Julia's Club Eighties
Sunday, November 25, 2007
Over the wall...
The band’s early cult status quickly turned into mainstream success in the mid-1980s, as they scored a UK Top 10 hit with “The Cutter”, and their Porcupine (1983) album reached #2 (see 1983 in music). The next album, Ocean Rain (1984), again spawned hit singles to match their critical acclaim, and the band’s success continued. The departure of frontman Ian McCulloch in 1988, followed by the death of their drummer Pete de Freitas the following year, culminated with a complete split in 1990.
In 1997, however, the Bunnymen returned with the UK Top 10 hit "Nothing Lasts Forever" (see 1997 in music), and both press and fans were delighted by their heroes' return. Since then, both their artistic and commercial successes have been in something of a decline, their original post-punk sound gradually being replaced by a more retro '60s sound. Echo and the Bunnymen continue to perform regularly.
Ian McCulloch began his career in the summer of 1977, as one third of the legendary Crucial Three, a bedroom band which also featured future Liverpool stars Julian Cope (later of The Teardrop Explodes) and nowadays a successful author/musician/occultist, and singer/guitarist Pete Wylie (later of Wah!). After the demise of this punk band, McCulloch and Cope formed the short-lived A Shallow Madness with drummer Dave Pickett and organist Paul Simpson, during which time such seminal Liverpool tunes as "Read It In Books","Robert Mitchum", "You Think It's Love" and "Spacehopper" were written by the pair (though Cope infuriated McCulloch by taking sole writing credit for "Spacehopper" on his 1987 Island Records album 'Saint Julian'). When Cope sacked McCulloch from the band for alleged lateness to rehearsals, A Shallow Madness changed their name to The Teardrop Explodes, and McCulloch joined forces with guitarist Will Sergeant to form Echo and the Bunnymen. In November 1978, Echo and the Bunnymen made their debut at Liverpool's famous Eric's club, playing as support to McCulloch's old cohorts, now performing as The Teardrop Explodes and with Julian Cope installed as lead singer.
Echo & the Bunnymen’s critically-acclaimed debut single “Pictures on My Wall”, was released on Bill Drummond's Zoo in May 1979, the B-side being the McCulloch/Cope collaboration “Read It in Books” (also recorded by The Teardrop Explodes approximately six months later as the B-side of their final Zoo Records single “Treason”). In two Echo and the Bunnymen biographies Never Stop (1987) and Turquoise Days (2002), McCulloch has denied that Cope had any involvement with the writing of this song. There is no evidence to support McCulloch's claims, however, as the singer has made his entire Bunnymen career from collaborative songwriting (and even his two solo albums "Candleland" (1989) and "Mysterio" (1992) contain only collaborative works). Julian Cope, on the other hand, has written hundreds of songs on his own, released across over 20 solo albums, and has always insisted that McCulloch's notion of songwriting is a false one, attempting to claim a full writing credit when the singer has merely sung his own melody over another's music. As it's now over twenty years after the event, this case will most likely never be proved one way or another, but the "Read It In Books" saga does provide a fascinating insight into the depth of the dysfunctional McCulloch/Cope relationship.
By the time of their debut album, 1980’s Crocodiles, the drum machine had been replaced by Trinidad-born Pete de Freitas, and a single, “Rescue”, climbed to UK #62 and following critical acclaim, the album broke into the Top 20 at #17.
Their next album, Heaven Up Here (1981), was an even bigger critical and commercial success, reaching the UK Top Ten (#10). However, a single lifted from the album, “A Promise”, could only reach UK #49.
In June 1982, the Bunnymen achieved their first significant UK hit single with “The Back of Love” (#19). This was followed in early 1983 with their first Top 10, the more radio-friendly “The Cutter," which climbed to #8. The parent album, Porcupine, hit #2 in the album chart. Now firmly established as a chart act, further hits followed with a one-off single, “Never Stop” (#15) and “The Killing Moon”, a preview from the new album featuring a dramatic McCulloch vocal, which became the band’s second UK Top 10 single at #9.
