my waking dream won’t go away…

1994, the year I left the old- country for the new world and the year Cope released Autogeddon.

I read Heathcote Williams poem before listening to Autogeddon the first time, this was actually years before listening as it was part of my anarchist past, and letting you know that would ruin the flow of the story which I have already done. I was 23 at the time and full of fire and anger and outrage. I was 28 when I bough Autogeddon and still full of outrage, although it was moving into cynicism by them and less anger, the anger is back though. It was easier to be outraged than dealing with leaving  all that I actually knew 6000 miles behind me and heading to the West Coast.

Go on read it: Autogeddon  it really is a powerful poem.

I had moved to the USA and bought Autogeddon on CD at Music Millennium on Burnside in Portland, probably the second best record store in the entire world, after Probe Records in Liverpool. Well at least when it was on Button St. I am not so sure about the sad memory of a store by the Bluecoat. Take a look, it is still a great store and it may have actually been instrumental in the creation of record store day, I have no idea, I don’t go there too often anymore as it’s a long way and I don’t have enough money: Music MIllenium. It used to be walking distance form our third apartment. This was dangerous.

I remember listening to Autogeddon in the car, there’s irony for you. We didn’t have a CD player in the house at the time and I had hooked a discman, remember them, up to the cassette player in the car via a weird cassette with a headphone jack attached to it. I am sure that fidelity of sound was not something to write home about, but it worked.

Bits and pieces of Ain’t no gettin’ round gettin’ round used to rattle around my head on the drive to work and back late at night. All disjointed, making no sense.

“Yes today I just feel so confused…

I need a car to get me around…

Ain’t no gettin’ round gettin’ round…”

I would drive on the the interstate, wide roads limited to 55mph the only person out there it felt at midnight.

We were waiting for our stuff to be shipped out from the UK, they were probably in some container out in the Atlantic and waiting to arrive. The CD’s and records were all in boxes somewhere out there, until they arrived I was stuck with Copey and Autogeddon and whatever I could borrow form my father-in-law which ran largely to blues and some singer songwriter albums.

I loved this album, I lived it, driving back and forth to work, eating crappy drive through food and drinking coffee. We had a Chevy Celebrity and it smelled of cigarettes and old people and spilled milk, some of these smells we were responsible for and others came with the car.

At some point the car got stolen and we got the car back without the CD’s. I hope whoever got it really got messed up trying to understand what Autogeddon had to do with the BB King, Buddy  Guy and Lyle Lovett albums. I never owned Autogeddon after that, I occasionally looked for the vinyl but it was too expensive.

So when they released the 25th Anniversary Mega Super Box Edition of this manic collection of wigged out anti-vehicular mayhem last year I had to buy it, 7inch singles, EP’s and the album, what more could you want in a re-release? Who was worried about the price at this point it was necessary and wonderful and a blast from a past that was equal parts terrifying, sad and wonderful.

It is a massively confusing weirdly entertaining, funky psychedelic freak out of an heathen blow out.

It sure is a pretty package as well, look at that cloth covered box, it may have got a bit dusty.

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Then there is the iconic album cover from the Vilage of Druid in Corwen which a certain blogger will rejoice in  Wales’ place in this anarchic album.

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There is also the E.P. of Paranormal in the West Country recorded originally in the West Kennet Long Barrow, which everyone should go sit on and be still for awhile.

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And then there is the affect of listening to all this which Syd definitely manages to capture here:

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rockin’ good rockin’ good rockin’ tonight…

The essence of obscure.

IMG_2316.JPGReleased in Texas as a benefit for Roxy Erikson in May 1990. The second installment of Copes Lo-Fi efforts, recorded and mastered over three days from two used C90 cassettes it surely must be due for the remaster one day.

It has everything that you want late at night, meandering solos, rambling guitars and mumbled confused lyrics.  At times it is reminiscent of one of those acid drenched camp outs we all heard about and never got invited to.

Safe Surfer is abridged without affecting the sense of the song, Jelly Pop Perky Jean is still maybe one of the best pop songs Cope has ever written an dKelly may be one of the best tunes I have heard tonight.

I am in no way going to attempt explaining what any of this is really about apart from that it makes me smile. Considering the current messed upedness that we are all inevitably faced with this is no mean or inconsiderable feat. It is reassuring that there are still genuine eccentrics left in the world to amuse, bemuse and confuse us.

