Echo and the Bunnymen

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they suck

anthony, Monday, 25 February 2002 01:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

I agree.

Melissa W, Monday, 25 February 2002 01:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

I disagree

Alexander Blair, Monday, 25 February 2002 01:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

i agree. 3-1!

gareth, Monday, 25 February 2002 01:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

they mostly suck. 3.7 to 1.3

Alan Trewartha, Monday, 25 February 2002 01:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

B-b-but Gareth... you like ADORABLE!

Edna Welthorpe, Mrs, Monday, 25 February 2002 01:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

Only Alexander is OTM here. But someone will be along in a minute to call me an old rockist fool, of that I am sure.

Any chance we could discuss why they suck/don't suck?

Dr. C, Monday, 25 February 2002 01:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

edna, i know!

an instance of the imitator being superior to the original? possibly, but i never really though adorable sounded like echo & the bunnymen. they were much better for a start! *looks around, sees he is alone in his opinion as everyone backs slowly away*

gareth, Monday, 25 February 2002 01:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

Any chance we could discuss why they suck/don't suck?
It must be Ian McCulloch's voice. Though I must admit that is all I really know from some solo releases. I do not remember one Bunnymen song. But his voice has something in it I don't like. He sounds like a sad crooner. By the way I find that Siouxsie & the Banshees are also overrated.

alex in mainhattan, Monday, 25 February 2002 01:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

I thought you liked Sad Crooners, Alex ;)

Leonard Cohen?

Dr. C, Monday, 25 February 2002 01:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

I was on an anti-bunnymen thing for awhile... I've been listening to the box set (borrowed it - would never buy it) - and it's actually not that bad.... I think I hate Ocean Rain and everything that came after it... Crocodiles is still alright ... There are two things I never liked about them: Their woosiness, seen especially in the later records -and- their Doors impersonations.

But now I'm willing to cut them some slack...

Dave225, Monday, 25 February 2002 01:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

Cohen is by no ways a crooner. He is just a singer/songwriter with a grave voice. A sad crooner would be someone like Scott Walker with his unbearable drawl.

alex in mainhattan, Monday, 25 February 2002 01:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

Much as I hate to disagree with a fellow Canadian, I'd have to say yer wrong here. (in the spirit of the question, no explanation will be given.)

Sean Carruthers, Monday, 25 February 2002 01:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

Both Echo and Siouxsie rool, mang. Beyond doubt (in my feeble brain, at least).

Ned Raggett, Monday, 25 February 2002 01:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

They don't suck, what with Ian MacCulloch being one of the best pop stars ever, and their first four albums are brilliant. It must be said that I'm a sucker for string sections, big drums and Bowie casualties though. Weirdly, I never thought of the Doors that much when dealing with them despite People Are Strange cover in Lost Boys. I went all the way to Edinburgh to see them once, back in the '80s. Anthony, you should see the video for Seven Seas, Mac's dressed like a very sexy indie girl for half of it.

Had to interview them for the Guardian a few years ago and thankfully they didn't remember teasing me that I looked like the girl from Swing Out Sister back when they played in Minneapolis with New Order.

suzy, Monday, 25 February 2002 01:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

Once upon a time, they were brilliant.

Alex in NYC, Monday, 25 February 2002 01:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

I used to like them very much.

Sean, Monday, 25 February 2002 01:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

I agree with Alex and Sean. I like the guitar sound best. Listening to that box set, they sound more similar to their synth pop contemporaries than I would ever have admitted at the time. But the box diminishes their glory by including too much secondary material (that means b-sides, I think). The comeback is like Showaddywaddy playing weddings.

Peter Miller, Monday, 25 February 2002 01:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

**The comeback is like Showaddywaddy playing weddings**

I'm by no means a EATB devotee, but I really like all 3 EATB 'comeback' albums, especially 'Flowers'. Each one has a couple of tracks which is as good as anything from their heyday and nothing they should be ashamed of at all. As I said, Flowers is excellent - Will Sergeant sounds like he's really interested this time around and comes up with his best work since Porcupine. There's nothing startlingly innovative going on, just a band playing good material well. It sounds like they KNOW it's good too.

Dr. C, Monday, 25 February 2002 01:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

What d'yer mean, some of those B-sides are great! "Fuel," "Angels and Devils"...

Ned Raggett, Monday, 25 February 2002 01:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

Yeah, the b-sides were great, shuddup! The box set seems to diminish them by having stuff from 1986 onwards, when they went frankly crap. But that's more the fault of the band (and their drugs) than anything else. If they'd stayed as brilliant all the way through the career they'd be brilliant, or if they'd split up in 1985 and never reformed they'd be remembered as brilliant. I'll give them the benefit of the doubt for the newer stuff, but just wish they weren't around spoiling the old stuff. Mind you, the live version of "The cutter" on the new live album sounded great so maybe I'll shut my mouth. But sod it - their b-sides were GREAT, OK?

Rob M, Monday, 25 February 2002 01:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

I was a big fan of the Bunnymen when I was a teenager, but I rarely listen to them now.

The Bunnymen used to have some good qualities. On "Crocodiles" and "Heaven Up Here" they were very good at Television-style dynamic rock music. "Porcupine" was an interesting attempt at updating their sound. "Ocean Rain" has some very nice arrangements. However, the Bunnymen's strengths were obscured because they had a terrible, meaningless name and most of their lyrics were terrible and meaningless too. I find it hard to make an emotional connection to their songs these days. Their brand of lyrical angst doesn't convince me. I still think "Villiers Terrace" is a great song though.

