I got thinking a while back that, once the calendar turned over into 2023, I could have some fun out of creating a new series for the blog, turning the clock back 40 years to look at some of the great music that was released in 1983, perhaps throwing in a few stories/recollections/memories of the era.  In doing so, I have created a bit of a dilemma for myself, but I’ll come back to that tomorrow.

In the meantime, to give you an idea of how good a start it was to 1983, here’s a single that had been released just prior to Christmas where it bubbled away outside the Top 40 for a few weeks, unable to compete with the might of Renee and Ronato, Phil Collins, David Essex or Shakin’ Stevens, not forgetting the unlikely duet from Bing Crosby and David Bowie.

The first week in January saw it reach #34 and an invitation from the Top of The Pop producers for the 24-year-old lead singer to realise his pop star ambitions.

The following week, Story of The Blues climbed all the way to #6 and then the following week to its peak position of #3.  All told, it stayed in the Top 20 for six weeks and didn’t drop out of the Top 75 until late March. I wrote about this song back in 2015.  I’ll stand by whhat I said then

To my young(ish) ears it sounded like no other record that had ever been released at that point in history. To my old(er) ears it still sounds like no other record that has ever been released in history.

mp3: Wah! – The Story of The Blues

And, because you’re worth it, here’s the full version, ripped at a high quality direct from the Canadian import 12″ single :-

mp3: Wah! – The Story of The Blues (Parts One and Two)

The same week that Pete’s epic peaked at #3, saw a bunch of his mates achieve the highest new entry in the singles charts:-

mp3: Echo and The Bunnymen – The Cutter

Oh, how the 19-year-old me loved throwing shapes to this one on the floor of the student union disco as I lay down my raincoat and grooved.

I did a lot of grooving in 1983 as it turned out to be a more than decent year for alternative pop music, albeit there was still a great deal of dross dominating the higher end of the charts most weeks.



Part 55 of the series, and I’m offering up something a little different.

I distinctly remember the first time I played Heaven Up Here. The stereo I had at the time was quite basic, but it was all I could afford at the time.  Besides, I was still living at home and sharing a room with two brothers and so didn’t have full access to the space at all times, meaning the idea of spending money on a fancy hi-fi rig with separate turntable, speakers and amps would have been the height of lunacy.

Despite all this, I could tell that Show of Strength was something else.   The Bunnymen hitting a higher peak than ever before.   It had hit single written all over it.  But no sooner had I finished shaking my shoulders and doing the jerky dance to the album opener, my ears were exposed to With A Hip.

Good gawd almighty… was beyond belief.  As powerful and immediate an opening one-two punch as anything I had in my growing collection.  Move over The Jam.….there’s a new band in town really vying for my attention.

mp3: Echo & The Bunnymen – Show of Strength/With A Hip

I still think it beggars belief that all involved decided not to release any singles, other than A Promise, from the album.

Another thing to mention….I was very pleasantly surprised that there were so few minor pops and clicks on this piece of vinyl, given how often I played it back in the day and how many different abodes it has accompanied me to – two student flats, four rooms in shared accommodation in Edinburgh, living with the soon-to-be-in-laws in Midlothian, the first marital home in East Lothian, the temporary space in Edinburgh after said marriage broke up, the first flat that myself and Rachel moved into in Glasgow city centre, and finally right here in Villain Towers out on the south side of the city since the summer of 1995.



JC writes….

It’s been over two months since that last ICA, which represents as big a gap as there has ever been in all the years the series has been running. I’ve a couple of efforts in the pipeline, but I’m genuinely delighted that it is returning with a very welcome guest posting from Echorich, offering up some thoughts, views and opinions on the band from who he has taken his nom de plume.

Here he is, with an absolute belter of an offering.

Let me start by making a confession. I am a coward. I am a coward when it comes to Echo And The Bunnymen – the only band that mattered and still matters, to me. The reason I proclaim myself a coward is that I could never have written an ICA of The Bunnymen from their “Imperial Period.” I wouldn’t have just second guessed myself, which I have on most every ICA I have contributed, but third, fourth and fifth guessed my choices, at the least. I am too close to the work of their first four, uncompromising albums. Crocodiles awakened me. Heaven Up Here stirred my being. I am Porcupine’s great defender. Ocean Rain is imbedded deep in my Soul.