I defy anyone  not to enjoy the cover art as well.

 

 

 

 

oh, oh, oh what’re you doin???

I like My Nation Underground, yes it’s a pop record, isn’t it all pop music after all?

What I really like though is that because of it Cope holed up in the studio and made the perfection of Skellington. I have no c story of what the album means to me, it does however consistently make me smile every time I play it.

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It’s as if Cope downloaded the thoughts he was having at the time onto the record, that’s not necessarily a comforting experience.

I needed a smile so I played Skellington, happy new year…

Until you realize it’s just a story…

In 1981 I was a pretty shallow young person. I was also distracted much of the time and prone to impulsive decisions.

This led to all sorts of interesting situations that would develop very quickly if there was not a guiding a hand in place. When the firm guiding hand of mentorship and usually parental concern was removed all sorts of random things could happen. Suddenly I may be careering towards the motorway on a go-cart constructed from odds and ends found on the tip or seeing how far that reconstructed chopper bike would jump over broken glass. Much of my late teens seemed to be involved with putting various pieces of junk together that other people had left behind with my strange raggle taggle cohort of friends and neighbors.

I led a strange life riding three busses from my suburban home to the privileged school I had managed to test into. This was a two hour journey in the days before walkmans and other personal ways of hearing music. I was also one of the free places so was often treated with disdain by my more privileged class mates, actually I was just socially a little awkward and not the most gregarious your person so probably did not reach out. Also those kids at school had no real interest it seems in re-purposing junk.

One afternoon while watching the TV, probably some Saturday morning kids show I came across a music video, some sort of para-military band of musicians rolling around in somewhat military looking machines playing instruments in a militaristic way. Then the truth hit, shit that lead singer is wearing the best freaking jacket I have ever seen and I want it. In this way began my love for the Teardrop Explodes and Julian Cope. I still want that jacket, although I have never found one that a sane person could afford. However suddenly I was an instant fan which did not sit well with the Def Leppard and Scorpions loving contingent that I hung with at school.

This led to my early morning playing of the curiously named Kilimanjaro by the Teardrop Explodes and if you want to hear jaunty pop hooks overlaid by psychedelia then this is the perfect album to go to. Later on I learned Cope had attended the CF Mott college. This was the closest that my little village had managed to producing fame until Sporty Spice left. It was also a matter of crossing the dump and then sneaking over the golf course and avoiding the missiles to get to the college. It’s a business park now and the dump is a nature preserve but Kilimanjaro is still as it was in 1981 a near perfect pop album.

Here is the strange dump that filled so much of my childhood. It seems less interesting somehow, it is probably more acceptable to the community though.

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Here they are those subversive para-militarists. Actually the band look like pleasant young men who were playing soccer five minutes before the picture. They seem to have bought along their maniacally grinning friend who was probably placed in defense in order to not interfere with the more talented players. In his head though were all sorts of subversive thoughts and ideas waiting to emerge.

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every man is frightened…

Come to my promised land…

Where is your promised land? Somewhere safe, with loved ones a small cul de sac, or a quiet acre? It’s hard to figure it out, to know for sure to be aware to be awake.

As John Wayne would say my dad had the “big C.” diagnosis, take the kidney and it’ll be alright you have two, oh no what’s that with with the liver? Let’s do a scan. Damn now we have an infection and you have to leave. 6000 miles with no-one to talk to and nothing to keep you company but music and thoughts and books. Let’s read a detective story a flawed Scotsman or Montana sheriff, you decide. Guilt, loneliness, relief, concern all mixed up in a big ball of anxiety.

The blues had a baby and the bastard couldn’t sing…

Oh good nobody is going to sit next to me, I can stretch out. In and out of sleep, watching bad movies, not drinking the coffee you have to pay for, why is there no knife for the scone? Listening to music on noise cancelling headphones, lip reading but not  making eye contact because the guilt of having more space than others may overpower you. Nodding off again and again, 10 hours and 50 minutes never felt so long before, how can they be so exact, where did the 50 minutes come from? Landing two hours after leaving, how did that happen?

