Cope’s fourth LP may have marked something of a dead end to the first part of his solo career, but it’s not without its charms. Taking Funkadelic, Sly Stone and 60s garage rock and psychedelia as inspirations, the album includes covers of The Vogues’ 5 O'Clock World and Someone Like Me by The Shadows of Knight. The highlight is undoubtedly the single Charlotte Anne, but difficult sessions couldn’t entirely hamper Cope’s exuberance and inherent melodicism. Worth checking out if you like its better-selling predecessor, Saint Julian.
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9/10 Dave Customer review, 3rd April 2018
Although this would appear to be on of the man himself's least favourite of his solo releases, I have always really liked it. Some belting tunes on this one, 'Someone like me', '5 O'Clock world' and 'Easter Everywhere',as well as some quite delightful ones like 'Charlotte Ann' and 'China doll'.
I don't think there's a bad track on this album. I liked it so much I had to buy myself a new copy after the original became a bit sticky after coughing some breakfast (muesli,honey and plain yoghurt) while turning it over one morning before work... Too much information? sory had tto make the 500 chahracter limit somehow you know.
all in all a very worthwhile purchase for all fans of the Arch Drood.
9/10 pianodiscordian Customer review, 17th March 2018
"Tell you 'bout my nation underground, my nation underground..."
I've never understood why this album has been so consistently dumped on (not least by Cope himself) - it's probably my favourite of his: as a collection, this is pretty damn close to perfection.
There are 3 killer singles - 'Charlotte Anne' (which cloaks itself in the garb of a simple love song while presenting a warning against falling for the wiles of tricksters: 'Beware of those people who, for the sake of appearances, take on the superficial aspects of the quest' indeed), 'China Doll', and a cover/upgrade of the Vogues '5 O'Clock World'.
There's an excellent obscure garage-rock cover - Shadows Of Knight's 'Someone Like Me' - and the storming 'Easter Everywhere', which points the curious towards the 13th Floor Elevators (and remember, kids, there was no Google or YouTube back in 1988 - you actually had to know your shit and be prepared to devote yourself to trawling through the racks of dusty ol' record shops to pick up and follow through on these references).
'Vegetation' and 'Great White Hoax' pick up from the stompin' peaks of 'St Julian' - 'Hoax' is every bit as fan/pop-tastic as 'World Shut Your Mouth' - while 'I'm Not Losing Sleep' ("a MoFo of self-pity and doubt," apparently) slinks and slides on the back of a sax line and a chorus with twist-turny keyboards like a ghost transmission from a lost The Teardrop Explodes recording.
And then, there's the title track... to some, I know, it's a cod-funky mess, a failed attempt to emulate the Funkadelic sound, but boy, how I love this song. I'd hate to have to pick one Julian Cope song to save from a fire (partly because I can't begin to picture what sort of bizarre situation would be occurring to make this a necessary thing), but if I did have to, this would likely be the one.
Cope channels the creator of the 'nation underground', framing him initially as the benevolent saviour of 'all the hind-legged people that I love' before things take a sinister turn and our narrator morphs into an angel of a very different kind; by the end, he's thrown rationality to the wind, first ranting and chanting like a fire-and-brimstone preacher, then finally muttering in the manner of someone whose unspeakable deeds have finally caught up with him.
If Cope was, as he has suggested, on auto-pilot for this album, then he hides it well on this track - he sure sounds like he's giving it his all, singing with a passion that surfaces rarely in his work.
So, that's 'My Nation Underground' - well deserving of a reissue and a reappraisal: it's a hell of a lot better than its creator would have you believe!
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- My Nation Underground by Julian Cope
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