Album Review: Teardrop Explodes "Kilimanjaro"

I've had this nestling, relatively unlistened to, in my CD collection for some time. It's the big debut album by THE TEARDROP EXPLODES, a fairly lauded and applauded post-punk-slash-new-wave band, dominated by the figure of frontman Julian Cope.

My 2019 review of Cope's later solo album, Saint Julian, which sucked, got me thinking this new wave "sacred cow" should be given another listen as well.

I remember liking 'big hit' "Reward" when it came out blaring and stomping in 1981. That wasn't on the original Kilimanjaro album, but was added to the re-release version in 2000, which I picked up, along with a few other tracks, like a live version of "Sleeping Gas" and the French version of "Treason." 

Second time around "Reward" is irritating, dominated by its emphatic but uninteresting rhythm and Cope's blustery vocals. 
"Treason" comes across as a bit better, but not much. "Sleeping Gas," too, with its sinuous, driving vibe, starts off well enough, sounding just like a CHAMELEON's song, which tells you who was producing. But then Cope's large, unmusical personality starts stamping itself all over it, battering the poor song to death.

This becomes the theme. The band aren't too bad, but you feel they are being dragged down by their frontman and his windbag of a voice. "Poppies in the Field" seems to hold up best, keeping Julian's needy ego relatively contained so that someone -- Alan Gill or the Chameleon's Dave Fielding -- can shoot off some cool echoey guitar licks.

Colin Liddell
Revenge of Riff Raff
15th March, 2021
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