Coming down from the lofty heights of Ocean Rain, was a filled with wrong turns and tumbling. The “Grey Album” saw the band searching for a direction, looking for one more path that might lead them to their deserved success and a way to keep things together. But the cracks were too deep and the choices made weren’t the right choices. Pete DeFreitas was gone, then back, but not really there for that last album, and then Ian McCulloch made the decision to leave.

After a decade of the band trying to continue without The Mouth, solo albums, the death of DeFreitas, Les Pattison becoming a ship builder and then McCulloch and Will Sergeant burying the hatchet and recording together again as Electrafixion, Les was brought back into the equation and McCulloch gave in to a return to being Echo And The Bunnymen.

The now 25 years since these three remaining Bunnymen decided to return to the studio as a unit and record has seen some highs – critically, some lows – musically and a body of work that has pretty much doubled what came before it. They have bowled over critics on their return, made a dubious World Cup song with The Spice Girls, experimented with different producers and plowed a path all their own from album to album. Without Pete to anchor the sound, but with an intelligent understanding that the past is the past, Echo And The Bunnymen, for me have acquitted themselves well and at times with touches of brilliance during their reformation.

It is this Echo And The Bunnymen that I want to put focus to here. Since reforming/recording in 1996/97, The Bunnymen have released 6 studio albums and a combined 15 proper singles and EPs. At the core of Echo And The Bunnymen in reformation are McCulloch and Sergeant. Les Pattison was involved in the initial recordings of Evergreen’s follow up, What Are You Going To Do With Your Life?, but only appears on the final track Fools Like Us as he once again felt a music career was no longer for him and he wanted to focus on the health of his ailing mother. Ever since, the rhythm section of Echo And The Bunnymen has been a somewhat revolving door. But throughout the years, recording sessions and many tours, The Bunnymen have managed to release some still vital, as well as mature music that has added to their legacy.

1. Scratch The Past – Bonus Track from Japanese release of Flowers, 2001

The Bunnymen released Flowers, co-produced with Pete Coleman who is a staple of the Liverpool Post Punk scene, most notably as a producer for Icicle Works and Wah!, in 2001. The album is a bit of a love letter to 60s Psychedelia, with songs that reference The Velvet Underground and even some early Pink Floyd/Syd Barrett sounds. It’s a bit of a tradition to add bonus tracks to the Japanese releases of albums and Flowers has Mable Towers and the final track Scratch The Past. Scratch The Past has a bit of a boogie and is a mid-tempo Rocker. Sergeant seems in a state of joy with pedal effects and switching guitars to layer the sound. Ceri James adds some electric piano and hammond organ to play up the idea of being from the past. McCulloch’s lyrics have a bit of fun with some Rock Jockism but it’s just cover for a track that’s more about attempting to recapture the magic of the past.

2. Hurracaine – Nothing Lasts Forever B-Side 1997.

Nothing Lasts Forever was released in a few different formats, including a 2 CD Single set with different B-SIdes on each. Hurracaine (not sure how the atrocious spelling got past everyone) Is like bridge between the old and the new for me. It opens like a track I might have expected post Ocean Rain but pre Grey Album. In fact, it could have easily sat on the B-Side of Bring On The Dancing Horses nicely. Will’s liquid guitar sound is on full display, sounding like it’s bobbing up and down in the waves of the sea. There’s a distinct Doors-y quality to the track with some fantastic keyboards from Adam Peters. Ian is in full voice and presence though the track.

3. Altamont – Evergreen – 1997

Altamont, for me, is one of the real stand out track on Evergreen. There is just enough reference to their past in the music, but there’s a feel of being current and accomplished, of the moment that runs throughout the track. I remember thinking that Noel Gallagher wished he could create such melody and chaos as Will does towards the end of Altamont.

4. An Eternity Turns – Flowers – 2001

An Eternity Turns is a bit of Terrace Anthem – Bunnymen style. You can’t help joining in on the chorus, it’s infectious. The track also manages to capture some of the live magic that the band have always been able to capture, taking a track on a sort of road trip from start to finish. As the track build to the ending, it goes off the rails as only a Bunnymen song can before it lands hard.

