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Echo And The Bunnymen - The Stars, The Oceans & The Moon

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The Stars, The Oceans & The Moon

Echo & The Bunnymen

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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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The Stars, The Oceans & The Moon

Echo And The Bunnymen

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1
Bring on the Dancing Horses Transformed
00:04:01

Andy Wright, Producer, Programmer - Ian Skelly, Drums - Echo & The Bunnymen, Composer, MainArtist - Ian Mcculloch, Composer, Producer, Guitar, Bass Guitar, Vocals, Writer - Les Pattinson, Composer, Writer - Will Sergeant, Composer, Guitar, Writer - Jean-Pierre Chalbos, Mastering Engineer - Andrea Wright, Recording Engineer - Gavin Goldberg, Producer, Programmer, Mixing Engineer - Pete de Freitas, Composer, Writer - Jeremy Wing, Keyboards, Programmer - Steve Brannan, Bass Guitar

2018 BMG Rights Management (UK) Limited 2018 BMG Rights Management (UK) Limited

2
The Somnambulist
00:03:23

Andy Wright, Producer, Programmer - Steve Morris, Violin - Everton Nelson, Violin - Ian Humphries, Violin - Isobel Griffiths, Contractor - David Daniels, Cello - Echo & The Bunnymen, Composer, MainArtist - Ian Mcculloch, Composer, Producer, Guitar, Bass Guitar, Vocals, Writer - Will Sergeant, Composer, Guitar, Writer - Jean-Pierre Chalbos, Mastering Engineer - Emlyn Singleton, Violin - Patrick Kiernan, Violin - Andy Parker, Viola - Cathy Thompson, Violin - Bruce White, Viola - Nick Barr, Viola - Andrea Wright, Recording Engineer - Sam Swallow, Conductor, String Arranger - Gavin Goldberg, Producer, Programmer, Mixing Engineer - Barrie Barlow, Drums - Jeremy Wing, Keyboards, Programmer

2018 BMG Rights Management (UK) Limited 2018 BMG Rights Management (UK) Limited

3
Nothing Lasts Forever Transformed
00:04:09

Echo & The Bunnymen, Composer, MainArtist

2018 BMG Rights Management (UK) Limited 2018 BMG Rights Management (UK) Limited

4
Lips Like Sugar Transformed
00:04:26

Echo & The Bunnymen, Composer, MainArtist

2018 BMG Rights Management (UK) Limited 2018 BMG Rights Management (UK) Limited

5
Rescue Transformed
00:04:16

Echo & The Bunnymen, Composer, MainArtist

2018 BMG Rights Management (UK) Limited 2018 BMG Rights Management (UK) Limited

6
Rust Transformed
00:05:02

Echo & The Bunnymen, Composer, MainArtist

2018 BMG Rights Management (UK) Limited 2018 BMG Rights Management (UK) Limited

7
Angels & Devils Transformed
00:03:39

Echo & The Bunnymen, Composer, MainArtist

2018 BMG Rights Management (UK) Limited 2018 BMG Rights Management (UK) Limited

8
Bedbugs & Ballyhoo Transformed
00:03:24

Echo & The Bunnymen, Composer, MainArtist

2018 BMG Rights Management (UK) Limited 2018 BMG Rights Management (UK) Limited

9
Zimbo Transformed
00:04:33

Echo & The Bunnymen, Composer, MainArtist

2018 BMG Rights Management (UK) Limited 2018 BMG Rights Management (UK) Limited

10
Stars Are Stars Transformed
00:03:30

Echo & The Bunnymen, Composer, MainArtist

2018 BMG Rights Management (UK) Limited 2018 BMG Rights Management (UK) Limited

11
Seven Seas Transformed
00:03:42

Andy Wright, Producer, Programmer - Echo & The Bunnymen, MainArtist - Ian Mcculloch, Composer, Producer, Guitar, Keyboards, Vocals - Les Pattinson, Composer - Will Sergeant, Composer, Guitar - Jean-Pierre Chalbos, Mastering Engineer - Andrea Wright, Recording Engineer - Gavin Goldberg, Producer, Programmer, Mixing Engineer - Gareth Huw Davies, Cello - Pete de Freitas, Composer - Igor Outkine, Accordion

2018 BMG Rights Management (UK) Limited 2018 BMG Rights Management (UK) Limited

12
Ocean Rain Transformed
00:05:40

Echo & The Bunnymen, Composer, MainArtist

2018 BMG Rights Management (UK) Limited 2018 BMG Rights Management (UK) Limited

13
The Cutter Transformed
00:04:22

Echo & The Bunnymen, Composer, MainArtist

2018 BMG Rights Management (UK) Limited 2018 BMG Rights Management (UK) Limited

14
How Far?
00:04:39

Echo & The Bunnymen, Composer, MainArtist

2018 BMG Rights Management (UK) Limited 2018 BMG Rights Management (UK) Limited

15
The Killing Moon Transformed
00:04:58

Andy Wright, Producer, Programmer - Steve Morris, Violin - Everton Nelson, Violin - Ian Humphries, Violin - Isobel Griffiths, Contractor - David Daniels, Cello - Echo & The Bunnymen, Composer, MainArtist - Ian Mcculloch, Composer, Producer, Vocals, Writer - Les Pattinson, Composer, Writer - Will Sergeant, Composer, Guitar, Writer - Jean-Pierre Chalbos, Mastering Engineer - Emlyn Singleton, Violin - Patrick Kiernan, Violin - Andy Parker, Viola - Cathy Thompson, Violin - Bruce White, Viola - Nick Barr, Viola - Andrea Wright, Recording Engineer - Sam Swallow, Conductor, String Arranger, Piano - Gavin Goldberg, Producer, Programmer, Mixing Engineer - Pete de Freitas, Composer, Writer

2018 BMG Rights Management (UK) Limited 2018 BMG Rights Management (UK) Limited

Album Description

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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