The Controversies from a 1978 Julian Cope / Ian McCulloch Gig Before Teardrop Explodes and Echo & The Bunnymen.
Kirklands, Hardman Street, Liverpool 1980 (Inacityliving, Facebook)
Few gigs in Liverpool’s vibrant New Wave band scene have the iconic status as an obscure one in 1978, when Julian Cope (later of Teardrop Explodes) and Ian McCulloch (later of Echo and The Bunnymen) shared a stage at Kirklands, a wine bar in Liverpool’s city centre.
It was a benefit gig to save a landmark Liverpool building, the Lyceum, from rapacious developers and a conniving city council, and the band Cope and McCulloch had formed, called “Uh?”, played support that day to another local band called Crash Course.
Julian Cope, in his memoir, Head-On, described this gig as:
“[Pete] Wylie had joined a Dolls/Heartbreakers group called Crash Course with a new scenehead called Andy Eastwood. While Mac [Ian McCulloch] and I took turns to slag off the name of his group, Wylie invited us to support them at Kirklands.
We agreed. Until the last moment, when Mac was close to shitting out. First he was really late. Then he wouldn’t sing, he’d only play melodica. Sod it, man, I’ll bloody sing.
We did ‘Jefferson Davis’, ‘Robert Mitchum’ and ‘Louie Louie’. Mac had on a coat that Mark Smith [of The Fall] had given him. My hair was all grown-out rootsy bleached and I had a shit anorak on. I thought I looked way hip. “No way,” said Mac. “You look like Justin Hayward.” He was right. Uncool.
In his music timeline on www.headhertitage.co.uk, Cope also remembered the gig as follows:
June 1978 Cope, McCulloch and a friend play a selection of songs, including “Louie Louie”, at Kirklands. McCulloch falls in love and the group flounders. Cope cannot sing but insists on being the vocalist. McCulloch leaves in a sulk, Gary Dwyer joins and the Teardrop Explodes is born.
Ian McCulloch seems to mention the Kirklands gig less, but even in histories of early Echo and The Bunnymen the fallout from this gig and the McCulloch/Cope making-up afterwards play an important part in the history of the band. Quoting Julian Cope again:
Nov 78: The Teardrop Explodes play its first gig at a private party at the stupidly hip Eric’s Club in Liverpool. Cope still feels guilty and asks McCulloch to share the gig with his new band, Echo & The Bunnymen.
Mick Reid, guitarist with Crash Course, the band that headlined on the day of the Kirklands gig, recently rediscovered a tape recording of the Uh? performance amongst his possessions. This tape has never been heard publicly before (it is now loaded onto You Tube – see below).
Mick said about this gig and the recording:
“I had brought a cassette machine to the gig to record our set. I wanted to gauge the sound from the PA before we played, so I made a test recording while Uh? were on stage. It has remained on the tape since then.
“One thing which isn’t correct in Julian’s recollection of this gig is the date. It actually took place in July 1978. Pete Wylie wasn’t even a member of our band then.
It was after seeing us supporting Big in Japan in Eric’s, at the end of August that Wylie approached us and asked to join Crash Course. He couldn’t possibly have asked Julian to support him – and us – at Kirklands the previous month. They must have played that day because whoever it was who had organised the event had given them a slot.
The recording is pretty basic, musically speaking, but it is musical and Liverpool band history Gold. It consists of a cover of a Kingsmen classic, Louie Louie and a snippet of an original Julian Cope track called Jefferson Davis, both of which Julian Cope mentions in Head-On.
Above all, what this recording proves is that no matter how little you had in your musical armoury back then, in the heady days of Punk and New Wave, if you had the sheer bollocks to just get up on stage and belt it out, it could change your life forever in ways that were totally unforeseen before you summoned up the courage to get up and perform.
The sound recordings are copyrighted to Michael Reid.
The Uh? tracks ‘Louie Louie’, and ‘Jefferson Davis’ (fragment only):
The Crash Course tracks recorded at the same gig –’Shakin’ All Over’ and ‘Remember What You Did’.
On this recording you hear Pete Griffiths (“Griff”) formerly of Liverpool Punk band the Spitfire Boys being thanked by Crash Course, as the band go onstage to do their set. Pete had been onstage with Uh? providing enigmatic stage presence.
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