Julian Cope: St Julian

    juliancope_1_1355476401

    Musically many great things have spawn from the city of Liverpool with some obviously making major impacts on the direction and life of music. One giant moment is often overlooked or under- appreciated though and that is the formation and subsequent demise of Crucial Three. The punk rock band was a swift breath in the history of UK music which left without posing any footprint in the dirt of rock or a live note explored in its six weeks of existence. What it did do was make the first step for three important figures to ignite their creative imagination. From its brief life came forth singer Ian McCulloch obviously to be famed with Echo & the Bunnymen, guitarist Pete Wylie who went on to make equally impressive sounds and flavours through the varied guises of Wah and his solo work, and the ‘genius’ Julian Cope. The future Teardrop Explodes frontman maybe a flawed genius but lyrically and musically deserves to be placed within those realms. Equally there will be as many who will offer the other extreme of opinion on the ‘eccentric’ artist but for those he ignites the passions of he is one of the true greats.

The re-release of his St Julian album in a deluxe edition triggers all the rapture and pleasure which was rife around the man at the time and through those heady Teardrop Explodes days of the late seventies. Bringing forth arguably his finest moment as a solo artist certainly commercially, complete with a second disc of B-sides and re-mixes which graced the singles from the album, the release is a potent reminder of the often puzzling but always dramatic imagination and intriguing talent of a man who turned pop rock into an art form, even if often it was not seemingly appreciated sadly.

From those fleeting moments at the very start Cope formed UH? and A Shallow Madness with McCulloch which led to a permanent rift and antagonistic relationship between the two when Cope sacked the latter from the group, and also Nova Mob with Wylie, all again short lived bands. 1978 saw the formation of The Teardrop Explodes with drummer Gary Dwyer, organist Paul Simpson and guitarist Mick Finkler. Cope was the principal songwriter and bassist with a vocal delivery which was as magnetic as it was striking. Two impressive albums and a clutch of acclaimed singles, including Reward which achieved their highest chart entry of 6, followed as did instability in line-up as well as an indulgence in drugs. Cope himself verged on teen idol from the enterprising and successful debut album Kilimanjaro but the band failed to replicate the same triumph with the darker and more expansive Wilder and after a failure to make a third album and a disastrous tour, they split in 1982. The following year Cope began working on his first solo album World Shut Your Mouth, a release which left fans satisfied but failed to spark great positivity from elsewhere though it contained songs which generally held the pop spark of the Teardrops releases whilst being something which seemed to expose personal depths and the struggles of Cope whilst attempting to clean himself up. The 1984 record failed to sell with any strong purpose as did its successor Fried which arrived six months later. It offered a rawer side of his creativity and something new but repeated the lack lustre performance of his first in drawing appreciation and sales outside of his core fan base. Its failure led to Cope being dropped by Mercury Records who had released both albums.

With a new manager Cally Callomon encouraging his final clean-up and a new image and attitude, Cope signed with Island Records UMG_CD_BOOK_SADDLE_JUL00.qxtand released in 1986 St Julian. With a line-up of guitarist Donald Ross Skinner, drummer Chris Whitten ( ex-The Waterboys), and bassist James Eller (ex- Teardrop Explodes) beside him, Cope emerged with a ‘rock god’ persona though even at the time there seemed a delicious tongue in cheek mischief to it all. The songs within the album were big hearted encounters with bulging rhythms, insatiable hooks, and a drama which was compelling. It is one of the classic pop records of the era and anyone who begs to differ should indulge in the rampaging energy and swagger of World Shut Your Mouth, the sultry and compelling elegance of Planet Ride, and the belligerent rock track Pulsar with its Stranglers like snarl all over again. Singles like the fiery Spacehopper, a track which was borne out of writing sessions with Ian McCulloch years earlier, and the pulsating Trampoline, as the album as a whole, stood tall and above the majority of the other now termed classic eighties pop tracks of the time without puzzlingly retaining the retrospective and deserved grand acclaim the rivals bask in.

