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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Vive Le Revolution!, 4 Jun 2012
This review is from: Psychedelic Revolution (Audio CD)
The first of two Cope albums set for 2012; I'd actually give this 4.5/5 but that's not an option. Firstly, I'd advise people not to be put off by the gun-toting throughout the inlay and on the sleeve, it seems to be inciting mayhem and protest rather than murder, beating you round the head with strong imagery so you know just where he's coming from. Unlike recent years the focus seems to have shifted from specific attacks on organised religion, consumerism, politics and the US. A lot of people will tell you how you should feel and what views you should have: This is Cope presenting his own ideals and saying (not verbatim) "Hey, maybe there's something here you can use" There's no sense of demanding you share his opinions; start your own revolution as it were. He once said at a gig that we were all there purely because there's a lot wrong with the world and we know it and don't like it; that's pretty much where this is coming from.
Musically the album is fantastic. There's a lot of his recent folk leanings still present but also plenty of the wonderfully sterile synth pop all capped off with Black Sheep harmonies and Cope's voice in top form. This album works almost like a distant relative of You Gotta Problem, Black Sheep and The Unruly Imagination. If you're one of those bad people that disregards lyrics, you'll love it anyway, it's incredibly melodic.
For everyone else: Some tracks you might skip, others you might love, I enjoyed virtually all of them but that's just me. However, there are several songs that are quintessential Cope from the word go. I'll talk up just a couple:
'Raving On The Moor' is storming, moody and melodic; it's the perfect album opener which broods stop-start wah-wah before turning into a tearaway pounding of rant n rave. This will no doubt be a live staple for years to come and it nestles as one of his most rousing between the likes of Soul Desert, Elegant Chaos and Reynard effortlessly.
'Hooded and Benign' is a tricky one. Musically it's almost too pretty to be a Cope track. The beauty of it is astonishing, especially in that first half. Lots of sound reinforcing lyrics here with a gush of water sounding the soft croon of "Though the storm is in a teacup people drown / Turn to drink if they lose face around their town" This is a track about Death (the person) and how our silly human sensibilities can lead us to have the wrong impression entirely. This isn't the first turn to the poignant that Cope has made; remember Black Sheep's 'I Can Remember This Life'. This one is bolstered by 'As The Beer Flows Over Me' - a rustic ballad of a northern funeral. The back end of disc one is quite intoxicating in its bleakness but his views on the matter make for a remarkable milestone in the back-catalogue.
Women's liberation sees another go around with 'X-Mass in the Woman's Shelter'. It takes his earlier scope on the subject to a higher plateau. Incredibly earnest and driven by very pure intention. Off the top of my head I can't recall a time Julian's music ever sounded so beautiful. This is one you cannot do without.
I cried, laughed and thought very hard about a lot of things I wouldn't usually consider. There's a lot of talk surrounding this one, not all of it good but there's some astonishing moments here. To me this isn't just one of the better latter-day Cope albums, it's one his best full stop.
As the man himself sings: "Maybe this could work for you too"
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Psychedelic Revolution, 17 Oct 2013
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This review is from: Psychedelic Revolution (Audio CD)
Having conquered the pop charts in the 1980s with both the post-punk outfit The Teardrop Explodes and with more accessible solo numbers like World Shut Your Mouth, Julian Cope opted for the path less travelled in the 1990s. Temporarily hanging up his guitar, he found solace in the ancient and he turned his attention instead to becoming one of the world's foremost authorities on the neolithic stone circles of the British Isles.

This detour into prehistoric academia has seemingly influenced the later musical output of Cope, who has re-emerged in recent years as a raggedy space-shaman of a man. He has collaborated with several noteworthy fellow travellers of the space-cadet superhighway, including producer Mitch Razor and Stephen O'Malley of Sunn O))), on his thunderous - and criminally overlooked - Brain Donor album Wasted Fuzz Excessive.

Now, for his latest opus he has taken on the role of "Voice of the Disenfranchised" on behalf of the silenced majority in our collapsing modern life.

Psychedelic Revolution is the culmination of Cope's long and meandering journey into the present day. It is the meeting point between his head-in-the-clouds psychedelia and the polemical anti-everythingisms of his punk rock heritage.

The double album is in turns tatty, sentimental, folksy, lugubrious, comical and bile-drenched in fury. Kicking off with Raving on the Moor, Cope creates for himself a Byronic hero who we find fleeing from a society of oppressive banksters and crony capitalists. Leaving it all behind, our man is seeking a romantic anarchy amidst the rain-lashed heathland of a forgotten England.

