The Teardrop Explodes – Reward

13th April 2024 · 1980s, 1981, Music, Postpunk

Is there a better opening line to a song than Julian Cope’s delighted response to pop stardom: “Bless my cotton socks, I’m in the news!”?

Not that the singer of The Teardrop Explodes was exactly a household name when he sang it in January 1981. But he was on the radio, which was all he’d ever dreamed about.

John Peel had invited the Teardrops to record a session for him and the song – Reward – made him them proper pop stars.

It gave the band their first hit single, reaching No.6 in the charts, and earned Cope the opportunity to appear on Top of the Pops, which he took with gusto, performing in a stripy nightshirt, tripping off his tits.

“We sounded like Vikings on acid, led by a lunatic,” said Dave Balfe later, recalling that there was blood on his trumpet from banging it on his face because “I was out of my tree on acid.”

It’s one of the most exuberant songs you’ll ever hear: Cope’s attempt at making a classic Northern Soul stomper, driven by that relentless bassline and Balfe’s joyful trumpet fanfares.

Inspired by Cope’s obsession with the Love album Forever Changes, they literally explode all over the place, “like wild elephants” in Balfe’s words.

And it doesn’t outstay its welcome, making it just perfect at 2 minutes 43 seconds – with a proper ending.