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Album Review

Julian Cope
Revolutionary Suicide Head Heritage

Article written by Ged M - Aug 21, 2013

julian_cope.jpg
If you’re concerned that musicians don’t comment on social and political matters anymore, Copey has been doing so for over two decades, beginning with his tirade of bile against Thatcher’s Britain on the brilliant Peggy Suicide in 1991 and bringing his protest up to date with this record, finished on the day that Thatcher was buried (on which he comments, in funny and furious fashion, on the sleeve). Revolutionary Suicide has plenty of examples of the Drudion at his most thoughtful and provocative, and also his most pop, but there are examples of where he overbakes his revolutionary spongecake into a soggy mass of inedible hippy wackiness.

The record shows why he’s both awesome and awful. His anti-religious tirades put you in mind of Richard Dawkins’ loopier opinions. ‘Destroy Religion’ is a bongo-dirge of hippy trance music, while he turns his invective on Islam in ‘Why Did The Chicken Cross My Mind?’, likening Islam-appeasing liberals to Joseph Chamberlain and Hitler. It would be more thought-provoking if he didn’t vamp and scat-sing like Daffy Duck. I can forgive his anti-Christian obsession on ‘Hymn To Odin’ though because it’s brilliant pastoral, romantic folk music, reminding me of the best of Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci.

'Revolutionary Suicide' the song (its title taken from Huey Newton) is 1968-sounding agitpop Detroit pop-soul, rousing and catchy with talk of “fatcat greedheads”. ‘Paradise Mislaid’ resembles a strange-but-lovely 80s synth ballad (remember Wax’s ‘Building A Bridge To Your Heart’? Julian might) and 'Russian Revolution Blues' is a brilliant political commentary on Cambodia and the Cold War, with some razorsharp wordplay. Meanwhile ‘They Were On Hard Drugs’ is a synth-wibbling 7-minute history lesson to explain the central role of drugs in civilisation: “wherever cultures are achieving their pinnacle/ it’s not the product of the smug or the cynical/ it’s the ones on drugs”. Very clever but probably sounds better on drugs. The strongest track is the nearly 16-minute ‘The Armenian Genocide’, a powerful and moving tale about ethnic hatred; for the first 12 oppressive minutes it describes a death march in filmic terms, accompanied by a booming bass drum, and then suddenly locks into the word “people”, repeated hypnotically and relentlessly to convey the hideousness of the crime. The length of the song and the power of the lyrics makes it an astonishingly good but unsettling experience, the Arch-Drude at his best.

It’s typical Copey, by turns wise man and fool, amazing one moment, appalling the next. As my old mum used to say, listen to half of what he says and believe half of that and you’ll do fine.

Links:
http://www.headheritage.co.uk/

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