NOT TOO SHABBY A COMEBACK NUMBER ??

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The idea of Echo & The Bunnymen reforming in the late 90s wasn’t entirely daft. It had been a full ten years since Ian McCulloch had left the band to with vocals duties taken on by Noel Burke – a move that no doubt stunned Bunnymac who thought he was irreplaceable. It certainly didn’t go down well with fans as the sales of the one LP and three singles with the new vocalist were negligible.

By 1994, Mac and Will Sergeant were working together again under the name of Electrafixion and in due course they asked Les Pattinson if he fancied joining the band. When he said yes, the trio decided to bring the Bunnymen back into being….

The move certainly caught the imagination, especially when Mac started telling everyone that the new songs were among the best they had written and recorded. There was certainly a hope and desire among the critics that this would be the case as the band were somewhat back in fashion at the time with an appreciation of just how good a band they had been at the height of their pomp and fame when Pete de Freitas (RIP) was on the drumstool.

It was June 1997 when the comeback single was released:-

mp3 : Echo and The Bunnymen – Nothing Lasts Forever

It’s an absolutely stunning piece of music, right up there with many of the tracks released when the band were at the height of their powers in the early to mid 80s.  It also crossed over extensively into the mainstream thanks to the rigorous promotional duties undertaken including a number of high-profile TV appearances in the UK and in due course it would ride high in the charts where it eventually reached #8 and equal their previous best ever position with The Cutter back in 1983. The parent album Evergreen was relleased the following month by which time the band were appearing on the bills of most of the summer festivals across Europe. It too went  Top 10.

The album did get a lot of positive reviews but I feel most of these were as much down to wanting the LP to be a triumphant return rather than purely on the quality of its contents. It’s not that it’s a bad record, more that after a few listens it got a bit repetitive sounding with the comeback single really standing head and shoulders above all else. It certainly doesn’t come close to matching the outstanding first four albums, all of which really have stood the test of time.

I bought the comeback single on its release. In fact I bought the 2xCDs and so can also offer up the four tracks that were put on the b-side, some of which proved to be better and more durable than much of the album:-

mp3 : Echo and The Bunnymen – Watchtower
mp3 : Echo and The Bunnymen – Polly
mp3 : Echo and The Bunnymen – Colour Me In
mp3 : Echo and The Bunnymen – Antelope

Enjoy.

15 thoughts on “NOT TOO SHABBY A COMEBACK NUMBER ??

  1. JC I was waiting on this post before throwing my opinion in about this NELF it is perhaps one of my most favourite songs of all time if not my most favourite.

    I’m sure I have mentioned on here before that it also appears on a clip from a Glastonbury from back in the day where they played the track at the very end & showed a montage of performances that summed up Glastonbury completely.

    It’s sort of like my holy grail of TV as I have searched unsuccessfully for this ever since then .I mention it again today in the hope someone out there has it & would post it in some format.

    Getting back to the song itself I have a bittersweet opinion on The Bunnymen now whilst I totally love just about all the music they have ever produced , I can’t bring myself to ever watch them live again after witnessing my worst ever concert experience in over 30 years of gigs, a few years back when Mr McCulloch disgraced himself at the Concert Hall and in my opinion being to far out of it to finish the concert. I’d go as far as to say he went in the huff as Will Sargeant was feeling the love more than the prima donna himself.

    Son of the rock

  2. Spot on. The song always makes me think of an old prize fighter stepping into the ring one more time. It is up there with the best. I so wanted the LP be the glorious return the single promised. I gave it a good go but hardly ever play it now. I prefer the next one which felt more like a mac solo LP and splintered the group again. Saw them support James a couple of yrs ago and having heard disturbing reports of macs approach to live gigs was pleasantly surprised when they did a,spot on 40 min gallop through a best of

  3. I always thought that Bono was the poor man’s Ian McCullough. Both bands hit the states about the same time and I could never figure out why U2 made it and the Bunnymen never got much notice here. (I have no explanation whatsoever for how huge U2 eventually got.) Evergreen was…okay. The cover that looked liked Crocodiles was a pleasant gesture, I guess, it was just nice to hear Mac back in action. I don’t favor any of the band’s work over the first 4 albums, and seldom listen to it, but you can’t deny how singular and outstanding a vocalist Mac is on anything he sings. Even half-hearted covers like People are Strange and Ticket to Ride sound unique with him on the mic. As for Nothing Lasts Forever; it’s okay. These b-sides are new to me and I like them better. I guess what I’m saying is that Mac should be recognized as one of the all time greatest post-punk singers, despite his prickly personality, and it would nice for him to get his due respect.

