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Punk / New Wave - Released October 20, 2003 | WM UK

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
Amidst the great and eclectic new wave family at the dawn of the 1980s, Echo & the Bunnymen imposed their own voice, which was different from those of the Cure, U2, Simple Minds or the Psychedelic Furs. It was a uniqueness which was in part due to the tortured voice of charismatic crooner Ian McCulloch. After a few fairly sombre first albums, the Bunnymen gradually gave in to a desire for big melodies and richer instrumentation. Ocean Rain is the height of this new turn. Throughout this fourth album, which came out in spring 1984, the ethereal rock of the Liverpool quartet owes as much to the grandiloquence of the great Scott Walker as to the poetry of the Doors or the Byrds, or the torment of Joy Division… Thanks to its mega-slick production and smooth arrangements, the talents of composer McCulloch and the impressionism of Will Sergeant's guitars are magnified all the more. The lyricism of Ocean Rain is, above all, never hackneyed. Draped in tasteful violins, the record reaches its zenith with The Killing Moon, a long and crepuscular ballad, one for putting on repeat… © Marc Zisman/Qobuz
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Punk / New Wave - Released May 4, 1984 | Rhino - Warner Records

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
Amidst the great and eclectic new wave family at the dawn of the 1980s, Echo & the Bunnymen imposed their own voice, which was different from those of the Cure, U2, Simple Minds or the Psychedelic Furs. It was a uniqueness which was in part due to the tortured voice of charismatic crooner Ian McCulloch. After a few fairly sombre first albums, the Bunnymen gradually gave in to a desire for big melodies and richer instrumentation. Ocean Rain is the height of this new turn. Throughout this fourth album, which came out in spring 1984, the ethereal rock of the Liverpool quartet owes as much to the grandiloquence of the great Scott Walker as to the poetry of the Doors or the Byrds, or the torment of Joy Division… Thanks to its mega-slick production and smooth arrangements, the talents of composer McCulloch and the impressionism of Will Sergeant's guitars are magnified all the more. The lyricism of Ocean Rain is, above all, never hackneyed. Draped in tasteful violins, the record reaches its zenith with The Killing Moon, a long and crepuscular ballad, one for putting on repeat… © Marc Zisman/Qobuz
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Alternative & Indie - Released March 6, 2019 | BMG Rights Management (UK) Limited

When Ian McCulloch and Will Sergeant got an offer from BMG to sign Echo & the Bunnymen to a recording contract, the label had a plan for them to re-record their old classics with an orchestra. McCulloch thought it was a fine idea, as he wanted to sing the songs from the perspective of an older and wiser man. By the time The Stars, the Ocean & the Moon was released, though, it had become something a little different. While some of the songs were done with piano and strings, many were given arrangements that sounded very similar to the originals, and there were two new songs mixed in among the timeless tracks. It makes for a jumbled listening experience that is sure to leave many Echo fans wondering just why the record exists. The songs that hew closely to the originals, like "Bring on the Dancing Horses" and "Rescue," come off like brittle, fidelity-challenged ghosts of the originals, lacking the majesty and mystery that made them so brilliant to begin with. The songs that take liberties with the arrangements are more interesting. "Nothing Lasts Forever," a track from the mostly overlooked Evergreen, makes fine use of strings, marimba, and organ, creating a melancholy bed for one of Mac's better vocals. The piano-and-orchestra version of "The Killing Moon" is no patch on the original, but at least it attempts something different and almost succeeds. That's more than can be said for the accordion-led take on "Seven Seas," which is a little too on the nose, sea shanty-wise. Oddly, the newly recorded songs sound best. Both the "The Somnambulist" and "How Far?" are fine late-period Echo and allow Sergeant a chance to play guitar -- he's mostly missing in action on the rest of the record -- and have a rhythmic drive and power lacking elsewhere. They're also the only songs to mix McCulloch's vocals with any delicacy at all. They are part of the overall sound and blended with harmonies instead of being too far in front and hung out to dry with barely any reverb or artifice to cushion them. It's clear that he wanted his voice to be the central focus of the new takes, but it's also clear that he can't carry songs the way he used to. Sad as it is to say, his voice lacks command, and when matched with the weak arrangements, mostly unimaginative string parts, and overall thin sound, it adds up to a record that's less the vital transformation the band hoped for and more of an embarrassment. Apart from the two new songs that bode well for future albums of original material, there is absolutely no reason for Echo fans to choose a spin of The Stars, the Ocean & the Moon over another listen to the songs in their original perfect state. © Tim Sendra /TiVo
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Pop - Released September 6, 2019 | Rhino