Mark Dixon, Monday, 25 February 2002 01:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

Porcupine & Ocean Rain are brilliant. First 2 records very good too. I don't even mind the S/T one even. Even What Are You Going to do With Your Life? had some moments. The latest is pretty bad though. They weren't bad live a couple years ago since they mostly stuck to their classics. McCulloch used to have a great powerful voice but he has smoked and drank it away. Also, one of the most serious diminishing lyric quality.

g, Monday, 25 February 2002 01:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

Smoked and drank? But in Liverpool he's known as Shake'N'Vac.

suzy, Tuesday, 26 February 2002 01:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

OK, some of the b-sides are good, ie Angels and Devils. Perhaps I'm bemoaning the refurbished running order. The later stuff sounds nice enough in the background, but it doesn't whip up much enthusiasm from me. There is no URGENCY or KEYNESS. I'm also disappointed with the live material, especially the Scandanavian covers set. I used to have this ona bootleg tape, but it was a C 120 so I didn't listen to it much because I was convinced it would get mangled up. It sounded better under those circumstances. I don't know, I think the whole thing is just a bit like the rerelease of Star Wars, it just isn't as good as I remembered it.

Peter Miller, Tuesday, 26 February 2002 01:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

Echo- Thumbs up Bunnymen- Thumbs down

Bob, Tuesday, 26 February 2002 01:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

Let's put it this way: Anthony, it's actually you who sucks, via every orifice one might add. Echo and the Bunnymen do not suck. They're fantastic. Furthermore, since you are all so keen to praise Boards of Canada, the majority of you have relatively bad taste in tunes. So I will stick to E and his Bunnies and you can take your Aphex-redux and smoke your junk and rejoice. Actually, I'll have a smoke, too, but to hell with your Matador reject bands.

SP Morrissey, Tuesday, 26 February 2002 01:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

I'm new to the Bunnymen. Picked up Ocean Rain a couple weeks ago and am loving it. The only thing I can find at fault with the album is the shoddy treatment in sound quality on CD. Perhaps this is just me, but the albums themselves could definitely use an upgrade. Does anyone know if this is in the works? The basslines are just too buried in the mix IMHO.

JC, Tuesday, 26 February 2002 01:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

I read somewhere that Ocean Rain is being reissued with extra bits come summertime. So is the Scandanavian Bootleg, apparently.

Peter Miller, Wednesday, 27 February 2002 01:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

that drumming style sucks the pig.

duane, Wednesday, 27 February 2002 01:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

You don't like de Freitas' drumming? *whimpers, slumps in corner, cries*

Ned Raggett, Wednesday, 27 February 2002 01:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

New live album Su>Mr Noodles, Wednesday, 27 February 2002 01:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

one year passes...
has anyone gotten the re-issues? if so, are they worth plunking down money for?

Eisbär (llamasfur), Tuesday, 27 January 2004 22:09 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

I got Porcupine, basically to get Fuel, which I had on 12". This was useful when I had a record player.

I don't like it as much as I used to, but then it was only a fiver, so I guess it was worth it to find out. Still, I do like the album. "Higher Hell" is good for a long raincoat song, and I still like the last two songs a lot.

Keith Watson (kmw), Tuesday, 27 January 2004 22:26 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

"Heaven Up Here" sounds considerably better when remastered (but then, it did sound awful before the remastering, so...)

Geir Hongro (GeirHong), Tuesday, 27 January 2004 22:28 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

has anyone gotten the re-issues? if so, are they worth plunking down money for?

Yes indeed (I've found them for very cheap, actually). As Geir notes, Heaven Up Here is now fantabulous sounding.

Ned Raggett (Ned), Tuesday, 27 January 2004 22:31 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

...every time i try to type "Echo and the Bunnymen," i end up inadvertently typing it as "Echo and the Bunnyment."

does this have deeper meaning, perchance?

janni (janni), Tuesday, 27 January 2004 22:38 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

three years pass...

free 'Best Of The Bunnymen' cd free in the 85p Daily Star Sunday, er, tomorrow (it's aleady tomorrow in some parts of london, particularly the parts near railway stations)

Killing Moon
The Cutter
Nothing Lasts Forever
Rescue
The Back Of Love
Ocean Rain
Bring On The Dancing Horses

All songs recorded live at Shepherd's Bush Empire November 1st 2005.

ie it's the same as the 'Me, I'm All Smiles' cd and the 'Dancing Horses' dvd, only smaller.

koogs, Saturday, 25 August 2007 22:52 (eleven years ago) Permalink

One of the few bands whose Peel sessions aren't better than their studio counterparts. I wonder why...

Mr. Odd, Saturday, 25 August 2007 23:36 (eleven years ago) Permalink

nothing lasts forever seems out of place

keythkeyth, Sunday, 26 August 2007 02:30 (eleven years ago) Permalink

It's the song that most star readers are likely to know

Herman G. Neuname, Sunday, 26 August 2007 02:38 (eleven years ago) Permalink

how can people hate this band?!?!?!

Curt1s Stephens, Sunday, 26 August 2007 19:25 (eleven years ago) Permalink

SRSLY!

Tape Store, Sunday, 26 August 2007 19:28 (eleven years ago) Permalink

srsly 3rded

stephen, Sunday, 26 August 2007 19:44 (eleven years ago) Permalink

Echo & The Bunnymen were martyrs for the cause of meaninglessness.

Nobody else in the history of recorded music wrote so many songs that were about nothing whatsoever. Not Spike Jones, not Anthony Newley, not Gerard Kenny, not Kajagoogoo. Not even Robert Smith.

"Spare us The Cutter!"