5. Lovers On The Run – Meteorites – 2014

Youth was behind the desk for Echo And The Bunnymen’s most recent album of new material, Meteorites. He has become a very sympathetic producer for artists that were his contemporaries in the 80s. Meteorites is a bit of dark and dense album, but it’s full of challenging, confident songs. Lovers On The Run was the pre-release “single.” I’m not really sure it existed as a single except as a promo really. It is a typical Wall of Bunnymen sound, with Ian’s aging vocal assisted with a good deal of echo, and Will somehow finding it possible to play numerous guitars for songs and make it all sound easy.

6. Watchtower – Nothing Lasts Forever B-Side – 1997

Of all The Bunnymen songs released since they “returned,” Nothing Lasts Forever is seen, pretty unanimously as their best. It, for me, is certainly a special song, but it doesn’t even rate in my top 20 Echo And The Bunnymen tracks. What I feel is important about the song, is the quality of the tracks chosen as B-sides for the various formats that were released.
Watchtower is a big track. There are things about it that bring me back to the latter part of The Bunnymen Mach 1. It has a power and confidence in sound and performance that is just effortless. They even managed to get Mike Lee to try his hand at jazz drums – a nod to the fact that Ian, Will and Les knew the track would have just killed if Pete had played on it.

7. Scissors In The Sand – Siberia – 2005

Hugh Jones behind the boards once again and Will and Ian sounding fully realized once again. Scissors In The Sand is built from the same DNA as Heaven Up Here, Over The Wall, All My Colours (Zimbo). Ian sneers though the lyrics with that knowing presence of old. All the while Jones’ production doesn’t attempt to transport them back 25 years, but he give Mac and Will the opportunity to dig deep inside themselves and reveal what’s never really ever gone away.

8. November – Think I Need It Too B-Side – 2009

Recorded during sessions for The Bunnymen’s 2009 album The Fountain. It’s an album I struggle with sometimes because I hear a clear attempt at mainstream radio play in a few of the songs. November accompanies the lead off single and sound miles more like a Bunnymen song that the A-side. It reminds me more of the sound Ian and Will were going after as Electrafixion. The opening bass and guitar set the stage and as the curtain draws, we are treated to a true rarity of female singers sychopated vocalizing. The layers of guitar buzz and saw through the track. Ian has a mature swagger in his vocal attack. Truly satisfying stuff.

9. Too Young To Kneel – Evergreen – 1997

Evergreen is an album full of fantastic songs played by artists who knew they had found the flint to make a real spark for a second time. The Bunnymen were always Post Punk’s “Psychedelicists”, it’s Doorsian troubadours, it’s Garage Punk fan boys. Too Young To Kneel celebrates all of that and brings it full circle for two men who were now on brink of 40. WIll’s guitar is a clash of liquid and buzz saw. Ian sings as an ageless troubadour full of questions for his audience and not at all worried about supplying any of the answers. Also one of my favorite lines from Ian – “…I heard they found Death on Mars.”

10. Get In The Car – What Are You Going To Do With Your Life – 1999

The Bunnymen’s return was just that, a return, not a “reforming.” The chemistry to make music was easy to distill once again. Evergreen was the proof of that. 1999’s follow up What Are You Going To Do With Your Life was, maybe, just a bit less immediate, less finding the spark as much as maintaining the flame. Over all the album filled with song that reflect the artists’ age and experiences. In fact the album only include one fairly upbeat track in Lost On You. I feel its a beautiful album filled with pathos and logos, while not losing any of the Bunnymen’s ethos.

Get In The Car is, for me, the albums most intimate and revealing song. Featuring contribution from Fun Lovin’ Criminals, there is also an important contribution of English Horn that sets the tone and feel for the track from it’s opening notes. This is The Bunnymen’s road song, their trip down a Route 66 of the mind, a look back through the side view mirror as the motor forward. There’s a cheeky use of the ‘na-na, na, na, na’ as heard on Nothing Last Forever but this time it’s a Fun Lovin’ Criminal and not the not so fun loving Liam Gallagher behind it.




