The musical catalogue of Liverpool band The Teardrop Explodes is peppered with pop gems, psychedelic delights and baroque ballads. A new compilation box set, Culture Bunker 1978-82, reassesses the legacy of the band with classic singles as well as rare tracks.

In the latest issue of Blitzed we review the new box set and also take you on a journey through the band’s music, which tracks their evolution across singles, classic album tracks and some choice oddities and rarities thrown into the mix.

Here’s a selection of classic video appearances showcasing some of the Teardrops’ most intriguing moments…

When I Dream

Originally inspired by The Seeds and described by Cope as “Just a celebration of being in love”, ‘When I Dream’ dates back to 1979. A new version (featuring the production talents of Mike Howlett) was released as a single in 1980.

Part of the song’s charm is a “sparkly toy-piano part” added to the song by Dave Balfe, but the whole composition has a romantic pop appeal that’s tough to ignore. Sadly, the single failed to make a sizeable chart impact.


Released in 1981, The Teardrop Explodes’ most successful single, reached No. 6 in the UK charts. The song’s anthemic arrangement, beefed up by brass fanfares, made this a surefire hit. The song’s genesis was inspired by Alan Gill, although Gill had left the band by this point. Cope later recalled that the song sounded “like a spy theme and completely breakneck”.

Around this time, a new incarnation of the Teardrops formed with Troy Tate (guitar), Jeff Hammer (keyboards) and Alfie Agius (bass).

Treason (It’s Just A Story)

Originally released in 1980, this new version of ‘Treason’ was issued in the hopes of capitalising on the success of ‘Reward’. Conceived by Cope as a song about  “rivalry and freaking out”, ‘Treason’ certainly boasted a tightly arranged pop classic. The song’s lyrical musings on “Mirror-hopping days” were inspired by Cope’s interest in checking himself out in car wing mirrors.

‘Treason’ didn’t quite achieve the lofty hights of their hit single, but still managed a top 20 position.

Passionate Friend

The underrated second album Wilder featured one of the band’s finest moments in the form of ‘Passionate Friend’.

Subsequently released as a single in August 1981, it’s simply a glorious, euphoric anthem (apparently inspired by Ian McCulloch’s sister). The subtle brass gives the song a flourish. It’s also an effective use of the vocal refrain of “ba-ba-ba-ba-ba” that would serve Julian Cope well in the future.

Colours Fly Away

Released as a single in November 1981, ‘Colours Fly Away’ was a tightly arranged affair that employed a perfect balance of brass and bravado. The abstract quality of the lyrics still offers confessional lines such as “More by luck than judgement here am I”.

The single unfortunately didn’t make a huge chart impact, limping in to No. 54. There were discussions at the time that album track ‘Bent Out Of Shape’ would have been a better choice.

Tiny Children

Another of Wilder’s beautiful moments, ‘Tiny Children’ is driven almost entirely by Cope’s impassioned vocal. There’s hints of uncertainty and doubt in the lyrics, but the reflective nature of the song adds to its romantic appeal.

The final single release from Wilder, it fared little better than its predecessor, managing to reach No. 44.

Log Cabin

The pastoral beauty of ‘Log Cabin’ had been conceived as part of the band’s planned third album. As featured on a 1982 radio session, the track later appeared on a 2007 Peel Sessions compilation. 

Featuring Kate St John on oboe and Nicky Holland on cello, the strings lend this song a stately quality (St John and Holland were former members of The Ravishing Beauties who supported the Teardrops during their 1981/82 UK tour dates).

The Culture Bunker

As featured on second album Wilder, classic track ‘The Culture Bunker’ was based on Julian’s opinions on the Liverpool music scene of the time.

In his book Head-On, Cope commented that the song reflected “my meanness and inability to get off on the success of the Bunnymen and Liverpool in general. The open bitchiness of the song assuaged some of my guilt and the chorus refrain was aimed straight at Mac: ‘I feel cold when it turns to gold for you’”.

Read more about The Teardrop Explodes in issue 9 of Blitzed, out now:

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