Today’s song is a request from Mark French.

mp3: The Teardrop Explodes – Reward

Aside from the fact that it’s a shout for a great piece of music, it also allows me to demonstrate that I don’t need to have a copy of a single to come up with a 320kpbs rip.  Yes, I did once own a copy of Reward by The Teardrop Explodes, but it was one of hundreds of 7″ singles that were left behind in an old flat in Edinburgh.  Regular readers from the olden days will be all too familiar with the sad tale, and it’s just too painful to recall it one more time for those who don’t know.  Let’s just say, it’s cost me a fair bit of money trying to put things right since 1986.

The vinyl rip instead comes from my copy of the album Kilimanjaro, itself the re-released version from 1981 with the zebras on the cover rather than the original from October 1980 which has a portrait of the band.  The reason for this being that the original release of Kilimanjaro didn’t include Reward which was initially released as a stand-alone single in January 1981, and going on to be the biggest hit single by the band, or indeed across the subsequent solo career of Julian Cope, by reaching #6.

The Guardian newspaper, in March 2015, had a feature on Reward in which Julian Cope and keyboardist Dave Balfe explained how they came up with and went about making the song.  It turns out it was written in the main by guitarist Alan Gill, with him coming up initially with the bassline. Cope wanted it to sound like a northern soul classic and their first stab at it came via an effort for a BBC radio session but when they later got into the actual recording studio, the frontman decided to remove the drum intro so that the first and last thing you heard were trumpets, which, to be fair, was a stroke of genius as this is the instrument which really drives the song forward at pace. Balfe, in confirming that the band had problems coming up initially with a satisfactory recording and mix, heaps praise on the frontman for the end result, describing it as “…a mad awesome record unlike anything else in pop. We sounded like Vikings on acid fronted by a lunatic.”

Here’s the version the band recorded for the BBC – it was for the Mike Read show on 16 October 1980, which went out in the slot immediately before that of John Peel:-

mp3: The Teardrop Explodes – Reward (BBC session version)

Anyone who followed The Teardrop Explodes closely will know that Reward was very much a one-off with them not recording anything similar ever again.  Indeed, much more typical of their output was the b-side of the 45, which I’ve lifted from its inclusion on the CD Everybody Wants to Shag…The Teardrop Explodes, their third and final album which was recorded in 1982 but not given a release until 1990, for the simple reason that Cope basically sacked everyone in the middle of the sessions.  Let’s just say a high intake of drugs was a factor, as indeed they were when this song was recorded:-

mp3: The Teardrop Explodes – Strange House In The Snow

I’m guessing the pop kids who loved the single didn’t play it more than once, that’s assuming they got to its end on the first spin they gave it.

As always with this blog, I’m very much open to guest contributions and/or suggestions for inclusion in this weekly series. Feel free to get in touch by email :



I’ve said it before, but I think it bears repeating.

One of my fondest live experiences was a gig played by Queen at Ingliston in Edinburgh in 1982.

Don’t rush to judge me on the basis of that sentence as I went along purely to see the support act which was The Teardrop Explodes. The booking agent either had a sick sense of humour or hated Queen fans, or both.

Julian Cope took to the stage to a barrage of abuse, the intensity of which I’ve rarely witnessed, but he was ready for it and up for the fight. He continually taunted the crowd and the band (which was more or less session musicians as The Teardrop Explodes had more or less imploded by this point in time) treated everyone to some real obscurities. My favourite moment was when St Julian said “Here’s the one of mine that I’m sure you all know and love’ and as fans roared in expectation of hearing Reward, he launched into an acoustic and quiet version of Use Me, the b-side to Treason, and sung it in French!

It had been just three years earlier that The Teardrop Explodes came onto the scene, one of a number of Liverpool-based acts who were on Zoo Records, a venture formed and fronted by Bill Drummond who also seemed to have a role in each of the acts on the label, either as a performer or manager.

