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2023 Albums Thing 082 - Julian Cope “World Shut Your Mouth”

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The Teardrops (we’ll get to them presently) had split up amongst drug fuelled Jeep racing, shotgun chases around the Monmouthshire countryside and a disastrous final tour in 1983. By 1984 Julian Cope had put together his debut solo album “World Shut Your Mouth”. For those that perhaps only know Cope from the single of the same name I’ll get this out of the way up front, the single “World Shut Your Mouth” is not on the album “World Shut Your Mouth”, it’s actually on the album “St Julian” from 3 years after the album “World Shut Your Mouth”, hope that’s clear.

Following the Teardrops breakup Cope retreated back to his childhood home near Tamworth in Staffordshire where he wrote songs, expanded his toy collection and recovered from the bands split plus (some say) his prodigious LSD intake. A couple of the songs here were originally intended for the Teardrop Explodes (versions of "Metranil Vavin" and "Pussyface" later appeared on their “lost” 3rd album “Everyone Wants To Shag The Teardrop Explodes”). 

While retaining his former bands pop touches “World Shut Your Mouth” reveals more of Cope’s influences from 60’s psychedelia and pastoral pop music, Syd Barrett and Roky Erikson haunt the dimly lit corners hereabouts. It was VERY out of step with the prevailing sound of 1984 which was predominantly synth and drum machine driven. This was a natural sounding record with guitars and real drums (played by Teardrops drummer Gary Dwyer) and instruments like Oboe and Sitar thrown in to the mix. The pop sense is still there it’s just been twisted.

Opener “Bandy’s First Jump” would have sat well on a Teardrops record, it’s second song “Metranil Vavin” (originally written for his former band, it’s a about a fictional Russian Dwarf poet named Metro Vavin !) where the psychedelia starts to show. This segues into “Strasbourg” which is quickly followed by the Oboe driven “Elegant Chaos” two of Cope’s very best songs. “Quizmaster” is another Oboe driven pop beast and side 1 plays out with “Kolly Kibber’s Birthday” (Kolley Kibber being a character in Graham Greene’s “Brighton Rock” trivia fans) a driving, harsh drum driven thing with an angelic vocal.

The singles are over on Side 2, ”Sunshine Playroom” and “Greatness And Perfection” are both beauties that the “great” record buying public chose to ignore. “Head Hung Low” brings down the pace with Kate St John’s Oboe up front again and “Pussyface” funks things up some. It all comes to a close with “Lunatic And Fire-Pistol” a gentle lament from a man who died in battle…possibly ?

It didn’t sell and this period, including the follow up album “Fried” (where Cope is pictured on the cover hiding under a giant tortoise shell), is where he picked up his reputation for eccentricity and being something of an acid casualty. It’s a great shame that it didn’t sell as it’s a superb, what came to be known as, Indie pop/rock album, the equal of (actually way better than) anything produced around this time by the likes of The Smiths. 

Strasbourg - https://youtu.be/3h2xmiVsmEY

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