Monday 17 August 2020

20 Mothers: Julian Cope - 1995


English Pressing, 1995.

Earl Collection 00009 

Right at the end of the 1990s I fell hard for the likes of Julian Cope. I was at a good friend of mine's house (Andrew Lindsay), and he put on Cope’s band The Teardrop Explodes album Kilimanjaro (1980) and it was one of those moments when you totally connect with the music. I had to have more and what followed was one of those obsessive periods in which you buy whatever you can get your hands on. Luckily in the late 1990's barely anyone was buying vinyl; in fact it was around 2000 that sales of vinyl dropped to their lowest point before a slow upswing began, leading to the vinyl revival of the 2010s. So when I stepped into Dada records in the heart of Perth there were many Cope records just sitting there from when they were released. I think the owner cottoned on and one day in 2000 20 Mothers appeared in the racks and it was mine.

It's a beautiful pressing - swirling purple vinyl, paper inner sleeves and a gatefold housing both discs that features Cope gurning along with dozens of women with their partners and kids, no doubt they were all from near where he was living. The cover features Cope's wife, Dorian (front right in black) and his mother-in -law (to the right of Dorian). The music is a typical blend of whacked-out psych-pop, mad ditties and space rock; when you have tracks like Greedhead Detector, Just Like Pooh Bear and Don't Take Roots there's no resisting. Julian Cope is every psychonaut's musical spirit guide. As it says on the record label - 'Better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.’

Monday 3 August 2020

Songs from the Broadway Production of The Catherine Wheel: David Byrne - 1981

USA Pressing, 1981. 
Earl Collection 00008

From my early teens in the 1980s I was enamoured with Talking Heads, so when I saw a copy of this album in a friend’s collection I taped it and listened to it regularly for years until I bought it on CD sometime in the 1990s. This particular vinyl copy was purchased from Midland Records in 2019 and is in beautiful condition. I wonder how much it was played before I got my hands on it? Not much I’d say. It’s not difficult listening by any means, featuring some beautiful atmospheric and ambient instrumentals with evocative names such as Light Bath and Cloud Chamber. The vocal tracks are as close to the sound of Talking Heads that Byrne got in his solo career. The strangely emotional What a Day That Was could have been a hit single, well, if the buying public was populated by reserved nerdy types who liked their intellectual pop music. 

The Catherine Wheel features both Brian Eno and Adrian Belew, among others, such as Jerry Harrison and Funkadelic’s Bernie Worrell. Belew plays ‘steel drum guitar’ and ‘floating guitars’, of course, and Eno plays ‘prophet scream’ and just the plain old bass guitar. God knows what Twyla Tharp’s dance production was like, fairly avant-guard by the look of the pictures on the sleeve, but the music is beautiful, funky, ambient and psychedelic in parts - great drug music basically, or great laying in bed music with soft lights glowing. It’s also great music to play friends who love obscurely pretentious albums that are actually really fucking amazing.