on 10 December 2003
There are many Cope-related compilations (The Hit, Leperskin, The Collection, Piano), but this remains the best one- despite the fact it doesn't have anything from later albums such as Jehovahkill (which sadly got him dropped by Island), Autogeddon, 20 Mothers & Interpreter. Floored Genius (now a series of Cope albums, the sequels focusing on more obscure cuts & sessions)is a four-phase overview of Cope's career.
Phase One is a six track trawl through the Teardrop Explodes, focusing on the obvious hits (Reward, Treason#2, Bouncing Babies#2, Passionate Friend) alongside the re-recorded Sleeping Gas & Wilder's closing ballad The Great Dominions. Can't argue, but it does leave off many a classic Teardrops track, nothing from the Zoo-singles (collected on Piano) & missing such tracks as When I Dream (not about Courtney Love, she hadn't met Cope when he wrote it!), Bent Out of Shape, The Culture Bunker, Tiny Children, Rachel Built a Steamboat, Strange House in the Snow, You Disappear from View, Suffocate, Christ Vs Warhol etc. Teardrops wise you're much better off with the 2000 reissues of Kilimanjaro & Wilder...
Phase Two consists of four tracks from Cope's wilderness years in bankruptcy and assumed lunancy (see Repossessed), a pair of tracks each from World Shut Your Mouth (1983) and Fried (1984, Morrissey's favourite album that year!): singles Greatness & Perfection (pop heaven) & Sunspots (pop ecstasy) and the standard Reynard the Fox (Syd fronts The Doors after too much English poetry and LSD). There's also the gorgeous An Elegant Chaos, whose lyrics about cows & herd make me think of Nietszche for some reason! Brilliant lyrics! But sadly we're missing much from this era- Crazy Farm Animal, Me Singing, Land of Fear, Strasbourg, Sunshine Playroom, Hey High Class Butcher, Hobby & my fave Quizmaster. Again, the reissues of WSYM and Fried are the best bet!
Phase Three takes in Copey's flirtation with mainstreat rock, stemming from the quite good Saint Julian album (1987) and the patchy My Nation Underground (1988)- where Cope hit a dead end that would lead to his early 1990s epiphany. The three tracks from St Julian are sound, World Shut Your Mouth a song that finally found its title, suitably sounding like Hang on Sloopy & Get Off My Cloud. Trampolene is almost as great, despite being mauled by Deacon Blue a few years later, wonderful guitar rock that urinates over recent pseuds like Hives & Strokes. Nice to see Spacehopper also, a track that still screams out for an Iggy cover, title courtesy of Ian McCulloch, who was too cool to use the line, "I've got a spacehopper baby, but it's strictly one-seater!". These are the best choices from St Julian, though Shot Down ought to be mentioned, as well as b-sides like Disaster. The right tracks stem from My Nation, though I'd probably have added the gorgeous I'm Not Losing Sleep also. Crap album though, real stinker!
Phase Four sees Copey go odd and adventerous again- 1989/1990 saw the release of the ultra-rare albums Skellington (1989) and Droolian (1990) where Copey got his weird kicks on and reacted against his trad behaviour of the last few years. From Skellington we get the great Out of My Mind on Dope & Speed (though we could have had Incredibly Ugly Girl also, which I think might be about Courtney Love. And where is the great Robert Mitchum???); while from Droolian we get Jellypop Perky Jean (covered by Sean Hughes on his Ch4 comedy show and on the 20 Golden Showers album Hughes did with Fatima Mansions' Cathal Coughlan)- which is a lovely ode to a tube of Japanse hair gel! I'd have liked When Will I Get to Hold You also & Unisex Cathedral, whilst we're at it! The final three tracks come from 1991's double-set Peggy Suicide, the singles Beautiful Love (Copey goes baggy) and East Easy Rider (rejected for a film or an advert, I can't remember) and one of Cope's strongest songs, Safesurfer. This veers off into epic Dave Gilmour/Crazy Horse territory (see Shine On You Crazy Diamond, Cortez the Killer)& concerns safe-sex, which was a more stark issue back in that period. Plenty of stuff left off- the Michael Franti-remix of Soldier Blue, Port of Saints, Double Vegetation, Drive She Said etc.
& it would be wrong to write off Cope here, as such great songs as Fear Loves This Place, I Have Always Been Here Before, Upwards at 45, Poet is Priest,Try Try Try, Wheelbarrow Man, Don't Call Me Mark Chapman, Cryingbabiesleeplessnights, Highway to the Sun, Dust & Planetary Sit In all came after this. Perhaps Cope should get the box-set treatment?; still a good primer in most things Cope...