Picture the scene.

A radio station is churning out some classic 80s hits, one of which causes a listener to recall how much he (for it is inevitably a ‘he’) adored it back in the day and that he would love to get his hands on a copy. He’s one of those blokes who is bigging-up the vinyl revival of the second decade of the 21st century, rueing the day 25 years ago when he threw his records in a skip having spent a fortune buying much of it again on CD format.

He spends much of his spare time these days roaming around second-hand stores, hoping for bargains but happy to pay whatever the asking price is for a record he is fond of. He spies this album and smiles as it was the song he’d heard the other day on the radio.

The only problem for our ‘hero’ is that while the album may be called World Shut Your Mouth, the hit single of the same name is nowhere to be found. Indeed, the music on the album bears absolutely no resemblance to the hit single and sounds like the work of a madman rather than a pop star. He feels conned and cheated.

By the way, that’s all just an imaginary scene in my head. I don’t think it ever actually happened…….

It’s fair to say that very few, if any, of the material from Julian Cope’s 1984 debut LP gets aired much on mainstream radio stations nowadays. Indeed, I’d be surprised if anything other than his 1987 smash single, which can be found on the highly accessible Saint Julien LP, gets much of a spin. WSYM is one of those brilliant, dance-floor filling pop songs that offers the killer combination of memorable tune and chorus with a wonderful production which prevents it dating. Believe me, if you click on this mp3 download, it will stick in your brain for hours on end. You’ll end up thinking that Julian should update the lyric and re-release it by substituting the word ‘Trump’ for ‘World’

mp3 : Julian Cope – World Shut Your Mouth

A #19 hit here in the UK, it also enjoyed a #22 placing on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks chart, a fact on its own that would have given Julian some food for thought as there’s no way he ever wanted to be described as either mainstream or rock.

His subsequent solo career never spanned those heights again, although a few more of his 45s did creep into the lower end of the UK charts, a situation I’m sure he was more than comfortable about, much to the chagrin of his label bosses.

WSYM was issued in 7” and 12” format, in this sleeve.

The 12” offered up four very interesting and diverse b-sides, including a couple of covers:-

mp3 : Julian Cope – I’ve Got Levitation
mp3 : Julian Cope – Umpteenth Unnatural Blues
mp3 : Julian Cope – Non-Alignment Pact
mp3 : Julian Cope – Transporting

The first track of these was written and recorded by cult 60s American psychedelic outfit The 13th Floor Elevators, a band that Julian had been championing since way back in his days with The Teardrop Explodes. The other cover is the third track, this time of a song by Pere Ubu, a group who christened themselves ‘avant-garage’ as an explanation that the foundations of their music can be found in avant-garde and the very raw garage rock. They were another group much quoted by Julian Cope but I’ve certainly always found them to be just too acquired for my own tastes. Maybe there’s an ICA from someone out there…..

Worth mentioning that production and engineering credits for the b-sides sit with an individual by the name of Double DeHarrison…..which is just one of a number of aliases adopted by Julian Cope over the past near 40 years in the music business.


8 thoughts on “WORLD SHUT YOUR MOUTH

  1. Got me intrigued to hear the album now, JC. I always assumed the single of the same name was on the album which by extension of the wrong premise suggested that the album would be Julian at his most “pop-y”.

    Sounds like it’s quite the opposite.

    I liked the Teardrops OK but really only caught up with Julian again at JehovahKill.

  2. I was lucky enough to catch Julian Cope touring The States in Florida […!] back in 1987 opening up for Siouxsie + The Banshees. What a solid double bill that was. We had to trek to St. Petersburg from Orlando, but that was well worth the 90 or so minutes. Thankfully, his Stateside success and Island touring support allowed it to happen.

    As for Pere Ubu, you really owe it to yourself to investigate. Start with their radio friendly “Fontana Years” which offer up the most poptastic work they ever made. “Cloudland” is full of classic pop allusions in the fulsome melodies and harmonies they proffer and features most of their spikes filed down to surprisingly good effect, though any band fronted by Dave Thomas will always stand apart from chart fodder. Of course, like Roxy Music, I love their avant-garde side equally, if not moreso. “The Modern Dance” was, I reiterate, the expression of American artists who having heard the first Roxy Music album, took artistic, but crucially – not stylistic inspiration from it in spades. The charts are littered with Roxy clone bands. Some of these I even hold a bright candle for, [JAPAN, Icehouse] but rare is the band like Pere Ubu who were clearly inspired by, but sounded not a whit like Roxy themselves. I really enjoy every Pere Ubu album I’ve gotten… with the exception of “New Picnic Time.” There, you’re on your own.

  3. Frog from The Farmers Boys played keyboards on the tour, great Gig at Rock City and Glastonbury, they did Stasbourg, and NAP, and they went down a storm…they also Did Read It in Books, as were Bunnymen at the same time

  4. Love WSYM (album) – kept me sane in the mid 80’s – ‘An elegant chaos’ is just a brilliant song and has the best bovine reference ever…all my mates loved Queen and I could never convince them that JC was just so much better….

  5. n my book WSYM and its follow-up (9 months later), Fried, are the JC’s best. Mad, probably. Eccentric, certainly. And agree with Badger21 about Elegant Chaos – some of the most bizarre yet memorable lines in a rock song ever.

    I remember Cope interviewed at the time saying that the recording costs for the whole WYSM of the WYSM album were less than half of Tears For Fears (then label-mates) then current single The Way You Are. Yes, its slightly trashy, bog-standard Casio keyboards and everything. But for imagination and song-writing, and find it hard to beat.

  6. I have always loved WSYM – The Album – for its consistent stance as Cope’s album and not something that a record company A+R team forced on him. It also holds a song which should have been a gigantic hit – Strasbourg…”If I were France and you were Germany, what an alliance that would be”…foreshadowing words in this post Brexit world…
    WSYM also has a personal favorite – The Greatness And Perfection Of Love. Here’s another song that should have been really pushed as a single. Instead, it was allowed to float downstream and disappear.

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