Uke Tunes

Uke-ifying my favourite songs

Sunspots – Julian Cope

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<song sheet>

I’ve partly got my sister to blame for this one. For what must have been her 14th birthday she was given a number of 7″ singles. One of them I remember being Do The Hucklebuck by Coast to Coast (I’m not going to dwell on that one!), and one was Reward by The Teardrop Explodes. I loved it.  [I believe I annexed my sister’s copy of Reward some time ago, and it still sits amongst my collection of vinyl up in the loft]. From the full-on brass section that detonates the song, the mannered vocals of Mr Julian Cope, the constant pulsing bass, this was a song that defined energy and excitement. And so was born my first, proper “favourite group”  (my selective memory erasing all those years as an Abba fan!).

I saw them at Portsmouth Guildhall the following year after the wonderful “Wilder” album had been released, a record that moved the band away from the psychedelic rock sound into a more distorted, parallel pop universe. The band was on the verge of a chronic meltdown (due in no small part to Julian’s prodigious drug habit) but I remember that concert as a celebratory one, full of glorious weird pop sounds.

After the band fell apart towards the end of 1982, Julian took a little while to re-group, but in 1984 returned with not one but two wonderful, wilfully weird albums. The first, World Shut Your Mouth, was a breath of fresh air – obviously recorded on the cheap but full of great songs, weird songs, and crack-pot lyrics (“Elegant Chaos” being my favourite in that respect – “People I see / Just remind me of mooing like a cow on the grass / And that’s not to say / That there’s anything wrong with being a cow anyway”!).

The second album, Fried, with it’s infamous cover of Julian naked under a huge tortoise shell, seemed to confirm his acid-casualty credentials. Now a fully-fledged English eccentric in the tradition of Syd Barrett et al, Fried was recently cited by Rob Young in his excellent book “Electric Eden” as a continuation of the back-to-the-earth, rooted-in-an-english-locale visionary sounds of the likes of Incredible String Band. This is a record that dives into the Cope psyche without a care about who is watching or what might be found there.

The album was not what you would call a huge commercial success. Not exactly in tune with the mid-80s preference for Linn drums, hyper-production and shoulder pads, it created it’s own little world, perversely different from the one in which it existed. Sunspots was the one and only single from the album and vanished without trace. Your loss, world. A trashy guitar-riff led nursery rhyme, a paen to his love for his very best friend(?), this is trade-mark Julian Cope.

And so here is the songsheet. As with all Julian Cope songs, there is nothing tricky here in terms of chords. Listen to the song and you’ll get the feel for the riff, which is important ‘cos it kind-of makes the song. You could even try a nice recorder solo during the instrumental verse – I’m sure that will sound good.

Oh, and the “Meeeeeeeeeeoh” bit in the chorus is like the sound a car makes as it whizzes past. Not a cat noise!




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