Q. What is "The Cutter", Ian?
A. Well, it's kind of, like, you know, something that holds you back. Y'know?

PhilK, Sunday, 26 August 2007 19:54 (eleven years ago) Permalink

meaninglessness with absolute conviction. gotta love them for that.

grimly fiendish, Monday, 27 August 2007 12:29 (eleven years ago) Permalink

It's the song that most star readers are likely to know

Are you saying the average Star reader is into arse-end-of-Britpop band-wagon jumpers? Why wouldn't the average Star reader be more likely to know Killing Moon or Bring on the Dancing Horses? What age is the average Star reader and did he watch Top of the Pops?

Anyway, they don't suck. Even the arse-end-of-Britpop stuff was better than most of what Britpop spat out.

Big coats are great.

onimo, Monday, 27 August 2007 12:43 (eleven years ago) Permalink

Even the arse-end-of-Britpop stuff was better than most of what Britpop spat out

yup. "what are you going to do with your life?" is a great album. which i should look for, in the big CD cupboard. some time.

grimly fiendish, Monday, 27 August 2007 12:52 (eleven years ago) Permalink

and you're OTM about the coats, too.

grimly fiendish, Monday, 27 August 2007 12:52 (eleven years ago) Permalink

the bunnymen weren't "martyrs for meaninglessness." they weren't U2 as far as big "messages" go (and given their feud with U2, i am sure that they take great pride in that) and mcculloch's lyrics could often be daft to the point of apparent incomprehensibility (and yes, even superficially meaningless in the case of "the cutter"). at the risk of sounding pretentious, though, the bunnymen's lyrics were all ABOUT fighting AGAINST meaninglessness -- at least on a personal level (though not a global one). the struggle to find or create meaning is what gives their music its bite and drama -- especially on crocodiles and heaven up here. maybe they were a bit drama-queeny, but they weren't aiming to be nihilistic or meaningless.

Eisbaer, Monday, 27 August 2007 12:52 (eleven years ago) Permalink

I've always loved 'em (thru their original releases, anyways), even though i've always thought they cared a bit too much about their image.

For my money, Heaven Up Here is one of the best albums of the 80s.

christoff, Monday, 27 August 2007 16:06 (eleven years ago) Permalink

one month passes...

25th anniversary version of crocodiles finally hit the mat this morning, two and a half weeks after amazon said they'd posted it. it's more extra tracks than it is actual lp. and is fantastic. even the stuff that only made it onto b-sides is wonderful.

(wilder + 8 extra tracks in the same parcel and currently shuffling around my ears. it's liverpool 1981 again.)

koogs, Monday, 22 October 2007 16:15 (eleven years ago) Permalink

Dr C has nearly persuaded me (upthread), but anymore reasons why I should go back to Fopp and get 'Flowers' for a quid?

Bocken Social Scene, Monday, 22 October 2007 16:18 (eleven years ago) Permalink

You confused me there. Those 25th anniversary editions came out in 2003. Get them and the box and you've got it all.

Except for their Peel sessions.

Mr. Odd, Monday, 22 October 2007 18:25 (eleven years ago) Permalink

one year passes...

Love the intro to 'The Cutter'; love the swirling instrumental break too - their great speciality.

the pinefox, Monday, 26 January 2009 12:43 (nine years ago) Permalink

One of the few bands whose Peel sessions aren't better than their studio counterparts. I wonder why...

Too much cocaine.

Or, not as much cocaine as during the studio sessions.

Your guess is as good as mine.

ilxor, Monday, 26 January 2009 18:40 (nine years ago) Permalink

three weeks pass...

I love their Peel Sessions. I'm sorry, but I'm hearing some absolute best-of-Bunnymen stuff in my ears, here.

All Night Party Of Goth (Bimble), Sunday, 22 February 2009 21:36 (nine years ago) Permalink

six years pass...

People rolling round on the carpet
Biting wool and pulling string

we salute you, our half-inflated dark lord (GOTT PUNCH II HAWKWINDZ), Thursday, 4 February 2016 19:25 (two years ago) Permalink

What I'm trying to say is I'm having a late life re-realization that this band is great. And the bonus tracks on this Crocodile reissue are exactly what you want out of bonus tracks - "Simple Stuff" is, quote, meaninglessness with absolute conviction and I love it.

we salute you, our half-inflated dark lord (GOTT PUNCH II HAWKWINDZ), Thursday, 4 February 2016 19:28 (two years ago) Permalink

Been listing to this 2CD comp recently instead of the albums, feel like they just about nailed it.

Gerald McBoing-Boing, Thursday, 4 February 2016 20:37 (two years ago) Permalink

I think I'm of that age where I too frequently think "I hope that's not a death related thread revive."

djh, Thursday, 4 February 2016 22:56 (two years ago) Permalink

and the great thing about cd's being unfashionable is that you can get that cd in MINT condition for 1£ on discogs

crazy

ordered

niels, Friday, 5 February 2016 14:24 (two years ago) Permalink

Every single time I hear Shankar's violin starts up in that middle section of Heads Will Roll it never fails to make the hairs on my neck stand up.

