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45 at 33: Julian Cope’s World Shut Your Mouth

Everyone’s favourite Britcentric, when Julian Cope detonated Liverpool indie shufflers the Teardrop Explodes he took a batch of songs he’d written for the band and promptly used them as the basis of his first solo album, among them 1984’s swoonsome celebratory The Greatness and Perfection of Love.

Bold, brash and often visionary, Saint Julian was pre-destined to write World Shut Your Mouth: he liked the abrasive title enough to recycle it from that debut two and as half years earlier, which probably led to a few confused purchases in Our Price.

Flying in the face of fashion just as its opening line makes clear, the anthemic pounding pop of World Shut Your Mouth, with its coruscating chorus and a drumbeat straight outta Motown, was, as its author Julian Cope described it, somewhere between Hang On Sloopy and I Love Rock ’n’ Roll. Oh, and it owed a debt to a couple of chords from Louie Louie for good measure too.

For the promo video, leather-clad Cope climbed avian-like onto his customised mic stand and berated the world by proxy through the mysterious unnamed ‘she’. 

“She always used to live so secretly. She’d be seen in and out of the sound. She’s taking on the role of the four winds now. She’s having tea there out in the crowd. She’s flying in the face of fashion now. She seems to have a will of her own. In lieu of what you’re saying so frequently. She seems to have, it all adds up. She sings, “World, shut your mouth, shut your mouth, put your head back in the clouds and shut your mouth.”

No matter, it became Cope’s biggest solo hit, reaching n-n-n-n-nineeteen in the UK on 21 October 1986, the day he turned 29. Happy birthday ma‘am!

Steve Pafford

BONUS BEATS: After the demise of the six week trio The Crucial Three featuring future raincoated Bunnyman Ian McCulloch, Julian Cope and Pete Wylie formed The Mystery Girls with Pete Burns, later to find fame with Dead Or Alive. They lasted for precisely one gig, supporting Sham 69 at Eric’s on 4 November 1977:

“We split up after that one gig because Pete Wylie wanted to wear a toilet seat on his head. Julian Cope would say ‘I know, I’ve got a really good idea. You stand at the back with a blanket over your head, and I’ll stand at the front.’ They didn’t want people to look at me. They couldn’t stand the fact that I was so fucking glamorous.” ― Pete Burns, 1994


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