follow us in feedly
Japan’s most mysterious band, Les Rallizes Dénudés

Takashi Mizutani, leader of Les Rallizes Dénudés
Best Buy doesn’t stock Les Rallizes Dénudés. Then again, for a long time, nobody did. My own introduction to the band came in the form of a CD-R my friend Max handed me sometime around the end of W.‘s first term. Though their force was undeniable, the recordings were murky; I resolved to find authorized Rallizes releases, best quality, straight from the source. But when I started digging through CDs and LPs at L.A. record stores, I was surprised how hard it was to find Rallizes product of any kind, legit or no. The few items my search did turn up were shoddily packaged bootlegs with hideous cover art. Have you seen the jacket of Blind Baby Has Its Mother’s Eyes? It is a masterpiece of graphic design by comparison with most Rallizes product.

As usual, I had to wait for Julian Cope to come along and turn confusion into sense. The chapter on Les Rallizes Dénudés in Cope’s Japrocksampler explains that the band, between forming in 1967 and busting in 1996, never recorded in a studio or put out albums. Like, on principle. All product was counterfeit:

So how do we actually know of Les Razilles Dénudés if they don’t even release records? Through bootlegs, bootlegs and more bootlegs. Indeed, Les Razilles Dénudés has operated in this manner for so long now that both musicians and fans know so far in advance what to expect from each other that there’s even a caste system within that world of bootlegs. Yup, while certain Rallizes LPs are considered so much less bootleggy than others that they’ve almost become official in the minds of fans, others are just dismissed as cash-ins, re-runs and ... well, just plain bootlegs.


(Technically, they did record in the studio, and they apparently sanctioned a release or two. Red Bull Music Academy’s Grayson Currin, writing about his recent attempts to track down the group’s reclusive leader, Takashi Mizutani, says the Rallizes did eventually put out an official record—in 1991, some five years before they finally hung it up. And the Rallizes’ side of 1973’s double live compilation Oz Days Live is also alleged to be official. These are quibbles: If Cope is exaggerating, it’s in the service of truth.) 

Those seeking a fleshed-out version of the Rallizes’ skeletal bio are directed to Japrocksampler, but briefly: radical Francophile Takashi Mizutani formed the group as a college student in the ‘60s, when, Cope writes, French culture still found devotees among postwar Japanese youth looking for a revolutionary alternative to Uncle Sam. That means: Cool for these guys was ice cold. Deadpan as the Velvets or Spacemen 3, Mizutani and his bandmates identified with the loudest, darkest and most destructive aspects of psych-rock. Cope quotes this cryptic text from the Rallizes’ late ‘60s flyers:

For those young people – including you – who live this modern agonising adolescence and who are wanting the true radical music, I sincerely wish the dialogue accompanied by piercing pain will be born and fill this recital hall.


The deep alienation in their art spilled over into the headlines on March 31, 1970, when one of the Rallizes’ founding members, bassist Moriaki Wakabayashi, took part in the Japanese Red Army Faction’s hijacking of a plane. (Wakabayashi and three other hijackers still live in North Korea, which offered asylum.) The association with Communist terrorism did not exactly do wonders for the band’s career, and according to Cope, Mizutani never recovered from the catastrophe of the hijacking, retreating into deeper and darker isolation.

Keep reading after the jump…

Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
Julian Cope’s SydArthur Festival celebrates psychedelic giants Syd Barrett and Arthur Lee

Today—July 7th—marks the beginning of the first SydArthur Festival, a mental celebration (or “cerebration”) of Pink Floyd founder Syd Barrett (who died ten years ago today) and Love’s Arthur Lee (who died 28 days later). The SydArthur Festival—organized by Arch Drude Julian Cope, his wife Dorian Cope (proprietor of the On This Deity blog) and their daughter Avalon—takes place entirely in your mind, and aims to get you (yes you) to contemplate the lives, art and influence of not only Syd and Arthur, but also Percy Bysshe Shelley, Henry David Thoreau, Roky Erickson, Nico, Cluster’s Dieter Moebius, George Clinton, English poet Robert Graves, Carl Jung, Aldous Huxley, Vincent Van Gogh, 17th century apocalyptic anarchist Abiezer Coppe (who, I am guessing, must be a Cope ancestor?) Jerry Garcia, William S. Burroughs and more.

There’s a SydArthur Festival website and a printed 28 page program. From the manifesto:

By dint of having died just one lunar month apart, Syd and Arthur have given us the rich opportunity to celebrate the summer henceforth and under the given name of the Buddha ‘Siddhartha’. Despite not being Buddhists ourselves, we’re nevertheless delighted to appropriate his name for rock’n’roll: For a great name it is. And ‘twas ever the truth that our divine artform takes, takes and takes whenever and wherever its voracious trip will best be served.

These 28 days are a grand opportunity to make a carnival time of this serendipitous cosmic accident. Accident? Do the heroes of Western culture move in any less mysterious manner than the gods of ancient times? Let’s take advantage of their overt poetry, of their celestial dance, and avail ourselves of the chance to build the first truly psychic and near-religious rock’n’roll festival. For this is – in the psychedelic spirit of its two major players – a mind-manifesting festival. No pricey tickets, no camping like sardines in some infernal swamp. For those of you who choose to engage in these proceedings, you may do so from your own homes, your favourite areas, but most specifically from within your own minds.