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Pop - Released November 13, 1985 | Rhino - Warner Records

Liverpool's favorite lads Echo & the Bunnymen battled the cathartic reign of the Smiths and the enigmatic synth pop of Depeche Mode and New Order throughout the '80s movement of redesigned post-punk, and they became a staple image as well. Songs to Learn & Sing marked the Bunnymen's cemented place in new wave and relished the crooning ambience of frontman Ian McCulloch. This collection recalls the rise and steadfast career of the band, highlighting the Bunnymen's work between 1980 and 1985 and collecting the most prominent tracks that made the band the waxed poetics the British press hailed them to be (specifically on older cuts like "Do It Clean" and "Rescue"). Frequent use of the band's classic drum machine or "echo" was also a major feature in Bunnymen tracks, especially on the vibrant dance cuts "Never Stop" and "Back of Love." With various production work from the Lightning Seeds' Ian Broudie and Chameleons and Zoo labelmates David Balfe and Bill Drummond (the KLF), Echo & the Bunnymen achieved great cult status throughout the '80s stream of U.K. pop music. Songs to Learn & Sing is a solid and comprehensive collection of the band's material, also introducing the previously unissued album track "Bring on the Dancing Horses," which was featured on the soundtrack to the Molly Ringwald film Pretty in Pink (1986). © MacKenzie Wilson /TiVo
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Pop - Released September 11, 2006 | Rhino - Warner Records

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Pop - Released September 6, 2019 | Rhino

Bringing together all of Echo & the Bunnymen's John Peel sessions for the first time, this 21-track album charts the band's rise from indie unknowns to household names. Included are session versions of some of their most recognizable songs, including "Villiers Terrace" and "The Killing Moon." ~ Rich Wilson
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Pop - Released December 7, 2004 | Rhino - Warner Records

The group's third album is a solid outing, a noticeably better listen than its predecessor, Heaven Up Here. Songs are intriguing and elaborate, often featuring swooping, howling melodic lines. Arrangements here owe a lot to 1960s psychedelia and feature lots of reverb, washed textures, intricate production touches, and altered guitar sounds. Ian McCulloch's vocals are yearning, soaring, and hyper-expressive here, almost to the point of being histrionic, most notably on "Clay," "Ripeness," and the title track. Driving bass and drums lend the songs urgency and keep the music from collapsing into self-indulgence. Parallels between the group's U.S. contemporaries such as Translator, Wire Train, and R.E.M. can be drawn, though all seem to have developed aspects of this style at about the same time -- and none utilize it as flamboyantly as the Bunnymen do. Highlights here include "Back of Love" (with its galloping drumbeat and fragmented yet ardent vocal line) and "Gods Will Be Gods" (which gradually speeds up from beginning to end, working itself into a swirling frenzy). This album is well worth hearing. © David Cleary /TiVo
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Pop - Released May 31, 1981 | WM UK

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Pop - Released November 14, 1994 | Warner Classics UK

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Pop - Released July 18, 1980 | Sire - Warner Records

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Pop - Released May 29, 1981 | WM UK

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Pop - Released July 18, 1980 | Rhino

