Monday, February 25, 2008

The Teardrop Explodes


World Shut Your Mouth

The Teardrop Explodes were an English Post Punk/Neo-Psychedelic band formed in Liverpool in 1978. Their name was taken from a panel in the Marvel comic book, Daredevil No. 77.

The band was formed by Julian Cope who had previously been in the short-lived yet locally-renowned band Crucial Three along with Pete Wylie who went on to form Wah! and Ian McCulloch later of Echo and the Bunnymen.

The band's initial line-up consisted of singer/bassist Julian Cope, Mick Finkler on guitar, Gary Dwyer on drums and Paul Simpson on keyboards. They were managed by Bill Drummond and signed to his Zoo label.

The band released their first single, "Sleeping Gas", in February 1979. Soon after, Simpson left the band and was replaced by Zoo label co-owner, David Balfe. As they toured Liverpool, the band steadily gained popularity. In fact, their next single "Bouncing Babies" inspired a tribute song of its own: "I Can't Get Bouncing Babies by the Teardrop Explodes" by The Freshies - an ode to the difficulty of obtaining a copy of the song.


Finkler was fired by Cope during the recording of their debut album Kilimanjaro and was replaced by Dalek I Love You guitarist Alan Gill. With Gill, came an expansion of the group's sound. Most of Finkler's guitar parts were re-recorded by Gill, who added psychedelic, angular riffs, that, along with Cope's disco bass, Dwyer's skittering drum beats and the driving horn section, define Kilimanjaro. The LP was a moderate success; it reached number 24 on the British pop charts.

In 1981, the group was at the height of its popularity. In January, they hit # 6 on the British charts with the stomping, horn-driven above video"Reward" single and in April they broke the top 20 with the poppy "Treason" (#18 UK). The incandescent "When I Dream" even received airplay on progressive radio in the U.S., introducing the band to many new fans. During this period, there were numerous line up changes: Alfie Agius was brought in on bass, Jeff Hammer replaced Balfe on keyboards and Troy Tate replaced Gill on guitar.

Expectations were high for the band's second album, Wilder, recorded in late 1981 with a nucleus of Cope, Dwyer, Tate and the returning Balfe. Unlike the first album, which was more of a band effort, Wilder is much more the work of Cope, who took sole songwriting credit on every track on the album. The first single, "Passionate Friend", performed reasonably well (#25 UK), but the album itself was unsuccessful, limping to 29 on the charts, disappearing shortly afterwards.
A second single, "Colours Fly Away" stalled at #57 in the UK chart, signaling the end of the Teardrops as a popular singles band.

At the end of 1981 the band took up residence at the Pyramid Club in Liverpool, playing twice a day as a five piece, with the addition of Ronnie Francois on bass. The band then undertook an extensive tour of Europe, the USA and Australia.

"Tiny Children", a third single from "Wilder", was released in June 1982, narrowly missing the top 40 (#41 UK) despite being championed by the then high profile BBC Radio One DJ, Mike Read.

Third album and dissolution
When the band reconvened to record their third album, they were reduced to the trio of Cope, Dwyer and a reinstated Balfe. Tensions were high – Cope wanted to write ballads and quirky pop songs, while Balfe was more interested in recording synth-based dance music. Cope eventually dissolved the band in the middle of the sessions. The material was later released in 1990 under the title Everybody Wants To Shag... the Teardrop Explodes. The outtakes show a mix of synth/dance pop, dominated by Balfe's keyboards on songs like "Count to Ten and Run for Cover" and more gentle pop on songs like "Soft Enough For You", that prefigure the direction of Cope's early solo career.

Cope has gone on to a successful career as a solo artist and writer.

1980 Kilimanjaro - (#156 US, #24 UK)
1981 Wilder - (#176 US, #29 UK)
1990 Everybody Wants To Shag...The Teardrop Explodes - (tracks from the band's unfinished 1982 album plus rarities)
1990 Piano - (Zoo era rarities)
2001 The Greatest Hit: the Best of the Teardrop Explodes - (greatest hits)
2002 The Collection - (greatest hits)
2004 Zoology - (demos and rarities compilation released by Cope on his Head Heritage label)
2007 Peel Sessions Plus (1979-82) - (sessions recorded for BBC Radio 1)

Band Members
Julian Cope Mick Finkler Gary Dwyer Paul Simpson David Balfe Alan Gill Alfie Agius Jeff Hammer Troy Tate Ronnie Francois

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