Between the pillars of Arthur and Syd lies a rich fertile land inhabited by a multitude of psychedelic events and of artists, authors and practitioners whose births and deaths fall conveniently within this 28-day period. These too are venerated. Miffed we are that not all of our heroes can be included. But hey, this be just the first such festival.

Let us put our minds together, deeply consider these people and events, and in doing so harness the energy of their seismic actions. Overall, during this moon tour let us consciously raise our Collective Consciousness.

A fun idea, I think you’ll agree, but especially when they put it that way. So if you will click on over to the SydArthur website, you can read today’s meditation on Syd Barrett and cerebrate his contributions. The Copes chose “Astronomy Domine” as the track they posted to represent maximum Sydness asking “Was psychedelic rock’n’roll ever more advanced than this?”

As I listened, I thought about that question, before ultimately coming to the conclusion that no, it never was.

Here’s my contribution to today’s festivities: Dig the sprawling freeform psychedelic jazz of Barrett’s 20-minute long shambolic—yet extremely cool—low-fi improvised jam (with Steve Peregrin Took from Tyrannosaurus Rex on congas) titled “Rhamadan.”

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Julian Cope interviewed by a computer on ‘Star Test,’ 1989
09:22 am


Julian Cope
Channel 4

The title suggests a contest like Star Search, but the UK’s Channel 4 series Star Test was an interview show with a gimmick: a bleeping and whirring computer host. The guest sat alone in a big, white, reverb-y room with stained glass windows and potted plants (a budget version of the room at the end of 2001? a sanitized Cathode Ray Mission from Videodrome?), choosing categories from a touchscreen menu and fielding questions that were more often insipid (“When did you last cut your toenails?”) than inspired. Wendy James of Transvision Vamp, Bernard Sumner of New Order, and Peter Gabriel all sat in this sterile technochapel and took part in its weird ritual.

YouTube user Tony Payne uploaded the Julian Cope episode of Star Test last week. Aired on June 13, 1989, it picks up right where Cope’s autobiography Head-On left off, with Ian McCulloch refuting a fortune-teller’s prediction by living through his 30th birthday that May.

Cope was then between his late-80s pop confections, Saint Julian and My Nation Underground, and his unpolished early-90s deep skull dives, Skellington and Droolian, which prepared the way for the prophetic Peggy Suicide trilogy. Unhurried, slightly bored, and whip-smart, he dispatches some questions with a few syllables—Hell is “a loop tape of U2,” the person with the most power over him is “me”—and uses others to propel himself to sublime heights most other musicians don’t even know are there:

What’s the best reason for being alive?

Um… just ‘cause it’s such a break, you know? I just think this is the best break that anybody could give anybody, and I kind of, I feel that with all the people who are in such a bad place, a bad position in the world, you know, that I’ve got to be good at being what I am, ‘cause it’s like—as an analogy, say life is like a play or something. I’m standing at the front, somebody’s given me a really good ticket, so it’s my duty to enjoy the play I’m in, because it’s rude of me not to, ‘cause there’s all these people starving around the world. They’re the people who’ve got a really, really bad break, and they’re standing at the back, and they’re all smaller than everybody else, and they can’t see over, so they never even get to see what life is, they never even got to see the start, you know?

People just say, “Work, and you’ve got a chance.” That’s complete garbage; it’s just rudeness. There’s so much rudeness. So much rudeness in our society, as well, which really kind of gets to me. Some people, they just physically can’t get it together, they can’t mentally get it together, you know? I’ll apologize for them if it makes, kind of, people in power feel any better. Sometimes you can’t get out of your room. Sometimes the world just completely bewilders you and does your head in, you know? And going out is the same as being dragged and knocked senseless by a bunch of muggers, and that’s just sometimes they way it is.


How do you react to criticism?

I really like a good slag-off, ‘cause a good slag-off can really kinda like erupt you inside. And you can be full of crap a lot of the time; you need to have somebody kickin’ around inside you. If there’s no friction in what you do, then there’s no way that you’re gonna get on, you know? The best way to make great art is to have it trivialized by other people as much as possible—that way, you fight, and fight, and fight.


What is your most wicked fantasy?

My most wicked fantasy? An evil fantasy? Well, if it’s a fantasy, maybe my most evil fantasy is that the white race doesn’t actually belong here, and was put here to mess everybody up, and everything that I do as like a total kind of WASP that I am is gonna destroy the rest of the world with its half-assed evangelical calling. But I don’t even know if that’s a fantasy, see, ‘cause I kind of believe that.

You see, the Drude is dispensing the psychedelic wisdom you need for your life, in a convenient 25-minute TV dose. (The show is half as long as it appears to be—like the Circle Jerks’ Group Sex cassette, it plays through twice in a row.)

Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
Christ versus Warhol: Julian Cope and The Teardrop Explodes on ‘The Old Grey Whistle Test,’ 1982
09:23 am


Julian Cope
The Teardrop Explodes

WHOA. Bits and pieces of this excellent show have been floating through the Internet ether for some time, but I’ve never seen all of it, and I’ve definitely never seen the entire thing intact. This is Liverpool’s brightly and briefly burning post-punk psych messiahs the Teardrop Explodes in an April 1982 appearance on The Old Grey Whistle Test, on an upswing amid the band’s numerous ups and downs. Here, they’re shaking off the disappointing sales of their initially misunderstood second album Wilder and mixing in new material that would feature on their third album, had they indeed actually finished one without, er, imploding.

The Teardrop Explodes were contemporaries and rivals of Echo and the Bunnymen, and were at first the more popular band, launching the career of veteran cosmic polymath Julian Cope. They favored a more organ-heavy approach to post-punk neo-psych than the Bunnymen, but the bands weren’t especially dissimilar, and they grew more musically ambitious more or less in parallel (Cope and head Bunnyman Ian McCulloch had briefly been in a band together prior to their fame). The Teardrops’ lineup did some revolving during their lifetime, but here it’s Cope, founding drummer Gary Dwyer, on-again-off-again keyboardist David Balfe, guitarist Troy Tate, and bassist Ronnie François, supplemented with occasional horns, possibly Wilder session players Luke Tunney and Ted Emmett, but I can’t confirm that. Here’s the set list. Note that there’s not a single tune from their revered debut Kilimanjaro here, save for “Suffocate,” which was only on the US version.

Colours Fly Away
Falling Down Around Me
You Disappear From View
Seven Views Of Jerusalem
Log Cabin
Tiny Children
Screaming Secrets
The Culture Bunker

Within months of this luminous performance, Cope would jettison François and Tate (the latter of whom would end up in a lineup of Fashion by September of ‘82), and the trio of Cope, Balfe and Dwyer would enter the Studio to record LP 3. It was doomed. Keyboardist Balfe, who’d not really seen eye-to-eye with Cope and as such had been fired from and re-hired into the band before, took over the recording process, endeavoring to create a synth record. Cope was too acid-fried to do much of anything about it besides quit after recording a mere handful of vocal tracks. What could be salvaged was released as the weird-but-not-really-in-the-good-way You Disappear From View EP, though the “last album” Everybody Wants to Shag The Teardrop Explodes was eventually cobbled together for release in 1990. Cope of course went on to a fruitful and still quite active career as perhaps the single most productive acid casualty in the history of mankind, producing numerous and wonderful pop albums, curating compilations, and writing authoritative books on Krautrock, Japanese experimental rock, and archaeology.

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Julian Cope plays the first Phoenix Festival wearing a yellow jockstrap, 1993
10:02 am


Julian Cope

This isn’t professional footage, but it’s the only footage you’re likely ever to see of Julian Cope’s unhinged performance at the first Phoenix Festival, held near Stratford-upon-Avon in 1993. Captured two-thirds of the way through recording the sublime Peggy Suicide trilogy and in the full flower of manhood, Cope and band blast through a thirteen-song set drawn mostly from this beloved period of the Arch-Drude’s solo career.

As if to fulfill an ancient prophecy, Cope played Stratford a little over four centuries after Shakespeare moved away from the town to make his name in London. In fact, I believe the Bard foretold this performance in Act 3, Scene 3 of Henry V. It’s all there but the yellow jockstrap:

The gates of mercy shall be all shut up,
And the flesh’d soldier, rough and hard of heart,
In liberty of bloody hand shall range
With conscience wide as hell, mowing like grass
Your fresh-fair virgins and your flowering infants.

To Island Records’ lasting shame, the label had dropped Cope days after the release of 1992’s JEHOVAHKILL, which remains one of his very best albums. In the UK, this dickhead move redounded to Cope’s benefit, making Island look greedy and clueless, Cope righteous and cooler than ever. So here he was, less than a year later, playing second only to Sonic Youth on the first night of a big new festival.

He takes the stage in a boilersuit and some kind of bearded headgear about which I am not qualified to speculate, kicking off with JEHOVAHKILL‘s motorik epic “The Subtle Energies Commission.” Cope then strips down (have I mentioned the yellow jockstrap?) to sing the most brain-damaging song in his oeuvre, “Hanging Out & Hung Up On The Line,” and if your full attention hasn’t been captured by this point, then I suspect you and I might disagree about what constitutes an interesting phenomenon, to say nothing of “a good time.”  

Julian Cope live at the Phoenix Festival, Stratford-upon-Avon, 1993
In case you want to watch Julian Cope but crave higher production values, here’s an excellent feature from a 1991 episode of BBC’s The Late Show:

And check out Cope’s new “time-shifting gnostic hooligan road novel,” One Three One.

Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
Hear the 1978 sampling record championed by John Peel, Throbbing Gristle and Julian Cope

The second release on the tiny English label Waldo’s Records was a 45 credited to one “Nigel Simpkins.” The three songs on X. ENC. (1978), Simpkins’ only record, organized alien found-sound collages around a single, insistent drum loop. In the single’s fold-out liner notes, beneath numerous shots of the pseudonymous musician with his face obscured, a note from Waldo himself alluded darkly to the mystery man’s recent troubles in the music biz: “Nigel,” whoever he was, was forced to record incognito “to avoid 3 years of lawyer trouble he’d just left behind him, after leaving his previous band.”

