The music book I’m most looking forward to this year costs £120, god damn it: Julian Cope’s Copendium. (It had better come with a triple CD of tracks critiqued therein, is all I can say.) Slated for Nov. 1 publication, Copendium collects the former Teardrop Explodes/current Brain Donor frontman’s reviews of albums from genres such as krautrock, post punk, doom metal, jazz, spoken word, and more. The book is a canon-shaping exercise you should take seriously.
You can get an inkling of Cope’s style from the great man’s posts on his Head Heritage website. Cope combines great musical taste with a flamboyant, febrile writing style and a palpable enthusiasm that make you want to hear the music he’s describing posthaste. Here’s a sample from a recent review of Early Soft Machine: 1966-1968:
His hair receding by his early 20s, with buck-teeth and ugly as sin, Hugh Hopper nevertheless wrote poetic and desperately aching, lonely songs that the R&B obsessed Wyatt could deliver with heart-rending sincerity. In stark comparison to Hopper, the occasionally face-painted Kevin Ayers was a beautiful and beguiling psychedelicized Hans Christian Andersen figure, a Pie-eyed Piper with a flair for writing archetypally great Sandozian pop songs (check out ‘We Know What You Mean’ and ‘She’s Gone’ included herein), or intoning, nay, doxologizing lead vocals in a register deeper than Lee Marvin, and deploying – from his archaic-looking Gibson EB2 – a Molto-munting semi-acoustic bass sound even more radical than that of Jefferson Airplane’s Jack Cassady’s always-overloden (and equally archaic-looking [even to us back then, U-kiddies]) Epiphone semi-acoustic.
HELL yeah! Cope is one of the rare music critics at whom you want to throw devil horns after reading him.