Following an overblown but masterful PR campaign which proclaimed it “the greatest album ever made”, 1984’s Ocean Rain reached #4, and today is widely regarded as the band’s masterpiece. Single extracts “Silver” (UK #30) and “Seven Seas” (UK #16) consolidated the album’s continued commercial success. In the same year, McCulloch had a minor solo hit with his cover version of “September Song”.
Unfortunately for the band, Ocean Rain proved to be an impossible album to follow up, and they could only re-emerge in 1985 with a single, “Bring On the Dancing Horses” (UK #21), and a compilation album, Songs to Learn and Sing, which duly made #6 in the UK album chart. However, all was not well in the Bunnymen camp, and Pete de Freitas left the band. The next (self-titled) studio album was recorded with ex–Haircut 100 drummer Mark Fox, but when de Freitas returned in 1986, it was largely re-recorded. Eventually released in mid-1987, it was for many long-term fans an artistic disappointment, after the glory of "Ocean Rain". Nevertheless, the record sold well (UK #4), and was a small American hit, their only LP to have significant sales there.
In the United States, the band’s best-known songs were “The Killing Moon” (from Ocean Rain) and “Lips Like Sugar” (from Echo and the Bunnymen), although “Bring On the Dancing Horses” is well-known as one of the songs on the soundtrack to the John Hughes film Pretty in Pink.
McCulloch quit the band in 1988, and de Freitas was killed tragically in a motorcycle accident in the summer of 1989. After former Colenso Parade singer Oscar turned down an offer to take over from McCulloch, Pattinson and Sergeant recruited ex-St Vitus Dance vocalist Noel Burke and drummer Damon Reece. Keyboardist Jake Brockman (a touring member of the band for several years previously, and a contributor to the 1987 album) was promoted to full member, and the five-piece recorded Reverberation in 1990. This did not generate much excitement among fans or critics, and the group was abandoned shortly afterwards. McCulloch, meanwhile, had continued his solo career, with the albums Candleland in 1989 and Mysterio in 1992.
In 1994 McCulloch and Sergeant began working together again under the name Electrafixion; in 1997 Pattinson rejoined the duo, meaning the three surviving members of the original Bunnymen lineup were now working together again. Rather than continue as Electrafixion, the trio resurrected the Echo and the Bunnymen name and released the album Evergreen (1997), which reached the UK Top 10. Immediately prior to the release of the band’s next album, What Are You Going to Do with Your Life? (1999), Les Pattinson quit to take care of his mother. McCulloch and Sergeant have continued to tour and record as Echo and the Bunnymen, touring repeatedly and releasing the albums Flowers (2001) and Siberia (2005). The group’s current touring incarnation comprises McCulloch and Sergeant along with Stephen Brennan (bass), Gordy Goudie (guitar), Nicholas Kilroe (drums) and Ceri James (keyboards).
On September 11, 2006, Echo and the Bunnymen released an updated version of their 1985 Songs to Learn and Sing compilation. Now re-titled More Songs to Learn and Sing, this new compilation was issued in two versions, a 17-track single CD and a 20‑track version with a DVD featuring 8 videos from their career.
In March 2007, the Bunnymen announced that they had re-signed to their original record label, Warner, and were also working on a new album. The band were also said to be planning a live DVD, entitled "Dancing Horses", which also contained interviews with the band. This was released in May 2007, on Snapper/SPV. Unfortunately, due to a re-structuring of the record company, the reunion with Warner Brothers proved to be short-lived, and the band was dropped once again before any new material had been released.
Here's one of the best gigs recorded live @ Nakano Sun-Plaza Mall, Japan (Jan 18, 1984).
* over the wall
* back of l ove
* stars a star
* killing moon
* all that jazz
* the cutter
* never stop
* zimbo (all my colours)
* do it clean
DOWNLOAD LINK: eatb-nakano