The first time I heard Echobelly was back in 1993 via a compilation tape put together by Jacques the Kipper. I was immediately knocked out. It was as if a cracking Smiths tribute band (with added didgeridoo!!) was being fronted by the winner of a Debbie Harry soundalike contest.

mp3 : Echobelly – Bellyache

I immediately set out to track down the debut which wasn’t easy as it was on a  small London indie label – Pandemonium Records – but thankfully the label would re-issue it as an EP in January 1994 with the other three songs all being more than half-decent as well:-

mp3 : Echobelly – Sleeping Hitler
mp3 : Echobelly – Give Her A Gun
mp3 : Echobelly – I Don’t Belong Here

Seems I wasn’t alone in falling for its charms as the band then experienced a bit of a bidding war and they eventually signed to a subsidiary of Epic Records, and enjoyed a hugely successful two-year spell in which they would have two Top 10 LPs and a handful of hit singles.

The mainstays of Echobelly were a bit of an odd couple. Vocalist Sonya Madan was born in India but raised in a strict environment in England (so much so that she didn’t attend her first rock gig until she was at college) while guitarist Glenn Johansson was a Swede whose previous work had including editing porno mags…

Their writing partnership however, worked a treat with many of their songs combining catchy indie pop and intelligent and thought-provoking lyrics that addressed many social issues.  Their biggest hit addressed prostitution and homelessness:-

mp3 : Echobelly – King Of The Kerb

A series of health and legal issues in 1996 halted momentum and although the band returned with a third LP in late 1997, the Britpop-bubble with which they had been lumped in had burst and Echobelly soon became a mere footnote in indie pop history which is a real pity as they were more than half-decent but I don’t think they ever quite matched the brilliance of the debut single.



  1. Love, love, love Echobelly. In fact, I have a piece about their follow-up single that I’m preparing for my place. Sonya Madan was one of my biggest Britpop crushes, and her voice was extraordinary.

    They actually released four albums – the last one did even less commercially than the third one. It still had some good songs on it, but the spark had gone.

  2. ‘Bellyache’ holds up very well doesn’t it? I think the only thing I still have by them is ‘Dark Therapy’, but this is very good. First time I’ve heard it in about 20 years. Lamacq interviewed the band last year around the time of the deluxe reissues. Sonya’s still working with at least one member of Echobelly on a new project.

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