The debut consisted of a three-track 7” single:-

mp3 : The Teardrop Explodes – Sleeping Gas
mp3 : The Teardrop Explodes – Camera Camera
mp3 : The Teardrop Explodes – Kirkby Workers Dream Fades

It was a fine way with which to announce yourself and it would receive the biggest compliment imaginable in that Tony Wilson, who generally took an immediate and pathological dislike to anything that emerged out of Liverpool, gave it high praise. There was also some favourable coverage in the music papers with a number of journalists predicting that the band, and label mates Echo & The Bunnymen, stood on the cusp of greatness with long and successful careers inevitable.

Like many other acts who were attached to small labels at that particular time, the production values are basic and far from polished, but there’s certainly a noticeable spark about the music while there’s enough intrigue in the lyrics, certainly on the a-side, to make the most causal listener sit up and take notice.

Zoo Records eventually wound up and The Teardrop Explodes landed a contract with Phonogram Records, resulting in two very fine albums in Kilimanjaro (October 1980) and Wilder (December 1981), with three singles also hitting the Top 30. Indeed, the debut is one that has aged magnificently and is up there with the finest of all albums from the decade in which it was released. A re-recorded and more polished version of that early Zoo single was included:-

mp3 : The Teardrop Explodes – Sleeping Gas (album version)

I’ll finish off with a lift from a piece that appeared in The Guardian back in 2010 when a 30th Anniversary edition of Kilimanjaro was reviewed:-

The 30th anniversary reissue recently spurred one heritage-rock magazine to ask the band’s former frontman Julian Cope if he would ever return to writing pop music. It seems a fair enough query given Kilimanjaro’s success: it spawned a top 10 hit in Reward, spent 35 weeks on the charts and displayed such commercial promise that both U2 and Duran Duran apparently considered the Teardrop Explodes their only real competition. You might also feel compelled to ask in light of Cope’s latter- day musical output. That variously includes an hour-long homage to the late Princess of Wales called She-Diana; a live recording of his “proto-metal” band Brain Donor; and Spades & Hoes & Plows, a self-styled “masterpiece of agrarian doom-clod-plod” that features Cope accompanying singer David Wrench on “Mellotron and 26-inch marching bass drum”, and culminates in an 18-minute instrumental inspired by a series of road-toll protests in 19th-century Wales. Alas, Helyntion Beca (The Rebecca Riots) seems to have been overlooked by the programmers of the Radio 1 playlist, a fate that also befell such other recent Cope numbers as All the Blowing-Themselves-Up Motherfuckers….(Will Realise the Minute They Die That They Were Suckers).

Actually, Cope told the magazine, he’d just written a pop song, inspired by the mid-60s baroque style of the Left Banke, a band not so wildly removed from the kind of influences that powered Kilimanjaro – the blasting brass arrangements of Forever Changes-era Love, the Seeds’ reedy garage rock, the sunshine pop of the Turtles. “It’s called,” he added, “The Cunts Can Fuck Off.”

He’d obviously been listening to early Jesus and Mary Chain



Julian Cope was enjoying being a pop star. Reward and Treason had taken him into the charts, onto Top of the Pops and into the pages of the likes of Smash Hits magazine where teenage girls were coo-ing over his good looks.

Only he knew in advance that the next again single was going to be even more poppy, lighter and catchier than anything else he’d ever written with its killer-chorus and umpteen ba-ba-ba-ba-ba sing-a-long moments, so he put a killer track onto its b-side as a reminder that he remained more than capable of delivering material that was ahead of the curve:-

mp3 : The Teardrop Explodes – Christ versus Warhol

Radiohead would rip off this tune for Karma Police a few year later…….go on, admit the openings are identical.

It was a stroke of genius to put this on the b-side rather than parent album Wilder as it prevented any fundamentalists getting hot under the collar and demanding it be withdrawn. Oh and have a listen just before the two-minute mark for what could pass as Jarvis Cocker‘s recording debut….

Here’s the fabulous a-side. Criminal it stalled at #25:-

mp3 : The Teardrop Explodes – Passionate Friend

Tune in tomorrow for a guest ICA on another of our maverick geniuses.




A debut guest posting from Strictly Rockers…..

