Echo & The Bunnymen/Echo & The Bunnymen

Echo & the Bunnymen

Echo & the Bunnymen are an English post-punk group, formed in Liverpool in 1978. Their original lineup consisted of vocalist Ian McCulloch, guitarist Will Sergeant and bass player Les Pattinson, supplemented by a drum machine. By 1980, Pete de Freitas had joined as the band’s drummer, and their debut album, Crocodiles, met with critical acclaim and made the UK Top 20. Their second album, Heaven Up Here (1981), again found favour with the critics and reached number 10 in the UK Album chart. The band’s cult status was followed by mainstream success in the mid-1980s, as they scored a UK Top 10 hit with “The Cutter“, and the attendant album, Porcupine (1983), reached number 2 in the UK. Their next release, Ocean Rain (1984), continued the band’s UK chart success, and has since been regarded as their landmark release, spawning the hit singles “The Killing Moon“, “Silver” and “Seven Seas“. One more studio album, Echo & the Bunnymen (1987), was released before McCulloch left the band to pursue a solo career in 1988. The following year, de Freitas was killed in a motorcycle accident, and the band re-emerged with a new line-up. Original members Will Sergeant and Les Pattinson were joined by Noel Burke as lead singer, Damon Reece on drums and Jake Brockman on keyboards. This new incarnation of the band released Reverberation in 1990, but the disappointing critical and commercial reaction it received culminated with a complete split in 1993.

After working together as Electrafixion, McCulloch and Sergeant regrouped with Pattinson in 1997 and returned as Echo & the Bunnymen with the UK Top 10 hit “Nothing Lasts Forever“. An album of new material, Evergreen, was greeted enthusiastically by critics and the band made a successful return to the live arena. Though Pattinson left the group for a second time, McCulloch and Sergeant have continued to issue new material as Echo & the Bunnymen, including the albums What Are You Going to Do with Your Life? (1999), Flowers (2001), Siberia (2005) and The Fountain (2009).

Echo & the Bunnymen is the fifth studio album by the British post-punk band Echo & the Bunnymen, and the last with founder member Ian McCulloch and drummer Pete de Freitas. The album was produced by Laurie Latham who recorded the album in Germany, Belgium, London and Liverpool after an aborted attempted at recording the album without de Freitas and with producer Gil Norton. With Latham being an exacting producer and singer Ian McCulloch receiving star treatment and drinking heavily, the recording of the album was more difficult than the band had initially hoped. The album made more use of keyboards than their previous albums, which had been string heavy.

Although Echo & the Bunnymen was successful in the United States and, to a lesser degree, the United Kingdom, it received mixed reviews from the music press following its release in July 1987. The album reached number four on the UK Albums Chart, number 51 on the United States Billboard 200, number 51 on the Canadian RPM100 Albums and number 22 on the Swedish Albums Chart. Since its release, the album has been certified silver by the British Phonographic Industry. The album includes the singles “The Game“, “Lips Like Sugar” and “Bedbugs and Ballyhoo“. [Wikipedia]

The Game—-Beginning with that classic melancholy lead guitar sound, the familiar bass line enters and ushers in the laid back and lazy vocal of Ian…this is so smooth and pleasant that you immediately wonder why you have not listened to this for so long. The lyrics mean something and the emotion is poured on so thick you have to chisel it from your cerebellum. The vocal overlays are a nice touch and round out the song in a magical way. Fantastic!!!

Over You—-From the very beginning of this track, the magic is everywhere. This is bright and shimmering…the keyboards add a glimmer that is wonderful…you can not escape the damn addictability of the song. Ian delivers his lines with little vocal nuances that create a mood that literally shine with sun….hard to believe that many people considered this band a goth outfit at the beginning. They are pure purveyors of pop magic…the organ/keyboard in the middle of the song is brilliant. Play this twice.

Bedbugs And Ballyhoo—-With a jaunty marching drum and a keyboard line that makes you think of The Doors, the song develops into an acceptable piece of pop mastery that is nice to revisit from time to time without ever becoming a favorite. I don;t dislike this, but it is a bit to jigsaw sounding for me…the band included so many different sounds in one song that at times it becomes a bit confusing…none the less, I am in a minority….for many people this was a defining song.