Inspired by psychedelia, sure. Bit of Jim Morrison in the vocals? OK, it's there. But for all the references and connections that can be drawn (and they can), one listen to Echo's brilliant, often harrowing debut album and it's clear when a unique, special band presents itself. Beginning with the dramatic, building climb of "Going Up," Crocodiles at once showcases four individual players sure of their own gifts and their ability to bring it all together to make things more than the sum of their parts. Will Sergeant in particular is a revelation -- arguably only Johnny Marr and Vini Reilly were better English guitarists from the '80s, eschewing typical guitar-wank overload showboating in favor of delicacy, shades, and inventive, unexpected melodies. More than many before or since, he plays the electric guitar as just that, electric not acoustic, dedicated to finding out what can be done with it while never using it as an excuse to bend frets. His highlights are legion, whether it's the hooky opening chime of "Rescue" or the exchanges of sound and silence in "Happy Death Men." Meanwhile, the Pattinson/De Freitas rhythm section stakes its own claim for greatness, the former's bass driving yet almost seductive, the latter's percussion constantly shifting rhythms and styles while never leaving the central beat of the song to die. "Pride" is one standout moment of many, Pattinson's high notes and De Freitas' interjections on what sound like chimes or blocks are inspired touches. Then there's McCulloch himself, and while the imagery can be cryptic, the delivery soars, even while his semi-wail conjures up, as on the nervy, edgy picture of addiction "Villiers Terrace," "People rolling round on the carpet/Mixing up the medicine." Brisk, wasting not a note, and burning with barely controlled energy, Crocodiles remains a deserved classic. © Ned Raggett /TiVo

Pop - Released March 17, 2017 | WM UK

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Along with being one of the best bands of the 1980s, able to conjure up swirling dark clouds of moody psychedelic music built around Ian McCulloch's resonant vocals and songs that sink their hooks deep under the flesh, Echo & the Bunnymen were also a hell of a cover band, especially on a concert stage. It's All Live Now, an album culled from two mid-'80s live shows, proves that fact conclusively over the course of eight well-chosen covers the Bunnymen make their own. Seven are taken from a 1985 show in Sweden and find them in fine fighting form as they slash and crash through well-known songs by the Rolling Stones ("Paint It Black"), Television ("Friction"), and the Doors ("Soul Kitchen"), deeper cuts by the Modern Lovers ("She Cracked") and the Velvet Underground ("Run Run Run"), as well as the jangling Dylan classic "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue" and the garage rock nugget "Action Woman" by the Litter. Will Sergeant's guitar playing is especially brilliant on these cuts; he sometimes tends to sublimate his skills as a lead player in favor of creating atmosphere within the songs, but here he can really cut loose. Another song from the show, a ripping version of "Crocodiles," is included too. Two more songs are taken from a 1983 show, a slow-burn take on the Velvets' "Heroin," which a cheeky Mac introduces as "one of the first songs we ever wrote," and an extended romp through "Do It Clean," which features Mac, in one of his trademark bits of stagecraft, singing snippets of the old chestnut "When I Fall in Love" and James Brown's "Sex Machine." All the tracks were included on the 2001 Crystal Days box set, but they sound really good extracted and presented as a live document of a great band operating right close to its peak. © Tim Sendra /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released May 1, 2001 | Cooking Vinyl

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Rock - Released April 25, 2014 | Savoy

After they reunited in the mid-'90s, Echo & the Bunnymen cranked out album after album of decent-to-good material, spotlighting Ian McCulloch's ageless vocals and the band's sure way with a dramatic hook. For 2014's Meteorites, the duo of McCulloch and guitarist Will Sergeant turned to legendary producer Youth to help guide the album, and came up with a record that compares favorably to the best work of their original run in the '80s. Where their previous effort, Fountain, was a big-sounding, very clean modern rock album that reduced the band to its essential core, this one aspires to more epic heights. Teeming with giant string arrangements, widescreen vocal production, and songs that hark back to the glory days of Ocean Rain, the album is a mysterious, murky, impressively nostalgic affair. With Sergeant providing his typically concise and perfectly complementary guitar lines and Mac digging deep to turn in one of his better vocal performances in a while, the duo give Youth a lot to work with and he spins it into some gauzy magic. Tracks like "Lovers on the Run" and "Holy Moses" have a dramatic intensity and sweeping power that their more focused and stripped-back songs of recent years have surely missed. When they go big, it works extremely well, like on the opening title track, a slowly unspooling epic with truly heart-rending string crescendos and some of Mac's most broken-sounding singing in a long time, or the huge-sounding "Market Town," which runs seven minutes, features a long Sergeant guitar solo, and doesn't flag at all. Even the simpler, more direct songs, like the quiet ballad "Grapes Upon the Vine," have a big sound, though not so big as to overwhelm the fragile emotions on display. Youth and the group walk the line between grandiose and epic throughout, never falling on the wrong side even once. Between the impressive set of songs, the totally invested performances, and Youth's brilliant production, Meteorites ends up as a late-in-the-game triumph for the band and a worthy successor to their finest album, Ocean Rain. It may be too late to really matter, and they may be doomed to be seen as a nostalgia act, but many of the bands in 2014 that are making neo-psychedelic albums would be well served to check with the Bunnymen to see how to go about things the correct way. © Tim Sendra /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released January 1, 2002 | Cooking Vinyl

