Julian Cope
World Shut Your Mouth

Released 1984 on Vertigo
Reviewed by banjo, 24/10/2006ce

We're too sophisticated these days. These days, a 21 year old can talk knowingly about Fapardokly or Amon Duul 2 but know nothing about 'World Shut Your Mouth' other than perhaps vaguely disdainful memories of a song with that phrase as its chorus. We are in the age of information and it's wreaking havoc upon creativity and pushing the true mavericks (for they still exist) into unreachable fortresses. There is another perfectly good review of Julian Cope's true masterpiece right here on this database but because 'World Shut Your Mouth' has become relevant to me again (I found an orphaned copy on LP just recently) I need to spread the word, preaching to the choir though I may be.

I was 14 in 1984 and remember the Hit Parade well. Whatever happened to the Hit Parade? Well, in Canada where yours truly grew up, the British stuff was the good stuff. The horrible '90s with its twin gorgons of grunge and brit pop has erased the vitality and inimitable cool of that earlier decade, which was in fact the last true decade for pop music. There are rumblings now of a collective awakening to the lost innocence of that period which I believe will become more apparent in the months and years to come. It will start with a MOJO magazine article on Alphaville, perhaps. You can only write so many articles on... (fill in the blank). Anyway, if you were 17 in 1987 - around the time I first heard this LP - and had an instinctual love of The Beatles, Love and Syd Barrett, anything with vaguely '60s trappings stood out like a pearl in a tidal pool. Of course, there were bands that played dress-up and catered to a costume ball consisting of a certain breed of hipster that was tethered to more rules and regulations than your average dungeon master. To these people - for I knew a few - Julian Cope was too weird.

I will never forget hearing this album for the first time. I had my Teardrop Explodes singles. I had Saint Julian. I had the WSYM single. I had Fried. This album was the cream of the crop.

The songs on World Shut Your Mouth contain my favorite Julian Cope lyrics bar none. They indeed sound like songs of personal redemption and private rebellion and they are delivered with his best band sound on record - all thundering Gibson XII and faintly medieval sounding organ. That this record came out of 1984 is nothing short of astonishing. Forget neo-krautrock, forget underground this or alt that, definitely forget anything 'psychedelic' today - This is what originality sounds like. There is a direct line from 'Forever Changes' that skips all the revivalists and lands squarely at this period of Cope's writing. Additionally, this is what a great British record sounds like, and it is its unmannered effortlessness that is key.

This is not only a record to be enjoyed for the ages but also a record that musicians, present and future can learn from. Come out of your fortresses and liberate the hip and rule-bound.

Reviews Index