jimboo wrote:Sometimes , I think that because of the music he has championed over the years he feels like he has to follow the same path. He himself isn't easily or naturally the kind of artist he so admires.
And yet in at least one sense he is. I remember in the very first JC interview I ever read (in CREEM
. the Teardrops' first American tour), he noted that most of his heroes were artists who were as capable of awfulness as they were of brilliance (he specifically cited Beefheart and Tim Buckley, though he could as easily have named Scott Walker, who he gushed about elsewhere in the interview).
As a result of that interview, if not that particular observation (which I could certainly relate to), Julian Cope became possibly the last musician I decided I liked just from reading about him, before I'd heard a note.
Lucky for him. The first notes I heard were a radio-broadcast live performance from The Bayou in Washington, D.C. on the aforesaid tour and great goddess a-mighty was it ever woeful. Cope's singing was persistently out of tune, as were the trumpets; his "improvisations" (including lyrics on some of the newer songs) were utterly uninspired, flailing; his between-song patter was awkward and desultory. At the end, he glumly thanked the audience for their patience (they were far more enthusiastic than the performance warranted), and slunk off.
Oh, well. I was young and dumb, and I bought the fucking records anyway. Domestic, imports, LPs, 45s, EPs, and all. (Now that I'm old
and dumb, I buy it all again, every time they trot out a new package with even more never-before-heard extra shit, most of which will probably never be heard again.)Kilimanjaro
was a fine, fine thing, but Wilder
was the one that really flipped me out. I know that that goes contrary to the accepted order of things, but I was there, and that's how it went down. I listened to it at least once a day for MONTHS, poring over that fantastic cover with the gold leaf lettering and inner sleeve with some alternate lyrics and odd asides and a writer's credit for a song called "Butcher's Tale (Western Front 1914)" which inexplicably didn't appear on the record itself (which made my subsequent discovery of Odessey & Oracle
that little bit even more
delightful than it would have been anyway). (When Wilder
finally secured an American release - a full YEAR after the British one - it sported a different, inferior cover and a screwed-up track sequence. I wanted to KILL Mercury Records.) (Mind you, the US Kilimanjaro was better than the UK one!)
If I don't love Wilder quite
as much now as I did when I was sixteen... well, I still love it, anyway.
After writing all that, I don't have the patience or the will to say much about Cope's post-Teardrops career, except to reiterate that he has been every bit as archly inconsistent as his heroes (I recently reacquainted myself with the Droolian
album, only to swear "never again")... and that I could forgive him just about anything and everything for his two volumes of memoirs, and especially for that most magical of albums Fried
- a work of holy illumination whose heroically logic-defying mix of extreme emotional fragility and righteous flamboyance make it an inspiration for the ages.
Long may he drool.