Julian Cope presents Head Heritage

May Day Drudion

May 2004ce

Dudes

Excuse my tardiness but yesterday was spent at the May Day celebrations of Padstow’s Obby Oss festival in Cornwall. Avalon turned 10 on April 29th and is a huge fan of the Arthurian myths, so I wanted to take her first to Dozmary Pool on Bodmin Moor, in whose waters Sir Bedevere is said to have thrown Excalibur at the request of Arthur on his death bed. We hung out on the shore of the lake for a while then continued on to Padstow, whose harbour is one of the loveliest. Also, the Padstow Obby Oss is the only one of those so-called archaic festivals which has any truly pre-Christian resonance (though even that particular one is highly debatable) but the thing is so weird and so naturally heathen that I needed the girls to witness it for themselves. Who could deny the power of massed bands of white-clad drummers and accordionists marching for ten hours through tight streets around the harbour as a strangely dressed character known as the ‘Teaser’ winds up the dancing, ever prancing Oss, itself enveloped in a kind of black leatherette dragon’s burka with wired ra-ra skirt? If you ever saw that film THE WHICKER MAN, you got some idea of what I’m talking about as the entire festival in the movie was inspired by the Oss. And then Avalon won a sword on the harbour funfair and we knew we had to return to Dozmary Pool to film her consigning it to the waters of that legendary place. Anyway, that’s why I’m a day late with this…

Wow, everything’s moving pretty damned fast at the moment. What with the European Union seemingly doubling in size overnight and several very inward-looking countries suddenly having to take on the freedoms of western Europe, we’re in for an interesting next few years to say the least. I have no comment to make about the changes we’ll see in our cities because I just do not know, but Britain has such a history of assimilating outsiders into its daily life that – so long as the process is taken seriously – we could even be the richer for it (remember, even Cockney rhyming slang has Polish roots!). But we are really gonna have to fight to maintain our secular society, and whatever they say to the papers, most British people don’t seem to have one iota of true religion flowing in their veins. They probably believe in some creator spirit out there and feel good in church when it’s a friend’s wedding, etc. But beyond that, the psyche of the British Isles is too sorted to need shit like religion.

Hey, does it surprise you when political commentators sound surprised that Britain and the U.S. has got itself in such very deep shit over Iraq? Yeah, me too. I really don’t know anybody who didn’t just presume it was gonna be another Vietnam and there are no surprises to be had. And after years of Northern Ireland, even the discovery of torture by our troops is unsurprising, so American troops doing the same thing is disgusting and deplorable but not surprising because they have a history of freaking out early in the field of war. And surely any country that presumes to foist an inappropriate western idea like democracy on a hierarchical region like the Arab world is whistling in the wind. Unlike Jesus Christ, the physical reality of Mohammed has never been in doubt because he led armies of Muslims to innumerable incredible victories around 1,300 years ago. Furthermore, democracy has even a had a hard time obtaining a hold on certain countries of western Europe (Portugal, Spain) so who are we to ‘nobly’ impose this on an Arab country? And with religious types such as Bush and Blair being almost wholly unreflective of the general Agnostic attitude of the West, the whole thing’s being exacerbated because the Arab World is rightly beginning to see all this as a Holy Crusade…

Which conveniently brings me to a far more reachable and highly rock’n’roll proposition in the form of an eleven piece ‘Fonk band’ named after Roger, a guitar God with his head in the clouds who comes down to earth to save humanity from ‘George the Destroyer the evil employer’. This is the band I’ve been bigging up these past months and led by Randy Apostle. I’ve been trying to make one of their early LPs Album of the Month for ages but their mainman Apostle wouldn’t even consider re-issuing the tapes because… well, because he’s mad and lives in his own world and thinks that no-one beyond an elite gang would GEDDIT. Well, I finally persuaded Randy that I ain’t gonna do him any dis-services merely by re-issuing his work so next month will see the Head Heritage release of Roger’s THIS IS THE SHIT. It’s a massive work: a funk opera reminiscent of all those big themes that George Clinton and James Brown were laying down in the early 70s. I wrote an Album of the Month for them ages ago when I was trying to persuade Apostle’s manager to at least let us stream the album – but now we go one better and there’s gonna be a full release! Awl-fucking-right!

In the meantime, the latest Album of the Month is the as-yet-unreleased newie from Comets on Fire – and a mossive piece it be, brothers and sisters. So get your lobes over to Unsung and get down with it. O, and one final thing: I’ve been listening to a really excellent Teardrop Explodes bootleg recently and was surprised at how good it sounded, kind of like the Zombies’ ODESSEY & ORACLE [sic] in a post-punk stylee. So rather than let the bootleggers make endless shit versions available, we’re gonna beat them at their own game and put out a proper version once I’ve taken all these noisy CDs into a proper studio and cleaned them up. So look out for that as well, and also prepare for THE MEGALITHIC EUROPEAN because I’ve seen the mock-up and it’s gonna be the most righteous piece of rock’n’roll publishing you ever did see.

Sideways as always, brothers and sisters!

JULIAN (M’Lud Yatesbury)