Julian Cope is the only artist I feel remotely qualified to compile for an Imaginary Album having picked up my first Cope cassette (Fried, £3 from WH Smiths, Bristol) in 1984.

He is the artist I’ve seen live most and own more albums than any other. Following the Archdrude through thick and thin sometimes feels more ordeal than pleasure (Dark Orgasm?, Queen Elizabeth?) and his prolific output occasionally appears to shoot wide but, in his words, he is always ‘true to my metaphor’ and never fails to deliver on attitude, enthusiasm and sheer energy.

His autobiographies (‘Head On’ & ‘Reposessed’) set the benchmark for rock reminiscence and his writing about Megalithic Europe together with his evangelical promotion of music in ‘Krautrocksampler’ and ‘Japrocksampler’ and the online ‘Unsung’ album reviews (now happily compiled in the awesome ‘Copendium’ book) are persuasive enough to promote interest in previously unexplored musical and cultural areas. And that’s before we get into his works of fiction!

Faced with the daunting job of distilling a career spanning over 35 years and over 30 albums into a mere 10 songs is a task too far for me.

This is by no means a ‘Best Of’, for that, start with the essential ‘Floored Genius’ collections and the excellent ‘Trip Advizer’.

I gave myself constraints naively thinking that restrictions might make the task easier! I first tried ‘Cope Remixed’, ‘Cope Live’, ‘Cope Covers’ and ‘Covered’* before settling on the collection you see below. Ok, I know it’s not perfect, but it’ll do for now. There’ll be another along in a moment…

*If anyone is interested in hearing any of these alternate comps, let me or JC know!

Throughout his illustrious career, both in the Teardrops and solo, one phrase has endured in the Cope lyrical canon…

Lords, Ladies, Gentlemen & Drudes, I give you:

‘Ba Ba Ba’: A Julian Cope Imaginary Album for The Vinyl Villain

Phase One: The Teardrop Explodes

1) When I Dream (Long Version) (Kilimanjaro, 1980)

Final track on Kilimanjaro. Released as a single reaching 47 in the charts

‘I go ba ba ba ba oh oh, I go ba ba ba ba oh oh’

2) The Culture Bunker (Wilder, 1981)

‘… waiting for the Crucial Three…’

Describing the growing rift between the Teardrops, Bunnymen & Wah!

Cope’s jealousy at Mac’s success inspiring the line ‘I feel cold when it turns to gold for you’

3) Passionate Friend (Wilder, 1981)

Allegedly about Cope’s brief relationship with Ian McCulloch’s sister. The single version achieved a mighty 25 and an acid-enhanced appearance on TOTP.

‘That you could ever do that thing / And never bring yourself to sing / Bah bah bah bah bah’

Phase Two: Early Solo

4) Bandy’s First Jump (World Shut Your Mouth, 1984)

What an entrance! Originally written for the Teardrops, it announced Cope’s debut solo album in fine style. As if to say ‘I can do this without you, and I’m keeping my ba ba ba’s’.

5) Greatness & Perfection (World Shut Your Mouth, 1984)

An almost perfect second single off WSYM. Failed to break the top 50!

Phase 3: Major label Years

6) Eve’s Volcano (Saint Julian, 1987)

Cope’s sanitised ‘two-car garage band’ sound. Arguably his most successful, and certainly his most commercial period. However this, the third single from St.J, only reached 41. (Also available in ‘!Volcano Lungo!’ extended version)

7) Up-Wards At 45 Degrees (Jehovahkill, 1992)

A fan favourite from the album that Island initially refused to issue. Cope was dropped within a week of its release.

8) Try Try Try (20 Mothers, 1995)

Ok… so it’s more ‘Bom’ than ‘Ba’ but WHAT a tune!

Phase 4: The Head Heritage Years

9) Untitled (An Audience With The Cope, 2000)

A word-less, unlisted final track from a ‘souvenir CD concert programme’ available during Cope’s 2000 tour. Then curiously re-released the following year with updated artwork for his 2001 tour!

