The Teardrop Explodes

Zoology

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Julian Cope isn't one to dwell on the past, but he isn't opposed to re-evaluating it, either. When going through some old tapes, he evidently found enough material to convince him to add one more compilation to the Teardrop Explodes post-breakup catalog. This set is evenly split between demos, early versions, and live tracks. As with any anthology of this kind, the sound quality tends to vary. The earliest songs, a few instrumentals from 1978, sound the roughest, but the majority of the tracks sound excellent. Audio clarity is hardly an issue, though, when legendary lost Teardrop gems like "Log Cabin" and the original "You Disappear From View" are finally unearthed. The latter's stripped-down sound is indescribably better than the cheesy, faux soul version that appeared on Everybody Wants to Shag the Teardrop Explodes. Just more evidence that their unfinished third album would have been another classic had Cope been able to keep David Balfe's synth at bay. While a few of the alternate takes aren't terribly different from the common ones, "Tiny Children" is utterly charming and upbeat, a far cry from the haunting take included on Wilder. Musically speaking, the best version of the group was the one that featured Jeff Hammer on keyboards and Alfie Agius on bass. The sometimes comedic differences these hired hands had with core members Cope and Gary Dwyer are highlighted in Cope's hilarious book, Head-On. But the diversity seems to have worked: this incarnation of the band is featured on exciting live renditions of "The Culture Bunker" and "Sleeping Gas," which both display the band's unique fusion of the sounds of 1967 and 1977. One would assume that the vaults have pretty much been emptied with this disc, even though several complete live broadcasts and many BBC sessions are still in the archives. However, based upon a disclaimer on the cover which states that Zoology is to rhyme with "eulogy," this may be the final word on the group. If that's the case, it's a fine swansong, tidily wrapping up the loose ends for longtime admirers of the highly underrated post-punk band. (There is an unlisted final track which is an interview with several luminaries, including Cope, concerning the fabled Columbia Hotel in London, a favorite hideaway for new wave artists in the early '80s.)

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