Waldo was goofing. As it turned out, the man behind the shades was Martin “Cally” Callomon, a member of The Bears (see Waldo’s first release) and the Tea Set (see Waldo’s third release), who would soon manage the mighty Julian Cope and, later, the estate of Nick Drake. Cope remembers the impact of the Nigel Simpkins 45 in his second memoir, Repossessed:

[...] Cally Callomon had a punk pedigree, an experimental pedigree, a Krautrock pedigree, the lot. He knew his music because he had lived it. For fuck’s sake—this man was Nigel Simpkins.

Nigel Simpkins had released the first ever sampling record in 1978, to tremendous applause from the underground scene. ‘Time’s Encounter’ [the A-side of X. ENC.] had taken a drum demonstration record and added snippets of every hip record in the world to its Krautrock stew. Neu! Can, Stockhausen, SAHB, Amon Duul 2, Meryl Fankauser [sic], Dr. Z, Soeur Sourire, Metal Urbain, Doctors of Madness, Runaways, Residents, George Harrison’s Wonderwall Music, Pierre Henry, Charles Ives, Dashiell Hedayat’s Obsolete, Hymie Kangaroo Downstein’s classic Australian glam album Forgotten Starboy, it was all on that record, even Godley & Cream’s [sic] Consequences and the T. Dream freakout from Sci-Finance, where Lulu finds the guy’s head on the hot beach. The sleeve featured “Nigel” as a guy with Madcap Laughs-period Syd Barrett hair, wearing seven pairs of shades at the same time—it was an image that Robyn Hitchcock would copy a year or so later.

‘Time’s Encounter’ had sold truckloads and never been off the John Peel show, though Cally treated it as an inspired joke at best. What? Throbbing Gristle had cited it as one of the most forward-looking 45s of its time and everybody had run to cop some of its trip. Planks all, said Cally.

Admittedly, even after narrowing Cope’s list of sources down to those that actually existed, I can’t identify note one when I listen to X. ENC. However, I don’t listen to this 36-year-old disc to hear familiar samples—I listen to it because it resembles a crude field recording from a society that does not yet exist, and so sounds more futuristic to my ears than any EDM.

X. ENC. side A: “Times Encounter”

X. ENC. side B: “Scattered Strategies” and “Oblique References”

Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
Saint Julian: Julian Cope live in NYC, 1987
03:53 pm


Julian Cope

From the very first time I heard The Teardrop Explodes in 1981, I’ve been a massive Julian Cope fan. I’d go so far as to say that he’s one of my only living heros, up there with Jello Biafra and the surviving members of the Firesign Theatre. The Arch Drude is revered in this household as a dharma warrior of the first order. He’s a super rad guy. I have mad respect, as the kids say, for what he stands for.

I’ve seen Julian Cope live “in concert” three times.

The first was in London, in 1984, at the infamous Hammersmith Palais gig where Cope snapped a mic-stand over his knee during “Reynard the Fox” and scraped the jagged metal across his chest, back and stomach, drawing er, copious amounts of blood. The incident was widely reported on in the British music press at the time and was one of the things—although certainly not the only thing—that led him to have a Syd Barrett or Roky Erickson-esque mantle of acid casualty placed around his neck.

At least in my memory of the event, I swear to you that until the self-mutilation incident near the end of the show, it was one of the most memorably professional rock shows I’d ever seen. The band was tight, Cope was in great voice and looked cool as fuck, there was a real momentum to the set list (he was promoting the recently released World Shut Your Mouth album, which I was nuts over) and there was a fantastic psychedelic oil lamp light show with these cool slides of American Indian faces projected behind him (And yes, in case you are wondering, I was on acid, it seemed like a “must” for my first Julian Cope show. When I returned home after the gig, the second biggest riot I’ve ever seen was taking place on my block, but that’s a tale for another time).

But like I was saying, it was an extremely slick rock show right up until the very moment he decided to slice his stomach open during a spoken word monologue about a rockstar slicing his stomach open onstage...

[When Peggy Suicide was released in 1991, I interviewed Cope at the Island Records offices in New York. As I was leaving, I mentioned that I was at this particular show. He laughed sheepishly and produced his wallet. “Well, you’ll appreciate this: Whenever I’m feeling like I’m fucked in the head, I pull out this picture”—it was of a shirtless, blood-covered Cope from the concert I’d seen—“and I remind myself that however fucked up I think I am I am still not THAT fucked!”]

The second time I saw Cope live, it was at The Ritz (now Webster Hall) in NYC in 1987. The bloody madman of the previous concert was nowhere to be seen. Instead we got the black leather-clad “rock god” version of his act, which included his infamous custom-built mic-stand and a set largely comprised of songs from Saint Julian and his first two solo albums (just one Teardrop Explodes number).

