Behold! The Year’s Finest Rock Album: Oliver Hall on Julian Cope’s new one (Arthur, 2007)

Behold! The Year’s Finest Rock Album

by Oliver Hall

Originally posted Dec 11, 2007 on Arthur’s Yahoo blog


Not so long ago, people could hardly wait for albums to come out, and with good reason: the album, for a time, was as good a vehicle for an artist’s ambition as a novel or a movie. The sleeve was a big-ass 12” x 12” art object you could put up on your mantle and scrutinize for days. The record itself had two sides, a formal restriction that forced artists to program their material into two sequences of songs, which meant that the artist was forced to listen to his or her material at least once before dumping it on the marketplace, and also that the artist was encouraged to consider the effect that sequence has on a group of songs. The phrase I most often yell at other motorists in Southern California, “MY WAR SIDE TWO MOTHERF***ER!!!” would have no meaning if Black Flag had not carefully integrated the three songs on that side into a single, illegal experiment in face surgery.

It’s not just because Julian Cope has taken the care to split his latest album, YOUGOTTAPROBLEMWITHME, into two discrete sides that it’s the best album I’ve heard this year, although the sequence is a beauty; to my ear it sounds like the world ends at least twice on side one. No, it’s because Cope’s record, a psychedelic polemic against monotheist religions and a psychic snapshot of the present moment, is only new album I’ve encountered this year (it says “2007 CE” right there on the spine) that fulfills the enduring promise of the New Rock Album. If your local record shop carries it — if there is a local record shop — you will sight it by its yellow, red and black cover, which reproduces a quote from Gore Vidal’s 1992 essay “Monotheism and its Discontents” in all caps and bold type, beginning “THE GREAT UNMENTIONABLE EVIL AT THE CENTER OF OUR CULTURE IS MONOTHEISM” and ending “I NOW FAVOUR AN ALL-OUT WAR ON THE MONOTHEISTS.” Beneath the text, the image of a massive, longhaired heathen rocker banging a bass drum lovingly painted with Cope’s crest (which depicts Odin’s sacrifice of his eye), ought to give you a clue to the sort of freaks you are dealing with: devoted, literate, pagan psychonauts committed to busting their guts and the chthonic Nuggets chords in the expression of Cope’s vision.

Cope’s work (records, books, web — see http://www.headheritage.co.uk) since the landmark album Peggy Suicide has elaborated a mythology and disclosed a scholarly curiosity about the world that makes him seem more and more like a genuine English visionary in the tradition of William Blake. What makes YOUGOTTAPROBLEMWITHME so remarkable is the balance Cope is able to maintain between his own obsessions and the violence of the time, so that Cope’s personal mythology enriches, rather than obscures, his imagination of the lives of different tribes of people trying to live together, or trying not to live together, all over the world. When Cope quotes the piano from the opening bars of Patti Smith’s “Gloria” at the end of the title track, or builds “Can’t Get You Out Of My Country” around the breakdown from Them’s “Gloria,” he’s reminding you that rock’n’roll has always defined the sacred as what’s right there in front of you, and drives the point home by sneering the phrase “invisiblegawwwwd” until it begins to sound like a Homeric epithet. I regret to say that the vinyl sounds like it was mastered by an agent for the casuists, as it is not nearly loud enough for my purposes. Pick up the double cd–the Arch-Drude wants you to listen to it in two “sides”–so you can let those steam-whistle post-Ubu synths get in there good and deep to dismantle your brain stem so you can properly reevaluate your cosmogony.


