Julian Cope presents Head Heritage

The Teardrop Explodes
Kilimanjaro


Released 1980 on Mercury
Reviewed by Le Samourai, 20/07/2001ce


1980 must’ve been cooler than I thought. Too bad this LP or any singles from it never made it to US Top 10 radio or album charts at the time as I had endure the torture of REO Speedwagon, Christopher Cross and Olivia Newton-John. Anyway this 1980 debut LP by Lead Singer/Lyricist/Bassist Julian Cope, Drummer Gary
Dwyer, Keyboardist David Balfe and Guitarist Alan Gill (with help from Guitarist Michael Finkler on a few tracks) is still very fresh and fascinating.

The big question I’ve encountered over this LP is is Kilimanjaro REALLY Psychedelic? And if so what it makes it that way? Well ultimately I’m no expert as to what is and isn’t “Psychedelic” but I can say I think it definitely comes close. What I feel that Julian and Co. do here is make great short, loose grooves and then simply get uniquely lost in them. If that’s what the definition of “Psychedelic” is (or even “Krautrock”) fine but I think it also applies to “Funk” if not “Disco” too. Even Julian called the tunes here “Spacerock Bubblegum Disco Pop” (or something like that - check Head On) but I still think there’s more to it than that.

Seriously, it’s like everything on Kilimanjaro is just spinning around in a hypnotic daze. Julian and Gary’s bass n’ drum lock-step groove is definitely one of the most hypnotic rhythm sections one will ever hear. Gill’s guitar is not as loud as Balfe’s keyboards (probably because Balfe helped produced this album with Bill Drummond as The Chameleons) but both make great accomplices to this whirling British Dervish as well (BTW, Balfe & Drummond’s Chameleons have nothin’ to do with Mark Burgess’s
Chameleons.) Even more surreal (if not Psychedelic?) is that the Teardrops version of “Books” is hotter and bouncier that the Bunnymen’s cool yet dirge like “Read It In Books” (off their equally hot Crocodiles LP - yeah go get that one too.)

And hey it’s flipped out lyrically too. Julian first words out
the gate are “Oh use your common sense!” but even using that would you still have even the faintest clue as to what Julian is on about here? “Come and diffuse me before I kill someone”, “it’s just like a cartoon by A.A.P.”,“your aunts, your uncles are all against you”, “until you realise it’s just a story” Julian’s lyrics keeps you as happily dizzy as the music does. They’re directly indirect.

Now let me address the main pithy criticism hurled at
Kilimanjaro:

“It’s got too many keyboard and horn parts on it thereby making the whole thang “too 80’s.”

Hey it’s Julian’s band and he wanted some brass - you don’t like it go someplace else. And as for the keyboard parts again I think that’s more Balfe’s fault than anything. He helped produced the thing and plays some strong keyboard parts all over it (although he’s no Ray Manzarek, Rod Argent, Booker T. Jones or Bernie Worrell.) But really what’s wrong with a little keyboard and brass? To me those instruments are what keeps The Teardrops fresher than and a step above most of the Post Punk bands of the
time. There are plenty of horns and keyboards on Wilder too only they’re not as zippy or crazed here (not that un-zippy or un-crazed are bad situations to be in mind you.)

Now with that over with I can safely say that you all should get the new expanded Kilimanjaro CD with the bonus Kirimanjalo EP on it. For one it’s approved by Cope with pal Cally Callamon. Secondly the EP makes Kilimanjaro even better! Lastly the mastering is superb. If you like this be sure to get Wilder (especially the new expanded version on CD with the Buff Manilla EP added to it.) Although the mood musically and lyrically on Wilder is a little more toned down and reflective it’s still killer.


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