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.