Now here’s the thing, MTV had a short-lived series of live shows, Live at The Ritz, shot obviously, at The Ritz. This was one of them. It didn’t ruin the show or anything, but it didn’t help it, either (I was also in attendance at a show by The Cult around the same time that MTV shot and the mood at that gig was irreparably harmed). I was right up in the front for this show, so I was always curious to see the MTV broadcast. Finally last month, someone put it up on YouTube and it conforms largely to my memory of the event.

The third time I saw Julian Cope live, it was on the Peggy Suicide tour (the last time he played America?) and he’d dropped the slick rockstar persona and the show was stupendous and brought the house down.

And now on to the video of The Ritz show from January 28, 1987

1. Trampolene
2. Pulsar
3. Eve’s Volcano
4. Strasbourg
5. St. Julian
6. Sunspots
7. Non Alignment Pact
8. Bouncing Babies
9. The Greatness And Perfection Of Love
10. Bandy’s First Jump
11. Shot Down
12. Spacehopper
13. Zabriskie Point
14. World Shut Your Mouth
15. Levitation

Julian Cope - vocals, guitar; Donald Ross Skinner - electric & slide guitar; James Eller - bass; Keith Richard Frost - keyboards; Chris Whitten - drums.

Via Stupefaction

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Christ versus Warhol: Teardrop Explodes b-side a post-punk gem
08:41 pm


Andy Warhol
Julian Cope
The Teardrop Explodes

The Last Supper (detail) Andy Warhol, 1986

It may be an obscure Teardrop Explodes b-side, but I think you’ll agree that “Christ versus Warhol” should be in the running for the “Greatest Song Title of All Time Award.”

The brooding flip of 1981’s “Passionate Friend” single. In my eyes Julian Cope can do no wrong, but this song is a stunner. Long live the Arch-Drude!

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
The Copendium cometh! Julian Cope’s megalithic hidden history of rock
01:13 pm


Julian Cope
Ash Ra Tempel

If you haven’t heard, there’s a new Julian Cope book coming out and even compared to his other incredibly worthwhile publications (The Modern Antiquarian and The Megalithic European, extensive studies of Britain’s and Europe’s ancient stone circles megalithic sites, the classics Japrocksampler and Krautrocksampler and his hilariously honest autobiographical accounts of the Liverpool punk scene and his own rock stardom in Head On and the follow-up, Repossessed) this one looks like a complete motherfucker.

It’s 768 pages to lose yourself in and discover new things. A signed, deluxe edition of 250 will come with three CDs. Here’s the description from the publisher, Faber & Faber’s website:

Julian Cope’s Copendium is his re-imagining of a useful canon of popular music, which is set to become required reading. It’s available initially in a limited and highly collectable edition (see below) - with a standard edition due in November 2012.

Copendium comprises a collection of album reviews and themed track samplers that lay out an alternative history of the last six decades of popular music, written by the visionary musician, antiquarian and musicologist. The result is a feast of obscure and neglected masterworks; Krautrock, motorik and post-punk, stoner and doom metal, occasionally even jazz, spoken word and hair metal.

Julian Cope is the perfect guide to this novel terrain: impeccably informed, passionate, insightful and deeply funny.

The fact is, for many people—and I am very definitely in this camp, myself—a musical recommendation from Julian Cope is practically a decree to get your hands on something, the same way it was when Lester Bangs wrote about The Stooges, Lou Reed or The Clash. Cope’s wild-eyed passion for convincing you, his reader, that you need, nay MUST have this deep rock and roll epiphany that he has had and that some obscure or overlooked album is a very real and necessary shamanic rite of passage, is, for me, frankly irresistible. The quality of his prose is second to none (I detect the influence of Bangs, yes, but also John Sinclair or Mick Farren in his more polemic essays) and he’s just got fucking phenomenal taste.

Truly, there is no better guide, none, to the hidden history of the last six decades of music, both popular and otherwise, than Julian Cope. Over the years, I have been turned on to so much amazing, life-enhancing, life-changing music that I feel like I owe him a heartfelt public thank you. Has anyone written as passionately about music since the death of Lester Bangs, than Julian Cope? Not one writer comes to mind.

It was via Cope’s Fire Escape in the Sky: The Godlike Genius of Scott Walker compilation that I first heard of Scott Walker, for instance, inspiring at least a ten-year long Scott Walker obsession for me. And it was Cope’s brilliantly written assessment of Miles Davis’s “difficult” electric phase of the early to mid-70s that saw me dive deeply into those funky waters (and a year-long period where I listened to practically nothing else—my neighbors must have hated my fucking guts!).

Hell, I first picked up on Faust due to Julian Cope (this alone calls for more than a public thank you—perhaps naming a child after him?). The Taj Mahal Travellers? Never heard of ‘em before Japrocksampler, now I am obsessed with their music. I could go on and on.

