Julian Cope presents Head Heritage

The Teardrop Explodes - Wilder

The Teardrop Explodes

Released 1981 on Mercury
Reviewed by Dave Balfe, 26/05/2005ce

Although its predecessor, Kilimanjaro, has the higher profile and more hits, the Teardrop's second LP just about beats it for me, which, by definition, makes it one of my favourite records, full stop! (i can't believe no-one's reviewed it yet!). Although there are still traces of the exuberant psychedelic pop which first brought Cope to the music world's attention, this album has a real dark heart (it was recorded during Julian's divorce from his first wife, and at a time when he was taking acid and speed on a near-daily basis). Here's a track-by-track guide...

Bent Out Of Shape- ****
The great chirpy horn section may suggest otherwise, but this is actually a pretty dark opener (witness the opening line- 'All my life i've been bent out of shape, can't you see it's killing me').

Colours Fly Away- ****
A wild mutation of Kilimanjaro's winning formula, this amphetamine rush of a song was a failure as a single, but it's pretty damn hard to see why. Cope's lyrics were his most brilliantly unusual so far, full of bizarre yet wonderful imagery, recalling Arthur Lee at his Forever Changes best ('There's a new boy here to play our game, shoot my eyes out, i could wake up dreaming')

Seven Views Of Jerusalem- ***
I've seen this described as a 'Faberge Egg of sound'. It's amazing how much the band are able to make out of so little. Gary Dwyer's almost tribal drumming and Dave Balfe's gentle synth lines build to a towering climax. A real grower.

Pure Joy- ***
Troy Tate's agressive guitar makes it's first major appearance on this short but sweet oddity. Great Cope lyrics again...

Falling Down Around Me- ****
A jerky, off-beat track which is vaguely reminiscent of XTC. I must confess that this didn't really appeal to me at first, but like 'Seven Views', it's really grown on me.

The Culture Bunker- *****
An phenomenal psychedelic groove, on which the whole band shines. The lyrics detail the break-up of the late '70s Liverpool scene- to the outside world, bands like the Teardrop, Echo and the Bunnymen and Wah! Heat (remember them?) appeared to be a united front, but under it all, the 'Crucial Three' (Julian Cope, Ian McCulloch and Pete Wylie) were worlds apart. Awesome!

Passionate Friend- *****
Probably the great forgotten single of the '80s, this scintillating slice of '60s-esque dream pop mananged to both please fans of Kilimanjaro and take the band into new, thrilling waters. A true classic.

Tiny Children- ***
Following 2 storming tracks, this sad, stark synth ballad may feel a bit too Ultravox on first listen, but it's another grower. Must be said, though... why the hell was it released as a single?!?

Like Leila Khaled Said- ****
This is possibly the most unhinged of all of the Teardrop's album tracks (but still nowhere near as crazy as some of their B-sides). Its Eastern-tinged guitar and grinding beat weave their ways through Cope's madcap lyrics to a nightmarish conclusion.

...And Then The Fighting Takes Over- *****
A completely lovely ballad led by beautiful guitar from Troy Tate (baby)which has to take the title of most under-rated Teardrop song. The melancholy atmosphere suggests a less dramatic Scott Walker.

The Great Dominions- ****
Continuing the melancholy of the last song and taking it to a grand scale, this is Cope's clearest attempt at playing the Scott Walker for the '80s... and, of course, he succeeds in style.

The recent CD reissue carries a heap of extra tracks, among which great songs like 'Soft Enough For You', 'Suffocate' and 'East Of the Equator' can be found.
If you're on Head Heritage and don't already own this LP, it really should be your next purchase. It has been dismissed by some critics as too abstract, but this beautiful strangness just sounds really brave over 20 years on.

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