Bands to form a band to. That's my take on the Teardrop Explodes.
Bands to form a band to. That's my take on the Teardrop Explodes. The oddest, most colourful, the wackiest and most drugged up band to come out of Liverpool? I think so. Period. Even the mighty Bunnymen couldn't match the Teardrops for their sheer oddball take on pop music or group behaviour. And, twenty odd years after splitting up Julian Cope has sanctioned another post-split release to follow 1990's Everybody Wants to Shag The Teardrop Explodes. To say that the Teardrops aren't current musically or not finding a second wind, (albeit posthumously) is to be in a state of denial. Haven't you heard what went on from Spring 2004 onwards? Band members of the current newnewnewnot wave will be requesting this cd off Santa and, once they have it, will be studiously copying every note or aside, I have no doubt.
Enough pontificating, Foster, what of the contents? Well, there's ropey stuff. The Shallow Madness version of "Books" (with, wait for it, Mac on vocals) is teenage bedroom musical lumbering par excellence. And Copey's inclusion of "Ritchie Blofeld" must have been a late night decision, not helped by the super strength rosy tinted specs he must have been wearing. It's a funny listen, but I suspect we've all made similar recordings that will never be dusted off. As for the good stuff, well.. there's tons of it. Where do I start? The live stuff rocks; it grooves with that special spacey thump never bettered by anyone since. I honestly can't think of a band who could unconsciously recreate the same beat. The Teardrops live show was an experience firmly rooted in the id. Compared to the live versions of Sleeping Gas and Culture Bunker on Zoology, other bands wig out in a manner reminiscent only of your mum trying to dance like Ian Curtis, or, worse, Bez. Now that's a thought akin to scraping your nails down the blackboard.
Copey's acid boy lost role is given a thorough airing too, though the outing does lead you down some surprising alleyways. There is an inspired version of John Cale's "I'm Not the Loving Kind" which is a photo finish from out stripping the original. "You Disappear from View" (which is hatefully and eightiesfully mixed on Everybody Wants), becomes a hymnal lament, equal to anything off Fried or the quieter moments off Wilder. Cope played this slower version live a few years back, causing my neck hairs to stand stiffly to attention. However, as I never thought we'd hear it in its original form I was more than grateful for it's inclusion here.
Other things of note are the differences between the angular, Fall/Pere Ubu worship found in early tracks such as the "Tunnel", or "Camera Camera" and the expansive, sun-burnt Tim Buckley influenced pop music that the Teardrops patented in their 1981 heyday. How Duran and all the others seem even more like paper cut-outs when their finished material is compared to Teardrop stuff not deemed worthy of release, such as "Nobody Knows This is Everywhere" or "Screaming Secrets".
Oh, and before I forget, just to cement their loony image, there's a heart warming documentary on the infamous Columbia hotel (it could only be called Columbia really, couldn't it?) hidden on this cd.
Listening to Zoology just makes you think. And regret times past. When are we going to see an acid loony crowned as King of Pop again? Even if it is (as Cope was) a Temporary King?
Words: Richard Foster.