In fact, here’s something that I was turned onto just this very morning via Cope’s writing on his Head Heritage website. My introduction to Ash Ra Tempel came via their Seven Up collaboration with Timothy Leary. It’s not an easy thing to listen to (the band and Leary were tripping on LSD when they recorded it) and is something that I filed away with my collection of Timothy Leary memorabilia (not my CDs), probably never to listen to again, frankly. I was not interested in hearing more. However, this morning I came across this essay, from 2000:

Ash Ra Tempel’s first two LPs had taken the metal of Detroit to heights not even considered by the MC5 or the Stooges or even Funkadelic. Sure those groups had got close on stage. But Ash Ra Tempel got it on record. While the collective Detroit obsession with the Outer-spacings of Sun Ra and the free-jazz innervisions of John Coltrane had been tamed beyond recognition by the American record industry, Ash Ra Tempel suffered no such disappointment. And those searching for the fulfilment of the Detroit promise need have looked no further than Ash Ra Tempel in 1971. There’s a part of Iggy Pop’s autobiographical I Need More in which he writes (p.17) about the early Stooges sound thus:

“...I’d play this sort of wild Hawaiian guitar with a pick-up that I invented, which meant that I made two sounds at one time, like an airplane…using 55-gallon oil cans which I got from a junkyard and rigged up as bass drums, I home-made a drumset. For drumsticks I designed these semi-plastic moulded hammers. Scotty beat the shit out of these cans; it sounded like an earthquake – thunderous… It was entirely instrumental at this time, like jazz gone wild. It was very North African, a very tribal sound: very electronic. We would play like that for about 10 minutes. Then everybody would have to get really stoned again…But what we had put into 10 minutes was so total and so very savage – the earth shook, then cracked, and SWALLOWED ALL MISERY WHOLE.” (my capitals)

Music that Swallowed All Misery Whole…

In the first two Ash Ra Tempel LPs, Ash Ra Tempel and Schwingungen, they had captured on record All that Iggy Pop had promised Could Be but, because of Record Industry Hang-ups, had been unable to deliver. And this music which could Swallow All Misery Whole reached into the core of each musician who played in Ash Ra Tempel and pulled out, still wriggling, the cosmic conger eel of white light which so few artists ever capture in the Moment of Recording.

For years, I had drooled over that description in I Need More. I’d shown many friends that passage – I had bored them with it. And all the time Ash Ra Tempel had already done it in 1971… But it was not without a price. The first LP was by a Kosmische power-rock trio of gargantuan size. The 20-minute opening track “Amboss (Anvil)” was all of Iggy Pop’s above description and more. Sure it was a fucking cosmic freakout. But it was played by Renaissance Man and Cosmic Man at the same time.

Fuck Jim Morrison’s ridiculous “Renaissance Man of the Mind” description.
That was just an excuse to be a fat slob.
That was just an existentialist knee-jerk.
No. No. No.

These freaks were fit. Superhuman. Superman.

They were here to go. But all in good time. And they had staying power over 20-minute tracks. On “Amboss”, Klaus Schultze plays drums like a hundred drummers. He’s not twice as powerful, he’s a hundred times as powerful. Hartmut Enke, the spiritual leader of the band, hits his Gibson bass the way only a giant could: the huge extra-longnecked she-bass was courted, cajoled and ultimately goosed into action by this huge handsome freak they all called The Hawk. And Manuel Gottsching plays blues like Clapton, but right alongside pre-emptive Keith Levene white noise and egoless as Lou Reed’s Live 1969 rhythm guitar freakouts. The interplay is so intuitive that frequently it’s impossible to hear the instruments — you just hear the Music. And the LP was housed in yet another of Ohr Records’ extravagant packages — a centrally opening gatefold with an Ancient Egyptian exterior, a freaky occult gematriac interior, and a tragically beautiful Head poem that began: “I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness staring hysterical naked, dragging themselves through the Negro streets at dawn looking for an angry fix.”

After the jump, hear “Amboss” by Ash Ra Tempel…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Julian Cope’s ‘Krautrocksampler’ in PDF form

You have to love someone who scans every single page of their favourite book just so they can spread the wordy magic with their friends on the internet. So, big thanks then to Evan Levine at the Swan Fungus blog for doing just that with the rare-as-hens-teeth Krautrocksampler by Julian Cope. A history and compendium of German rock from the 60s and 70s, Levine says of the book:

Back in the great, distant era of erm…the mid-’90s, there was a chap by the name of Julian Cope (ex-Teardrop Explodes/music-writer geek), who decided he wanted to chronicle the history of the Krautorck genre. So, he wrote an excellent book, called Krautrocksampler, in which he not only tells readers exactly when and wear he bought all these much-sought-after-now-sadly out-of-print LPs, but paints a great picture of West Germany in the ’60s and ’70s. When he’s not waxing (his bikini) poetic, he recounts crazy stories, and draws very cool connections between projects and personalities. Cope even proclaims that Klaus Dinger “directly influenced David Bowie to take his Low direction” and “had a direct effect on the Sex Pistols, via Johnny Rotten”. Thassalotta influence!

Having wanted this for a while, now I can read it while I try to track down a copy. In case of imminent yankage I recommend anyone else who wants it gets it now too.

Thanks to Pee Six.

