Julian Cope

Rome Wasn't Burned in a Day

  • AllMusic Rating
    6
  • User Ratings (0)
  • Your Rating

AllMusic Review by

It was 1996 when Julian Cope last released an album -- called Interpreter -- under his own name. Over the course of the new decade, the albums that followed showed that the new millennium Julian Cope was obviously a changed man with different priorities than before. The projects he released in between gave away clues to the new man: his re-orientation obviously came in the wake of the publication of his surprising book The Modern Antiquarian in 1998, in which he presented a guide to the prehistoric megalithic sites of Britain. Since then, his fascination with all things druid and pagan has remained a background for his work, expressing itself in long meditative electronic pieces or Stooges-inspired rock primitivism (as showcased by him from 2001 on, in the guise of his alter ego Brain Donor). Nevertheless, starting with this album in 2003, a steady flow of Julian Cope albums has provided a never-ending stream of new consciousness music, with a definitely more careless attitude to song composing and production values than in previous decades. Here, the song format finally returns to Cope's world, but within the new irregular bounds preferred by him. The album starts by whizzing right into the midst of some psychedelic rock wig-out, which after about two minutes turns out to be a prelude to a rather impressive song about a pre-Christian Armenian pagan god (who is still worshiped there today) called Tukh Manukh the Black Youth (hence the song's title, "Shrine of the Black Youth"). Indeed, the idea comes from various inspiring encounters Cope had recently had on an actual trip to Armenia, and in the album's liner notes he states that that trip was in fact a key factor in his having become "reborn," having consciously gone through a kind of personality change (the song "Michelle of My Former Self" specifically deals with that). Apart from a few songs with a softer touch (be they longish and insistent like "The-Way-Luv-Is" or a short ditty like "Far Out"), two intense cornerstones stand out: the pulling-no-punches primitive rock treat "King Minos" and the 20-minute-long mantra "Eccentrifugal Force," with its patience-testing wah-wah guitar workouts. But this is basically not music with virtuoso ambitions; it's much more about raw sentiments (tempered a bit by the use of certain prog rock twists and turns here and there). Interestingly, Julian Cope qualifies the album with the subtitle "Original Soundtrack." This is because the album was meant as a kind of byproduct of a three-day event (although it is not a live album recording of the event) organized by him at the London Hammersmith's Lyric Theater, which included his own band performing with other bands such as Sunn 0))) guesting, and movies of bands like Van der Graaf Generator and Amon Düül II being shown. Moreover, the CD was only made available via Cope's own Head Heritage website, something that he would do intermittently with other new releases that followed. The new Cope would remain uncompromising, siding very clearly with anti-globalization campaigners, all the while retaining his gift for humorous lyrical stabs, as evidenced by the album's title.

blue highlight denotes track pick