Second-up in the Julian Cope double-bill is this gorgeous song from his 1984 debut solo album World Shut Your Mouth. The Teardrop Explodes disintegrated during the recording of a third-album that would eventually see the light of day many years later as “Everybody Wants To Shag … The Teardrop Explodes“. Julian retreated close to his childhood home of Tamworth, and the resulting solo album feels like a retreat from the madness of latter-day Teardrop’s into a cocoon-like world that probably only made sense in Julian’s head. Now perceived as a bona fide acid-casualty eccentric, Julian’s music was so out-of-step with the mood of the time that this album (and it’s follow-up a few months later, Fried, whose tortise-shell wearing cover didn’t do anything to assuage the public’s perception of him as lost and wasted) were largely ignored. But for me this is a real high-point of his back-catalogue.
Taking a resolutely low-fi approach to recording (I remember him in an interview at the time saying how the cost of recording the whole album had been less than half that of label-mates Tears For Fears current single The Way You Are) the album is chock-full of wonderful songs and vivid imagery. Elegant Chaos is a particular favourite (“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”!).
But the song I’m highlighting here is a particularly poignant one called Head Hang Low. Opening with a beautiful oboe line from Kate St John (later to be part of Dream Academy, famous for Life In A Northern Town) the instrumenation on song consistst of that oboe line, a reptative drum machine and a cheap Casio keyboard rhythm. Hardly promising fayre, and yet this is a hauntingly beautiful song of loss and confusion.
As with Tiny Children, there is a simplicity to this song which lends itself well to the humble ukulele. Nothing complicated, just a few basic chords with a simple strumming pattern (I use the same d-du-udu pattern 2 as on Tiny Children) this lovely lullaby is a joy to sing. Enjoy!