Out here, his anger builds to a musical crescendo, and our tortured narrator invokes the listener into direct action against the corrupt technocrats and puppet-masters who run the show.

We get our first glimpse into the soul of the album as Cope puts a scuffed Doc Martin boot straight through the fourth wall. Are we listening to our fictional hero, or to the guy sitting at the mixing desk contemplating his career of inciting acts of musical treason?

And I stopped playing to the choir / Start playing to the head.
I stopped fighting the police / Let the lackeys die in bed.
I stopped aiming at their feet / Started aiming at the Greed-heads.
And maybe this could work for you
And maybe this could work for you
And maybe this could work for you too.

About the album, Cope has said that he created an almost comical caricature for himself to voice his more outré views, so take that for what you will. But the same anti-establishment figure seems to resurface next - disguised in a burka - during the jaunty Revolutionary Man. Now we find him on the streets of London town, suffering police brutality as he runs through the City "to smash the banking scum".

Dissidence and heroism are interchangeable terms throughout this record, and Psychedelic Revolution is a double barrel of barefaced agitprop of the highest calibre. There is more swaggering defiance in this recording than anything you will have heard in the last decade from musicians half this guy's age.

But for all of the anger directed at The Man and the seething resentment towards the status quo, there are tender moments too. Because how else can you make a convincing call to arms unless you show the audience what they will be fighting to save?

Hooded and Benign is a gentle hymn to the sacrificial bravery of those who are captured railing against the injustice. Viva La Suicide is a scathing satire on behalf of the lost youth of a radicalised Arab world. Cromwell in Ireland takes in a half-millennium of imperialist brutality and spits it out like a drunken pub sing-along recorded onto shellac during the inter-war years.

As the Beer Flows Over Me is a solemn funeral dirge for a neo-Viking burial, sung from beyond the grave. In Cope's world, death is not an end; nor is it to be feared. Only kept and held onto and celebrated:

Drink a toast now my life's over / (As the beer flows over me)
Do not leave my party sober / (As the beer flows over me)

Cope strums and wails and buzzes through the 2 CDs of the album. The DIY ethic makes the guitar strings rattle, the vocals pop and the mix uneven. It all has an effortless, authentically vintage feel to it that would cause many aspiring retro-rockers to eat their own fists in envy.

The folk and the space age intertwine with sublime elegance. Pagan strings are plucked, fretboards squeak and analogue synths are twiddled and prodded and coaxed into emitting all kinds of juicy parps and serrated-edged warbles. The result is rustic, anti-modern, folksy in its intimacy and its shambolic production, and utterly, utterly heartfelt. You could go online today and find a digital tsunami of musicians who are comfortable baring their souls in directionless self-reflection, bemoaning their broken hearts. But not one of them has the passion nor the conviction to raise a voice as sincere or as self-aware as Julian Cope's in this collection of 21st century protest songs.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Vintage Cope, 9 Nov 2012
This review is from: Psychedelic Revolution (Audio CD)
I didn't have very high expectations of this album, but it's excellent. The lyrics are thought-provoking and poignant. Some of the words were almost shocking on their clarity. The music is very folk orientated but with plenty of kraut rock influences too-- real psychedelia. For those that grew up at that time in Britain, this is a fascinating document. Maybe he will be remembered by the people of the future?
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you're a greedhead you're going down..., 26 Nov 2012
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Andrew Sutherland "Sutho" (Surrey outposts) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Psychedelic Revolution (Audio CD)
A chance excerpt from the first-rate h-e-a-v-y title track (which continues: "Gonna spike some f*****s tonight...") on this, the Archdrude's latest. He's toting a machine gun on the cover and the two discs are dedicated to politically intense heroes (Che Guevara and Leila Khaled)... nobody could accuse him of light entertainment. Musically, much of what's here wouldn't sound out of place on the (lighter passages of) his last record, the (frankly brilliant) Black Sheep - ballads take precedence (not much in the way of heavy workouts), with the lyrics really well spotlighted. And lyrically, the record's very intriguing - frequently hilarious and, at times, bafflingly dark anarchic pronouncements about bunkering down in the moors, suicide and the Baader-Meinhof abound... sometimes all at once and seemingly a propos of not very much other than to lend to a sense of this being some kind of soundtrack to the End Times. One of the very best of his Head Heritage oeuvre - if you liked You Gotta Problem With Me or Black Sheep, don't hesitate.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 8 July 2014
This review is from: Psychedelic Revolution (Audio CD)
True Copeyness!
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