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

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
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Pop - Released May 29, 1981 | WM UK

Following their more psychedelia-based debut, Crocodiles, and subsequent "Puppet" single, Echo & the Bunnymen returned in 1981 with the darkest and perhaps most experimental album of their career. Heaven Up Here lacks the signature hooks and melodies that would make the Bunnymen famous, showcasing instead a dirge-like songwriting approach built around the circular rhythms of bassist Les Pattinson and drummer Pete DeFreitas. In this setting, the band remarkably flourishes, although they would go on to greater heights by scaling back the album's extremism. Heaven Up Here's strength is the way in which the Bunnymen seamlessly work together to shape each song's dynamics (the tension underlying the crescendo of "Turquoise Days" being a prime example). Ian McCulloch, having found his trademark confidence, sings with soaring abandon and passion throughout the album. Similarly, Will Sergeant's guitar playing, notably freed from verse-chorus structure and pop riffs, is at its angular finest; his playing on "No Dark Things" is pure Andy Gill-esque skronk. The album's opening troika of "Show of Strength," "With a Hip," and "Over the Wall" (the latter with its jarring, direct invocation of Del Shannon's "Runaway") are particularly effective, establishing the theme of distrust and restlessness which continues throughout the album. Indeed, even the album's lone single, "A Promise," is hardly light, pop material. But the message underneath that darkness, especially in McCulloch's lyrics, is a call to overcome rather than wallow, as the album ends with the relatively euphoric "All I Want." Sitting comfortably next to the pioneering work of contemporaries like Joy Division/New Order, and early Public Image Ltd. and Cure, this is a rather fine -- and in the end, influential -- example of atmospheric post-punk. Having reached the British Top Ten, Heaven Up Here is highly regarded among Echo & the Bunnymen's fans precisely for the reasons which, on the surface, make it one of the least accessible albums in the band's catalog. © Aaron Warshaw /TiVo
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Pop - Released May 31, 1981 | Rhino - Warner Records

Following their more psychedelia-based debut, Crocodiles, and subsequent "Puppet" single, Echo & the Bunnymen returned in 1981 with the darkest and perhaps most experimental album of their career. Heaven Up Here lacks the signature hooks and melodies that would make the Bunnymen famous, showcasing instead a dirge-like songwriting approach built around the circular rhythms of bassist Les Pattinson and drummer Pete DeFreitas. In this setting, the band remarkably flourishes, although they would go on to greater heights by scaling back the album's extremism. Heaven Up Here's strength is the way in which the Bunnymen seamlessly work together to shape each song's dynamics (the tension underlying the crescendo of "Turquoise Days" being a prime example). Ian McCulloch, having found his trademark confidence, sings with soaring abandon and passion throughout the album. Similarly, Will Sergeant's guitar playing, notably freed from verse-chorus structure and pop riffs, is at its angular finest; his playing on "No Dark Things" is pure Andy Gill-esque skronk. The album's opening troika of "Show of Strength," "With a Hip," and "Over the Wall" (the latter with its jarring, direct invocation of Del Shannon's "Runaway") are particularly effective, establishing the theme of distrust and restlessness which continues throughout the album. Indeed, even the album's lone single, "A Promise," is hardly light, pop material. But the message underneath that darkness, especially in McCulloch's lyrics, is a call to overcome rather than wallow, as the album ends with the relatively euphoric "All I Want." Sitting comfortably next to the pioneering work of contemporaries like Joy Division/New Order, and early Public Image Ltd. and Cure, this is a rather fine -- and in the end, influential -- example of atmospheric post-punk. Having reached the British Top Ten, Heaven Up Here is highly regarded among Echo & the Bunnymen's fans precisely for the reasons which, on the surface, make it one of the least accessible albums in the band's catalog. © Aaron Warshaw /TiVo
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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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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 July 6, 1987 | Rhino - Warner Records

