I suppose it was about time I wrote about local Tamworth boy Julian Cope. Unbeknownst to my father, perhaps among the foremost Copey fans, I have been listening to Cope for some time in secret. Peggy Suicide is named after “a figure representing Mother Earth who appeared to Cope in a dream in the “loose fit” summer of 1990”. It speak of ecological and social collapse with a focus on creating moods through song, rather than an oppressive picture painted through a structured concept throughout the album. In my view he does so quite successfully. This is a double album of some length so I shall focus only on my three highlights and let you discover the might of this album for your good selves.
Peggy Suicide offered up songs about safe sex and AIDs, killing Margaret Thatcher, the wisdom of fighting the police, pollution and the “nascent” climate emergency, swimming with dolphins, drowning on hallucinogens, the Poll Tax, and a late night taproom band comprising a rat, a cat and a barman. All in all, a lot to take in. The Quietus
Safesurfer is a song about AIDS and its consequences, personally and in the public’s perception of the sufferer. Being written in the early 90s, one can imagine public perception of, and sympathy towards, AIDS sufferers was not yet at its current level. The turmoil felt by them is captured in a “long luxuriant guitar squall”, a powerful musical statement, perhaps akin to the musical foray in Heroin by The Velvet Underground.
Peggy Suicide is a global creation, I believe Julian Cope created it as God created the earth – in the beginning all was void and darkness imbued with silence were upon the face of the deep. And Julian Cope said, let there be lyrics: and there were lyrics. And Julian Cope said, let there be music: and there was music. And in mellow and rich Morrisonesque voice Julian Cope sang: “You seem lonely oh Avalon I feel evidence very strong. Beautiful love, now beautiful love where have you gone. You make my life oh so long, say, make believe it ain’t so wrong”. Review by user Vitabenco on Discogs
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. Allmusic
These newly sonorous tones catered for a preacher-style delivery and allowed deft switches in tone and meaning; ones that could be applied to the wider range of material, sonically and thematically. Cope’s addiction to falling on his arse and keeping the serious blues at bay suddenly came to his aid artistically, courtesy of some fantastic rants and strung out pleadings throughout the record. Two classic examples on Peggy Suicide are heard in the radiant love song to his wife Dorian, ‘The American Lite’, where Julian worries whether a new song “sounds like The Boss”. The Quietus
I’m gonna douse myself in holy water
Got the fever inside
I’m gonna drown myself in holy water
Got the fever, it won’t dieFact my love is stronger now
And my life is leaving jail
She’s got a love, it’s getting wide and bright
Concentric circles running to the American lite
Overall, no review I could write would do justice to this wonderful album. It is a whole fully fledged product. Peggy Suicide is well ahead of its time and largely flawless. Please do go listen to it and make room for dancing.