Julian Cope presents Head Heritage

Julian Cope

Released 1984 on Mercury
Reviewed by ur, 27/06/2000ce

I was 18 year old when I bought Fried. I bought it because of the cover image: I was deep into Lewis Carroll-Edward Gorey imagery and that curious blond guy, naked under a turtle shell, seemed to me a decent representation of the Mock Turtle.
"Reynard the fox" came as a shock: I didn't know anything about rock n' roll, shamanic Doors all that stuff, but I was immediately infected. It was just the music:so painful and good, a punch straight into my delicate teen stomach. The first 3 minutes were almost normal: a contagious chorus and a guitar riff ripped off from I Can Only Give You Everything (the mother of every garage tune) - but when Julian started to describe his vision, and began to scream and scream without stopping, finally reaching momentum, the Gate opened.
It was rock n roll, dirty and gritty rock n roll, but it was also literature: an hallucinated journey thru madness and death, the Little Prince on reverse, Iggy Pop as a raged fox committing seppuku. Enough to make Fried one of my all times faves: still I think its first side is almost perfect, with the semiacoustic sound of Bill Drummond Said and Me Singing added to the pop grandiloquence of Sunspots, one of the incredibly missed hit of the 80's (too weird to be in the Top 10, too clever to satisfy the taste of average Smiths' listener). But there was another masterpiece on Fried: it's called Laughing Boy. On the surface, it's just a classically gentle, Floydian psychedelic ballad, complete with oboe and delicate interplay between slide and strummed acoustic guitar. But if you scratch a little, you can reach its haunting beauty. The drums beat like a dying heart, its tender vocals hint to some unspeakable meaning, overwhelmed by a secret sense of menace. There's a tension, an undertow that reminds me of the chillingly beautiful songs on Skip Spence's Oar. It's like when Roky Erickson sings May The Circle Be Unbroken: a whispered chant to the terrible distant majesty of the creation.
"A vision of the glorious sea", and these words sung by Julian really could be pronounced by Lenz, the crazed character of the Georg Buechner's novel. It happens when personal depression become universal vision.
There are other excellent tracks on Fried: Search Party, a nice slice of psychedelic sweetness, and Torpedo, a Caleish casiosong, but more heartfelt than quirky. But Laughing Boy and Reynard stand as two of these few mo(nu)ments when self-destruction and perfetion meet together. English countryside never seemed so sinister.

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