Echo & the Bunnymen caught the group at a fortuitous career juncture; the clutch of songs here were among the hookiest and most memorable the band would ever write, while the arrangements are noticeably clean and punchy, mostly eliminating strings and similar clutter to focus almost exclusively on guitars, keyboards, drums, and occasional percussion touches. The warmly expressive "All My Life," which might perhaps have received an overheated arrangement on prior albums, benefited especially from this approach. The band rocked out convincingly on other selections, such as "Satellite" and "All in Your Mind." Pete DeFreitas' solid drumming at times veered toward the danceable on tracks like "Lost and Found," "Lips Like Sugar," and the overtly Doors-influenced "Bedbugs and Ballyhoo." Surprisingly, vocalist Ian MuCulloch appeared to have rediscovered the maxim "less is more"; his singing was comparatively restrained and tasteful, resulting in a more natural, unforced emotiveness that was extremely effective. The production values were excellent, with many subtle touches that do not detract from the album's overall directness. In short, doing it clean really paid off here. © David Cleary /TiVo
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Pop - Released November 5, 1990 | Rhino

What's that echo you hear? One of the Bunnymen has decided to sit things out, and it's none other than the frontman himself. Reverberation is really an Echo & the Bunnymen album in title only. Ian McCulloch is out to pasture on this one, embarking on a solo career, and in his place is Noel Burke. Somehow, newcomer Burke is a great fit with the remaining Bunnymen, and the result is a true delight, even if it makes little sense in the band's discography. Realistically, Burke sounds nothing like McCulloch, as his vocals are far higher than McCulloch's deep croon. Will Sergeant could have easily gone the route that Peter Hook would go years later, when he found a Bernard Sumner sound-alike for New Order offshoot Monaco, so Sergeant is certainly a risk-taker in this sense. When Burke does affect McCulloch's tones, he sounds more like Mark Burgess of the Chameleons, and that's an interesting proposition in itself. The Burke and Sergeant team cracks out their own share of would-be classics. "Gone, Gone, Gone" and "Enlighten Me" throb with catchy glee, and "Flaming Red" paints a picture of beautiful, quiet grace. "King of Your Castle" is perhaps the only occasion where Burke overly extends his range and falters, but the song's optimism is still quite winning. Indeed, the album could qualify as Sergeant's brightest and most uplifting creation. "Flaming Red," in particular, would have been far darker with Ian McCulloch at the helm, as its music seems a close cousin to "The Killing Moon," but Burke's vocals lighten the mood into one of delicate grace. It should also be noted that original Bunnymen drummer Peter DeFreitas died in a motorcycle accident shortly before Reverberation was recorded, and future Spiritualized and Lupine Howl drummer Damon Reece ably takes his place behind the drum kit. The liner notes dedicate the album to "Pete and all who loved him." Reverberation would have been a great debut had Sergeant and bassist Les Pattinson decided to operate under a different moniker. Who knows if Sergeant thought McCulloch would someday return to the band, but it would have made more sense for these ten songs to have been released under a new band name, because whether one likes or dislikes this album, Echo & the Bunnymen doesn't exist without the distinctive voice of Ian McCulloch, and it seems rather unfair that Burke had to go up against the enigmatic legacy of McCulloch. Though it confuses the Echo & the Bunnymen catalog, Reverberation is an accomplished, charming album that most Echo & the Bunnymen fans will appreciate, if not cherish. Why Noel Burke wasn't able to hop away from his time with the Bunnymen and make his own name is a reverberating mystery of its own. © Tim DiGravina /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released January 1, 1997 | London Music Stream

The cover alone is a dead giveaway, echoing as it does the cover of Crocodiles, with what looks like a set of trees and a car in place of De Freitas. But that telling and unavoidable absence alone puts the promise and problem of Echo's comeback album in perspective -- McCulloch and Sergeant had been working together again and Pattinson returned to the fold, but without De Freitas something remained unavoidably absent. Replacement drummer Michael Lee fills in adequately but not completely, rendering what was a special group something less so. The remaining core three discharge their duties well enough, but the focus is unavoidably on McCulloch this time around, rendering Sergeant and Pattinson to the status of talented backing players and making Evergreen seem like an extension of McCulloch's solo career more than anything. While Sergeant in particular shows many flashes of the brilliance of Echo's first phase, his work is more conventional here, perhaps the result of his experimental tendencies with his solo project, Glide. As an album Evergreen is closest to Ocean Rain due to the liberal appearance of the London Symphony Orchestra throughout, sometimes with impressive results, though without achieving the total heights of artistry of that earlier collection. There's nothing quite like "The Killing Moon" or "Ocean Rain" itself this time around. For all that, when Evergreen shines at its best, it's still an attractive piece of work. The album's most successful number, the gently epic "Nothing Lasts Forever," gets an extra boost from an uncredited backing singer, Oasis' Liam Gallagher, while "I Want to Be There (When You Come)," the title track, and the moody "Just a Touch Away" kick up some smoke. © Ned Raggett /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released January 1, 1997 | London Music Stream

