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Copendium Paperback – 5 Sep 2013

4.9 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 736 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber; Main edition (5 Sept. 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571270344
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571270347
  • Product Dimensions: 15.6 x 5.1 x 23.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 356,372 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


Copendium is a collection of album reviews, exactly 10 years worth, which Cope wrote for his own Head Heritage website. He homes in on the unsung, music that is unknown, unloved, even unreleased...If, like me, you thought you knew your musical onions, if you pride yourself on knowing or just owning the work of musicians whose mothers don t even know they exist, then reading Copendium is a humbling exercise...Every essay in Copendium is an adventure (Roddy Doyle Irish Times)

Here is a book of umpteen reviews by Cope of umpteen bands, a book so thick that its spine alone can accommodate not only the book's title and author, Faber's logo and a drawing of the Cerne Abbas giant waving an electric guitar, but three quotes from reviews of the book itself (from Bobby Gillespie of Primal Scream, Roddy Doyle and Q magazine). Of these umpteen bands, I had heard of about 11. (Nic Lezard Guardian)

Cult singer and songwriter Julian Cope's Copendium is a wonderful tribute to the misfits, outsiders and head-cases who have marked music's most magnificent margins. While heavyweights such as Miles Davis and Black Sabbath are loudly hymned, so are 'underpraised' artists such as the Mops and Jex Thoth. (Rob Fitzpatrick Sunday Times, Music Books of the Year)

I think Julian is the best writer on rock and roll in the world today. No contest. Lester Bangs would love him if he were still alive. They'd be blood brothers. He's got the spirit alright. True faith. (Bobby Gillespie)

Julian Cope's Copendium provides an alternative history of popular music from the Fifties to the present. Cope is the well-read jester of English pop, a real one-off, and we're lucky to have him. (Ian Thomson The Standard, Books of the Year)

Inside a black tortoise-shell cover, Copendium finds the erstwhile Teardrop Explodes loon vibing about some of the most outré rock records ever made. Collated from 10 years worth monthly posts on Cope s Head Heritage website, each entry reads like a mission statement to convert you to the Arch-Drude's latest space-cake obsession. Whether raving about mid-60s proto-metallers Blue Cheer or contemporary psych troop Sunburned Hand Of The Man, Cope makes most other rock writing seem lifeless. (Andrew Perry Q Magazine, Books of the Year)

Phrase by phrase, Cope is the best music writer going. He has taste, anger, wit and a resplendent supracosmic vision. His decade's writings have now been compiled as Copendium ... One hell of a book. (Toby Litt The Herald, Books of the Year)

Downright irresistible (Ben Thomson Independent on Sunday, Books of the Year)

A combination of fastidiousness and freakout fervour means Copendium achieves its own aim of being an alternative head's guide to all and every music. It also documents a history just passed. Cope will always make us want to listen to this music again. He has also captured why the process of discovering it has changed forever. (Wire)

Book Description

Copendium by Julian Cope - the visionary musician, antiquarian and musicologist - is an alternative history of the last six decades of popular music.

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Julian Cope has paid due care and attention to his Head Heritage base of operations since its early, humble mail-away days and 'Copendium' is one of many impressive results worth checking up on.

Since getting hooked-up each month to feature a Drudion Julian has also reviewed an album of the month, some brand new, others decades old with no pre-requisites on genre, style or length. All of them are compiled here in alphabetical order, each decade featuring a small introduction to the period.
This material is all ready and available to peruse on Head Heritage, but the mere finger ache of scrolling down through endless obscure and, sometimes, unattractive album covers is a daunting enough task without the miles of backlit text to rummage through. With 'Copendium' everything's available and 'loaded' without the eye-ache that comes from heavy websurfing and it's far more encouraging. The 'Copendium' itself is big, black, and bears a very heavy presence; like all his others it's a very pretty book. An added bonus is the astonishing material within.

The extensive contents, glossary and index pages make it clear this isn't something to read and bookmark (but pen and paper may come in handy). It works as more of a resource to come back to and scour through, but Julian's writing style is so endearing it's tough to put the book to one side. Julian refers to himself as an 'erudite barbarian', and his colloquial ramblings certainly reflect that. Meanwhile having everything in pure black and white with zero distractions gives you a reasonable image of what to expect. Julian's enthusiasm shines, and he actually convinces you of the crucial nature of this music.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
You could easily confuse this big, black, mysterious artefact with the monolith from "2001", but don't be misled. One of them is a repository of cosmic wisdom which can transform human consciousness, but the other is just a big old rock on the moon.

The Amazon description and some earlier reviews give you the basics: the book collates Cope's "Album of the Month" reviews, produced over 10 years for his Head Heritage website. The reviews sometimes cover familar names but more often the sounds discussed are beneath the beneath of the underground. They're ordered here along the chronology of the music, grouped into the sixties, seventies and so on, followed by a closing section of "samplers" - imaginary compilations devoted to particular themes or styles ("Danskrocksampler", "Post-Punk Sampler", and so forth). Given that this huge body of work (the book clocks in at around 700 double-columned pages) was produced while Cope was engaged in numerous other projects, you have to doff your horned helmet just at the scale of the achievement. For a volubly self-styled Odinist, Cope has one hell of a Protestant work ethic.

That's quantity, and it's admirable. But what makes the difference is quality, and, let's face it, Cope is the best rock writer since Lester Bangs took his forged prescription to the great dodgy pharmacy in the sky, because, as well as being superb entertainers, they're the only two writers on rock music whose prose is itself (in all senses but the boringly literal) magnificient rock music. Cope's writing is by turns enraged, passionate, hilarious, ecstatic, bitchy, perceptive and confrontational. It's always exhilarating and imaginative, it's almost consumed by its own energy, it never takes received wisdom at face value and it's largely untroubled by self-doubt.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Had I not known that Arch Drude Julian was a devotee of the late great Lester Bangs, I would surely know it within a few minutes of reading from the Copendium. We really should give thanks for this book, it's quite brilliant and for my money there is no rock journalist out there who writes with such soul, passion, spirituality and outright enthusiasm. It isn't a pastiche of Bangs' style or even derivative of it, this is very much its own thing, but I haven't read a music journalist since Lester where the writing was a rewarding pleasure in itself, knowledge of the music was not necessary for the enjoyment, Julian's writing delivers a similar magic. Nick Kent came close, and his collection 'The Dark Stuff', whilst highly entertaining just lacks that indefinable something, the utter uniqueness that Cope's writing has in abundance.

Years ago Cope wrote a magnificent piece on garage punk psychedelia for NME or Melody Maker, where he added a lot of made up facts, the piece was more creative writing than factual. The point was, it did not matter, he had managed to capture the beguiling qualities of the bands and their toons. I'm sure most of the Copendium is factually accurate but again he manages to capture the essence of his subject and points out and justifies why they must be celebrated. Julian also has impeccable taste, I was aware of a good 70% of the subject matter and I truly believe Cope has done the world a favour by celebrating the joys of little known bands like Electric Eels and Rocket From The Tombs. The stuff I don't know about, I will be researching in the near future, Cope's recommendations have never let me down before.
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