Echo and The Bunnymen – Heaven Up Here (1981)
I’m kidding myself on if I really believe that the next 28 albums in this rundown are really less favoured than Heaven Up Here. I’m typing these words a few weeks after putting the final list together. I’m typing up each piece in reverse order, and I surprised and indeed shocked myself when I realised it was now time to witter on about Echo and The Bunnymen‘s second LP. I did look up and down the list of what’s still to come and contemplated shifting it up a few places, but I told myself that I had to stay disciplined and stick with what was decided back at the end of February.
1981 proved to be the band’s breakout year. A Promise brought their first Top 20 single and Heaven Up Here went Top 10 in the album charts. Their media exposure was greater than ever, although it would still be a few more years before Mac graced the cover of Smash Hits and found his face pinned to the walls of thousands of impressionable teenagers.
Nope. The Bunnymen were among those that were vying for the mantle of the band best placed to grab the affections of the raincoat-wearing brigade who were still reeling from the shock of Ian Curtis‘s suicide and for whom music was a very serious business. It wasn’t quite my profile, as can be illustrated by my increasing love for synth-pop that very year, but there is no doubt that this was the album that made me really sit up and take notice that the latest Fab 4 from Liverpool were genuine contenders.
I’ve written before that listening to the album’s two opening tracks – Show of Strength and With A Hip – felt at the time to be as powerful and immediate an opening one-two punch as anything I had in my growing record collection. More than 40 years on, and I still believe it is up there. The third track isn’t too shabby either:-
mp3: Echo and The Bunnymen – Over The Wall
The fade in and slow build-up perhaps tricks listeners into thinking it’s a comedown and non-event after the opening two songs, but the catchiness of the simple, almost nursery-rhyme-like chorus, allied with Will, Les and Pete‘s combined attacks on your aural senses gives way to a realisation that you’re listening to gothic atmospheric rock at its very finest.
The big hit singles would come later on in the band’s career. They would also, in the shape of Ocean Rain in 1984, make another genuinely sensational album that came close to making this rundown. But as I suggested yesterday when talking about Tindersticks, the more mood and atmosphere that can be brought to an album, the better. Heaven Up Here, from its sleeve to the contents of its grooves, is packed with both.
11 thoughts on “60 ALBUMS @ 60 : #29”
100% agree with you about Over The Wall. It is such a beguiling track, easily my favorite from that album, and would have been right at home stylistically on Crocodiles.
I don’t know this LP as an LP – just the hits. I took and untook to EATB quickly. I didn’t take to Ian McCulloch because I found him loud and provocative yet I took to Pete Burns for those very reasons.
I wonder as we go done the list if most of the records will be from the 80s?
My neighbour in 81 had the full McCulloch hairdo and raincoat. Her raincoat was better than my army salvage one. She looked so cool. We loaned each other records – she let me keep Spear of Destiny, Flying Scotsman 12″ as she departed on her way to what I hope was an enjoyable life
I seem to be in a group of one in thinking Ocean Rain is mweh.
Great record, and I do believe that if I ever got round to compiling a Top Ten Album Covers, that would be near the top.
It’s difficult to decide if the record is better than the cover shot or vice versa. And yes the opening three tracks on Side 1 positively snap with intent. Pete de Freitas remains my favourite drummer.
Another ‘semi bingo’.
My top 40 (from 2021) had Ocean Rain at 23.
For some reason, I never bought Heaven up Here. I can’t explain it, because all the singles are there, as well as Crocodiles. On reflection, maybe it was simply lack of money at the time.
I really really really prefer ‘Ocean Rain’ to ‘Heaven Up Here’.
There are 29 albums better than this one? Not including Ocean Rain??
Best album by the best band, ever (maybe). Best album cover and best poster picture on your wall as well. Every song is a classic (as a moping teenager I loved The Disease) although “A Promise” always has been my least favourite single on “Songs to Learn and Sing”.
now you’re talking- a true classic
Great album, although I prefer Crocodiles. Flimflanfan – no, you are not alone. I think Ocean Rain is rather dull and over produced.