Thursday, November 19, 2009

Julian Cope • Peggy Suicide (Deluxe Edition)

"Julian Cope's Eco-Protest Masterpiece" exclaims the sticker on this UK import 2CD version of Peggy Suicide, the 1989 double album by Britain's favorite new wave kook. At once more stark than Fried, his 1984 solo that featured him crawling under a large tortoise shell on the cover (I did say kook), and destined to be more successful somehow, Peggy tried to tackle the state of global ecology and other concerns Cope had at the front of his mind then. It was also recorded in mostly first takes, lending a lot to the air of freshness the album has.

He had come a long way since his days with The Teardrop Explodes, the band his first band became after he split from co-founder Ian McCulloch (who later went on to found Echo & The Bunnymen). After winding his way through the New Romantic and new wave world, Cope decided to go solo and released World Shut Your Mouth, an early '80s classic. This put him on the college radio/alternative rock map and eventually, on through to Saint Julian and My Nation Underground, he found himself at odds with his label, Island, who wanted him to go even more pop and mainstream than '88's Underground. In a bold move, Cope went 180 degrees the other way. Peggy Suicide was raw like nothing he had done before. "Safesurfer" was the most popular track, telling how his girl didn't have to worry because he had protection in those early HIV/AIDS days. Elsewhere was "Hanging Out and Hung Up on the Line," "Drive She Said," and the closest thing to pop on the double LP, "Beautiful Love." In all, it's an album of mostly mid tempo band and almost-acoustic takes. This Deluxe Edition adds a second disc with many of the B-sides and unreleased tracks recorded at the time. The mastering job isn't that different from the original CD release of '89, and that's to say it's fine. This version is not a must-have unless you want all the extras or you've already worn out your original copy.
(Island/Universal UK 5313656)

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