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Alternative & Indie - Released January 1, 1999 | London Music Stream

Echo & the Bunnymen made a dignified return in 1997 with Evergreen, but that record displayed some hints of rustiness and a desire to stay hip -- two things notably absent from its superb sequel, What Are You Going to Do With Your Life? Trimmed to just the duo of Ian McCulloch and Will Sergeant, Echo has succeeded where many of their peers have failed -- they have matured without getting stodgy, they have deepened their signature sound without appearing self-conscious. Indeed, What Are You Going to Do With Your Life? feels of a piece with their earlier albums, not only sonically, but in terms of quality. Clocking in at just 38 minutes, the record is concise and dense with detail, finding the precise tone between the floating grandeur of early Echo and the timeless romanticism of classic torch songs. It's melancholy without ever being self-pitying and it never once sounds gloomy or depressing. The key is that McCulloch and Sergeant never push too hard. They never force themselves to play up-tempo, nor do they try to recapture their "edge" -- they settle into a sad groove and find all the possible variations in the sound, both sonically and emotionally. The perfect thing is, this is exactly the kind of record a post-punk band should be making as they reach their 20th anniversary -- it speaks to where they are now, and it speaks to their aging fans. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Pop - Released October 20, 2003 | Rhino - Warner Records

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
Channeling the lessons of the experimental Porcupine into more conventional and simple structural parameters, Ocean Rain emerges as Echo & the Bunnymen's most beautiful and memorable effort. Ornamenting Ian McCulloch's most consistently strong collection of songs to date with subdued guitar textures, sweeping string arrangements, and hauntingly evocative production, the album is dramatic and majestic; "The Killing Moon," Ocean Rain's emotional centerpiece, remains the group's unrivalled pinnacle. © Jason Ankeny /TiVo
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Pop - Released December 7, 2004 | Rhino - Warner Records

Porcupine, Echo & the Bunnymen's third album, has garnered a reputation for being as prickly as its namesake. Although the record is lined with jagged guitars and is arguably the band's darkest offering, these aspects suit the Bunnymen just fine. Ian McCulloch, in particular, sounds right at home on this brooding set of songs; his deep, Jim Morrison-esque vocals perfectly convey his intriguing, shadowy tales. Porcupine is front-loaded with its two key singles: the startling "The Cutter" and the strangely grand "The Back of Love." Both songs benefit from the dramatic string playing of Shankar, who also also lends an ominous drone to "Heads Will Roll." Throughout the album, McCulloch conjures up vivid lyrical imagery with his powerful voice, from the demonic depths of "My White Devil" and "Higher Hell" to the soaring heights of "God Will Be Gods" and "In Bluer Skies." Expanded editions include five alternate versions of album tracks, along with the excellent B-side "Fuel" and the much-loved single "Never Stop (Discotheque)," rounding out a record that holds its own with other revered Bunnymen outings. © Eric Schneider /TiVo
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Pop/Rock - Released June 15, 2009 | California Dreamin'

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Pop - Released September 22, 2009 | WM UK

Live at the Royal Albert Hall features Echo & the Bunnymen performing at the storied London venue on July 19, 1983. © TiVo
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Pop/Rock - Released November 7, 2011 | Ocean Rain

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Rock - Released January 1, 2014 | 429 Records

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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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Punk / New Wave - Released June 17, 2014 | Concert Live Ltd

Legendary mope-poppers Echo & the Bunnymen embarked on an international tour shortly after the release of their 2014 album Meteorites. Led by founding members and last original members standing Ian McCulloch and Will Sergeant, the duo led their newly configured backing band through a spirited set list at a Shepherd's Bush Empire gig on June 8, 2014, recorded and released in full as Live in London later the same year. Over the course of the 17-track set list, the band offered electric performances of both new material and now classic essentials from the '80s and early '90s such as "The Cutter," "Seven Seas," and "Bring on the Dancing Horses." © Fred Thomas /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 October 5, 2018 | 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