Oliver Hall is a contributor to ARTHUR MAGAZINE

Audio trailer by JULIAN COPE for his new album “Revolutionary Suicide”

Via headheritage:

Welcome to 2013 and the truly Post-Thatcher Age, and welcome to Julian Cope’s long delayed new album REVOLUTIONARY SUICIDE: eleven sumptuous and highly charged songs that teem with outrageous orchestrations and compellingly-crafted words of protest, activism and historical richness. Weep along with the dreadful beauty of the Archdrude’s most epic ever song ‘The Armenian Genocide’, sway with the bucolic agricultural rhythms and devotional lyrics of ‘Hymn to the Odin’, pump your fists in the air to the Detroit soul of the title-track, or just give yourself entirely to the divine-but-gaping 70-minute-long musical maw, nay, the Hot Mess that is REVOLUTIONARY SUICIDE. New poems? You got it! New concepts? You got it! We got the Mayans’ predictions out the way and we’re all still here. So maybe everything that went before 2013 was just a dry-run for what’s to come. Perhaps you’ll even believe that once you’ve heard the enormous scope and vision of REVOLUTIONARY SUICIDE.

Annnnnnnd… Julian is now on Twitter.

The Clash’s 1985 Busking Tour of Britain

Julian Cope directly referenced this little-remembered, hard-to-fathom episode in late Clash history, from the period after Mick Jones had disastrously been removed from the band, with his three-day “Joe Strummer Memorial Busking Tour” in October, 2008. (Check that tour’s impressive itinerary here — then search youtube to see video highlights — there are many). I’d love to know more about The Clash’s tour (are there any videos? etc). For now, though, there’s this…

From Passion Is a Fashion: The Real Story of The Clash by Pat Gilbert (2004), p 352-3:

In May 1985, [Clash manager] Bernie Rhodes, [manager] Kosmo [Vinyl] and Joe [Strummer] devised the Clash’s last hurrah—a busking tour of Britain. The idea was that the group would assemble at [guitarist] Vince’s flat, leave their wallets on the table and hitch to Nottingham with a few acoustic guitars. They’d then see where the wind would take them. Over the next two-and-a-half weeks, Britain’s provincial towns and cities were thus treated to the extraordinary sight of The Clash popping up under railway bridges and in subways to entertain them with Monkees, Chuck Berry, Eddie Cochran and Cramps songs.

The group kipped on fans’ floors and in cheap B&Bs. They survived on the money thrown into their hats. It was a genuinely exiting and unpredictable experience. Joe described it as ‘the best tour we ever did.’

Paul [Simonon] agrees. ‘It was like starting out fresh again,’ he says. ‘It was great. “We’ll meet you in Glasgow in a week’s time,” and the idea was to leave everything behind other than the guitars. You couldn’t take any money with you. We survived by our wits. It was as exciting as the Anarchy tour, you never knew where you were going next. I remember we were in Leeds, it was 2 a.m., and it was outside this black club, and people were coming out and really digging us. There were two white guys and they were shocked it was us. They said, “Where you staying?” And we said, “We’re not staying anywhere,” so they invited us to stay at their mum’s. The money we made from busking meant we could go further, we didn’t have a plan of where to go next. There was no rules. You didn’t have to be on the so-and-so plane at twelve o’clock.’

Julian Cope on Gurdjieff

“Today we commemorate the death of the prophet and gnostic George Ivanovich Gurdjieff, who died sixty-one years ago in Neuilly, near Paris, surrounded by a large group of sobbing followers. Somewhat like William Blake’s notion of having been a ‘sent man’, Gurdjieff was throughout his life obsessed with what he called his ‘Being Duty’, his unyielding belief that his role was to serve others by lending them his expertise in navigating the great problems of life…”

