Many people remember Julian Cope for his mid-1980s solo hit “World Shut Your Mouth” or his stint as lead singer for the post-punk band The Teardrop Explodes. In recent years, however, Cope has built a formidable reputation as a writer on all matter of subjects, most notably music and antiquities. His overview of Krautrock (1960s-1970s German psychedelic rock) from 1995, “Krautrocksampler” is considered a classic, even though he refuses to have it republished because of factual errors he’s since discovered and because he claims there are others more knowledgeable than he is. His antiquities books “The Modern Antiquarian” and “The Megalithic European” have also proven to be very popular.
Cope’s latest book “Copendium” is a massive collection of essays (over 700 pages) culled from Cope’s website that chronicles terrific, but ignored or forgotten music albums, spanning several different genres. Among the artists that Cope exhaustively writes about: Von LMO, The Electric Eels, Montrose, Pentagram … even a Van Halen bootleg gets a detailed essay. If you love discovering new music and enjoy great writing, “Copendium” is damn near perfect.
One of the most disturbing, poignant, and oddly inspiring films I’ve seen this year is the documentary “Last Days Here.” It’s about Bobby Liebling, the lead singer of 1970s doom metal pioneers Pentagram, who were considered the missing link between Led Zeppelin and the Sex Pistols back in the day. They came close to the brass ring a couple of times, but never made it, despite having a huge cult following over the last 30-40 years. The documentary opens showing Bobby at the absolute bottom of drug addiction (heroin, crack, and meth), living in his parent’s basement. He’s in his 50s, but looks like he’s in his 80s. The tale of how he pulls himself up from the bottom (with the help of a new manager and superfan named Sean Pelletier) is nothing short of amazing. Mainly because most people in Bobby’s condition never pull themselves out. If you’ve ever known someone like Bobby and seen what typically happens with someone in his shape, Bobby’s transformation is miraculous. The denouement is absolutely astonishing and if it doesn’t bring a tear to your eye, you’re not human. While a part of you may cynically surmise “Yeah … let’s see where Bobby is a few years from now,” one could easily say the same thing about me, you, or anyone you know. Seriously, at my age, I’ve seen enough curveballs thrown my way (and towards others I know) that you never know where real life will lead you, even if you do all the right things. And if anyone deserves a happy ending, it’s Bobby. Bobby, wherever you are, best of luck to you and your family!
It’s available on Netflix streaming, so what are you waiting for?