It's with the 1980 album Crocodiles
we get to know Echo & the Bunnymen
, the extravagant goth punk band from Liverpool. Unlike their contemporaries - The Cure, Joy Division, Bauhaus, The Damned and so on, the Bunnymen seemed to be the least serious musicians in the business. It was always about being cool, playing cool music and having fun. "We didn't understand the political, fashionable aspects of punk. The Bunnymen were about trying to be cool. I thought cool wasn't about selling records. We were awkward bastards.
" said McCulloch. A sublime attitude, eh? That sublime attitude combined with great skill made this wonderful album possible. With ten marvellous tracks, the Bunnymen were ready to conquer the world...
Okay, maybe they didn't in fact "conquer the world" (a.k.a. sell a ***load of records). But it did
reach the seventeenth spot on the UK chartlist. They even had a single ("Rescue") on the sixty-second spot. Not bad for four guys just trying to be cool, huh?
The four lads were:
- the vocalist. A very exciting figure. His vocal style is without a doubt very distinct. He possesses a voice that's as easily recognized as E.G. James Douglas Morrison
, Robert James Smtih
's or - to take a twenty-first century example, Keith Murray
's. I must admit that I didn't pick three random people, each with their own set of unique voices. To tell the truth - Ian McCulloch sounds a bit like what Jim Morrison would sound like if he sang with Robert Smith's pre-Japanese Whispers
vocal technique. And Keith Murray does very much suggest a twenty-first century Ian McCulloch.
But what really differs McCulloch from the mentioned three, is his dramatic presence. His shouting. His passion. Now I'm not saying that Jim Morrison didn't have passion or drama in him, but not like McCulloch does. On this album, McCulloch incorporates drama and tension to damn near every song.
- lead guitar. This is one criminally underrated fellow. He truly stands out from his '80s contemporaries, with his "*** it" attitude. This man is the very opposite of a show off. His often choppy and agressive style creates atmospheric melodies unlike anything else. He never ***s around. He never wastes his time with pretentious solos, pretending to be Van Halen or whatever. There's no pompous guitar wanking. There's only masterfully crafted melodies.
- bass guitar. Here's a bassist who never fails to contribute to the sound. Pattinson roughly never plays the same thing as Sergeant. They both play their "own" riffs, who just so happens to fit each other perfectly. The driving bass is impressing throughout the whole record. It just adds a lot of guts to the sound.
Pete de Freitas
- drums. In the '80s, Pete was one of the most promising drummers from the UK. If not the
most promising drummer from the UK, period. This man is essentially a rhythm genius. Pete and Les keeps the rhythm going at all times. And de Freitas always seem keen to suggest his immense qualities. He often plays complicated and enjoyable fills; but he never overdo it. He's always keeping it focused and sharp, just like Sergeant and his guitar.
Together these four young boys are electric. The dark melodies appearing on this album are crafted by a band who has got an incredibly ammount of skill, combined with heaps of identity. You'll easily recognize a song by the Bunnymen. If you don't recognize the psychedelich, dramatic and at times jazzy rhythm, you'll recognize Sergeant's guitar, always exploring and doing the unexpectable. And even if you actually don't recognize the "Bunny sound" straight away, Ian McCulloch will come into the picture, doing his thing, and leave you with no doubt that this is the Bunnymen's sound. "Punky but slick".
To keep the theatric sound company, there's Ian's lyrics. They're not only poisonous catchy pop tunes; they're also dramatic, creepy pieces of poetry, who insists on showing a sense of premonition and cleverness. But lets be honest - does it really matter? Ian McCulloch could just as well be singing the Yellow Pages, and it would still be all very interesting. Why? Because his voice is so insecure, yet firm. He shouts and he whispers. He sings and he tells. It's all just so dramatic and atmospheric. McCulloch is basically one of a kind.
On tracks like "Going Up", "Crocodiles" and "Villiers Terrace" - we get a glimpse of greatness. This is admittedly one of the best British rock albums from the '80s. Crocodiles
is a big "*** off!" to the mainstream attitude combined with unbelievably catchy and well crafted melodies and lyrics. It's all that and a bag of chips... and all that jazz.