10) The Black Sheep Song (Black Sheep, 2008)

The title track from Cope’s ‘musical exploration of what it is to be an outsider in modern Western Culture’. Note authentic use of the ‘Baa’. The album also contained the epic ‘All the Blowing-Themselves-Up Motherfuckers (Will Realise the Minute They Die That They Were Suckers)’.

Bonus) C***s Can F*** Off (Live Recording, Village Underground, London 29/01/15)

Special festive version of an, as yet, unreleased potty-mouthed anti-capitalist live favourite. Parental Advisory Explicit Lyrics: NSFW etc (From Youtube so not great sound!)

“…strictly rockers…”

mp3 : The Teardrop Explodes – When I Dream
mp3 : The Teardrop Explodes – The Culture Bunker
mp3 : The Teardrop Explodes – Passionate Friend
mp3 : Julian Cope – Bandy’s First Jump
mp3 : Julian Cope – Greatness & Perfection
mp3 : Julian Cope – Eve’s Volcano
mp3 : Julian Cope – Up-wards at 45 Degrees
mp3 : Julian Cope – Try, Try, Try
mp3 : Julian Cope – Untitled
mp3 : Julian Cope – The Black Sheep Song
mp3 : Julian Cope – Cunts Can Fuck Off

JC adds…

SR also fired over a 6-track Cope Covered EP which he thought might make a good accompaniment to his debut post.  I agree….

mp3 : Death Cab for Cutie – World, Shut Your Mouth
mp3 : Spoon – Upwards at 45 Degrees
mp3 : The Frank and Walters – Elegant Chaos
mp3 : The Oscillation – Head Hang Low
mp3 : Deacon Blue – Trampolene
mp3 : Bubonique – Jellypop Perky Jean




It was just last September that I took a look back at the single Tiny Children, the third to be lifted the 1981 LP Wilder from The Teardrop Explodes.

I offered the opinion that it deserved a much better fate than merely hitting #44 in the charts given that it was a gorgeous lullaby, delivered with a real degree of fragility by Julian Cope whose vocal is quite lovely, even if he does at times appear to be at the edge of his range.

Ctel, the brains and talents behind the ridiculously good Acid Ted blog, is one of my dearest and oldest cybernet friends and he obviously took note of that posting as he dropped me an email the other week with a link to a remix of the song. A remix that I’m sure you’ll agree is every bit as wonderful as the original:-

mp3 : The Teardrop Explodes – Tiny Children (parjo01 re-edit)




This is some of what Bill Drummond wrote in August 1990 when The Zoo – Uncaged 1978-1982 was released finally bringing together all the various singles and most of the b-sides:-

We had one room up some dark, dirty stairs. We paid six pounds a week rent. We had one phone and an answer machine which we played all our cassettes on. We believed albums were the downfall of GREAT POP MUSIC. Although The Beatles were the greatest group ever, “Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” was a disastrous wrong turn that pop music is yet to recover from.

Big In Japan were a group that I and David (Balfe) had been in. It split in August 1978 and we put out the band’s demos as our first release. We were seem to be ripping off other ex-members. From that point in we were deemed unethical, underhand and undeserved of the ‘premier Liverpool independent label’ reputattion that grew around us.

Other than Expelaires, which was the only other Zoo record not to sell, we made the descision to get involved with a group based on their choice of name alone. We had no idea what sort of nusic Echo & The Bunnymen played before we went in to make their first records.

We fought and quarrelled with the bands, memebers got sacked and others brought in. We drove around the country in David’s Dad’s car with boxes of records, sleeving them and selling them. There was no independent distribution network in 1979.

Due to a lack of finances we signed The Bunnymen and The Teardrops to major labels and took on the role of managers, something we had no idea about. Our plans for the future were to build giant pyramids out of ice, travel space and make movies. We believed The Teardrops and The Bunnymen were the new Beatles and Stones – We were wrong, nothing is ever the new anything.

We burnt out.

But the last single on the label was the greatest.