Continues: onthisdeity.com

SPADES & HOES & PLOWS by David Wrench

SPADES & HOES & PLOWS is the third solo album by Welsh producer, pianist and songwriter David Wrench, and was commissioned for Julian Cope’s Black Sheep by Cope and Fat Paul. The album presents four traditional folk themes from the British Isles, all performed in an eerily upfront and cadaverous manner, reminiscent of such late black metal as Furze, or perhaps a radical hybrid of Andrew King and an acoustic Khanate. But this is hardly a radical new course for Wrench, whose obsessions with cultural marginalia began as long ago as the late 80s with Nid Madagascar, his Welsh language acid house band. In 1997, Wrench released the turbulent BLOW WINDS BLOW, a dark set of songs influenced by Peter Hammill and John Cale. As the co-leader of the short-lived glam-sleaze duo Bubblegun, Wrench grabbed the ear of Julian Cope, whose particularly enjoyed the earnest electro-ballad ‘Beautiful Cunt’. David Wrench’s next solo album was THE ATOMIC WORLD OF TOMORROW, a horny melange of politically charged hi-energy synth pop. As an Engineer/Producer and Mixer, he has recently worked with Caribou, mixing most of the new album Swim, and previous album ANDORRA, engineering the Mercury prize nominated TWO SUNS by Bat For Lashes, WHEN THE HAAR ROLLS IN by James Yorkston, and producing the critically acclaimed albums GOODBYE FALKENBURG by Race Horses, GOTHIC ROAD by Jackie Leven, MIRACLE INN and BORE DA by Euros Childs, and THE QUICKENING by Kathryn Williams. He recently was awarded the BBC Radio Cymru C2 award of Producer of the Year for the 3rd time. He joined Julian Cope’s group Black Sheep in 2008, performing vocals on their 2009 album KISS MY SWEET APOCALYPSE 2.

More info: http://www.headheritage.co.uk/spades-and-hoes-and-plows/

IT'S SOLD OUT BUT IT'S UM…FINDABLE

BRAIN DONOR

“WASTED FUZZ EXCESSIVE”

BRAIN DONOR RECORDS
9918-4

Tracklisting:

Invocation: The Mead of Fimbulthul
1. GATES OF SKAGERRAK
2. DEATH BECOMES YOU
3. DYSLEXIA RULES K.O.
4. EMERGING/SHADOW OF MY CORPSE
5. FRANKENSTEIN
6. FOKKINGER SLAG/THE HANGING

WASTED FUZZ EXCESSIVE is the long awaited follow-up to Brain Donor’s 2006CE’s epic DRAIN’D BONER, this new album continuing in those dark traditions of declaimed metallic poetry, but extending further into works of epic construction and length. Driven by No Wave riffs and hoary proto-metal assaults, this Donor record burns at both ends. Here it hangs static and taut, whilst there it endures a rocket fired up its ass due to Mister E’s sudden and marvellous acceleration. The seven songs pan out across over an hour of music, and include Cope’s infamous stereo bass solo ‘Shadow of My Corpse’, previewed on his last tour. For those with a mind to listen to the far out, have it destroyed by the might of WASTED FUZZ EXCESSIVE. U-Know it makes sense … to somebody!

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A Freak-Out(ting): Julian Cope's CORNUCOPEA festival (Spring 2000)

cornucopea

Souvenir CD Programme given away to Cornucopea Festival goers, still available for purchase from Head Heritage.


Cosmic Cuckoos: Julian Cope and pagans against the machine
By Jay Babcock

First published Thursday, May 18 2000 in the LAWeekly

Because we have our own aural tradition and need for congregation with like minds . . . because we can’t, not all of us, get our knickers in a twist about the muffler-rock of Testosterostock 2000 (Metallica, Korn and Kid Rock at the Coliseum, July 15, mark your calendars!) . . . because the airwaves are clean and there‘s nobody singing to me . . . Because of all that, I find myself here in London, jet-lagged and double-lagered, listening to Julian Cope.

Yes, that Julian Cope. Ex-leader of the Teardrop Explodes, the early-’80s Liverpudlian post-punk group with a sizable cult following. Solo artist with a minor pre-alternative hit (the anthemic “World Shut Your Mouth”). A petulant, paranoid near-rock star freakoid who in true “VH1 Behind the Music” fashion succeeded in alienating his band, his fans, his record label and, finally, himself before a series of revelations in 1989 shifted him in a newly “aware” direction.