In hindsight surveying the mass of work from the man since and his apparent and exploratory ‘drive’ to go against the grain and stretch the underground pleasures of sound and creativity, as well as the B-side tracks which supported the singles from St Julian, one wonders if Cope was truly comfortable in this period though with songs rich in his always dramatic and evocative lyrics and sounds which invigorate and thrill with intelligence and instinctive contagiousness, you could never tell. The second disc at times supports the thought with songs like the Celt folk rock voiced Disaster, the mesmeric Almost Beautiful with its ambient majesty , and the dirge toned post punk challenge Warwick The Kingmaker delving into other provocative areas of Cope’s songwriting and invention. A mention for the brilliant cover of the Pere Ubu track Non-Alignment Pact has to be made, the song a classic already given an equally towering breath from Cope to have the passions sparking.

The years and releases since has seen Cope rightfully not compromising in his artistic vision and invention whilst keeping to the shadows to produce music which has ebbed and flowed in stature but is always riveting. Real success has eluded him musically though one senses he is not bothered and is more at ease with his creative powers than in those earlier times. He has also carved out a big and probably more recognition soaked career as a writer of underground music critique/ exploration and on the wide investigative scope of Archaeology and antiquarianism. St Julian is his finest moment for a great many and as the tracks swoop like gods to rile up and split open the heart into rapture it is hard to disagree.

http://www.headheritage.co.uk/

10/10

RingMaster 04/02/2013

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Damn Vandals: Done For Desire

pic Marcus Maschwitz

Anticipation for the debut album from UK rock band Damn Vandals was on a real high after their widely acclaimed Beautiful Mind EP earlier in the year. Could the band match or even improve on what was a remarkable release? Quite simply the band has not only stepped on from the release but to our mind they have with Done For Desire blown it out of the water. The release is a certain front runner for album of the year and is destined for classic status once its might and sheer excellence dawns on the music world.

The London based quartet of vocalist Jack Kansas, guitarist Frank Pick, bassist Adam Kilemore Gardens, and Chris Christianson on drums, has pulled in comparisons which range from Echo and the Bunnymen, Buzzcocks, Pavement, and he band has been suggested as the English version of Queens of The Stone Age. As Done For Desire sent surges of euphoria through the heart with each and every song though the main thought for us was that surely Damn Vandals are the reincarnation of the Fatima Mansions. With the same sharp and imaginative craft lyrically and musically as the outstanding Irish band Damn Vandals add to the carefully shaped caustic and ingenious breath the irresistible addictive hooks of a Teardrop Explodes and the earnest incisive passion found in the previously mentioned Echo and the Bunnymen. This makes for stunning songs and sounds which trigger the fullest thrills and evoke the deepest pleasure whilst vocally Kansas, his voice a glorious hybrid of Cathal Coughlan, Pete Wylie, and Ian McCulloch, adds emotive tones drawn from deep within his heart to wonderfully ignite the already impressive lyrical invention.

Produced by Julian Simmons (Midlake, The Phenomenal Handclap Band, Ed Sheeran, Guillemots, and Goldheart Assembly), Done For Desire immediately leaves one breathless with excitement through opener Revolution / Rehearsal. The lead single from the album leaps upon the ear with slashes of guitar and a bass which prowls the tune like a wolf licking its lips. As Kansas asks questions and provokes with razor sharp lyrics through his impassioned vocals the track boils the air with high voltage energy and scorched melodic strokes to trigger aural addiction, something the album eagerly and persistently builds upon.

The following As Seen On TV bristles with electrified rock intensity whilst again the bass of Kilemore Gardens invites tingles with its dark and burly tones. There is a slight Max Raptor feel to the song and alongside its predecessor the song soon unveils a thrilling diversity within the music of Damn Vandals.

As the likes of the provocative Kids Want Guns and the darkly wanton Sex It Narcissus tease and throb within the ear there is nothing but compliance before the mesmeric presence of the band. The second of the pair takes one on an edge of the seat journey through shadows and a hugely charged musical imagination as potent as it is impassioned.

