'The Man Who Could Be King Does Things His Own Way',
This review is from: You Gotta Problem with Me (Audio CD)
Julian Cope is capable of writing some of the most melodious, catchy AND meaningful pop music anyone could wish to hear. The mystery behind the man and subsequent albums like 'You Gotta Problem With Me' is therefore why he deliberately chooses not to. Its as if Cope feels that songs with a recognizable tune or pop sensibility lose their lyrical power because the listener is distracted away from his always passionate (and often angry) lyrics by musical hooks. In this, Cope does not do himself justice for those of us who love him are ALWAYS aware that he is a man with plenty to say and thus no matter how he dresses his songs we ARE listening!
And so 'the man who could easily be king' continues to release albums like this. 'You Gotta Problem With Me' is a difficult beast to love. One of Cope's finest in places all too often Julian decides to sabotage his own work by deliberately making songs like 'Beyond Rome' as hard to enjoy as possible. Tuneless, with its production sound rather like that of a demo session taped in a cave and with his vocals almost impossible to pick out of the mush Cope does his best to alienate his listeners to, one can only assume, his personal delight. In fact, most of this album has an 'eclectic' style of production. Most of the songs here revolve around a guitar riff and many sound like 'unfinished demos' rather than completed works. Whether this is down to sheer arrogance on Cope's part or by design only those who know the man can tell but with a more polished and musically friendly approach 'You Gotta' could easily have turned into a classic. Take ' Soon To Forget You' for example, no sooner does the song finally burst into action its as if Cope realises that he is treading dangerously close to a mainstream arrangement and at this point the song fades.
So then, considering the above forthright opinions on Mr Cope and his work, How come I give this three stars?
Well, the truth is that while Cope does his best here to put you off listening, 'You Gotta Problem With Me' is ultimately worth the pain of sacrifice to get into. Lyrically, Julian is on top form for the most part and as its title suggests, 'You Gotta' is an album that challenges people (and I don't doubt the authorities) to respond to it. Fury and indignation pours out of the space- rock title track, 'Woden' is just about the most powerful anti-war song I've heard in ages, 'Cant Get You Out Of My Country' and 'They've Got A Different Way Of Doing Things' are both thought provoking 'dangerous propaganda to listen to' songs and 'Shame Shame Shame' is just about the most passionate and vitriolic denouncement of religion you will hear.
In short, no matter how hard he tries to hide it, Julian Cope is a brilliant artist. He is a troubadour of the very highest quality with both a conscience and an enormous amount to say - its just a shame with albums such as this that he does his best to make sure no one is listening...