It was just over three years ago that Echo & The Bunnymen released The Stars, The Oceans & The Moon.  The idea, apart from two completely new songs, was to re-record and re-imagine some of their best-known older material, primarily leaning on strings, synths and orchestration.  The reviews weren’t that great, and so I gave it a body swerve.

It has stayed that way until a few weeks ago when I, ahem, acquired, a digital copy of the album.

I’ll try and be a bit positive by saying that a couple of the new versions are interesting, if a bit clichéd, almost as if they’ve been done with one eye on being picked up by the folk compiling the soundtrack to a Hollywood movie or as mood music as the credits roll on the latest episode of a ‘must-see’ TV series.

Overall, however, the album is a real letdown, not only failing to add anything genuinely appealing to some great songs but going beyond that and somehow making something that was previously good become something that borders on the criminal.

The opening notes of album opener Bring On The Dancing Horses sound as if it’s about to be sung by John Shuttleworth.

Lips Like Sugar is like a version you’d find on an old Top of The Pops budget album where the session musicians came in for the original players.  Well, that was my view on first hearing….later listens made me think it was Coldplay covering the Bunnymen.

And please, just spare us The Cutter.  It’s an absolute shocker, with all the originality replaced by a pub band.

Two songs do save it from being thrown into the recycle bin.

mp3: Echo & The Bunnymen – Zimbo (transformed)
mp3: Echo & The Bunnymen – The Killing Moon (transformed)

I give the former pass marks for the fact that they take a song which had been a tour de force thanks to the drumming of the late Pete de Freitas, and strip it back to not much more than a vocal and electric guitar/piano. It’s something which many bands, such as Arab Strap and The Twilight Sad, do very well in the live environment, and Zimbo is one that I’d very much like to hear done that way in an intimate environment.

The Killing Moon is such an epic song that the only way it could have been transformed was in a totally stripped back way.  It does suffer from Mac’s voice no longer being the powerful tool it was in the mid 80s. And yes, it has that soundtrack feel to it, but pop and rock stars have got to make a crust in any way possible these days.  But despite all this, it is one that I’ve been able to listen to on repeated occasions without hitting any fast-forward buttons.

I make no apologies for not offering you the opportunity to listen today to some of the ones that I think stink the place out.  You’re all smart enough to go digging elsewhere and find them for yourselves.



Album: Porcupine – Echo & The Bunnymen
Review: NME, 22 January 1983
Author: Barney Hoskyns

Perhaps it was inevitable, even decreed in some heaven up “there”. Maybe it’s just the third time unlucky. But if Porcupine isn’t good it isn’t because it lets you down. It fails, aggressively and bitterly it fails.

Porcupine is the distressing occasion of an important and exciting rock group becoming ensnared by its own strongest points, a dynamic force striving fruitlessly to escape the brilliant track that trails behind it.

Out of confusion or compulsion, the Bunnymen in Porcupine are turning on their own greatest “hits” and savaging them. In the name of what – pain? doubt? – Heaven Up Here said Yes We Have No Dark Things; now every former whisper of sickness returns in full volume. What one hears is a group which cannot flee its own echo. Porcupine is obviously deficient in vital unquantifiables but it’s just as obviously obsessive in its refusal of them. One feels it is the painful struggle to begin anew – and not from ashes either – that has determined the profound stasis, the agonising frustration of this record.

From the very beginning, the single ‘The Cutter’, Porcupine uses all the group’s key hooks, all the inimitable beats and bridges of ‘Crocodiles’ and ‘Heaven’, but ruthlessly strips them of the fervour that has so often bristled this reviewer’s quills. For starters, commercially ‘The Cutter’ isn’t so much as lined up for the TOTP race. Apart from an exaggeratedly Bowiesque bridge passage – a pastiche of ‘Heroes’ – the song (which may or may not be concerned with death’s scythe) is hopelessly lacking in the poppy intensity of ‘The Back Of Love’. And aside from the sitar introduction (which like the Bowie interlude crops up again in ‘Heads Will Roll’) the sound is striking only in its ordinariness.

Most people would have taken the chords of ‘The Back Of Love’ at half the speed the Bunnymen do. I thought it one of 1982’s best crude blowouts but it has little to do with Porcupine and sticks out almost obtrusively as an isolated moment of affirmation. From thereon-in, the album is non-stop anxiety. The remaining eight songs are really one long staggered obsequy to Heaven Up Here.

