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
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.