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Bless my cotton socks.... this is an 80's gem!
Kilimanjaro - The Teardrop Explodes
Member Name: jeffjen
Kilimanjaro - The Teardrop Explodes
Date: 16/07/10, updated on 16/07/10 (168 review reads)
Advantages: Some brilliant tracks.
Disadvantages: Production could have been a little better.
The band was formed by Julian Cope, who started out in the short-lived Crucial Three along with Pete Wylie, who went on to form Wah! and Ian McCulloch ( Echo & the Bunnymen). Cope also went on to achieve solo success over the ensuing years after the band broke up, which incidentally came as no surprise, given their much talked about fighting. Tensions always seemed to be running high and there was a lot of coming and going by the band members during The Teardrop Explodes short life, but out of it all came this album, which is considered 'timeless' by many fans.
1. Ha Ha I'm Drowning
2. Sleeping Gas
4. Second Head
6. Poppies in the Field
7. Went Crazy
8. Brave Boys Keep Their Promises
9. Bouncing Babies
11. Thief of Baghdad
12. When I Dream
The band first came to my attention when they released their single: 'Reward' in 1981. It was their biggest hit and a big brash number with a catchy hook courtesy of the horn section.
I can still vividly picture frontman Julian Cope looking as mad as a hatter dancing around in front of the cameras on Top Of The Pops, as the song made its way up the charts into the top 10. He was also considered to be something of a heart throb and I recall reading in Smash Hits magazine that he could be a contender to take the title of the most beautiful man in the world from its holder, Japan's David Sylvian.
'Reward' was and still remains, an infectious track. From the opening line where Cope announces "Bless my cotton socks I'm in the news" it just reaches out and commands your attention. I was always one for amusing and tongue-in-cheek lyrics. Later years saw me loving The Smiths with Morrissey's great lyrics, but I believe this track was where that style of lyric all began for me.
I was equally impressed by 'Ha Ha I'm Drowning' which offered something different to what was around at the time and it held a new appeal for me.
Another single was 'Treason' which is probably my favourite track and one that brings back a lot of memories for me of 1981. It is just as heady and anthemic as 'Reward' and on the strength of these two singles, I rushed out to buy my copy of Kilimanjaro.
As Cope asked the question: "Is it real, or is it treason?" I thought this band were going to be massive and would be around for a long time to come.
Julian Cope projected himself very well and the band conveyed an image of fun swept along with energetic guitars and Cope's unique vocal delivery. Indeed you would never guess the wrangling and fighting that went on behind the scenes.
Even the less aggressive tracks: the slightly psychedelic 'Poppies', the brilliant Arabian flavoured 'Thief Of Baghdad' which is another of my favourites, and also 'When I Dream' are something special. The latter being quite a romantic love song with its simple lyrics: " I've been thinking about you, I hope that you've been thinking about me" . Whilst it loses some of its simplicity by going on for longer than I feel necessary at the end, the three tracks overall confirmed my decision that I was right to rush out and buy this album.
It's back to the hook laden gems with 'Sleeping Gas', 'Boucing Babies' and 'Went Crazy'. 'Books' on the other hand doesn't seem to quite fit in here. Maybe this is because it is actually a cover of Cope's and his former Crucial Three bandmate Ian McCulloch's 'Read It In Books' as it has a slightly different feel and lacks what the other songs seem to convey.
The only other thing that I can fault with Kilimanjaro is its production which I must admit sounded fine to me many years ago, but listening to it now, I feel it isn't as good as I thought it was. Whilst its remastered form offers improvement, I do feel that the horns seem over produced in places and weedy in others. Having said that, it doesn't really detract from my enjoyment of listening to it, as I am reminded of the happy days of first becoming a teenager.
A follow up album to Kilimajaro did indeed follow, but the end was fast approaching as Cope took over the song writing and tensions increased. By the time the third album was in the planning stages, the band broke up.
Described as the greatest dysfunctional family in pop. A read through Julian Cope's autobiography reveals just how mad and bad it all was. As the music press put it into perspective by explaining how the Gallagher brothers might dislike each other, but unlike The Teardrop Explodes, they never chased each other around the hills of Wales with loaded shotguns!
Taking into account their LSD-fuelled psychosis and mutual loathing for one another it is quite amazing that they managed to seem so 'together' on stage and also produce fun performances miming on Top of The Pops. It is perhaps even more amazing that they came up with an album as good as this.
Kilimanjaro does indeed deserve its 'timeless' acclaim.
Summary: A timeless 80's album.