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Chart Chat Album Review : ‘Trip Advizer – The Very Best Of Julian Cope 1999 – 2014’ – Julian Cope (09.03.15)

Chart Chat Album Review : ‘Trip Advizer : The Very Best of Julian Cope 1999 – 2014’ – Julian Cope (09.03.15)

It was 1997 when ‘Planetary Sit-In’ gave Julian Cope the last of his seven top forty hits as a solo artist.  So followers whose blinkers fail to see past the top forty could be forgiven for thinking he had retired to foreign shores, or perhaps had even left this mortal coil altogether!  In fact what happened after that point in time was he formed his own Head Heritage label to enable him to take control of his career and since then he has released a further seven studio albums, although trying to compile the best of those onto one CD was always going to be tricky although it will serve as a decent introduction to those who may have lost touch with Julian and his career.

One look at the cover will tell you how much things have moved on since 1999 with Julian now sporting a sizeable beard alongside his black leather gloves, cap and other motorcycle style attire. He still remains as active now as he has ever been and completed a short but successful tour back in January of this year. So what can the listener expect from this sixteen track compilation…

Well ‘These Things I Know’ provides for a melodic start to proceedings, a track which originally featured on his 2008 double album ‘Black Sheep’. It is one of three tracks to be included from that album, the others being ‘Psychadelic Odin’ and ‘All The Blowing Themselves Up Mother******s’.  The latter of those is for me the albums highlight as after a couple of listens the chorus will plant itself firmly inside your head showing that the best songs are simple but catchy.

Second track ‘Hell Is Wicked’ has a less acoustic feel to it and was originally featured on his ‘Citizen Cain’d’ album which first surfaced in 2005. It’s  a decent track but still can’t hold a torch to the magnificent ‘I’m Living In The Room They Found Saddam In’ which is not only a great title but a great song to match. From its distorted vocals to its garage rock musical backdrop it stands out as the kind of song which would have been a big hit in a parallel universe. At times it reminds me of The Doors with the hammond organ subtly playing in the background.

‘Raving On The Moor’ brings us back up to date having featured on his 2012 album ‘Psychadelic Revolution’. It is one of three songs included on on the compilation from that album sitting alongside the title track and ‘Cromwell In Ireland’. Listeners should not be fooled by the latter of those songs being an acoustic guitar led ballad as Julian declares in the chorus “This ain’t a folk song / a what the **** song / this ain’t a love song / so what the ****”.  Those lyrics aside it is actually a cleverly observed attack on the Roundhead and his reign of terror which he undertook in 17th Century Ireland. The aforementioned title track (‘Psychadelic Revolution’) has been re-recorded for this release, with Julian taking the lead vocal rather than Lucy Brownhills and it’s a change which works well.

‘They Were On Hard Drugs’ comes with a simplistic keyboard / drum machine backdrop and proposes the theory that many of the greats behind todays civilisation were in fact enjoying some recreational pleasure along the way. It comes from 2013’s ‘Revolutionary Suicide’ album and the title track from that long player is also included here.

Also included here are two concert favourites ‘Julian In The Underworld’ and ‘Conspiracist Blues’. The former of these two was written after he took acid to celebrate his 50th birthday causing him in his own words to “lose his mind”. It builds quite dramatically towards the end with the refrain “I can’t pretend to know what’s going on”. ‘Conspiracist Blues’ meanwhile started forming part of his live shows in the mid 1990’s and eventually made it onto CD when it formed part of his ‘Floored Genius 3’ collection. Weighing it at less than two minutes in length it is almost over before it has begun but it will please fans who enjoy it being played live.

No compilation is perfect and if I’m honest I didn’t love ‘A Child Is Born In Cerrig-Y-Drudion’ but other acoustic tracks such as ‘Woden’ actually work very well. ‘Zoroaster’ has an underlying guitar riff which conjurs up ‘10538 Overture’ by ELO but that’s where the similarity ends. It’s a dark and brooding rock song which again makes good use of an organ.

The album concludes with the glorious eight minute epic ‘Shrine of the Black Youth’ which pays homage to the Republic of Armenia. It kicks in with screaming guitars before rising and falling throughout.  It seems a fitting finale and contrasts sharply with the sub 120 second ‘Conspiracist Blues’.

What this compilation does is serve to highlight some of the great songs Julian has recorded since 1999, and it reminds us that the top forty should no longer be considered a measure of how great an artist is. Julian is rarely short of things to say, and let’s hope that he continues to entertain us for some time to come.

Ian Anderson (@ChartChatUK)

10 March, 2015 - Posted by | ChartChat

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