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment
Japan’s Yodo-go Hijack: The most revolutionary act in rock history

Via Dorian Cope’s essential On This Deity blog:

Forty-one years ago today occurred the all-time single-most revolutionary political act in rock’n’roll, when Moriaki Wakabayashi – bass player of Tokyo’s underground legends Les Rallizes Denudés – accompanied several other members of the Japanese Red Army Faction in the armed hijack of Japan Airlines Fight 351. Here is a full account of this extraordinary event from Julian Cope’s 2007 Japrocksampler:

“In the early morning of March 31st, nine members of the Japanese Red Army Faction, all aged between nineteen and twenty-one years old, boarded a Japan Airways Boeing 727 at Tokyo’s Haneda Airport, on an internal flight bound for Fukuoka. At 7.33 a.m., soon after the aircraft had reached its cruising height, the nine terrorists stormed the cockpit armed with pipe bombs and samurai swords, screaming the fearful words: ‘We are Ashitano Jeo!’ From this first moment of the hijacking, many of the 129 passengers aboard, still bleary-eyed and expecting a forty-five minute flight, had become hysterical with fear because their assailants were screaming longhairs who were aligning themselves with a famous Manga outsider TV hero who’d striven to win a boxing championship in a cartoon series of the same name. Like the Manson Family’s daubing of phrases such as ‘Political Piggy’ and ‘Helter Skelter’ around their crime scenes, the Yodo-go hijackers decision to invoke the ‘divine’ power of cartoon hero Ashitano Jeo was way too far outside all frames of reference for the stricken passengers.

Demanding that the pilot take them all to Cuba, the hijackers were furious to discover that the Yodo-go had only enough fuel for its original destination, and they reluctantly agreed to land at Fukuoka’s Itatsuki Airport. For three long days, the Yodo-go sat on the tarmac as negotiations took place. Eventually, a compromise was reached. The authorities agreed that the airliner should be allowed to fly instead to Pyongyang, in Communist North Korea, if twenty-three women and children were allowed to leave the airline in return for a total refuelling and the substitution of the Japanese transport minister Shinjuru Yamamura as hostage. The aeroplane set off westwards, but the Yodo-go’s pilot Shinki Iashida hoodwinked the hijackers into landing at South Korea’s Gimpo Airport, at 3pm. Believing that the runway was a part of North Korea’s Pyongyang Airport, the hijackers sought to confirm this by asking a member of the ground crew for a photo of dictator Kim Il Sung as proof of their northerly position. Denied this proof, the nervous hijackers then panicked and refused all food and drink. However, they eventually accepted that all the passengers – including many US nationals – should be allowed to leave the aircraft, in return for permission to fly to North Korea. The plane left Gimpo airport and headed north, landing in the disused Minimu Airport, where the North Korean authorities hailed the nine as cultural heroes, granted them political asylum, and insisted that they remain in North Korea, where they received military medals and were given ‘luxury accommodation’ at the Village of the Revolution.

In Japan, the ramifications were massive, for the hijacking was both humiliating for the Japanese authorities, and disturbing to the wider world, who were then still reeling from the bombing of Milan’s Piazza Fontana by right wing extremists the previous December. Furthermore, the presence of so many US nationals aboard the Yodo-go had brought the CIA to Japan and the names of the nine hijackers only emerged via the media in dribs and drabs. Slowly, the Japanese underground realised that this hijack had indeed been the work of their own people, many having been students from Osaka University or Kyoto’s forward-thinking Doshishi University. But for Japan’s burgeoning underground rock’n’roll scene, the strangest presence of all among the hijackers was that of Moriaki Wakabayashi, bass player with ‘The Radical Music Black Gypsy Band’ Les Rallizes Denudés.”

[ Julian Cope’s Japrocksampler pps. 123-124]

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
DETROITROCKSAMPLER: Arch-Drude Julian Cope drops some knowledge on you
12:34 pm


Julian Cope

Arch-Drude Julian Cope, dropped an appropriately pagan seasonal gift for the world’s music fans when he posted his insanely great DETROITROCKSAMPLER online last month. If you haven’t listened to any of Cope’s various erudite ROCKSAMPLERs, you’re really missing out, because they’re ALL great. What’s not to love about a mixed tape put together by one of the world’s greatest music heads? There is EVERYTHING to love with this new one, I can assure you.

DETROITROCKSAMPLER consists of thirty-eight of the finest slabs of guitar-drenched music to come out of Detroit Rock City from the mid-60s to the late 70s, with all the bands you’d expect to see represented and plenty that you’ll probably be hearing for the first time. The tracklisting features the original 45 version of the MC5’s “Looking at You,” some Alice Cooper, The Amboy Dukes, The Bob Seger System (pictured above), a demo from Mynah Birds (Motown’s integrated rock act with Rick James and Neil Young! (James was incarcerated for deserting the army, breaking the band up), the under-rated Grand Funk Railroad, SRC, Frigid Pink, Iggy and the Stooges, Funkadelic’s “Cosmic Slop,” a Brother Wayne Kramer solo single from 1975, Stooge Ron Asheton’s decidedly un-PC band The New Order, Destroy All Monsters, and a rarity from the sessions for the first Stooges album called “Asthma Attack.” The “liner notes” are, as you might expect, classic Cope. He’s the best and most passionate rock writer since Lester Bangs (there is no close second in the rock prose department, none).

There was a time when gourmet fare like this was available only on expensive import CDs. No more. Now everyone with an Internet can be musically enlightened. What are you waiting for, brothers and sisters? Smoke a joint, crank up the speakers and kick out the jams, motherfuckers.

