things `krautrock' - these are an acquired taste and the seemingly random forays into Faust and Amon Duul II territory erupting from the laid back groove of `Girl-Call' and the fantastic Scott Walker homage `Lonely Guy' may catch you unawares. But then the ArchDrude has been a pilot of kozmisch space-rock for sometime now and the superb `Highway To The Sun' and Neu! inspired synth gorgeousness of `Leli B' are genuinely thrilling, although the now obligatory space epic closer `When I Walk Through The Land of Fear' sounds more like a longwinded Hawkwind outtake than the past glories of `Autogeddon's `Starcar'.

Those familiar with Cope's more experimental lysergic inspired B-sides and the deranged waywardness that frequents `Fried' will find similar forays into such territory like the unsettlingly brilliant `1995' with Cope repeating the lyric "political killing" to disturbing effect and the thrilling shamanic excess of `Greedhead Detector' recalls the powerful energy of `Reynard The Fox' but this time channelled towards fat-cat corporate oligarchs. The major themes of ecology/mother earth, spiritual growth, religious and political intolerance that dominate his two previous works `Jehovahkill' and `Autogeddon' are much in evidence but balanced with some open hearted homages to home, hearth and family that don't really work for me - `I'm Your Daddy' is a bit to "song for the kids", likewise `Cryingbabies...' but the gospel infused `Road of Dreams' (an unlikely "wedding" song!) though a little heavy on Scott Walker melodrama is rescued by a soaring `Hey Jude' melody and finds Cope at his most unashamedly romantic.

For the most part lyrically Cope is on fine form, alternately sardonic, cosmic and yearning on `Highway To The Sun', the fabulously satirical `Adam and Eve Hit The Road' and extraordinarily honest on `Senile Get' written about his wife Dorian's mother's long collapse into dementia which at first sounds cruel and heartless but as Cope explains in the liner notes caring for someone with dementia is an exhausting, traumatic and ultimately futile experience that makes you become almost deranged yourself. Never one to shy away from his innermost feelings Cope has always written about personal demons like few others and he's to be commended for his insight and honesty and for giving voice to the forgotten legions of families who suffer so much caring for altzheimer patients. As always Cope's singing is as strong as ever and his extraordinary ability to change his vocal stylings to suit the song is a testament to his undoubted talents - some critics say Cope just sings in 4 or 5 different styles but given as most vocalists have at most two and always seem to repeat the same vocal melody whatever the song Cope's versatility is still astounding after all these years and I rank him almost up there with Stevie Wonder and Kate Bush as one of popular musics' great vocal stylists. Nuff said.

On the downside there are a handful of tracks I skip, the unruly garage frenzy of `Silbury Moon' is poor and one Sky Saxon too far me, the early 90's Madchester danceathon `Just Like Pooh Bear' sounds horribly dated and lyrically trite, likewise `Don't Take Roots', and `Girl-Call's groove doesn't do it for me as it descends into kraut-splodge. That said if you're after something a little off the wall but still recognisably melodic and heartfelt with mystical leanings, political satire, real emotion and an unconventional cussedness to the vagaries of modern life then there really is no one like Julian Cope. Still extraordinary, still compelling after all these years and now a reputed author and (pre)historian of genuine renown he truly is one of this nation's national treasures and '20 Mothers' is one of his floored gems.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Just buy it, 21 Nov 2012
This review is from: 20 Mothers (Audio CD)
Now... really... do.

Buy it, play it, play it again, rejoice that you own it.

One of the Archdrude's greatest works. Whichever period of his discography caught your attention and brought you here, if you are reading reviews, you simply need to hear this.
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2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning album of modern ballads, 4 Nov 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: 20 Mothers (Audio CD)
This is easily as good as any of the inyaface Teardrop Explodes stuff.
It's a very personal album full of well written, beautifully put together (with the help of ThighPaulSandra) songs about things that are important to Julian, and IMHO should be important to the rest of us too.
Topics covered are fatherhood, alzheimers disease, autogeddon, bloated corporations (and their bloated heads), love, mother-in-laws and of course plenty of dope and stone circles.
Go and buy it - 12 quid well spent. And I wish I had one of those 'Polite' jackets!
Simon.
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2 of 16 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Save your money, 10 Mar 2010
By 
P. Frizelle (England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: 20 Mothers (Audio CD)
No Time for lengthy review.

This CD is a Jamboree of unfocused and incomplete Cope doodles.

The whole ablum is a mess sprinked with moments of Cope Genius.

This was the Beginning of the new Cope, a Cope who started to belive and be consumed by his own mythological persona.

It not a easy record to listen too.

FAME FAME FAME OR INFAMY
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20 Mothers
20 Mothers by Julian Cope (Audio CD - 1995)
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