Between 1978 and 1980, using the pseudonym Klark Kent, the world-famous drummer Stewart Copeland (hi-hat god) released a 10” EP and a handful of singles. On these tracks, he performed everything, allegedly with no outside help. These releases sold moderately in the UK. Klark Kent’s career made little impact, barring his best-known release, ‘Don’t Care’, which charted briefly. Each of these singles is now hard to find, especially in decent condition.
In the mid 90s, the (almost) complete recorded works of Copeland masquerading as Klark Kent were given a CD reissue as the ‘Kollected Works’. It featured all the tracks from the 10″ and 7″s, as well as a few unreleased tracks (including ‘Strange Things Happen’ and ‘Love Lessons’, recorded a few years later, in the mid-eighties).
The CD appeared and then disappeared seemingly as quickly and now fetches stupid amounts of money whenever it changes hands, but is it worth it? Are Copeland’s extra-curricular offerings – part vanity, part novelty – actually worth listening to?
I’d say they were. I may be a little biased when it comes to Stewart Copeland, but I feel these recordings still have plenty of spark and make for decent listening, especially if you’re a Police fan.
In the past, rumours have circulated that some of these tracks were scheduled for inclusion on The Police’s debut LP ‘Outlandos D’Amour’ – but such rumours have never been confirmed, as far as I know. It’s worth keeping that in mind when listening, especially considering some of these songs are more than reminiscent of the Copeland penned ‘On Any Other Day’ (as featured on the second Police LP, ‘Regatta De Blanc’).
The best known track, ‘Don’t Care’ still has a sneer. Maybe it’s been softened a little over the years, but alongside ‘Where’s Captain Kirk’ by Athletico Spizz 80, remains one of the essential post-punk singles. ‘Rich in a Ditch’ is okay as far as it goes; an obvious chorus is saved from being ordinary, by Copeland’s unmistakable rhythms working between snare and hi-hat effortlessly. ‘Grandelinquent’ is classic Copeland. An instrumental piece, naturally heavy on the percussion, it falls somewhere between The Police instrumentals ‘The Other Way Of Stopping’ (although a fair bit slower in places) with atmospherics, similar to ‘Behind My Camel’ (from 1980’s ‘Zenyatta Mondatta’). There’s an interesting jazzy piano break and great percussion at the end which sounds like bottles…
‘Too Kool To Kalypso’ features a similar vocal delivery to the aforementioned Police song ‘On Any Other Day’ and is often thought to be a high point of this collection. While the percussion is good, I find the kazoo interludes (yes, kazoo) push this too far towards novelty. However, it’s not as much like that ‘On Any Other Day’ as ‘My Old School’, which almost feels like an earlier attempt at writing something in that vein. I wouldn’t be surprised if someone told me this was written with inclusion on that second Police album in mind. Another instrumental cut, ‘Theme For Kenetic Ritual’, differs from other tracks in that it’s not quite as percussion based, centring instead around a guitar riff. As such, while pleasant, it’ll never quite hit the spot in the same way as ‘Grandelinquent’, especially with the kazoo making a return appearance at the end. ‘Strange Things Happen’ has a reggae vibe and is one of the tracks most reminiscent of The Police, although it’s nowhere near as polished.
At the time of writing, you’ll never find this on CD without having to sell your internal organs to raise the asking price and it’s a bit much to hope for another reissue. It should be heard though, especially if you like The Police. Unless you’re a Copeland obsessive though, it’s unlikely you’d choose to listen to it instead of those early Police LPs, no matter how good some of the material genuinely is.