MaresNest, Friday, 5 February 2016 14:31 (two years ago) Permalink

Simple Stuff is really good and gets extra points for the Elevators-style jug-impersonating-a-roosting-dove noises (can't actually recall too many other bands trying that tbh)

François Pitchforkian (NickB), Friday, 5 February 2016 16:03 (two years ago) Permalink

YES! God, yes, I love it when people do that. Only other band of the 80s I can think of that attempted it were Dead Moon on "Graveyard."

we salute you, our half-inflated dark lord (GOTT PUNCH II HAWKWINDZ), Saturday, 6 February 2016 00:33 (two years ago) Permalink

I love it when two groups of people do that, I guess.

we salute you, our half-inflated dark lord (GOTT PUNCH II HAWKWINDZ), Saturday, 6 February 2016 00:34 (two years ago) Permalink

two years pass...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8YUsY0HJ7KM

not an XTC cover lol

voodoo chili, Thursday, 23 August 2018 15:44 (three months ago) Permalink

The Mojo article on Mac from a couple of months back made me feel sad, he seems to live a very interior life now, mates looking after him/taking care of his shopping, at the mercy of OCD or unspecified mental health issues, living alone in a small house. I didn't know any of this.

MaresNest, Thursday, 23 August 2018 19:33 (three months ago) Permalink

Oh wow, I'd like to read that. His voice is absolute shit now. Enjoyed the last show I saw, but he sounded horrible. I assume it's decades of drug abuse catching up to him.

brotherlovesdub, Thursday, 23 August 2018 19:47 (three months ago) Permalink

seen them twice in the last 3 years (and many times before) and found Mac to be in good voice. most recent show was great and they seem to have a fresh wave of younger fans. full, enthusiastic house. my biggest complaint is how reined-in Will feels, want him to turn it up and slash.

by the light of the burning Citroën, Thursday, 23 August 2018 20:06 (three months ago) Permalink

The Mojo article on Mac from a couple of months back made me feel sad, he seems to live a very interior life now, mates looking after him/taking care of his shopping, at the mercy of OCD or unspecified mental health issues, living alone in a small house. I didn't know any of this.

Mm. I'm going to have to dig this up but something's stuck with me for a very long time -- back in early 1992, when Mysterio came out, he did a Melody Maker interview where he said something along the lines of growing older and going a little insane would be fun. Usual 'touch of madness' stuff, I guess, or meaning it more as eccentricity, I doubt he meant anything more by that, I hope. A couple of weeks later there was a letter from someone who served in caring for people in such conditions and whoever it was made very clear that there really wasn't much fun about that in real life. You could say that was humorless or an overreaction -- and again I'll have to dig up the pieces in question, I still have the issues from then -- but it served as a salient note to 21-year-old me on the matter, and now hearing this, well, trite to say it but be careful what you wish for indeed.

Ned Raggett, Thursday, 23 August 2018 20:17 (three months ago) Permalink

Ouch, didn't read that interview, that sounds pretty sad. The Bunnymen are my all-time faves, I've met Mac several times and he's always super nice to me (it helps that I tend to stroke his ego with honest compliments), last time was 2 years ago. He always seems rushed, though, and he stays inside the venue for hours after the rest of the band already left.

My most magic music moment ever was after a Mac solo show in 2003. He played most of his then-released Slideling album in a fairly intimate setting, was in a great mood, I spoke to him afterwards outside of the venue and said that my favourite song off the album was 'Kansas'. He realised that it was one of the few songs he didn't do, then sang the first verse and chorus on the spot, just for me.
If I already had him on a pedestal before, he can't do anything wrong in my eyes since that moment.

Man, I hope he's happy & will sort himself out.

Valentijn, Friday, 24 August 2018 06:47 (three months ago) Permalink

The tone of the article was interesting, in that it didn't make a big deal out of Mac's home life, the most jarring detail was that his close friends shop for him which seemed quite odd, as if he wasn't somehow able to look after himself. It was just a surprise that he seems to be happy living such a routinely hermetic lifestyle, it didn't go into much detail about the extent of his compulsions either.

MaresNest, Friday, 24 August 2018 10:46 (three months ago) Permalink

Listening to the last few tracks of Slideling as a result of this thread and I’m finding it surprisingly wonderful.

Naive Teen Idol, Saturday, 25 August 2018 02:27 (three months ago) Permalink

The part I remember from the Mojo article is that Mac can't stop obsessing over whether or not his house has been invaded by insects.

Elvis Telecom, Sunday, 26 August 2018 01:19 (three months ago) Permalink

Thanks to this thread revive, I queued up Mac's "Slideling" and Echo's "Siberia". I had bailed on them after the decent but unimpressive "Evergreen". "Slideling" is solid but "Siberia" is pretty damn good, it's full of call-backs to their salad days both lyrically and musically. Sort of 'if you can't beat them play the old stuff in a new way'.

Gerald McBoing-Boing, Friday, 31 August 2018 12:44 (three months ago) Permalink

Thanks for that - I'm always happy to see some love for the later Bunny stuff. I'll stand by every release of theirs, like a psychofan. I hold Evergreen in higher regards than Siberia, though.
My favourite part on Siberia is the varied and rich final set of four tracks (Siberia - Sideways Eight - Scissors In The Sand - What If We Are?).

Valentijn, Friday, 31 August 2018 13:09 (three months ago) Permalink

Ok, how about a best-of playlist, Evergreen->present?

Gerald McBoing-Boing, Saturday, 1 September 2018 02:30 (three months ago) Permalink

Forgiven off Evergreen is one of my absolute favorite Echo tunes.

Naive Teen Idol, Saturday, 1 September 2018 05:51 (three months ago) Permalink

Yeah, I just listened that and it's a great closer.

Also, is Mac being as unsubtle as I think with "I Want To Be There When You Come"?

Gerald McBoing-Boing, Saturday, 1 September 2018 14:49 (three months ago) Permalink

I haven’t heard that since it was on the airwaves, but yes

▫◌▫ (sic), Saturday, 1 September 2018 15:37 (three months ago) Permalink

Ok, how about a best-of playlist, Evergreen->present?

