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Julian Cope - Saint Julian

  by Jon Rogers

published: 24 / 1 / 2013

Julian Cope - Saint Julian
Label: Select Label
Format: N/A


Jon Roger reflects on ex-Teardrop Explodes front man Juian Cope's recently re-released third solo album, 'Saint Julian'

When 'Saint Julian' was released in 1987 - his first album for Island - Julian Cope had undergone something of a metamorphosis. Out was the rather hippie-ish, Syd Barrett inspired tones of 1984's 'Fried'. He'd cleaned himself up, cut his mop of hair, donned a pair of leather trousers (and jacket) and proclaimed himself a rock god. And discovered the secret of a great pop tune. Albeit a rather left-field one. Rock clichés were kept to a minimum but Cope hadn't quite dropped all that new age/hippie philosophy, and he knew how to attract attention with, er, lively gigs, and not to forget that customised mike stand he had, which resembled a climbing frame. A friend tells a tale of going to see him during the subsequent tour where Cope made a typical idiosyncratic entrance. Instead of the usual walk on stage to applause, Cope had obviously climbed up into the lighting rig before the start and when it was time for the gig to start he just jumped down directly onto the stage to start things off. Which all made for an interesting mixture that manifested in 'Saint Julian', which would become his best-selling album. 'Saint Julian' is undoubtedly Cope's most commercial sounding album and nowadays some of the production values - on songs like 'Planet Ride' - sound rather out datof e but it still manages to captivate. While Cope's life was moving forward and progressing on from his loveable loon persona on 'Fried', 'Saint Julian' saw him looking into the past for inspiration. One of the album's standout tracks, 'Spacehopper', dates back to his days with singer Ian McCulloch and Pete Wylie in the Crucial Three. and the spectre of 60's garage bands, like the 13th Floor Elevators, hangs over all the album. As does the more radio-friendly US rock acts like Alice Cooper. 'Saint Julian' might have a bright and shiny sheen all over it, but at its heart is a feral rock beast. There is the unashamed 'rawk' thrash of 'Pulsar' and Cope isn't afraid of a thinly (very thinly) veiled double entendre, with the opening lines of 'Spacehopper': "I've got a spacehopper, baby, but it's strictly one seater/You've got to hold on tight to my special feature". And also contains the even less subtle "Going down, going down, going down on you". Fnarr. Perhaps not quite on the same level of rock letharios like Robert Plant or Jim Morrison but Cope can hold his own when it comes to dodgy couplets. Still, you suspect that Cope - at least partially - has his tongue in his cheek at those sort of line. Elsewhere 'Saint Julian' has plenty to admire with the likes of the opener 'Trampoline' which, er, just bounces along, the lush 'Eve's Volcano', the aforementioned 'Spacehopper' and the defiant 'World Shut Your Mouth'. Cope may have then gone to write arguably more accomplished works like 'Peggy Suicide' and 'Jehovahkill' but for sheer exuberance and some great, catchy singalong tunes 'Saint Julian' really can't be beaten. Inevitably, as with any of these repackaged deluxe editions you not only get a brand new edition of the remastered album but an extra CD of bonus material. In this case b-sides that accompanied the singles and some extended versions and remixes of the more popular tunes. Inevitably it's a very mixed bag. Some probably deserve to be left in the dusty confines of obscurity but it does also shed some light on Cope's creative thinking at the time with covers of the 13th Floor Elevators '(I've Got) Levitation' and an interesting take on Pere Ubu's 'Non Alignment Pact'. In essence, worth a listen but all far from essential listening. But the album itself, despite sounding dated at times. is a lovely bundle of fun.

Track Listing:-

Picture Gallery:-
Julian Cope - Saint Julian

Julian Cope - Saint Julian

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Interview (2002)
Julian Cope - Interview
Donald Ross Skinner played guitar for Julian Cope between 1984 and 1994, and rejoined him for his last 2 tours. He has also played with a lot of other bands including AMP and Tiger. Anthony Strutt catches up with him to talk about his fascinating career

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