Album Review: Julian Cope (re-issue)

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Julian Cope -‘St. Julian.’ (Island/Universal)

Julian Cope’s third solo album from 1987 stands as one of the best things he’s ever done. Certainly, it’s an album I fell in love with when I first heard it (admittedly, a decade after its initial release), but I’m encouraged to say that twenty-five years plus after its release, this is an album that has dated extremely well.

After the split of the Teardrop Explodes, his first two solo albums World Shut Your Mouth and Fried gave the impression of someone who was heading down the Nick Drake or Roky Erikkson route. Now our hero embraced his inner rock God -far enough removed from the post-punk scene of Liverpool in the late 1970s to be able to do so -and got on with creating an album that consisted of brilliant anthems.

‘World Shut Your Mouth’ (the song, and nothing to do with the earlier album) saw him back on Top Of The Pops and writing a hit that would continue to be played decades later, and may well be his best- known song. But other songs -not just the singles ‘Trampoline’ and ‘Eve’s Volcano’ -like ‘Spacehopper’ and ‘Screaming Secrets’ showed someone who was becoming more comfortable in his own skin.

And yet he hadn’t forgotten we he had come from. The second disc includes b-sides and covers of ‘Non- alignment Pact’ and ‘I’ve Got Levitation’ and the evidence that he could still experiment. Like the recent Marianne Faithfull re-issue of Broken English, this is an album from Island’s back catalogue where not only is the main album great, but the second disc is illuminating into the making of the album.

Twenty-five years since this album, Cope continues to write, record and perform, not just as Julian Cope, but also waking up the world to Japanese Rock Music, reinvigorating an interest in krautrock at a time when Britpop was the norm, and an intense scholarly approach to stone circles. A true original, this is a welcome place to into the world of the self-styled Saint Julian.

****1/2

Saint Julian is re-issued by Island/Universal on February 4.

The album’s big hit on Top Of The Pops in 1986, with THAT curious mike stand…

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