Julian Cope Saint Julian
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Also Available Saint Julian Reissue.
A switch to Island Records resulted in the best possible start -- not merely a generally fine album but a simply fantastic hit U.K. single, "World Shut Your Mouth." Nothing to do with the record of the same name but definitely possessing much of the same energy, it's a great slice of modern rock, with a crisp arrangement and punchy performance from Cope and his band. Skinner and Fried drummer Chris Whitten reappear, while bassist James Eller and keyboardist Double DeHarrison fill out the lineup. Kate St. John once again adds cor anglais here and there, one of her best moments being the bright charge of the title track. Together they tackle a set of songs notably less insular than much of the Fried material, with full-on performances to match. One song shows that best of all -- "Shot Down," which originally appeared on Fried and here becomes a swaggering, pounding rocker with keyboards adding to the impact. More than ever before in his solo career, Cope sounds like he's performing songs meant to be heard live, as the charging "Trampoline" and "Spacehopper" show. There's an almost finger-snapping, swinging vibe to a number of the performances that recall Teardrop Explodes days without trying to simply re-create that sound -- he's not trying to revisit the past, there's no need. A few numbers sound a bit too cold and crisp to work entirely -- "Planet Ride" is arena soul/rock that sounds like something Robert Palmer would have done around the same time, lyrics aside. A couple of other moments like that crop up, but with the balance skewed more to joys like Cope's in-your-face vocal on "Pulsar" and the lengthy final track "A Crack in the Clouds," Saint Julian is another winner.