Idiot son of Donkey Kong…

L.A. sucks, coming in to land  one continuous concrete wasteland, the rivers dry and funneled through artificial channels, not even river beds. They look cool on the screen as Arnold throws his motorcycle along but in reality they are an obscenity. It’s so hot, waiting to get off the plane two hours to make the connection back to the cool Oregon landscape. First there is Customs, damn so many people, how am I going to do this, answer the questions, fingerprints and pictures taken by the machine. Then there is the cry, residents and citizens this way, out to get the bags, I may make this half hour to go, through the check pick up the bag, pass it on, move to TSA, 20 minutes now. Sit in the lounge.

and hear my cries…

“You’re not in the computer.” Fateful words. Slumping the shoulders, sweating in the heat, desperate to get home, only 2 hours away or so. Grab the boarding pass, stagger down the strange purple lit corridor of the Virgin jet, recently bought by Alaska Airlines but they haven’t changed the paint or the decor, disorientation sets in like some  flashback you weren’t expecting. Sit down hold on almost there.

Crawl on your knees down collision drive…

Fall off the plane, you’re there, alone with your thoughts, the guilt, the pain, at least they are alive, alone and holding on to each other, abandoned and helpless. Greet the family or well one third of them, hugs smiles and relief you’re there to help with the newborn, Alzheimer’s and the rest of the shit life has thrown up all over the back seat of the car. 40 minutes to go, grab some food, well KFC. The colonel knew what he was doing, saturated fats, chicken and coleslaw.

I know what you did…

No headphones but the music plays on in your head, why play the same album for so many hours?

Say make believe it ain’t so wrong…

48 hours later, listening to the same album again, this time the record not the download. Flashbacks and stutters, what happened?

When do I have to go back, are they alright. FaceTime and texts, long distance care. Do they tell the truth about how they are. Would life have been easier before instant communication, when families lost touch forever once a member left, faded letters and crackly phone calls.

Now waiting for the answers the scan may provide. Or the further questions.

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You know we can’t do this without each other, fateful last words.

I can feel my head exploding now…

I can’t believe you’re trampling me…

I remember the Royal Court Theater sometime in the late 80’s. A sweaty writhing festival of bouncing and pummeling and shouting. A deranged individual hanging from the mike stand he was riding sweat showering down on the audience.  The music loud and insistent and pervasive. The audience and band one. It was then I realized that the young woman I had brought to the gig was not going home with me. In fact she was not going home with anyone, in fact she had gone home alone and about 10 minutes ago. Or as a matter of fact almost as soon as the wild show that was Julian Cope had staggered onto the stage as his Syd Barrett meets Jim Morrison leather clad rock god persona had arrived.

For about two hours he hollered railed and gyrated his way through the show. There was no thinking, no mercy and only an ego as large as Cope could manage to pull it off. Surrounded by the worshippers at the church of Cope it was easy to forget that I hadn’t wanted to come and had only bought the tickets as a way of getting the young woman I went with to come out with me. She had however become overwhelmed it seems by the event even before it began. Of course a concert at the Royal Court in those days could be pretty overwhelming.

I never saw this young woman again, I never saw Julian Cope again either, maybe it was all a bit overwhelming after all.

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The jury is often out on Cope. He has however managed to meander his way through the pop world doing whatever he wants to do and seemingly only answerable to himself so more power to him, He has also written some of my favorite songs over his albums. If you want a crash course in his early work St. Julian is as good an entry point as any other, it does manage to be a bit more consistent than his other efforts.

 

 

I’ve been awake too long and I’m wondering why…

My friend Andy when I wanted to go all Prog copewould make me listen to this and World Shut Your Mouth.

It’s maybe not the best Julian Cope album ever but it is a whole lot of fun. The tour featured Cope swinging from a mic stand he could climb up on and swing around on like some crazed rock’n’roll monkey.

Soon after this and My Nation Underground Cope stopped even pretending to want to have hit’s and in true rock maverick sense headed for the gutter coming out the other side the arch-drude and with some of his greatest albums ahead of him as well as academic success.

If you want to hear a great power punk/pop record with a sense of humor this is the one, especially Eve’s Volcano and Spacehopper. It is not Cope’s favorite but it does have some great moments and it was always good to bounce around to on a Saturday night and may have saved me from some serious Prog Rock excesses.

131Right now I am reading his novel One Three One, subtitled “A Time-Shifting Gnostic Hooligan Road Novel”, which is requiring way more attention than I really thought it would keeping all the various time streams in place never mind understanding what is going on.

It is an entertaining read though and strangely draws you in with the thought how much of this is really based on reality?