Echo & the Bunnymen emerged in 1978 as a scrappy three-piece
plus drum machine ("echo") in slightly sleepy Liverpool.
From the outset, you can hear the same urgent magic that helped
to create the myriad of new sounds emanating from all over England.
However, the Bunnymen mixed their adherence to the punk sound
and ethos with a dash of literary mystery and musical nostalgia.
Their originality was built on a sacred respect for psychedelia
and the Doors at their ecstatic best among other unlikely (not
to mention unfashionable) antecedents, injecting a serpentine
jangle and an atmospheric aesthetic imagination all their own.
I hate to end yet another review by saying "this is/these
are a must have," but if ever I said it I MEAN it for real
now. All five reissues have been completely remastered and come
with deluxe packaging, extensive liner notes and photos, and amazing
and numerous bonus tracks.
CROCODILES The band's first proper album, produced by
the Chameleons, has glorious rough edges and punk pedigree showing
while introducing Ian McCulloch and Co's dramatic flair from the
first note. Includes amazing early versions and unreleased tracks
as well as the live EP "Shine So Hard" that garnered
them their first major buzz and shows of their incredible live
HEAVEN UP HERE Gaining in maturity and self-confidence,
the Bunnymen sound darker and deeper while maintaining their rock
and pop interests as well. From the liner notes - McColluch says
"I always had the Velvets 'What Goes On' in the back of my
mind. A rhythm with a drone."
PORCUPINE Energy explodes after some time off and the
band boosts further in to the charts and continues to tour year
round. An ultra tight, jaunty mixture of pop and dirge, "Porcupine"
troubled some of the bands earlier fans with its high-speed rhythms,
bells and electric violins (Indian string master Shankar plays
on the album's major hits) as The Bunnymen delved into Talking
Heads-like dance influences.
OCEAN RAIN An immediate classic! The Bunnymen come to
a stunning fruition as their always-latent romanticism emerges
like a tsunami and sweeps each song with undeniable poetic power.
Influenced by Love, Scott Walker, Brecht/Weill and Jacques Brel,
"Ocean Rain" was recorded mostly in Paris, where the
band benefited from the introduction of brushed drums, xylophones,
glockenspiels, antique reverb machines and exhilarating strings.
This record will come to be seen as one of the best ever made.
ECHO AND THE BUNNYMEN While representing the dénouement
of their glory days, this self-titled effort still has some amazingly
good moments. Ray Manzarek cements the Doors worship by playing
keyboards on the jaunty "Bed Bugs and Ballyhoo," and
who can forget "Lips Like Sugar." Included as B-sides
are cover versions of "Soul Kitchen," demo versions
of other tracks and a rocked out early incarnation of "Bring
on the Dancing Horses." [MC]