I thought it would be an idea to kick off 2015 with each of the nine singles in turn:-

Cage 001


mp3 : Big In Japan – Nothing Special
mp3 : Big In Japan – Cindy and The Barbi Dolls
mp3 : Big In Japan – Suicide A Go Go
mp3 : Big In Japan – Taxi

Cage 002


mp3 : Those Naughty Lumps – Iggy Pop’s Jacket
mp3 : Those Naughty Lumps – Pure and Innocent

Cage 003


mp3 : The Teardrop Explodes – Sleeping Gas
mp3 : The Teardrop Explodes – Camera Camera
mp3 : The Teardrop Explodes – Kirkby Workers Dream Fades

Cage 004


mp3 : Echo & The Bunnymen – The Pictures On My Wall
mp3 : Echo & The Bunnymen – Read It In Books

Cage 005


mp3 : The Teardrop Explodes – Bouncing Babies
mp3 : The Teardrop Explodes – All I Am Is Loving You

Cage 006


mp3 : Lori & The Chameleons – Touch
mp3 : Lori & The Chameleons – Love On The Ganges

Cage 007

R-195304-1163734071.jpegR-195304-1163734118.jpegR-195304-1163734173.jpeg R-195304-1163734225.jpeg

mp3 : Expelaires – To See You
mp3 : Expelaires – Frequency

Cage 008

R-495690-1125304292.jpg R-495690-1171212520.jpegR-495690-1171212541.jpegR-495690-1171212560.jpeg

mp3 : The Teardrop Explodes – Treason (It’s Just A Story)
mp3 : The Teardrop Explodes – Read It In Books

Cage 009


mp3 : The Wild Swans – Revolutionary Spirit
mp3 : The Wild Swans – God Forbid

The last of these singles was on 12″ vinyl while the rest were all 7″. And Bill D is of course spot-on in his assessment that Cage 009 was the greatest of the lot. (I know my dear friend Dirk from Sexy Loser thinks so…..)

Happy New Year Folks



Julian Cope might be a bit bonkers but the two hit LPs recorded with The Teardrop Explodes at the beginning of the 80s contain perfect pop, timeless tunes and moments of magic.

Tiny Children was the third single lifted from Wilder and really deserved a much better fate than merely hitting #44 in the charts. It’s a gorgeous lullaby, delivered with a real degree of fragility by Julian whose vocal is quite lovely, even if he does at times appear to be at the edge of his range.

mp3 : The Teardrop Explodes – Tiny Children

By complete contrast, and to help illustrate that this particular JC is off his rocker, here’s the very bizzare b-side:-

mp3 : The Teardrop Explodes – Rachael Built A Steamboat





One of my fondest memories is going to see a Queen gig at Ingliston in Edinburgh in 1982. But before anyone reports me to the bad-taste cops, I need to say that I went along purely to see the support act – The Teardrop Explodes.

Whoever came up with that line-up certainly had a fantastic sense of humour. Julian Cope came on to a barrage of abuse and taunted the crowd like I’ve never seen before or since. The band (which was more or less session musicians by this point) played a stormer. Julian would say things like…’Here’s the one of mine that I’m sure you all know and love’ before launching into an obscure b-side….which he sung in French!  Magnifique.

Sadly, I only have the english language version….but you’ll see from the pace and mood of the record that this was not what the rock fans had come to heae….

mp3 : The Teardrop Explodes – Use Me

The Teardrop Explodes were only able to release two LPs at their peak, both of which have dated incredibly well while their one smash single remains instantly recognisable and enjoyable more than 30 years on.  I think it is fair to say that interest in the band has remained reasonably high long after their demise, largely due to the quality of that material and also for the fact that Julian Cope remains such a curious yet charismatic individual whether as a musician or writer including  two incredibly readable volumes of autobiography as well as more obtuse and difficult books on  cult German and Japanese music .

In 2000, he was asked if he ever envisaged his band reforming. In reply, Julian said : “Would you ever return to having your mother wipe your asshole?”

I think we can safely assume he meant no.

mp3 : The Teardrop Explodes – Reward
mp3 : The Teardrop Explodes – The Culture Bunker
mp3 : The Teardrop Explodes – Tiny Children