Julian Cope presents Head Heritage

Drudion June 06

June 2006ce

The Archdrude at the Druid's Judgement Seat, Dublin
The Archdrude at the Druid's Judgement Seat, Dublin
Drudion,

I just got back from the Burns festival up on the west coast of Scotland. Man, it was a wild night and a savage coupla days travelling. Indeed, so was the Belfast show, what with it having taken place in a marquee amidst 25th anniversary street parades held in honour of IRA hunger striker Bobby Sands’ martyrdom. Despite the clamour of drums and pipes outside, I could barely believe a quarter century could have passed until Tom Fourwinds took me to a Neolithic site in Crosmaglen the following day. Then it really struck home. Two heathen Anglo-Saxons should not have been stuck fast in Crosmaglen during a Sunday communion in honour of an IRA hero. The symbolism is fearful, but stuck fast we were. Indeed, Fourwinds even suggested I remove my German cap. No way. As a Liverpool punk I well remembered the IRA pub singalongs during the late ‘70s, especially one in particular sung to the tune of ‘Deutschland Uber Alles’ just for its sheer anti-English symbolism. So the hat remained in place. However, in that Crosmaglen jam, right glad I was that Fourwinds’ car at least ran on number plates from the Republic. Funny what races (and I do mean races) through your mind in such times of high anxiety, and I was thinking about Gang of Four; not the Maoist axis but the Leeds punk band. Gang of Four’s drummer Hugo Burnham and I once made a cocained blood pact by cutting our palms till the blood flowed, then mingling it in a bloody handshake (very monied punk). When The Teardrop Explodes had supported Gang of Four in early ’79, we’d all been big fans of their first EP, but their song ‘Armalite Rifles (Beat The IRA)’ had always struck we Scousers as hollow having long endured the aforementioned IRA pub singalongs, with their lyrics that actually eulogised that very weapon Gang of Four touted as the squaddies’ best friend. And three weeks ago there in the standstill of Crosmaglen’s narrow streets, as a fast flowing river of Sunday Best mourners over-crowded our car, my Liverpool headspace returned for one metaphysical instant to the IRA pubs of ’79:

“And it’s down in the Crosmaglen, That’s where I long to be, Lying in the dark with a Provo company, A comrade on me left and another one on me right, And a clip of ammunition for me little Armalite.”

Death Comes Along

Burnt Hill's TO YOUR HEAD

Valley Of Ashes' 3LP CAVEHILL HUNTERS' ATTRITION

The Stars' PERFECT PLACE TO HIDE AWAY

Okay, no more pain… well, not much except for the brain hammering amounts of glorious rock’n’roll that pulverises our 21st century. First up, I’m righteously enthralled by the Japanese cult Death Comes Along, whose self-titled debut LP (Psychedelic Inferno Records) is brutal bones’n’chanting guitar sacrifice of the Shiva’s Tongue variety. Analogue synthesizers, blazing guitars and multiple percussions played by Ajima, Hirata, Bondage, Kenji and Sugiyama bark at the full moon as the cult’s leader Crow hollers his way through such cuts as ‘Children Of The Death’, the three phases of ‘Psychedelic Inferno’ and the sure-fire hit anthem ‘Death Death Death’. Those demanding further freakout free-rock of the commune variety should first pick up a copy of the 3LP CAVEHILL HUNTERS’ ATTRITION by the huge collective Valley Of Ashes. This intriguing field recording’n’collective Human Be-In rivals the three legendary early Amon Duul LPs PSYCHEDELIC UNDERGROUND, COLLAPSING and DISASTER for sheer greed of experience. Over three long vinyl sides, 20-minute titles such as ‘Yellow Smoke’, ‘Bogbody Mastodon’, ‘Yellow Smoke’ and ‘Kentucky Chrome’ unfold like some divine union between Kalackakra meeting Six Organs of Admittance; being simultaneously epic, ragged, fuzzy here, orchestrated there, pastoral and quite brilliant. For heads demanding even more of such things, check out Burnt Hills’ mesmerising TO YOUR HEAD (Flipped Out Records). This nontet features a six-guitar sonic attack that develops into the superb 38-minute ‘Vibrated Into Being In The Shadow Of A Full Moon Under The Influence Of The Red Bulb Beneath The Sycamore Stairs Directly To Your Head’… obviously named after the little Welsh village where they were all born. This is essential stuff, all you Moonrakers, Quakers and Episcopalians. Another one to search out is Wolf Eyes’ amazing DVD WOLF EYES LIVE ON A BOAT (Mutha Records). Dig this power trio like you dug early Psychic TV. I lost track of these industrial headbangers for the past coupla years, during which time they’ve mutated from scratchy post-Chrome urbanites into autosalvage grandbabbies of the rural Nihilist Spasm Band, three headbanging post apocalyptics wielding homemade instruments for the post-Al Jorgenson age. Oo ja, mein hairies! Last on the list and somewhat more conventional than the rest is PERFECT PLACE TO HIDEAWAY by Japan’s The Stars. Led by You Ishihara and Michio Kurihara, who made the epic White Heaven album OUT back in the early ‘90s, The Stars’ material runs from 1970s New York epic No Wave through psychedelic work outs almost in the San Francisco free rock mould. Their mini-LP TODAY was never off my turntable a few years back, and this new LP sounds capable of making similar claims.

Okay, I shall sod off right now, but leave you with words not from Bobby Sands the Martyr, but Bobby Sands the Poet, who himself seems to have known better than anyone that the territorial battles of Ulster would eventually become eclipsed by wider world problems. And Bobby Sands surely predicted the Iraqi occupation in his 1979 poem ‘Modern Times’, in which he wrote:

“In the gutter lies the black man, dead, And where the oil flows blackest, the street runs red.”

What with the latest evidence of American troops killing Iraqi women and children at the massacre of Haditha, the lessons learned during Vietnam War atrocities at such villages as Mylai appear to have become lessons forgotten. After the success of such Internet sites as myspace.com and mytravel.com, the self-righteous Christian President Dubya should seriously consider setting up his own open confessional site entitled mylie.com. Okay, I shall see some of you at the Lost Weekend Festival down in Devon later on this month. Until then…

Love Fucking Peace,

JULIAN (Lord Yatesbury)