Wednesday, November 09, 2005

A brief, half-assed appreciation of Julian Cope's Skellington

With so much to do & so little time, it would be stupid to write a blog post at the moment. Hence: A Brief, Half-Assed Appreciation of Julian Cope's Skellington.
The man is not always to my tastes. When speaking of his most recent (and surprisingly stable) incarnation as a druid-worshipping neo-hippie, this is an understatement. But the man is always interesting, and undeniably talented: he can pen a beautiful pop song in his sleep, he can write well (Cope's penned books on Krautrock & other topics), and he is truly funny. Plus he's somehow gone through punk, leather-clad glammy pop, eco-terrorist, and trance guru phases while being both patently ridiculous and somehow credible.
Legend has it that he made Skellington to purge himself of the overproduced pap he'd been churning out during the '80s. I suppose if you're interested, a cursory internet search would give you the truth, but I'm not interested in the truth, because I like this version. So, according to my story, he did more drugs than usual & churned out an entire album in less than 24 hours. The cover features Mr. Cope in the throes of what appears to be a simultaneously boring and frightening hallucination. The album bears countless listens.
Here we have mostly acoustic guitar and Julian's slurred baritone, some organ, some piano, one or two tracks with drums. The songs we loved long ago for their novelty appeal, "Robert Mitchum," "Little Donkey," and "Incredibly Ugly Girl," have held up-- but not as well as subtler pleasures like "Doomed." This latter song, for example, features forgotten & mumbled lyrics, out-of-tune brass, & a chippy little rhythm-- adding up to perhaps the loveliest embrace of fate imaginable. I want it to play at my funeral.
Postscript: thanks to my fiddly little clicks on the linkety things to the left there, in the margin (thanks, The Dust Congress), I found out that Julian Cope is an active internet presence, recommending an album every month on his "Head Heritage" website. Check out the latest installment: Harry Flynt & The Insurrections' I Don't Wanna.