  4. While Nothing Lasts Forever isn’t one of my all time favorite Bunnymen songs, it is key to making their comeback really authentic. Evergreen is head and shoulders above most comeback albums you can name. The individual parts brought by Mac, Will and Les all feature and blend perfectly. They didn’t attempt to make Crocodiles Two and certainly had an ear to the ground through the 90’s which helped to inform Evergreen and make it a unique mixture of timely sounds with that Bunnymen twist.
    The B-sides from Evergreen’s singles are all as powerful as the album tracks. That they didn’t save them for the next album may play into the idea that they weren’t sure they would get another chance in this comeback. When they did get to that next album, they really played to the ideas and aspects of coming back in middle age to make music, and What Are You Going To Do With Your Life deserves reassessment as it never really got the praise I feel it deserves.

  5. A great comeback single that’s for sure, but as I’ve said before, ‘What Are You Going to Do with Your Life?’ is the late period album I reach for every time. It’s definitely more of a Mac solo LP though. Talking of which, what are everyone’s opinions of the two Warner solo albums ‘Candleland’ and ‘Mysterio’?

  6. I liked both of Mac’s first LPs. E&TB are all about Mac for me. I’m a fair bassist and a crap guitarist, but even a hack like me can play every single Bunnymen song easily. For this reason I’m usually not knocked out by bands whose music is really simple. But NO ONE sings like McCulloch, and that’s what why the band are so outstanding. Even an album side like ‘Honeydrip’ from Mysterio sounds amazing because he’s singing it.

  7. Loved the Bunnymen. There’ll always be a place in my heart etc. However I too witnessed the Concert Hall fiasco which was painful in all too many ways. I thought then that I’d give them up as a live act, but went back to see them again 16 months back. I’ll absolutely admit that I was in the minority among my friends but, having seen them so almost incomparably brilliant in times gone by, this time I found them pretty dull – Bunnymen by numbers as I doubtless described it. They remain one of my all time favourite bands, and appear in my top five, probably top three, best gigs ever but I doubt I’ll go see them again. Nothing lasts forever indeed.

    This is magnificent, mind.

  8. So well put Jacques I re-read my post today & it feels angry when really it should be sad indeed Nothing ever lasts forever

  9. I’ve been disappointed by a few artists over the years – the Bunnymen once but mostly because Mac had a bad cold/sore throat and was struggling to sing; Martin Stephenson when he’d had too much to drink and couldn’t remember any of his own songs; and Julian Cope when he was off his tits on something and was running around the hall like a thing possessed. But hey, we all have off days, don’t we?!

  10. As for Mac’s two solo albums, Candleland is the stand out, but there are some excellent moments on Mysterio – Pomegranate, Magical World, Dug For Love – which beats many of his contemporaries at the dance/rock emerging at the time and his gorgeous reading of Leonard Cohen’s Lover, Lover, Lover. In fact I’d say his version of the last song is as beautiful and seminal as Jeff Buckley’s career turn on Hallelujah. My favorite McCulloch song – it’s a b-side to Candleland’s Faith + Healing single – Rocket Ship. It’s an exuberant track with a heartfelt love song built in.

  11. That Martin Stephenson gig you’r thinking of Paul…would it happen to have been at the Glasgow Pavilion? If so, I was also there but knew it was a train-wreck waiting to happen as Martin was in the pub next door absolutely hammered and showed no signs of slowing down even as the time for him to be on stage drew ever nearer. I had front row seats for that show and it was awful. Fast forward 25 years and I find myself talking to Anthony Dunn from the Daintees and learn that he’s still haunted by its horrors!

  12. The main reason for posting is that there was also a 7″ for NLF which had two unique B-sides – Hurracaine and Jonny. The former is on the Crystal Days comp but the latter isn’t. Not quite in the position to rip it from the vinyl for you but maybe by the weekend.

    I’ve pretty much given up on the Bunnies and haven’t even bothered with the last record. Paul SImpson reckons that the entire phase two of their career has been ripping off the Wild Swans sound and I don’t think he’s far off the mark.

    Evergreen could have benefitted from a bit of trimming – it’s one of those albums made to fit the running time of a CD and I think WYGTDWYL benefits from its lean circa 35 minutes running time.

    My favourite LP of the comeback is the one in which Will seems to have had the greatest part – Flowers. The songs sounded great live but of course as the Bunnymen retreated to pretty much being a heritage act, they never got played again.

  13. Yes I think it was JC, and it doesn’t surprise me at all to hear he was in the pub til just before he went on stage! But I hear he’s a changed man these days and doesn’t drink at all. Maybe in another 25 years Anthony will have got over the trauma…

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