There’s something Pavlovian about Julian Cope posts that makes me immediately want to feature Echo & The Bunnymen.
I recently dug out my copy of Songs To Sing and Learn, the compilation album that was released in the UK in November 1985. It must be one of the finest two sides of vinyl ever pressed. The running order of side one is Rescue, The Puppet, Do It Clean, A Promise, The Back of Love, and The Cutter. Side Two has Never Stop, The Killing Moon, Silver, Seven Seas, and Bring on The Dancing Horses. There was also a bonus 7″ single included with Pictures On My Wall on the a-side, and Read It In Books on the b-side.
In other words, the album was all eleven singles in the order in which they had been released on Korona, with the 7″ being a replica of the debut single on Zoo Records.
I’ve always felt that Bring On The Dancing Horses has been the poor relation on the album given that it was recorded with the intention of being the new track to make it a more attractive purchase to fans. The strange thing is that the album was in the shops some three days before the 45 appeared in the shops, the result of which had something on an adverse impact on its sales. It was also the first new Bunnymen song in some 18 months, with the previous release being the imperious Ocean Rain LP, three of whose songs immediately preceded Dancing Horses on the compilation.
It also suffers from the fact that while it is a very good single, it doesn’t deliver anything like the punch or have the impact of the Ocean Rain material. It’s quite different from previous material in that the vocals are very much to the fore, to the extent that the overdubbing means Mac is doing backing vocals for Mac the lead vocalist, while the melody is centred around synths and strings rather than the guitar, bass and drums of Messrs Sargeant, Pattinson and de Freitas.
It did make it to #21 in the UK singles chart, which was probably a disappointment to all concerned. What I hadn’t realised until doing a bit of research for this post is that it was the band’s breakthrough, of sorts, in America, appearing on the soundtrack album to Pretty In Pink.
I’ve pulled out the 12″ version for your enjoyment today, one which extends out to almost six minutes and is some 100 seconds or so longer than the 7″ and album version:-
mp3: Echo & The Bunnymen – Bring On The Dancing Horses (extended mix)
The self-produced b-side on the 7″ was an absolute belter of a song, one which harked back to the earlier, rawer sound of the band:-
mp3: Echo & The Bunnymen – Over Your Shoulder
The bonus track on the 12″ was even more of a great discovery:-
mp3: Echo & The Bunnymen – Bedbugs and Ballyhoo
One that wouldn’t have been out of place on Ocean Rain and more than worthy of being a single in its own right, as turned out to be the case two years later when a re-recorded (but inferior version), was included on their eponymous fifth studio album, with this being the third single lifted from it
mp3: Echo & The Bunnymen – Bedbugs and Ballyhoo (1987 version)
Nobody knew it at the time, but this would be the last original 45 released by the band’s classic line-up, with Pete de Freitas dying in a motorcycle accident two years later – Bedbugs was followed up later in the year with People Are Strange from the soundtrack to the movie, The Lost Boys.