stark and silent

So I surrendered and bought the three-disc reissue of Kilimanjaro, the fabulous 1980 debut from The Teardrop Explodes. This despite having earlier purchased both the US and UK editions of the album, plus the dodgy Piano compilation containing direct-from-vinyl versions of early singles (represented here in cleaner versions on the package’s second disc).

I’m not sure why, but “Suffocate,” available only on the UK CD*, is still missing (there’s an alternate version on the third disc of BBC sessions, but not the original). Perhaps Copey hates it now. Regardless, I think it’s a wonderful song, alternating between a mysterious restrained tension and full-on emoting in Cope’s affecting upper register. (I’ll admit that there are moments in the third verse where he sings a bit flat: maybe that’s why the track’s disappeared. I doubt it, though: much worse Cope singing is readily available!)

* Complicated history on this one: I discovered the album way back when in my local public library: that version included “Suffocate” and “Reward” but not “Bouncing Babies” or “Second Head.” I taped that LP, and that was the version I knew for years…and when I eventually found the CD release, it was the Fontana US issue…which, oddly, had what I’d come to think of as the “UK” track listing (“Babies” and “Head” but not “Suffocate”). This version had the original, band portrait cover (which was replaced in later editions because one guy in the photo got booted from the band). Then later, when I found an import version, oddly, it had “Suffocate” (but not “Babies” or “Head”)…but it had what I’d come to think of as the “UK” cover (the zebras and titular mountain). The order of tracks is also different. So along comes this reissue…the track order is the same as the “US” version, except “Reward” (which was not on the original release: it was a later single) is now on disc 2, the mop-up disc.

So in fact, getting “Bouncing Babies” by The Teardrop Explodes isn’t hard – it’s getting “Suffocate” that’s a bit difficult…

The Teardrop Explodes “Suffocate” (Kilimanjaro US release, 1980)

Chris Sievey & the Freshies “I Can’t Get ‘Bouncing Babies’ by The Teardrop Explodes” (1981)

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