I love Julian Cope. Long may the Arch-Drude thrive.

Below, The MC5 performing an absolutely furious live version of “Looking at You” in 1970:

Thank you Chris Campion!

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Julian Cope explores the geography of the mystic

In addition to being a smashing songwriter, singer and memoirist, Julian Cope has spent the past 20 years exploring and documenting Britain’s megalithic heritage: monuments, stone circles, hill forts and barrows. In this documentary made for the BBC, we follow Cope on his journey into the geography of the mystic, a place of ceremony and magic.

The documentary is a companion piece to Cope’s splendid, sadly out-of-print, 1998 book ‘The Modern Antiquarian’. Fortunately, for those of us interested in sacred places he curates a website and you can find it here.

Since launching in March 2000ce, the site has grown to be a massive resource for news, information, images, folklore & weblinks on the ancient sites across the UK, Ireland and Europe.


Watch parts 2-6 after the jump…

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
Julian Cope: All Hail the Arch Drude on his birthday!
12:44 pm


Julian Cope

Today is the 53rd birthday of the great Mister Julian Cope! As regular readers of this blog know, I think Cope is one of the coolest motherfuckers alive. Here’s an excerpt from an earlier Dangerous Minds post I wrote about him:

My friend Wm. Ferguson and I met the Arch Drude at the Island Records offices near Tower Records in lower Manhattan. During the interview Cope told us about the mystical experience he had that led to his vision of the earth dying that inspired Peggy Suicide’s somewhat bleak environmentalist message. I recall that we discussed a certain book about Helena Blavatsky which he and I had both read and he compared the physical sensation of his mystic moment to the first time a pubescent boy masturbates, not quite pleasurable and very confusing, a sort of mental orgasm felt in the brain. I asked him if he felt conflicted about bringing a child into a world—his wife Dorian was then pregnant with their first daughter—that he so obviously thought was terminal. He paused and said, “Well, yeah the world is fucked, but it’s not THAT fucked that it can’t be saved, certainly. We’ve got to try.” I then voiced my own skepticism about bring new life into the world—I was 25 at the time—and he said something that I will never forget and have repeated to friends expecting children several times: “If people like you and I stop having children, we’ve ceded our world to the idiots. All intelligent people should have as many babies as possible to prevent all the thick, ungroovy Christians from taking over.”

When we were leaving, I mentioned in passing that I’d seen the infamous Hammersmith Palais show of his first UK solo tour in 1984, a concert that saw Cope performing a bloody act of self-mutilation. During the encore of “Reynard the Fox,” Cope snapped his mike-stand in half and proceeded to rake the jagged edge across his chest, back and stomach drawing lots of blood and generally freaking out the entire audience! Up until the very end it had been a slick, professional rock show. A girl standing near me puked when she saw what he had done. It cemented Cope’s reputation as a Syd Barrett-like acid casualty.

Cope laughed sheepishly and pulled out his wallet. “Well, you’ll appreciate this: Whenever I’m feeling like I am fucked in the head, I pull out this picture—” it was of a bloodied Cope from the concert I’d seen “—and I remind myself that however fucked up I think I am I am still not THAT fucked!”

Read more: Julian Cope: Someone spiked his acid

A great vintage Teardrop Explodes clip after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
New Julian Cope books coming
09:16 pm


Julian Cope

Regular readers of this blog know that we’re all big Julian Cope fans, so this is great news. The idea of a best of collection of writing from Head Heritage, his sprawling website seems especially appealing to me, but the idea of a Cope-penned novel will be Nirvana for fans. His most recent written work, 2007’s Japanrocksampler, was in my top five books for that year. From The Bookseller:

Faber has secured a three-book deal with eccentric British rock star Julian Cope. Lee Brackstone, publishing director, bought world rights in Cope’s books in all languages for an undisclosed sum from Robert Kirby at United Agents.

The first book, Lives of the Prophets: A New Perspective, is scheduled for delivery in September 2011 and for publication a year later. The publisher described the book as a biography of “‘sent men’ from The Odin and Zoroaster through St Paul, Christ, Mohammed, John Brown and beyond”.

The book suggests modern equivalents of the prophets, including figures like Malcolm X, and “such derided and despised pariahs as Oliver Cromwell, Chairman Mao and Adolf Hitler”.

The Cope Compendium is a collection of Cope’s writing on music, culture, politics and religion from his Headheritage website during the past decade. A release date is yet to be confirmed. The third book is a novel called 131, which is set during the Italia ‘90 World Cup and describes “the adventures of four lads from the north-west and their descent into the Neolithic Underworld of Sardinia over the course of the tournament”.

Cope, a practising druid, is best known for his work with the post-punk group The Teardrop Explodes but has also written several books, including the critically acclaimed music title Krautrocksampler.

Faber’s Brackstone said: “Part Robert Graves, part Iggy Pop, part Lester Bangs, Julian’s prose and his unconventional way of looking at the world is inspiring, necessary and always surprising.”

Faber signs three from rocker Cope (The Bookseller)

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Page 1 of 2  1 2 >