Sure, I'll give you a post-reformation Bunnyguide.

A couple of things to get out of the way first:

-Mac's voice turned somewhere in the '90s, very likely because of smoking and in a way much like Leonard Cohen's voice cracked ten years earlier - although I'd say Mac kept more power and range than Lenny did.
I'd argue that his vocals are still very impressive. It also seems to me that he gets more acclaim with each subsequent tour. But - you won't ever get that old voice back, and if you're beholden to that old voice, you may never really get into the later stuff.

-In a way, we're talking about a very different band from classic '80s Bunnymen, simply because Les Pattinson left and Pete DeFreitas is dead. Les was a great bass player, Pete was a great drummer and while you won't find Mac agreeing, both had quite some influence on the music. Post-reformation Echo & the Bunnymen is VERY much driven by Mac. The drum & bass of the later Bunnymen will hardly be very noticable, a lot of the music will solely be written by Mac. As he's a great songwriter, there's plenty of great stuff to be found. But thing are different, and if the classic music/instrumentation drew you in more than the vocals or the songs
themselves did, I might alternatively direct you to Will Sergeant and Les Pattinson's 2013 collaboration Poltergeist, which released one album of awesome instrumental psychedelic rock called 'Your Mind Is A Box (Let Us Fill It With Wonder)'

Now on to the albums. I'll write a bit about each and then limit myself to listing three songs per album which are, in my opinion, the biggest strengths and representatives of those records.

Evergreen
The album Mac and Will did after getting the band back together with Les, is also the last one with Les. Comeback single Nothing Lasts Forever probably became their only post-reformation 'classic', it must have been performed at every gig since. For many years now, with a cover of Walk On The Wild Side and some lines of Coney Island Girl added to it, done so often now that I'm really tired of hearing that version... But the studio recording is a beauty. I think I Wanna Be There (When You Come) is a very cool single, despite the iffy title, and it saddens me that they never do this one live, nor anything else of this album.

Absolute highlights: Nothing Lasts Forever, Empire State Halo, Forgiven

What Are You Going To Do With Your Life?
Most Bunnymen fans will tell you: this is more an Ian McCulloch solo album. Les was pushed away, Will was sidelined (and has been fairly vocal to the fact that he doesn't actually like the album himself), some old B-sides of Mac's earlier solo run were recycled, Mac even brought his friends from the Fun Lovin' Criminals in to play along on a couple of tracks.
So, see it as a Mac solo album featuring Will, but then it's probably his best solo album!

Absolute highlights: Rust, History Chimes, Fools Like Us

Flowers
This is one where Will's guitar magic is more prominent. It's a bit more mellow (not saying that because of the track Supermellow Man), it has a lovely warm feeling to it (not saying that because of the track Burn For Me). They performed some songs of this album back when it came out and they sounded great live, it's a shame that they don't do any of those anymore.

Absolute highlights: Flowers, An Eternity Turns, Burn For Me

Siberia
They got Hugh Jones back for this one, the guy who produced '80s classic Heaven Up Here. Although it doesn't sound a lot like that album, there's indeed some cool throwbacks to the days of old.

Absolute highlights: Parthenon Drive, Siberia, Scissors In The Sand

The Fountain
I love it, but this one's probably the hardest to defend. The guy who produced it was known for working for boy bands, it could be argued if he was a good fit. There's a couple of songs on here which give the impression like they were meant to be hit singles, but are so straightforward that they really don't have much to offer (Tracks 1 and 3: Think I Need It Too and Do You Know Who I Am?). Also, there's proably the worst song they ever did, one called Proxy (which was apparently influenced by Roxy Music (and, if I recall correctly, Wire)).
So what's left? Well, I'd say everything else. Especially album closer Idolness of Gods, which is really one of my favourite things they ever did.

Absolute highlights: The Fountain, Everlasting Neverendless, The Idolness Of Gods

Meteorites
I think this is probably my favourite of the post-reformation bunch. Unfortunately, the first half/side is not without flaws. After the incredible title track opener, the album all but undermines itself with Holy Moses, which (while Mac would disagree, they also performed this one live) really is one of their weaker tracks. It kicks back in with Constantinople, only to follow with Is This A Breakdown? which I never found all that convincing. The record picks up shortly afterwards and then holds up a very high quality all through the second half/side.

Absolute highlights: Meteorites, Constantinople, Lovers On The Run, Market Town, New Horizons - sorry, really can't choose here!

Valentijn, Tuesday, 4 September 2018 21:21 (three months ago) Permalink

Hi, what about Electrafixion maybe?

Mark G, Tuesday, 4 September 2018 21:49 (three months ago) Permalink

I like 'What Are You Going To Do With Your Life?', got it cheap after it came out, listened to it a lot as a teenager but not for a few years now. I can hear how it's more a McCulloch solo LP than a true band album. I've not checked out any of the subsequent albums - not been taken with any of the odd tracks I've heard from them.

michaellambert, Tuesday, 4 September 2018 22:03 (three months ago) Permalink

That first track on Flowers always set the bar way too high for the rest of the album to me. That opening tremolo'd out guitar riff and Ian's opening lyric ("Met Jesus up on a hill, he confessed I was dressed to kill."). . . there's just nowhere to go but down after that.

I loved Evergreen and What Are You Going to do With Your Life? when they came out. Haven't heard any of this stuff in at least a decade, though.

I was really into Ian's Slidling album from 2003 when it first came out. I'd go out on a limb and say it's probably my favorite thing he did post-Candleland.

outside, you're never alone. (Austin), Tuesday, 4 September 2018 22:21 (three months ago) Permalink

Hi, what about Electrafixion maybe?

Electrafixion - Burned
A very strong, energetic rock album. It's strange that Mac & Will made up both the core of Electrafixion and every Bunnymen album since, yet their sound became much less heavy afterwards and they never revisited Electrafixion, no song ever appeared on an Echo & the Bunnymen setlist and I can't even recall having heard them reference the record since (one exception: 'Baseball Bill' from Evergreen was originally an Electrafixion song).
Mac teamed up with Johnny Marr for some songwriting, a couple of tracks appear on Burned and are highlights. The story is that they got an entire album worth of songs together but the master tapes were stolen or lost or something - it's weird and a real shame, I really hope some more stuff will resurface some day.

Absolute highlights: Lowdown, Zephyr, Never

Valentijn, Wednesday, 5 September 2018 11:20 (three months ago) Permalink

Lovely. ta.

I was going to add "and "Reverberation?" but hey. (I have it on cassette - Good album, but.)

Mark G, Wednesday, 5 September 2018 11:41 (three months ago) Permalink

last time i looked the Electrafixion cd was out of print and going for more than i'd pay for something (ok, that's got better). i have some of the singles but never bothered with the album.

i'd like to point out that Will has interesting solo records of his own available, under his own name and as Glide.
https://www.discogs.com/artist/12521-Will-Sergeant

koogs, Wednesday, 5 September 2018 12:21 (three months ago) Permalink

You should be able to get the Electrafixion album for pretty cheap really - except if you want the 2CD edition with b-sides and live tracks, somehow that one's impossible to get. A bit of a shame, as some of those b-sides were excellent, particularly from the Lowdown EP ('Holy Grail' is one of Electrafixion's finest songs and 'Razor's Edge' is a particular favourite of mine).

Will's solo stuff is really cool indeed. Besides his own stuff (and that amazing Poltergeist album he did with Les Pattinson (mentioned in my lengthy post)), he recently also started his internet radio http://spacejunkradio.com/ where he plays a great choice of songs from his personal collection.

I was going to add "and "Reverberation?" but hey. (I have it on cassette - Good album, but.)

I had already thought about it as well...

Reverberation
This is the one with the other singer. Mac left, Pete died, Will and Les recruited Noel Burke and went on to release this record. It's a divisive album among fans: it seems to be a love-it-or-hate-it thing, strongly dependent on how important it is for people to have Ian McCulloch as the singer of the band called Echo & the Bunnymen. It sounds silly, what's in a name, but this one's always been up for debate: should they have gone for a different band name or not? Especially seeing how there were exactly the same amount of original band members present for Reverberation, as there were for everything post-Evergreen.
On the other hand, the band name will place the album in the light of the classic '80s record, the voice may sound like it's going for a similar style but it is clearly different from what came before, the songwriting is also different - even if the other band members had a big impact on the songs before, there was always a Mac core to them.
So it's easy to dismiss reverberation, especially for Ian McCulloch-fans or for those who really only like the first four albums. BUT - open up to it, judge the album only by itself, and you'll find very rich music with lovely warm vocals. It is a very good album. (Is it a good Echo & the Bunnymen album? Does it matter?)

Absolute highlights: Thick Skinned World, Flaming Red, False Goodbyes

Valentijn, Wednesday, 5 September 2018 12:48 (three months ago) Permalink

Oh here's a special beast from the post-reformation period: November. It's the B-side of the 'Think I Need It Too' digital single from The Fountain. I think it's vastly superior to the A-side, if they'd put it on the album it would have contended with Idolness of Gods for the best track on it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WD6nl5e11Dk

Valentijn, Wednesday, 5 September 2018 12:56 (three months ago) Permalink

Thanks for the run-down, I'll spin a playlist of your picks and report back!

I love that Electrafixion album - the tracks with Marr are stands-outs, of course, but the real treat is all the live versions that came on the singles. In the mid-90s, it was really exciting to hear Mac (and Richard Butler with Love Spit Love) try their hand at a grunge-y sound. It was a welcome jolt.

Gerald McBoing-Boing, Wednesday, 5 September 2018 13:37 (three months ago) Permalink

I just realised that my Evergreen & WAYGTDWYL picks are all pretty slow tracks, as are two of the three Flowers choices, so if you'll go through them in chronological order it might be a bit of a (very pleasant) snooze.

To get some energy back in, you could replace a random Evergreen choice with the album's title track.
Alternatively, add 'Fish Hook Girl' to the WAYGTDWYL-mix (maybe as a substitute for History Chimes). It was a Rust b-side which made it to the setlists of that time.

You might also still check out the EP they did after WAYGTDWYL:

Avalanche
This EP features two pretty covers (esp. Hardin's Hang On To A Dream is gorgeous), three reworkings of old songs (nice enough alternate takes) and Avalanche as the one new recording - that one is a very good song.
I wrote earlier that I thought the not-so-great song Proxy was influenced by Roxy Music and Wire, but now I remember that they described Avalanche' title track, when it was a work-in-progress, as "Roxy meets Wire". (Proxy was definitely Roxy-influenced too - you could actually hear some Virginia Plain in it).

Absolute highlight: Avalanche (title track)

Valentijn, Wednesday, 5 September 2018 18:11 (three months ago) Permalink

Yeah, I gave your original picks a listen today and it makes it seem like "Siberia" is when everything picks up. I made your suggested changes and will give it another go, but I understand why you like the "Meteorites" highlights so much.

