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How classic is this album?
on 13 November 2002
In 1986 I first heard Julian Cope (although I had known songs like Reward, Treason & Passionate Friend from TOTP)and the following year, a friend got into him big time. Came across a tape of this in a garage in Buckinghamshire (?) and this became my fave album of his, well apart from Wilder, World Shut Your Mouth & Peggy Suicide...
The making of this album is well documented in Repossessed/Head On (Thorsons)- it was made in the maelstrom that followed the Teardrops' demise, the financial fallout & the failure of his great debut album. Cope was being set up as a Syd Barrett for the 80's , plenty of odd rumours (selling songs to people on Paul McCartney's trout farm, living on a traffic island) surfaced and looking at the coolest cover of an album ever, it was possible to see why...
The album opens with Reynard the Fox, Cope moving towards myth as the song mutates into a blend of Helter Skelter & The Doors with a rockabilly freakout towards the end (and strange psychedelic guitar). This is the best version released.
The lovely Bill Drummond Said is next, this is shimmering guitar music of the finest order- even if it's about the KLF/Zoo geezer who wrote the not so classic Julian Cope is Dead. You can hear why Morrissey named this his fave album of 1984.
Laughing Boy is up next, sounding like Tim Buckley on valium - though its title comes from a track on Hall&Oates Abandoned Luncheonette! This is a very English hell and far from funny- which I suppose is the point...
Me Singing is another sublime acoustic song, very much influenced by Tim Buckley's Happy Sad and Van Morrison's TB Sheets- and not far from 70's breakdown album Third/Sister Lovers by Big Star. This came from an imaginary conversation Cope had with his wife while she was away; how great is that?
The classic single and international hit (well, in my universe) Sunspots is next- "Eh Oh/It goes away" demonstrates a lyrical influence on the Teletubbies and a wonderful drum sound is complemented by heavenly washes of keyboards and parping brass. Someone told me it sounds like The The, not so sure myself. As great as songs like An Elegant Chaos & Strasbourg regardless.
The Bloody Assizes kickstarts the second half of the album, though it is songs like Search Party, O. King of Chaos (Madness dabbling in the occult) and Torpedo that stand out. Oh, and Holy Love shows that he can do the whole pop thing like Reward or Greatness & Perfection whenever he felt like it.
The extra tracks come from the Sunspots-e.p. and the krautrock-inflected Mik Mak Mock and the mindblowing Land of Fear are as good as anything on the great album proper (Land of Fear would be re-recorded for 20 Mothers. Lovely...).
Fried is an absolute total classic masterpiece up there with, well any album ever; Cope may have went crazy but the album transcends that. Timeless stuff.