Cope went hypernova and deep-historical—from town frier to town crier, from “Saint Julian” to “The Arch-Drood,” from Syd Barrett-esque acid-gobbler to full-throttle goddess-worshippin‘ Mystic Brother No. 1, becoming a self-conscious subscriber to Dadaist artist Hugo Ball’s dictum that “Artists are Gnostics, and practice what the priests think is long forgotten.” Now confident in his role as “Shamanic Rock & Rolling Inner-Space Cadet,” Cope released an extraordinary series of artistically ambitious albums on Island (and, later, American) that, in the music-industry scheme of things, were underperforming commercial failures, and he ended up without a major-label recording contract.

Today, Cope spends his days out on Ur-Pagan Patrol near Silbury Hill, raising a family, self-releasing a number of limited-edition mail-order records, overseeing a fantastic Web site (headheritage.co.uk) and, in the last six years, laboring over a clutch of obsessive, entertaining books, including two hilarious autobiographies (Head-on in ‘94 and Repossessed in ’99, now out in one convenient $19.95 paperback volume), a crash course in Krautrock (‘95’s essential Krautrocksampler), and ‘98’s The Modern Antiquarian: A Pre-Millennial Odyssey Through Megalithic Britain, a scholarly study of Britain‘s pre-Christian megalithic sacred sites, now in its third printing.

Clad in leopard-skin tights and knee-high platform jackboots, Cope ventures into the city rarely and reluctantly to report, bardexplorerlike, his findings to The People. And so “Cornucopea”: two early-spring weekend nights at London’s South Bank Centre of Cope-curated space-rock ambient-glitter bubble-metal protest-blues, starring a host of artists and, of course, Mr. Cope himself. A sounding of the horn of plenty. A celebration of mystery, whimsy, eccentricity—of Supreme Oddness. A festival for the cuckoos. Continue reading

Notes from the Editorial Office

atlantis

Happy monday,

Just a quick catch-up on Arthur doings.

We’ve got some new comics up on the blog, including an outta-nowhere submission from cartoonist Owen Cook remembering the great Dickie Peterson, bassist-vocalist of Blue Cheer, who R.I.P.’d on October 15. For an appreciation-in-text, have a good gander at Julian Cope’s just-posted “The Godlike Genius of Blue Cheer”, with its attendant Cheer stream. That’ll do ya.

“Weedeater” columnist Nance Klehm talks to folks who’ve been communicating with plants recently. ‘Nuff said.

Speaking of plant/human communication… Arthur proudly presents, or welcomes, or something, the Emerald Triangle Tour ’09 band of troubadours traveling around California this week celebrating the annual marijuana harvest. Catch the four chaps—Farmer Dave Scher, Andy Cabic (Vetiver), Jonathan Wilson and Johnathan Rice—playing their own and each other’s songs this week at a roadhouse near you.

Byron Coley and Thurston Moore claim they are prepping another Bull Tongue Top Ten, after their return to the electrofold just two weeks ago. Stay on your toes, ladies and gents.

“Do the Math” columnist Dave Reeves will be back with Part IV of his controversial “Defend Brooklyn” expose after he’s done with his latest gypsy roaming. Commentability has been restored to this series of posts, against our better judgment. I guess we’re hoping against hope that somebody will post something interesting in the Comments section, which does occasionally happen—see reader J. Reed clueing us in to his newly posted Lionel Ziprin videos

We’re posting Chapters 5-8 of Vanessa Veselka’s incendiary new novel Zazen, this week, one a day from Monday to Thursday. Because it sucks to read longer texts on the internet, we’re offering each chapter as a downloadable, fully printable PDF. Print em out, you’ve got a book.

One more thing: yeah I know it says on the FAQ that Arthur is returning as a print magazine this fall ’09 but that ain’t happening, not with the economy the way it is. We don’t have the $$$ to start this baby up again and lose money month after month while we wait for things to “return”—especially when the ability to pay minimal bills via advertising and merch revenue may never return (not that it was ever enuff in the first place—oy vey!). But, hope springs eternal. Like, hope that people will buy ad space, or purchase a DVD or a CD or a back issue or a poster at the Arthur Store, or perhaps even tax-deductibly donate whatever they can spare. That’ll help keep Arthur in motion, on one plane or another…

Gratefully,
Jay