Ian McCulloch and Will Sergeant shaped Echo & the Bunnymen's dreamy post-punk into something timeless. Their 1997 reincarnation sparked new life for the band, and McCulloch and Sergeant have maintained their strong appeal of passionate rock & roll. On a live setting, they're charming and their first proper live album, Live in Liverpool, proves that. The duo have a weird musical madness together, and they're comfortable with it. The two night stint captured August 2001 at Paul McCartney's Liverpool of Performing Arts, McCulloch's romantic brood and Sergeant's riveting guitar work are at its best. It's a merry collection of cult classics ("Seven Seas," "The Killing Moon," "Never Stop") and new material ("SuperMellow Man," "Eternity Turns"), but a homage to the band itself. The psychedelic bombast of "All That Jazz" is slick and savvy. Songs from the Crocodiles album take on that tone, but with a signature lust and a sneaky intensity. "Over the Wall" brings that side of the band to the forefront. In a live setting, it's eerie and alluring. "Rescue" and "The Cutter" soar with lush guitar riffs and McCulloch's warm vocals illustrate something primitive. "Nothing Lasts Forever," from 1997's Evergreen, is a sweet sign of age, but it's also graceful. McCulloch and Sergeant are fond of what Echo & the Bunnymen have become. Two nights churning out fan favorites and band mainstays in their hometown makes it much sweeter. ~ MacKenzie Wilson
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Pop - Released June 30, 2017 | Rhino

Liverpool's Echo & the Bunnymen famously carved an evocative and moody post-punk path through the '80s. Led by literate, Fraggle-headed baritone Ian McCulloch, the Bunnymen set themselves apart from their similarly kohl-eyed and trenchcoat-wearing contemporaries with a sound that balanced cool goth theatrics with a '60s-style psychedelia and a deliciously grandiose sense for traditionalist pop songcraft. Essentially, they bridged the gap between bands like the Beatles, the Doors, the Cure, and Bauhaus. They also weren't afraid of producing a nice hooky tune, as evidenced by the 2017 collection The Killing Moon: The Singles 1980-1990. Buoyed by McCulloch's burnished, somewhat cheeky croon and lyrics rife with wit and poetic irony, the Bunnymen landed a handful of memorable hits over their initial ten-year run. Here we get cuts like the orchestral-steeped "The Killing Moon" and sparkling "Silver," both off the group's 1984 landmark Ocean Rain. Similarly compelling are early numbers like the driving "The Cutter" and "Over Wall." These are nervy, kinetically delivered productions showcasing guitarist Will Sergeant's warmly acidic lead style and late drummer Pete de Freitas' edgy, jazz-informed sound. Elsewhere, we get the band's magisterial flagship "Bring on the Dancing Horses" and the anthemic, Scott Walker-esque "Seven Seas." We also get an inspired cover of the Doors' "People Are Strange," featuring organist Ray Manzarek, from The Lost Boys soundtrack. Ultimately, The Killing Moon: The Singles 1980-1990 works as a useful single-disc summation of the Bunnymen's career including 1980's Crocodiles and 1984's Ocean Rain, the latter of which many consider to be the band's grand opus. © Matt Collar /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released December 15, 2017 | London Music Stream