Citizen Cain'd is the record Julian Cope has promised for many years and now delivers. It is a double disk clocking in at just over a half hour each, fashioning the experience of flipping over a record. Encased in a deep black color case simulating obsidian (volcanic glass) with a slipcover and a lyric book complete with esoteric photos and art.
With different solo and side projects coming out every year or two in the last half dozen years, following the career of Julian Cope is quite a task, at least here stateside where distribution is limited to import record shops or online through Julian's Head Heritage website. To this point, continuing to buy his recorded output is sometimes an act of faith. One hopes that you will be able to absorb whatever Julian is up to, knowing full well that when it pays off he is a truly inspired musician and more talented than 98 percent of those operating in the underground rock circuit.
On Citizen Cain'd Jules continues to employ Cope veteran bass guitarist Donald Ross Skinner (who has been with Julian for over 20 years), and guitarist Doggen. They are joined on this record by Mitch Razor, Mrs Helen Ramsay and Holy McGrail. The songs on this release deal with God/ Allah, the serpent mother, culture, and war; as the website points out "21st century concerns." It is decidedly lo-fi in approach musically with a MC5-Blue Cheer heaviness.
The first CD (Side One) starts off strongly with Hell is Wicked. Its clear Julian has landed and ready to do some tail kicking. I love the guitar riff and the quasi-tribal percussive undercurrents. Julian calls to the serpent mother to "unleash your salty seas." Great song that sets the mood.
I Can't Hardly Stand It may as well be on a Brain Donor record. With a crazy introduction by Julian suddenly the floor drops out and guitars wail with amps turned up to 11, a full-on aural assault. It rocks with wild abandon, Raw Power type music your house mate may ask you to turn down.
I'm Living in the Room they Found Saddam In, the title says it all. Julian name dropping political leaders to a basic garagey sound.
Gimme Head and Dying To Meet You are my favorites on disc one. A lyrical sense of humor coupled with a great crunchy guitar hook. What I like most about this is the vibe of rolling power chords reminiscent of the Velvets, Cream and Boston(!) complete with Julians trademark background vocals.
Dying to Meet You is fantastic fun! Julian turns into Iggy Pop circa Funhouse on this one, and the band kicks out the jams with a scorching guitar solo that is pure James Williamson! Julian addresses the song subject as grandma, which is funny. I also enjoy the NY Dolls lyrical salute at the song close.
I Will Be Absorbed is a somewhat tedious 13 minute song jam that close side one. It reminds me musically of the late 60's garage band SRC.
Side 2 opens with an 11 minute epic Feels Like A Crying Shame introduced by Julian as if it were a live track and maybe it is, it sure has that open cavernous sound. The tune builds on a central riff with guitars playing off one another like dragonfly's buzzing by. Julian finds his moment in a quiet part to free associate ala Jim Morrisson or as he does during performances of Reynard the Fox.
World War Pigs starts off sweet, sounding very much like a Peggy Suicide track then dives down deep and heavy as Jules waxes about the third World War. I like this, I can picture the band playing this one live.
Stomping Dionysus, the first mention of Citizen Cain'd and repeats the chorus "everything blows me away." This is the poppier, sensitive side of Julian, reminding me of the innocence of Jelly Pop Perky Jean.
The song Homeless Stangers for some odd reason reminds me very much of late 60s Byrds meets the Dead but with more fuzz.
Living Dead is another tune that sounds recorded live. If you listen carefully I bet you can hear Julian leaning back in his squeaky chair as he strums his electric guitar and plinks away at the keyboard. He sings in a mellow tone with sincerity about the living dead, mentioning the Chernobyl fiasco.
Edge Of Death closes the album. Half way through the song I hear a guitar effect of what it would sound like to hear a helicopter taking off in a sandstorm. Not my choice for an album closer as I don't think it is very strong.
Even though I am partial to more of the melodic pop-psychedelic stuff he has scored hits with in the past, I enjoyed this release. I am willing to continue to support Julian as an artist and stay along for the ride, as wild as it often is. Julian has covered a wide territory with Citizen Cain'd, but I think it is worth the wait for fans of his music. The two different discs give you a chance to digest where Julian is coming from, and its definitely another planet, baby.