Though every track is a masterpiece the brilliance of This Amazing and The Revenge Of Spider Toothy hold the heart with an orgasmic power. The first swerves and sways with deliberate mischief within its pulsating energy and the perfectly gathered siren driven hooks and melodies. The track ignites the atmosphere with such fiery enterprise and rhythmic hypnotism brought with immense skill it is hard to see why the song as a single a while ago did not see the band instantly elevated to essential listening.

The second of the pair is a brilliant blend of garage punk and psychobilly. Sounding like the secret offspring from a union of The Cramps, The Horrors in their formative years and Th’ Legendary Shack Shakers, The Revenge Of Spider Toothy stomps over the senses with sheer majesty. The guitar of Pick always outstanding throughout the album leaves trails of flames with his magnificent play on this song whilst the drums of Christianson stalk the ear like a caged animal.

Closing track Beautiful Mind taken from the previous acclaimed EP makes an end as irresistible as the beginning of the album. It swirls around and through the ear like a stunning sunset of sound, its heated magnetism leaving one bursting to the seams with adoration for it and the release as a whole. As much as one looked there is not a single element which the band can be pulled up on within Done For Desire, it is as near to perfection as one can get. If this does not make Damn Vandals one of the biggest presences in UK music then something is seriously wrong with the judgement of people.

Ringmaster 26/07/2012

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

The best and easiest way to get your music on iTunes, Amazon and lots more. Click below for details.

Sound Of Guns: Antarctica/Killing Moon

Following up their acclaimed and impressive album Angels & Enemies released this past March UK alternative rockers Sound Of Guns release new single taken from it, the powerfully lunged and anthemic Antarctica. With an air of grandeur and an immense sound to justify it, the single is pure heart food, an impassioned feast of emotive power and energy.

Produced by Dave Eringa (Manic Street Preachers, Ocean Colour Scene) at The Distillery in Bath, the single heats up the atmosphere from June 18th through Distiller Records and is already feeling eager attention with the track having been used as the leading song on Sky Sport’s 2012 Champions League coverage. It is no surprise that it was chosen, the enveloping and epic sound of the song as well as the anthem fuelled heart within its frame the perfect soundtrack for any passionate and consuming endeavour.

Within seconds of the opening chimes and majestic symphonic sounds the song lifts the heart to heights most songs have never imagined whilst offering an infectious melodic caress, inciteful rhythms, and the expected excellent vocals from Andy Metcalfe. The track feels like an old friend, its sturdy arms and powerful energy the lift and invitation to push oneself whether physically or emotionally. Like the best songs of this character it leaves one breathless but fully enthused, its impressive songwriting and outstanding realisation an incendiary for and to ignite emotions.

Antarctica is accompanied by a cover version of the Distiller Records classic Killing Moon, and to be honest there was a groan when it came to attention here. Some songs should not be touched their original greatness impossible to emulate and can only be scarred, Killing Moon is such a song.

Well Sound of Guns never read the script and went and produced a version which is truly magnificent. No, it does not match the original nothing could but it comes pretty close and as all covers should be treated they have interpreted the song with their own unique version and not merely copied as most covers seem to do. The track like an early morning mist envelopes the ear with a graceful and emotive atmosphere vocally and musically, Metcalfe finding a similar touching emotion to that of Ian McCulloch. Throughout its first half the song teases with a suggestion it will ignite into something larger but it continues to tenderly weave around the ear as the band light little fires of melodic sparks around the vocals. It is haunting and dare one say finds a more intrusive breath than the original. When the song does expand its musical arms the band simply intensifies the already irresistible enchantment. It really is an excellent version and puts the doubters, yes holding hands up, in their place.

As the band make the UK their playground with a tour with The View throughout the month and into July and festival appearances ahead, Sound Of Guns are at the point where they will surely soon be the name on all indie rock fans lips, Antarctica another mighty step on route.

http://www.soundofguns.com

RingMaster 15/06/2012

MyFreeCopyright.com Registered & Protected

The best and easiest way to get your music on iTunes, Amazon and lots more. Click below for details.