Julian Cope is one of the great freaks of rock music. Part visionary, part crackpot, part genius, part intellectual and part mystic – Cope is a true cult artist. It wasn’t always the case though. Emerging from Liverpool’s punk/post-punk scene in the late 1970’s, he became a rock star with his band The Teardrop Explodes. They blended punk attitude with The Thirteenth Floor Elevators and Love (you can throw The Doors in there as well, Cope even wore leather trousers). An awesome band – but they imploded in the early 1980’s and Julian Cope embarked on a totally fascinating, eccentric and entertaining solo career. Cope is someone who is a true eccentric but manages to turn playing with self-parody to his advantage. He gets away with being totally ridiculous and absolutely serious at the same time. If you spend some time in his world you won’t emerge unscathed, and I mean that in a good way.
I Come From Another Planet, Baby was taken from the Interpreter album of the same year, which acted like a kind of kooky space-rock coda to his prior astonishing run of LPs: Peggy Suicide (1991), Jehovahkill (1992), Autogeddon (1994), 20 Mothers (1995) that explored paganism and his own brand of outré mysticism, amongst other obsessions. I Come From Another Planet, Baby is pseudo glam blended with psychedelia and features a pulsing beat with sci-fi keyboard trills as ornaments. Just how much irony can you fit into one song? If you are Julian Cope then the answer is plenty. ”I’m not the man I wanna be,” he laments before the song reaches an intense climax, with Cope singing “another planet” again and again, as if he’s surprised by the fact.
Often with singles the real fun is to be found with the B-sides, and this single is no different. How Do I Understand My Motorman? is a true B-side (even though it’s on the A-side of this single), because it’s obvious why it wasn’t included on the album, but in the context of the single format it can thrive. It starts as a somber minor key keyboard dirge before becoming much more sprightly and in the end naggingly catchy. Cope croons, “How do I know my motor man?” and claims, “We are blind to the sight of everything.” Every time I play this song I find myself singing it to myself for days after, which is not such a bad thing because there are far worse songs that get stuck in the folds of the brain.
The actual B-side of the single is perhaps one of the most intensely way-out songs ever, if you could call it a song at all. When I first heard If I Could Do It All Over Again, I’d Do It All Over You I was totally blown away. I was, I have to admit, pretty wasted, but there’s no doubt about the outright weirdness of this track. Once I’d heard it for the first time I had to play it again and again. I became obsessed with it and this was when I realized that Cope had become like a drug and he had altered me chemically.
The track begins with electronic thunder-like sounds and pitch-shifted keyboards and then Cope enters and starts talking about “Flipping out at the mother’s jam.” This is the beginning of nearly nine minutes of improvisation as Cope ruminates about buying a vintage keyboard from a nutter who looks like Boris Becker. He states that he has, “ A date with a lusty broad, a date with mother earth!” He yearns for something called Glambience - surely his own genius invention. He also obsesses about Harry Houdini and asks “So why am I so screwed up?” Monotheism is his answer.
It’s difficult to fully convey the full impact of this track in which all of Cope’s weirdness and his pagan sensibility merge into one. You simply have to hear it and fortunately ‘Maiorov Simpleton’ has done the sensible thing and put it on You Tube. Listen to it here. While you are at it you might as well listen to I Come From Another Planet, Baby here. Why not try out How Do I Understand My Motorman? as well. If you can connect with any of these songs then welcome to Julian Cope – there’s no looking back.
Searching for 'Glambience'