Gerald McBoing-Boing, Wednesday, 5 September 2018 19:24 (three months ago) Permalink

OK, here's my run-down:

Evergreen/Nothing Lasts Forever/Forgiven - I own "Evergreen" and pulling it out for the first time in ages started this desire to catch up with the Bunnymen. But at this late date, I find "Evergreen" really patchy. I dig these tracks, though - "Forgiven" is really gorgeous.

What Are You Going To Do With Your Life/Rust - I found "Fools Like Us" to be unsatisfying so replaced it with the title track. These two are OK, solid but nothing special.

Fish Hook Girl/Avalanche - Damn, "Fish Hook Girl" is fantastic, full of interesting sounds and so much better than anything else I've heard from the album! And "Avalanche" is very good as well.

Flowers/An Eternity/Burn For Me - "Flowers" is OK but the other two are great, again pulling in interesting sounds and guitar lines. Mac's lyrics always seem incredibly personal and "Burn For Me" breaks my heart for him (and I love the double-tracked vocals).

Parthenon Drive/Siberia/Scissors In The Sand - "Parthenon Drive" is a rewrite of "Bring On The Dancing Horses" but since there are days I'd call that the single best thing they ever did, I love it. "Siberia" has that skittering beat from the early records and "Scissors" sounds like an Electrafixion out-take. Outstanding, I could probably go for one more from Siberia.

Everlasting Neverendless/The Idolness Of Gods - "The Fountain" didn't work for me so I jettisoned it, these two are much more interesting - the former is a great up-tempo number and the latter another one of their beautiful album closers. This is the point where I really start to notice Mac's voice going.

November - another fantastic b-side that should've made the album.

Meteorites/Constantinople/Lovers On The Run/Market Town/New Horizons - the psych touches hit you out of the gate, some of these tracks remind me of another band whose later work I cherry-pick, The Church. "Market Town" is a fantastic dance tune.

Overall, I really appreciate the help putting this together. There are lots of bands out there whose later work I find inconsistent but love to cherry-pick the best bits: The Fall, The Church, Pere Ubu. The Bunnymen now join that list.

Gerald McBoing-Boing, Friday, 7 September 2018 00:39 (three months ago) Permalink

Thank you for that nice feedback, that's a great read!

The WAYGTDWYL and Fountain tracks that didn't work for you so much, are all songs that Mac would put on his solo setlists... It wouldn't even surprise me if Will Sergeant dislikes the entire Fountain album (as he does WAYGTDWYL). You probably shouldn't bother with his later solo material.

One more from Siberia? Try 'Of A Life', it's the heaviest rocker on it besides 'Scissors' & was featured in the 2005 setlists. It has a lovely reference in the lyrics to their original best-of compilation, 'Songs to Learn and Sing'. While the rest of Siberia might be slower/softer, I think Of A Life might capture the spirit of the album best.

Valentijn, Friday, 7 September 2018 06:37 (three months ago) Permalink

four weeks pass...

New album "The Stars, The Oceans & The Moon" is out. A couple of new tracks and a mess of re-recordings of stuff that didn't need re-recording. The new tracks are ok ("How Far?" is the better of the two) but Mac's voice continues to deteriorate.

Gerald McBoing-Boing, Friday, 5 October 2018 00:20 (two months ago) Permalink

The version of The Killing Moon sounds like one of the sentimental glove puppet renditions of songs you hear on a bank advert or when a supermarket is telling you about Christmas. Also Mac seems to have forgot the melody.

Lemon Kitten (Dan.S.), Tuesday, 9 October 2018 23:23 (two months ago) Permalink

Whenever I hear of this band, I think of Rik from The Young Ones writing his letter -- "DEAR MR. ECHO..."

brush ’em like crazy (morrisp), Tuesday, 9 October 2018 23:25 (two months ago) Permalink

Finally got to listen to the new album, heard it three times now, I'm really loving it!

Disagree with Gerald here. I don't think it's a mess, there might not have been a necessity to re-record stuff but why not have some new infusions in old songs, possibly reaching a new audience.
The two new songs are pretty good IMO, both are growers.
Mac's voice: he sure doesn't sing like he did in the eighties, but he changed his approach and style to match his current voice, I think it's still amazing (see also my post upthread from Sept 4).

I'll admit that 'reworked classics' weren't something I was especially looking forward to, as Mac already did something similar with Holy Ghosts (a solo live show which got produced afterwards with additional strings and effects). And also, debates on the necessity are unavoidable; with that, you could bet beforehand that most people would negatively compare the new versions to the original classics.
There are indeed some similar approaches here as on Holy Ghosts. But I find the whole thing sounding remarkably fresh and good. There's a lot of beauty in the strings and things and everything is infused with the spirit of their live shows of the past decade.

Better than the originals? I think that should really not be an issue. These are different takes, which can perfectly exist together with the classics, without any invalidating the other. I'm also reminded of how Neil Young sometimes puts two different versions of the same song on the same album.

