As I’ve mentioned previously, it’s always interesting when a new Julian Cope release emerges into the public domain, and with a new decade commencing, Cope introduces a new series of recordings entitled ‘Our Troubled times’ along with a new album Self Civil War.
For many, this is an album that’s been worth the wait after almost a decade of more ‘pastoral’ albums, which have been predominantly one-man projects, the short-lived Black Sheep and a side project Dope, which have been producing a flurry of albums of the past couple of years. Self Civil War is, in many ways, a return to the more band driven albums up to 2007s You Gotta Problem With Me, which Self Civil War is very reminiscent of, and after a few listens it feels like it would fit in perfectly as a follow-up album with the musical range on the album.
Replete with lo-fi Krautrock inspired rockers and folk ballads Self Civil War really covers Cope’s songwriting career over the past 40 years, including a rather brilliant reworking of The Teardrop Explodes’ Sleeping Gas, called Berlin Facelift. The more ballad and folk-based songs, You will be Mist, The Great Raven and Immortal really show that Cope hasn’t lost his strength as a songwriter over the years and highlights how genuinely talented a songwriter he can be when he’s truly influenced, I’ve always considered him over the past 25 years or so more an inspired Odinist than a revolutionary Rock ’n’ Roller.
I would love to say that Self Civil War is a ‘return to form’ for Julian Cope, but with someone whose career has always been ‘off-track’, it’s impossible to say what Julian’s form actually is, as there’s always some part of his career that appeals to different people. I will say, for those who may have drifted away from Julian’s music over the past few years to give this album a listen as there are plenty of great songs on there that will reinvigorate the soul.
• Self Civil War by Julian Cope is available via Head Heritage (£12.99). To order a copy go to www.headheritage.co.uk
Founder and Editor of Pilgrim House, currently undertaking a research degree at Bangor University and working on a book on Folklore and early Welsh Christianity. Tom’s other work on music, poetry, health along other writings and images can be found at tomasstanger.com