60 ALBUMS @ 60 : #51


Kilimanjaro(reissue)-The Teardrop Explodes (1981)

Yup.  I’m happy to admit that the record label got it right when it decided that the debut album from The Teardrop Explodes should be reissued with the inclusion of the big hit single, even if they did choose to house it in an appalling sleeve.

Kilimanjaro was originally released in October 1980.  It entered the chart at #35 in its first week, before it tumbled out of the Top 75 over the next three weeks.  This wasn’t too difficult to understand as the band were very much a cult act, known primarily for their time with Liverpool-based Zoo Records prior to signing with Mercury.  Their first single for the major label, When I Dream, had been released just prior to the album but failed to make the Top 40.

In January 1981, the band released a new single, Reward, which, unusually at the time, wasn’t on the album.   Reward proved to be a smash hit, going all the way to #6.  Its success did have a positive impact on the sales of Kilimanjaro, as the album re-entered the charts at #36 in the same week that Reward peaked as a single.  But the fact it wasn’t to be found on the album was likely a factor in it again quickly dropping out of the Top 75.

The record label returned to the debut for the follow-up single, with the re-release of the remixed version of Treason (It’s Just A Story), the earlier version of which had been the final single ever released on Zoo Records.  It was also a Top 20 hit.

It was around this time that Mercury hit upon the idea of doing a different pressing of Kilimanjaro.   Reward was added to Side A in between what had been the fourth and fifth tracks.  Some tracks were remixed, while a further two minutes were added to the album’s final track, When I Dream, taking it all the way to a psychedelically fantastic seven minutes plus.

*Big thanks to Fraser for correcting things in the comments section.   The extra two minutes were only added years later with a CD reissue….that’s the version I have on the hard drive, and so made the schoolboy error!! 

The biggest change, of course, came with the sleeve. The picture of the band being replaced by a photo of a herd of zebras in front of Mount Kilimanjaro.   It certainly had enough people picking it up and thinking it was a brand-new album, as the next thing was that it was back in the charts, and all the way up to #24.

Thinking back on it, the success of Treason probably coincided with a period when the album was a bit more difficult to find in the shops, with no further pressings being made available to replace any sold stock, with everything on hold till the re-release had been pressed up and distributed.

No matter the reasons and the timing, it’s fair to say that the addition of Reward alone made the re-release a more rounded and essential purchase.  The purists might not like it, but so what?

mp3: The Teardrop Explodes – Reward

Kilimanjaro is an excellent album, and that’s why I’ve found a place for in this rundown.  It’s worth remembering that this was the work of a very young group of musicians – Julian Cope was coming up for his 23rd birthday when it was first released – and there’s a lot more pop and melody on show than you might come to expect if your point of entry was the modern day Cope.

All told, there were six tracks on it released as singles, whether by Zoo or Mercury.  The ones that had flopped could easily have been hits a second time around, but given that the band had already recorded another album’s worth of material in 1981, it was easy enough to move on.

It really did seem that the Teardrop Explodes had the pop world at their feet when the new single Passionate Friend was released in August 1981. Little did most fans know that things were unravelling at a scary pace, thanks to Julian’s ever-increasing devotion to LSD.


12 thoughts on “60 ALBUMS @ 60 : #51

  1. A record I should listen to more. I have a band sleeve version, a reissue from 1989 – a bad sleeve really can put me off and the zebra art work always looked a bit rushed / ill thought through. I wouldn’t have thought to expect this is your rundown. These little surprises are great fun.

  2. I often think of a parallel universe where ‘Reward’ was put out by a major record company with a sparkly video and was no 1 for weeks. The TE are the new big thing and they spend loads on the ‘treason’ video and that makes top 3 … would the TE have stayed together longer with major financial backing and sold out gigs across Europe? and at what point would have Copey gone from ‘I Like cups of tea’ interviews in Smash Hits to cutting himself on stage to Reynard with Mums having to turn away their kids…

  3. This is where I get on board. Was a big Teardrops fan from the Zoo singles and Peel sessions onwards, and played the original LP to death. Not that fond of Reward, which seemed a bit too manic, so didn’t get the zebra reissue until much later when the CD emerged with all the B-sides. Quite admire Cope for swerving the pop star route and becoming a certified weird cult fringe figure, although I never found much in the solo career to rival the two classic Teardrops LPs.

  4. I prefer the zebra cover to the band one . Remember the second lp
    along with the wild swans dominating the bargain bin iof the local
    Boots . Always wondered I who on earth was the misguided Liverpool sound fan who ended up ordering the records in a fenland Boots

  5. Like Flimflamfan I picked up a copy of the 1989 Fontana reissue with the band cover but the same track listing as the zebra version. I only bought it a few years ago mind, not in 1989. I quite liked Teardrop Explodes at the time, but not enough to buy anything. In 80-81 I was more in search of weirdo avant-garde than the kind of re-invented 60s brass-driven pop-rock that they seemed to offer. That probably wasn’t a very well informed assessment of what they were about, so I quite like this now, but because I ‘wasn’t there at the time’ it doesn’t occupy a special place.
    PS, I don’t know how long the final track on this pressing is – Discogs has it at 5.10 like the original, and says the zebra version was 5.39. The only 7 minute versions appear on CD reissues from 1999 and 2000. Their timings seem all over the place mind you so I wouldn’t necessarily trust them, but I must dig out the psychadelically fantastic version on Spotify…

  6. Cope’s autobiographies ‘Head On’ and ‘Reposessed’ are essential reads, whether you know any of the music or not. To me they are easily amongst the best music books ever written.

  7. I bought mine around the same time as Fraser although I found Wilder first then Kilimanjaro so the former has a stronger emotional connection for me. Both pretty faultless albums though. There’s a Teardrops box set coming out next month. Excludes the albums but includes lots of unreleased live tracks, demos and alternate versions from the vaults. As a Cope fanatic, I’m in.

    And I’ll second jimdoes comment on his autobiographies, they are both superb.

  8. Cheers Fraser. You’re, of course, absolutely right. I’ve amended the post, with a thanks to you. Just played the vinyl version and it does come in at approx 5.39.

  9. Agree with jimdoes, Head On is magnificent. I’ve read far too many music books and Cope’s is by far the best. Even taking it out of the music book category I’d still have it as one of the best books I’ve read.

  10. The band photo cover was what was released in the States. But I’d already heard ‘When I dream’ on a friend’s mixtape and was hooked. Saw the Teardrops at a tiny club in my hometown before they launched their first American tour. I was even more hooked and tracked down bought the Zebra version, for no particular reason. A perfect record — not a nearly perfect one.

  11. Where to start? In terms of Reward’s place in the record, it’s either there or it’s not, but it doesn’t make the album much better either way, IMHO. I bought the original first so that’s my preference but I can understand people taking the alternate view if they came to that first.

    Historically, there isn’t a definitive version, each reissue seems to have brought some changes and this is detailed here:


    Having said that, the original running order seems to have become standard as most reissues seem to have omitted Reward but I’m not 100% certain about what’s been remixed and what’s not.

    No doubt, before too long, I will get the original album off the shelves and compare it to the CD I have. And probably be surprised by the differences! That’s what retirement’s for, surely?

  12. I’m so glad Julian got into LSD. He’s a genius (and a sweetheart, he gives the nicest hugs) .
    Saying that, The Teardrop Explodes are a wonderful pop group. I compare it to early Pink Floyd and Syd’s two solo albums, both of which I adore.

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