Today we have what is known in the music business as a ‘twofer’. Julian Cope has been through a few different incarnations in his musical career, from post-punk, indie, psychedelia-drenched colourist to a bid for mainstream Bonoesque superstardom, before settling into his niche as a crusty activist and modern antiquarian. Although frequently condescended to in the music press as ‘Dear Julian’, and painted as an incompetent acid casualty (this is a man who once, after all, appeared naked (we presume) under a shell on the cover of an album entitled Fried)
Cope’s was usually the first number dialled whenever a music magazine editor wanted a musician to write an article. He is clearly made of stronger psychic stuff than Syd Barrett or Skip Spence were. Although sometimes highly subjective and often containing outrageous and unverifiable claims, he has the scholar’s depth of knowledge if not always the patience to hunt down solid evidence for his declarations. Mostly importantly, he has the enthusiast’s infectious love of his subject. His explorations of the nascent ’60s/’70s rock scenes, first in Germany and subsequently in Japan, are seminal. They provide essential reading for anyone wishing to broaden their horizons beyond the contemporary Anglo-American (and Irish) musical environment.