Flashback: Teardrop Explodes Deluxe 3CD

Issued last month in the UK by Universal (but with no US release in
sight), a three-CD edition of the Teardrops’ classic 1980 debut does more than
just stand the test of time – it literally stops time in its tracks. Check out
the video, below.

 

By Ron Hart

 

English post-punk legends The Teardrop Explodes
famously copped their strange handle off an obscure panel from a particularly
odd issue of the Marvel superhero comic book Daredevil, which found DD
teaming up with The Amazing Spider-Man while both
are suffering through relationship issues with their respective girlfriends
amidst becoming embroiled in a hero vs. hero battle with Sub-Mariner. 

 

 

How Daredevil No. 77 correlates with the
acid-tested brilliance of the post-punk, new wave and psychedelia cross-section
that the Teardrops – singer/bassist Julian Cope, then-guitarist Mick Finkler on guitar (who
was replaced by Alan Gill), drummer Gary Dwyer and original keyboardist Paul Simpson – created in their short tenure together
constitutes one of the great mysteries of rock ‘n’ roll. Nevertheless, the
group remains the mad geniuses of an era in UK jive that also spawned the likes
of The Chameleons, Echo and the Bunnymen, Joy Division, A Certain Ratio,
Gang of Four and Public
Image Limited, not to mention U2 in
Ireland and Orange Juice in Scotland. And somehow, the Teardrops
managed to sound like the sum of all their parts, albeit rolled up in a
sunshine pop joint hand-dipped in Piccadilly Square’s most potent strain of
liquid LSD.

 

Originally released in the fall of 1980, the
group’s enigmatic full-length debut Kilimanjaro fully lived up to the
scrappy promise of their early singles on Zoo Records,
the co-owner of which, David Balfe, had joined
the band after Simpson left and whose keyboard prowess is featured all over
this bona fide post-punk masterpiece. But while the album was a smash in the
Teardrops’ native Great
Britain, spawning five singles including a Top 20
hit with “Treason” and saw the LP reach No. 24 on the UK album charts, they barely rose above underground cult
status here in the United
States. The band was cherished by an elite
colony of in-the-know tastemakers and educated music fans [among them, the future editor of BLURT. – Ed.] thanks in part to
the moderate airplay of Kilimanjaro‘s
closing track “When I Dream” on progressive radio
stations like WLIR in New York and KROQ in Los
Angeles. But otherwise, they hardly registered a blip
on the American mainstream, particularly in comparison to the wildfire success
of rivals like Bono and the boys and Duran Duran,
both of whom considered the Teardrops to be their stiffest competition across
the pond.

 

 

However, in the three decades since the album’s
initial release, that elite cult colony of fans (both of the Teardrops and frontman-turned-solo
artist Cope) has grown considerably in these parts. And while their popularity
is certainly not enough to merit Universal’s releasing
it stateside, the mind-blowing 30th anniversary of Kilimanjaro – at least for serious fans
of the band – is undoubtedly worth every penny you might lose on that
dollars-to-pounds exchange rate to purchase it as an import. Of course you get the
original 11 tracks fully remastered and restored to their originally intended
running order following some inexplicable shuffles on earlier reissues. But
better yet, this generous deluxe version of the album also includes a second
disc that compiles all of the Teardrops’ early Zoo singles and the post-Kilimanjaro Top Ten hit “Reward”, as
well as their subsequent b-sides along with a variety of alternate and live
tracks, including a nine-minute version of “Sleeping Gas” from a particularly
wild December 1981 performance at Club Zoo in Liverpool that finds a clearly
tripped out Julian barking like a dog, recommending a John Cale album to the audience
in mid-song and doing what he called a “face solo”. And, if that wasn’t enough,
hidden within this new set’s gorgeous gatefold packaging that vividly restores
the album’s classic zebra cover is a third disc containing the group’s BBC
sessions with John Peel and Mike Read leading up to and following the release
of Kilimanjaro, eleven tracks in all.

 

Add some intriguing liner notes from Cope,
Balfe, Dwyer, veteran UK music mogul and close band friend David Bates (who was
key in signing the Teardrops to Phonogram Records) and legendary British
publicist Mick Houghton and you have yourself the only version of this already
essential masterstroke of 1980 that you will ever need.

 

 

 


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