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Peggy Suicide (Deluxe Edition)

Julian Cope

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Album Review

Casting the ill-advised attempts at too-clean modern rock from his late-'80s days firmly aside and fulfilling the promise of Skellington and Droolian, Julian Cope produced his best album to date with Peggy Suicide, overtopping even his Teardrop Explodes efforts. Showing a greater musical breadth and range than ever before, from funk to noise collage — and more importantly, not sounding like a dilettante at any step of the way — Cope and his now seasoned backing band, with drummer J.D. Hassinger replacing De Harrison, surge from strength to strength. Ostensibly conceived as a concept album regarding potential ecological and social collapse, Cope wisely seeks to set moods rather than create a straitjacketed story line. As a result, Peggy Suicide can be enjoyed both as an overall statement and as a collection of individual songs; its sequencing is excellent to boot, moving from song to song as if it were always meant to be that way. Cope's voice is a revelation — for those not having heard the hard to find Skellington and Droolian, his conversational asides, bold but not full-of-itself singing, and equally tender, softer takes when the material demands it must have seemed like a complete turnaround from the restrained My Nation Underground cuts. He handles all the guitar as well, with Skinner concentrating on bass and keyboards; guest Michael "Moon-Eye" Watts does some fine fretbending as well, including an amazing performance on the awesome "Safesurfer," a lengthy meditation on AIDS and its consequences. Picking out only some highlights does the album as a whole a disservice, but besides offering up an instant catchy pop single, "Beautiful Love," Cope handles everything from the minimal moods of "Promised Land" and experimentation of "Western Front 1992 CE" to the frenetic "Hanging Out and Hung Up on the Line" and commanding "Drive, She Said." An absolute, stone-cold rock classic, full stop. [The remastered 2010 Deluxe Edition contains a bonus disc with 11 tracks. The music includes "Ravebury Stones," an early version of a tune later extended on Rite²; the "Safesurfer" b/w "If You Loved Me at All" single sold only on the 1991 tour; various remixes and messed-up redos — he was obsessed with Sly Stone's There's a Riot Goin' On and wanted to re-create it in his own image; unreleased cuts such as "Butterfly E" and "Straw Dogs"; and a rare live appearance of Cope playing solo cello in 1990. The set is lavishly illustrated with Cope's own notes on the bonus disc and contains a fine liner essay by David Cavanagh.]

Biography

Born: 21 October 1957 in Deri, South Glamorgan, Wales

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Musician, writer, historian, and cosmic shaman Julian Cope was born in October 1957 in Deri, South Glamorgan, Wales. He was raised in Tamworth, England, and like many a young artist, suffered through academia as a perpetual outsider. In 1976, upon attending college in Liverpool, Cope found himself part of a community of musicians — and kindred souls — including Ian McCulloch, Pete Burns, and Pete Wylie. After various incarnations and not-so-amicable departures (McCulloch went on to fame...
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