All In Your Mind—-A bit more aggressive, the song carries the post-punk moniker that the band has over into this song. The keyboards are definitely 80’s inspired with some nice synth swirls popping up…McCollough varies his vocal abit..allowing his range to show. This is really nice.

Bombers Bay—-Bright and shimmering from the onset, the layers of sound that accompany this are remarkable. I love it when Ian sings in that quasi-romantic tone of his that even now makes my heart melt. This is wonderful in every sense of the word…the guitars are subtle yet important, the drums are in your face without being obnoxious, the keyboards are underwhelming but present none the less and the voice cries out to be stroked and coddled. Masterful!!!

Lips Like Sugar—-Perhaps the best known and best-loved song in this bands entire catalog, this song combines every element of the band that made it a huge success and amplified it by 100,000%. Not to mention that the video was a classic! With a classic McCollough vocal, the band is just as important to the sound of this song….you can not deny the addictive quality of the song and the shimmering sound that pervades through the entire thing. Although the song does sound a bit dated at this juncture, the bass line that runs through the entire song is timeless.

Lost and Found—-Now…..this is pretty damn nice. The guitars are delivered with a progressive note sound that builds and builds and yet stays in the same magical place…to me, this is remarkable. Ian sounds incredible strong and ridden with angst…this is incredible…full of bare emotions and beautiful layered sounds that create a landscape in 4 minutes.

New Direction—-again, reeking od the type of shimmering pop masterpieces that bands today seem to be allergic to, this song is perfect. there is just the right amount of background fuzz, the nice bass sound and some vocal histrionics that are either over layed or preformed by someone else…this all come together in a perfect recipe needed to make pop perfection.

Blue Blue Ocean—-Not a favorite song of mine, the refrains are hit or miss…the chorus does come together in a nice fashion though, creating that lush sound that appeals to me so much with this band. This is nice, but of course every release needs filler.

Satellite—-This is a nice distraction from the onset….musically, the song is a bit more sonic and raucous and the vocal is much more aggressive. I like this style for the band as well as I like the calm and introspective elements of the band. This is nice…a standout track for me and a really nice place to revisit.

All My Life—-This is more bass heavy and pronounced in the rhythm section…there almost seems to be some strings involved as the song has a lush and textured feel. Ian sounds better than I have ever heard him sound…he has a certain way of saying words that you know in a moment if you are hearing him or an imposter. This borders on beautiful!!!

Jimmy Brown—-With a really nice lead intro and some drums that are almost recorded to loud, this song is a version of Bring On The Dancing Horses that is either mis titled or erroneously confused. This is a much more electric version…with aggressive guitars and drums that just slay me…but still the calm and collected vocal of Ian holds it all together. Nice!!!

Hole In The Holy—-Following much in the line of the recipe that is Echo, this song is so shiny and shimmering that you almost ignore the rather sedate and morose lyrics that lead such a pleasant song. I kid you not, this is shiny and shimmering from the word go…reminding me of a bright day and the ripples that flow across the lake with each jumping fish…you feel the warmth and the comfort of the sun and the comfortable feeling of being at peace…this track..remarkably makes me very happy.

Soul Kitchen—-This plays rather odd for me….taking all of the pop out of the sound, the song borders on being  piece of mid-80’s psychedelic pop. Not that this is bad…it is just the transition can be difficult. The bass line is excellent and the chorus allows Ian to be a bit more forceful and energetic. This is nice, but not a favorite.

The Game [Extended]—-This track is not so much an extended version of the original, but rather a more sedate acoustic version. It allows the vocal to really shine without all of the background sounds…in fact, it seems as if Ian is pushed way to the front…I almost prefer this over the original.

Bedbugs And Ballyhoo [Extended]—-Not much different from the original…just a few seconds of a longer introduction….what is the point?

Over Your Shoulder—-Wow….this is a nice noisy mess….the guitars are over layed and full of feed back. the vocal is pushed way to the back of the mix…you strain to hear some of the words…but it works in an incredible way…this is masterful….yes!!!

Bring On The Dancing Horses—-Now this is the song that I expected it to be…bright shimmering and reminding me of the best years that have passed me by. You can not deny the pop sensibilities of the song or the band. They delivered a masterpiece of a song for the Pretty In Pink soundtrack and then disappeared for almost 20 years…what is up with that? Still classic after all of these years.

****1/2 out of 5

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: