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Echo & the Bunnymen

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"Best known for Ian McCulloch's dark tousled hair and resonant, Jim Morrison -ish voice, the gloomy quartet became one of the U.K.'s most popular acts during its heyday, and their legacy remains as one of the seminal artists of the post-punk era. (...) The band, which also included guitarist Will Sergeant and bassist Les Pattinson, released their first album Crocodiles in 1980, and were immediately popular in the U.K., with the record landing in the top 20 and scores of fans imitating the Bunnymen's then-style of camouflage clothing. Their 1981 follow-up, Heaven Up Here, was an immediate success in England, debuting in the top 10. A string of highly successful, darkly dramatic albums and singles followed, including such well-known-Stateside tunes as Never Stop, The Cutter and the relatively perky Lips Like Sugar. Internal disputes took their toll on the band and they split up in 1988. McCulloch released two solo LPs and soon headed back toward the right track by reuniting with Sergeant in a project called Electrafixion in 1995. In 1997, the three surviving original Bunnymen reformed to release Evergreen (de Freitas died in a 1989 accident). Fairly well-received, it didn't come close to the glory of their best mid-'80s work,... Depending on who you ask, Pattinson either left of his own free will or was booted out by McCulloch during the recording of the next Bunnymen album, 'What Are You Going To Do With Your Life', which turned out, surprisingly, to be the band's best work since Ocean Rain, released 15 years previously. Sadly, the album was largely ignored by the general public."
-- Mara Schwartz, Yahoo! LAUNCH

 Echo & the Bunnymen Discography - Album / CD Reviews

***½ 1980: Crocodilesaudio

"It has often been recounted that Echo And The Bunnymen lost out in the fight of post-punk supremacy against U2. In truth neither of the bands made a great start but when 'Crocodiles' emerged in 1980 it delivered with its bleak, psychedelic approach. On an album which was mired in moodiness rather than the later years of grand emotion, Going Up and Stars And Stars present an inauspicious, doomy start. Only when Pride kicks in do things start to pick up and its spiky energy is matched by Monkeys; an early indication of the virtuoso guitar skills of one Will Sergeant. Rescue's chiming guitar motif meant it was the obvious choice of a single and Villiers Terrace possesses an impressive edgy punch yet the end to the album is a little too glum-by-numbers, exemplified by the ambitious but heavy-handed Happy Death Men. A decent start but hardly the classic some would have you believe."
-- Jonathan Leonard, leonardslair.co.uk

***½ 1981: Heaven Up Thereaudio
"On their second album the Bunnymen get darker and weirder, expanding their stylistic palette into a more psychedelic take on Joy Divison's moribund post punk. The results are often startling, making Heaven Up Here a good deal more involving and progressive than the debut, even if it lacks some of that record's immediacy."
-- fatherJohn, RateYourMusic, 9/04

*** 1983: Porcupineaudio
"How you liked your British new wave probably influenced your thoughts on 'Porcupine' when it first came out in 1983. If you liked the brooding, near gothic sound of Echo via "Heaven Up There" and the pessimistic bands that flourished at the time (think earlier Cure), you likely viewed 'Porcupine' as a sell out. On the other hand, if you were into anthemic driving songs with choppy guitar (ala U2 and the Edge), the The Cutter, The Back Of Love and Clay probably had you frothing at the mouth. "
-- Timothy Brough, amazon reviewer, 5/04

***¾ 1984: Ocean Rainaudio
"Ocean Rain stands as the quintessential Echo and the Bunnymen album. It is darkness suffused by gentle light; arctic grandeur caressed by a soft summer breeze; the vault of eternity within the polished gleaming curve of a tortoise shell. The band reaches maturity here. As a writer, Ian McCulloch finds his focus, in the exploration of private worlds bounded by a love relationship. Most of the songs are about love, in some aspect. 'Ocean Rain' creates sound landscapes of depth and dimension,... It is McCulloch's finest moment..."
-- Kristin F. Smith

**** 1985: Songs to Learn and Singaudio
"Echo & the Bunnymen are responsible for a vibrant, varied body of work, one that married quirky, post-punk sensibility, expansive orchestration and acid-laced psychedelic poetry to create a thoroughly unique and influential sound. The lush, ringing guitar work of Will Sergeant and the rich baritone and vivid imagery of Ian McCulloch are a timeless, musically fertile blend. SONGS TO LEARN AND SING: THE HITS culls together some of the group's most successful tracks (prior to the album's 1985 release date, anyway), and every single cut is a fresh, inventive creation. One of their true gems, the truly magical [previously unreleased] Bring on the Dancing Horses with its feather-light musical touch and pure poetry, rounds out this essential musical document."
-- release notes

*** 1987: Echo & The Bunnymenaudio
"After souring to dizzying heights with their first four albums (a feat achieved by only a handful of bands) the inevitable fall seems to have come on this disc. The Bunnymen built their reputation on moody, psychedelic concept pieces that culminated in 'Ocean Rain'. For this release the band moves into more 'mainstream' territory, eschewing album-wide cohesiveness for a more radio friendly approach. Unfortunately these lightweight songs don't work as well as the tantalizingly obscure sound they abandoned. If you're new to the Bunnymen you're probably better served by checking out their first four albums (Crocodiles, Heaven Up Here, Porcupine and Ocean Rain) or skipping forward to their more recent efforts Evergreen and Flowers.
-- locnar64, amazon reviewer, 4/02

1990: Reverberation
On this album Ian McCulloch had quit the band to concentrate on his solo carreer. Noel Burke replaced him. Drummer Pete de Freitas had passed away in 1989 in a tragic car accident.

