White Label Wednesday: Julian Cope, “Eve’s Volcano”

Written by Music, Popdose, White Label

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The music industry is quick to tell you how piracy is killing them, and it surely is. What they’re not as vocal about is their tendency to kill themselves. This week’s example of the industry’s incompetence: Julian Cope’s 1987 album Saint Julian. It’s Cope’s best-selling album and features his biggest hit, “World Shut Your Mouth.” It’s also currently out of print.

In today’s download-o-rama world, there is simply no excuse for an album like Saint Julian to not be available somehow, someway. If the used-CD sites are any indication, there’s a strong market for Saint Julian — the album is fetching between $25 and $100 on Amazon, Half.com, and eBay — so why doesn’t Island Records send digital copies of it to Amazon and iTunes and make that money themselves? It’s as if they don’t know their back catalogs even exist anymore. Ironic, since those catalogs are what propped them up during lean years in the past (and contributed to the record-setting sales peaks of the late ‘90s), but there you go.

Julian Cope is every bit the stereotypical tortured genius. He once posed for an album cover wearing a turtle shell, and there isn’t a single record label he hasn’t fought with. Back in 1987, however, Cope was feeling especially agreeable, and the timing couldn’t have been better. Modern rock finally gained traction as a scene unto itself in 1986 — Popdoser Will Harris has a rather convincing theory that the soundtrack to Pretty in Pink is where it all started — so when Cope released Saint Julian the following year, he had an audience waiting for him. He quickly became a 120 Minutes darling thanks to the Kinks-like “World Shut Your Mouth” (think “Do It Again” Kinks, not “Lola” Kinks) and the turbocharged “Trampolene,” but it’s the album’s third single, “Eve’s Volcano,” that we’ll be discussing today because, well, it has the best remix. Seriously, this post was originally going to be about “Trampolene,” but then I gave it another listen. Great song, flat remix.

Now, about this “Eve’s Volcano” song — good God, is this song in 6/4 time? That’s heresy. And it received a remix? Yes, the late ‘80s were strange, and at times strangely wonderful. If this received any play in the clubs it was early in the evening when the floor was still empty. Pity, because as remixes to songs in 6/4 time go (a song that references coming in someone’s mouth, no less), it’s a damn good one. It’s your typical late-‘80s extended mix — the instruments are broken down so each individual track gets a chance to shine, there’s a flange wave in the second “da da da dada” bit — but there’s enough added percussion and keyboard work to give it an extra bit of oomph. I love the special attention the backing vocals receive at the end, too. This mix does exactly what it’s supposed to do: it makes a good song even better.

Cope would go on to notch a couple hits on the brand-spanking-new Modern Rock chart (notably “Charlotte Anne”), and 1991’s Peggy Suicide was a critical fave, but if he’s remembered for any one thing in the end, it is surely Saint Julian. And rightly so — it’s a mighty fine record that could’ve spawned a couple more singles had Island been up for it. (I was always a big fan of “Planet Ride.”) So why the hell is Cope’s watershed moment out of print? It boggles the mind. Get those back catalogs online, you music-industry goofballs. If someone’s willing to pay $45 for a CD, imagine how many fans would pay $7.99 for a download.

Julian Cope – Eve’s Volcano (Vulcano Lungo)