Liverpool, England is and was a huge breeding ground for music. Liverpoolís most famous export would most likely be the Beatles but they are not who Iím going to talk about today. Like the Beatles, Echo and the Bunnymen were four Liverpoolians with a non-sensical name. Echo, again like the Beatles helped define their genres. And while the Beatles had 60s pop rock, the bunnymen had the Joy Division established genres of Goth and alternative. Iím probably not the best person to review an echo and the bunnymen CD seeing as I was not alive for the better half of their career, but their music deserves a place on sputnik so Iím going to give it my best. The first four echo and the bunnymen CDs (Crocodiles, Heaven Up Here, Porcupine, and Ocean Rain) are thought by many to be some of the best CDs the 80s ever produced, and the bunnymenís dark post-punk/Goth music has inspired many great bands from the 90s and today (arcade fire, coldplay, radiohead, and pulp to name a few) so its only natural that a CD be made (sort of a greatest hits) to show off the bands early greatness.
Songs to Learn and Sing, which is in chronological order, starts off with a very catchy Goth flavored number, called Rescue
. The song in general is very pop-formatted, but still a good track by any means. The next song, The Puppet
is another Goth song. It features fairly random synth stabs, a funk bass lines, a soft acoustic guitar and lyrics about being used (like you couldnít tell by the title). It also has a short guitar solo which is nothing special. The next track, Do it Clean
has more chorus soaked guitar and a pounding bass line. The vocals on this are very bono-esque but Ian (bunnymen singer) still manages to make it his own. Over all Crocodiles has a strong showing on this album. Iíll give it a 4/5.
Heaven Up Here
The first song off HUH is a Cure style song called A Promise
. As much as I like this band (and the Cure for that matter) this song seems too much like a bad rip-off. The instruments on the song are not really that Cure-like, featuring a lead guitar part that sounds almost like a middle-eastern sarod; the guitar then switches to a more post punk style part which fits nicely over Ianís wailing vocals. Not my favorite song, but not bad by any means. The Back of Love
is next; this song starts with 2 annoying synth lines and a new wavy bass line. The vocals come in quickly and set the pace for the rest of the song, and itís a very up-beat one. The rest of the song continues with Goth vocals and new wave instruments. The bridge shows you were some of the arcade fires mopish indie music came from, featuring a steady drum pounding and some strings under significantly quieter vocals. There is also a strange humming the background which disappears abruptly when the song goes back into its new wave style verses and then a new bridge-ish section. With a techno style drum machine beat. The name Echo came from the sounds their favorite drum machine used to make, these effects work nicely and the song finishes off strong. (donít ask me where they came up with the bunnymen part). The 2 songs off this section of the CD were only a little above average on bunnymen standards so it only receives a 3/5.
starts out with some middle eastern style guitars and soon goes into a verse full of grumbly vocals and driving bass in the signature bunnymen fashion. Weird drum beats, strange lyrics about being overcoming lifeís hurdle (and a killer") and a dreamy synth bridge line round out another good song. The next song does not appear in my track listing for either Porcupine or Ocean rain so I am assuming it belongs on this album The name of the mystery track is Never Stop
, The beginning is a big change of pace, with a acoustic scratch guitar line, pearl drop synths and bongos. After a few explosive sound effects the familiar goth/chorusey guitars come in this time paired with marimbas and Ian singing in an up-beat tempo. The lyrics I believe are about people and money, (but donít quote me on this) Soon a short piano filled chorus comes in and turns back into the up-beat verse again. After a few repeats the song drops off and then builds up into another piano chorus then abruptly ends. The 2 songs Porcupine features on this album are a nice change from the Goth-wave of the first two albums without straying to far away from their critically-acclaimed and hit style. 4/5
The first song featured off 1984ís ocean rain is one of the bunnymenís first break in the pop scene. I have been trying not to sound to fan-boyish with this review but it is hard when talking about a song as cool as The Killing Moon
. TKM is one of the quintessential pre-bicentennial Goth tunes IMO. The song starts with an acoustic strumming paired with a twangy middle eastern lead line which soon drops out and is replaced with bass and vocals singing lyrics that sound like the were lifted from an early 1900s horror/mystery novel:
In starlit nights I saw you
So cruelly you kissed me
Your lips a magic world
Your sky all hung with jewels
The killing moon
Will come too soon
Strums of distorted guitar come and go into a catchy synth tinged chorus. I can guarantee you will be singing this one all day. Silver
, the next track off ocean rain begins with 2 acoustic guitars (one with a chorus effect on it) and a sweeping synth line vaguely reminiscent of a tune from that Willie Wonka movie (the old one) and continues as an almost up-lifting new wave song about love, self triumph and religion among other things. The synths in this song give it a really cool feel, if you want an idea of what they do to the song listen to Bittersweet Symphony by The Verve, and you will get an idea. The next song, Seven Seas
, is a rare new-wave style ballad. This one is also really up-lifting in a sad sort of way. The chorusís are accented by wedding bells and up-beat drums. Definitely not my favorite song (probably the worst one on the CD) Ocean Rain has the best showing on this CD, ill give it a 4.5/5
The CD ends strong with catchy new song called Bring on the Dancing Horses
. Over all this CD really impressed me, not just with the great post punk sounds but with the way Echo could take their 60ís garage influences so close to heart and still make fresh pop music. I was also impressed with the fact that a greatest hits album could run so smoothly. It almost seemed like a standard album.
Over all grade: 4
Anything really, but Seven Seas