1997: Evergreenaudio
Evergreen sees the return of McCulloch on vocals.
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1999: What Are You Going to Do with Your Life?audio
"What are You Going To Do With Your Life?, the follow-up to their 1997 comeback album 'Evergreen', finds the Bunnymen contemplating all the new issues that inevitably arise out of growing older. (...) Unlike a lot of rock groups, Echo and The Bunnymen have gotten better with age. McCulloch's voice sounds just as good now, if not better than it did on those early Bunnymen albums. And his lyric writing has improved immeasurably. Sergeant has honed his guitar technique and gives a near perfect performance on this album. My only complaint -- and this is a small, infinitesimal gripe -- is that there needs to be one or two songs that really just rock out on the album. But even without those songs, this is a damn fine album."
-- Bradley Smith, Nude as the News

2001: Flowersaudio
"Flowers, the third creditable installment of Echo and the Bunnymen's second honeymoon period, finds the stylish, duopolistic musical nucleus of Ian McCulloch's vocal somnolence and Will Sergeant's Eastern guitar mystique newly augmented by the work of bassist Alex Gleave, drummer Vinny Jamieson, and keyboard player Ceri James. Subtle psychedelic touches of theremin, organ, and backwards guitar pursue the colorization of a few monochromatic areas but, for the most part, Flowers is less the work of a new broom and more the affirmation of the Bunnymen's vintage vibe. Therefore, the opening King of Kings (think the Doors' When the Music's Over) wouldn't sound out of sorts on 'Ocean Rain', while the pronounced garage pop of Make Me Shine and Life Goes On both build on past endeavors with a newly insistent, radiant vitality. The album's centerpiece--the careworn, love-scarred lamentation of the title track--exudes hard-earned maturity. And maturity is beginning to suit Echo and the Bunnymen very well indeed."
-- Kevin Maidment, Amazon.com

**** 2005: Siberiaaudio
Tracklisting: 1. Stormy Weather 2. All Because of You Days 3. Parthenon drive 4. In The Margins 5. Of A Life 6. Make Us Blind 7. Everything Kills You 8. Siberia 9. Sideways Eight 10. Scissors In The Sand 11. What If We Are?

"Four years after the release of 'Flowers', McCulloch and Sergeant, aided by Bassist Pete Wilkinson and drummer Simon Finley, are back with their tenth studio album 'Siberia'. The band teamed up again with Hugh Jones, producer of their second (and darkest) album 'Heaven Up Here'; Jones has also worked with the likes of Simple Minds, and Status Quo.
Never before have the Bunnymen produced a record that grabs you by the collar and shakes you like 'Siberia' does. Ian McCulloch's voice is as confident as it ever was, and Sergeant's signature swirling guitars never sounded so crisp and clear. Twenty seven years after their inception, the Bunnymen sound as relevant today as they were in the early 80s, and with the post-punk movement revived with likes of The Killers, Franz Ferdinand, and Interpol, Echo & the Bunnymen's output is more pertinent to the revival then any of the aforementioned newcomers.
The opener, Stormy Weather, is the first single to precede the album. But 'Siberia' includes no less then a handful of other potential singles like the fabulous All Because of You Days, the passionate In The Margins, the classic Everything Kills You, the catchy progressive title track (reminiscent of the Banshees), or the dark rocking Scissors in the Sand.
This is Echo & the Bunnymen's quintessential album, a jewel for a new generation to discover."
-- DJ Avalanche, musicfolio.com, 9/05

***¼ 2009: The Fountain
Tracklisting: 1. Think I Need It Too 2. Forgotten Fields 3. Do You Know Who I Am? 4. Shroud of Turin 5. Life of a Thousand Crimesha 6. The Fountain 7. Everlasting Neverendless 8. Proxy 9. Drivetime 10. The Idolness of Gods
"... while 'Siberia' did an admirable job of conjuring a spirit comparable to the Liverpool band’s finest 1980s releases – it’s a closer cousin of 'Crocodiles' than, say, the band’s 1997 reunion affair, 'Evergreen' – 'The Fountain' aims for an awkward middle ground between styles, failing to perfect that itchiness that made the Bunnymen so irresistible in their early days while also falling short in the Big Indie Anthem stakes. There’s no Nothing Lasts Forever here, however hard they’ve tried, and not even the presence of Coldplay’s Chris Martin on the title track can stir anything more than moderate interest. Things begin bouncily enough, with Think I Need it Too riding a ripple of pristine guitar, the inevitable explosion of percussion arriving at the perfect moment to propel the piece towards a surging chorus. But while the song’s astutely arranged, it’s no more than you’d expect from a songwriting pair who’ve worked together since the late 1970s. It’s a safe bet, seemingly an auto-pilot affair that, while capable of ticking long-term fanboy boxes, is unlikely to attract fresh interest in a band now operating on the fringes of contemporary rock. It’s McCulloch and Sergeant’s evident comfort on the sidelines that has led to a record like this. 'The Fountain' never gets out of third gear, content to trundle when, in the past, its makers would have floored it for a few thrilling seconds, flying around blind bends far too fast. (...) If this was the work of a nervy new band you could forgive its hesitance; but knowing what these musicians are capable of, 'The Fountain' can only be summarised as a wholly half-hearted affair."
-- Mike Diver, bbc.co.uk, 10/09
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Recommended Links:

Echo & The Bunnymen: Official Website
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Similar/Related Artists:

Ian McCulloch | The Doors | Simple Minds | The Cure| U2 | The Psychedelic Furs

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