Valentijn, Monday, 15 October 2018 10:53 (one month ago) Permalink

Nicky Wire wrote a great piece on the Manics' history with Echo & the Bunnymen and his very positive thoughts on the new album:

01/10/2018
“I’m lazy in every way apart from writing songs. I think I’m looking for the song that loves me back …”
Ian McCulloch // Mojo August 2018
Bands rarely ever arrive as the full package. Some manage to achieve that status through a lot of effort and a bit of luck; often though, there’s a magical element that sits just out of reach. Echo & the Bunnymen were the full package – maybe the first band of my youth to achieve that. They had amazing songs and lyrics that provoked and inspired; stunning wit and a look that was just perfection. There was no weak link visually, no bad leather jackets or mullets. And they had the ambition and the confidence to attempt unconventional ideas, whether it was heading to Iceland to do photos or getting their fans to do a group cycle ride around Liverpool for A Crystal Day. There wasn’t one piece out of place. This was a band to believe in.
The Bunnymen arrived in my world slightly later than they did for James, Sean and Richey. Heaven Up Here was totally James and Sean’s album; Porcupine was Richey’s – he used to play it to me all the time in university, Heads Will Roll and Clay particularly. I can remember being obsessed with the advert that ran in the NME declaring Ocean Rain as “the greatest album ever made”. It was such an incredible act of arrogance that was magnificently backed up by the record itself. That self-belief, the idea that you could create your own myths was hugely influential on me as a teenager. I can still smell the hairspray I was using at the point that Songs to Learn and Sing came out. Every kid who was interested in alternative music (there was no ‘indie’ music back then) had that album and Standing on a Beach by the Cure. It was an era when a greatest hits album was an actual landmark statement that really meant something to cherish and obsess over.
I’ve always thought of Ocean Rain as a cross-genre, cross-generational album, like ABBA’s Arrival or Sinatra’s In the Wee Small Hours. The songs transcend styles or trends; they were records your parents could learn and sing. That’s something that applies to much of the band’s rich catalogue. The run of singles from that album – the Killing Moon, Silver and Seven Seas – were staggering. For me, Silver connected so perfectly – the flow of words is real poetry. It’s the track that made me realise there was a deep, ice-cold mystery to his words. Coming to the end of school years, I’d become immersed in poetry, working from a starter kit of Larkin, Eliot and Dylan Thomas at that point. Here was someone writing words for music that had a natural poetic rhythm to them. No one else was doing that at the time – arguably, not many have managed it since either. Even with the Bunnymen’s peers, it was never quite the same.
Mac’s lyrics felt more like they’d been lifted from a 19th century poetry book by someone like John Clare or even Edward Lear; a kind of Victorian psychedelia, something almost arcane. Often, they seemed as if they were quoting from a life I just couldn’t understand yet:
“Stab a sorry heart / with your favourite finger
Paint the whole world blue / and stop your tears from stinging
Hear the cavemen singing / good news they’re bringing
Seven seas / swimming them so well
Glad to see / my face among them / kissing the tortoise shell”
One of the reasons the Bunnymen have endured over the years is their untouchable ‘otherness’. As a listener, it never felt like you could quite penetrate or puncture the lyrics. That was always a huge part of the appeal – a reason for diving back in, time and again into the lyrical vortex that Mac had created at the heart of this complete sound. He’s always had an incredible way of rhyming odd words, and of using a mass of words to create unique rhythms. They’re a hard band to dissect in terms of how they wrote – the genius myth-making of the Killing Moon arriving in a dream makes it hard to work out how they actually sat as a four-piece and worked on songs. And I’ve never known whether they’re natural or whether Mac wrote reams and reams of lyrics and tried to shoehorn them into songs.
That otherness is a reason why the Bunnymen – although an inspiration on so many artists (including polar opposites like Liam Gallagher or Chris Martin) – aren’t a band that are easy to emulate. Their sound is so perfectly mercurial, it’s hard to imagine anyone trying to recreating it without falling flat. Even though we channelled a lot of orchestral sweep of Ocean Rain for Everything Must Go, the Bunnymen’s biggest inspiration on us was always more stylistic. We borrowed imagery from them so often, whether it was the scene in the video for Seven Seas where Mac rips the wig off and smudges his lipstick which I directly ripped that off in the original You Love Us video; the severity of the Apocalypse Now-look uniforms they wore around the Shine So Hard era for the Holy Bible or just the bleakness of a Welsh beach for a photo shoot [Porthcawl for Heaven Up Here and Black Rock Sands for This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours].
Somehow, on the Stars, the Oceans & the Moon the Bunnymen manage to brilliantly reset the lyrics to some of their greatest songs, changing context, adding a whole new depth. Gone is the arrogance and towering self-belief of youth; in comes a deeper significance – at once a backwards gaze at life and a forward look at one’s own mortality. Until I met Mac, I’d assumed there was a massive streak of self-confidence running through everything he did; when I met him, it seemed like it actually was a real warmth and a fair amount of insecurity – as he himself once wrote, “Self-doubt and selfism / Were the cheapest things I ever bought.”
It’s a feeling that’s carried on this record. You can hear the pain, smell the cigarettes, taste the alcohol. It’s never any less powerful in this new context, everything now seems so much more direct. Where before, it seemed as though he was gazing outwards, at turbulent waters or at some monumental glacier, now he’s gazing in the mirror, looking in on himself. That aloofness has faded, to be replaced by a brutal honesty. To be able to hear a band you’ve lived with for most of your life reframing some of their most loved songs – it’s a very special privilege.
Nicky Wire, July 2018

Valentijn, Monday, 15 October 2018 10:56 (one month ago) Permalink

Wait, I never said it was a 'mess', I just was down on the idea in the first place. And I especially like the new song "How Far", that's a winner.

But I abjure my negativity, better to embrace your enthusiasm for an old beloved artist, Valentijn!

Gerald McBoing-Boing, Monday, 15 October 2018 16:47 (one month ago) Permalink

the 4 songs they did on jools were ok (sonambulist and seven seas on the tuesday, sonambulist, killing moon and rescue on saturday). KM was very slow, almost croony, but it still worked.

koogs, Monday, 15 October 2018 19:22 (one month ago) Permalink


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