To begin with, Ian McCulloch’s poetry has grown oppressively more vague and difficult, although (again) you wonder whether simpler musical frameworks might not have inspired simpler, more direct lyrics. I’d like to think ‘My White Devil’ was a song of obsession and cruelty, but its opening lines rather dampen one’s enthusiasm: “John Webster was one of the best there was/He was the author of two major tragedies…” Very succinctly put, but what the intention behind this bald statement is I haven’t the faintest clue. One great moment rears up out of the “mist of error” when the song’s sense of panic rises to a claustrophobic climax of overlapping voices only to fall back into the lifeless refrain it escaped, but this is not enough to salvage the song in one’s memory. If I could make out more of what McCulloch was singing I’d probably unearth a few extra burial metaphors from ‘The Duchess Of Malfior’ (sic).

‘Clay’ continues in the same vein, with another torture-chamber opening and a discordant clash between Mac’s diffident vocal and Sargeant’s guitar twisting below like a knife in the stomach. But as we hit lines like “When I fell apart, I wasn’t made of sand/When you came apart, clay crumbled in my hand”, or “oh isn’t it nice, when your heart is made out of ice?”, the Jacobean psychedelia gets a little heavy-handed.

It’s as though the group had denied itself the luxury of simplicity, of what they perhaps take to be some too transparent “power” of rock. The firmly grounded structures of ‘Show Of Strength’ and ‘With A Hip’ are subverted, undermined by melodies that, like Webster’s “ship in a black storm”, know not whither they go. This Echo is less upfront, shorn of its poise and confidence. Ian Broudie’s production introduces more background activity – more keyboard, more percussive embellishment; in place of synthesisers, warped, sliding strings recall The White Album or Their Satanic Majesties Request; grating, ghostly effects hearken back to Walter Carlos’s ‘Clockwork Orange’; guitars backfire as though in a fit. Yet while all these random contingencies are part of the same drive to transcend, they succeed only in calling attention to that drive’s failure: the songs themselves remain fundamentally dead.

Only on ‘Porcupine’ itself do the various strains of despair coalesce. A kind of ‘All My Colours’ on a bad trip, its final exhausted throes are as draining (and as moving) as the bleakest moments of ‘Hex Enduction Hour’ but devoid of The Fall’s humour: just a voice crying against nothing, a beat banging on into the void. As the sound fades into darkness, a slight voice claims to have “seen the light”.

“Missing the point of our mission” , sings McCulloch dolefully, “will we become misshapen?” – the somewhat forced alliteration aside, that is probably the most candidly revealing line on the record. But if the song ‘Porcupine’ is the most shockingly dispirited thing Echo And The Bunnymen have ever done, Side Two horrifies the more for its uniform lack of inspiration, for the fact that every number cops direct from earlier songs without preserving anything of their energy or invention. Traits such as Mac’s trick of singing a line in one octave and then repeating it in a higher one have become stale and predictable trademarks.

Webster’s worms may wriggle in the intestines of these songs but to the ear it is music which sounds destitute of first-hand feeling. ‘Heads Will Roll’ commences like a Mamas And Papas drug song before plunging like ‘The Cutter’ into an enervated echo of Bowie. “If we ever met in a private place” , sings Mac, referring perhaps to Andrew Marvell’s “fine and private place” (i.e. the grave), “I would stare you into the ground/That’s how I articulate…” So now you know. Another very probable lit. ref. lies in ‘Ripeness’ (Porcupine’s bloodletting of ‘A Promise’), this time to Keats and King Lear, as in the bursting of Joy’s grape, men enduring their going hence as their coming hither, etc. “How will we recall the ripeness when it’s over?” Is McCulloch’s plaintive phrasing of the theme, but since this song has already burst its skin one might almost read it as a lament for the loss of the group’s own ripeness.

‘Higher Hell’, ‘Gods Will Be Gods’, and ‘In Bluer Skies’ drift yet further into a subliminal state of suspension whose every measure has already been worn to the bone (“bones will be bones” , goes ‘Gods’). “Just like my lower heaven, you know so well my higher hell” . Here it’s all but confessed that what was once their heaven has turned into a hellish mire of their own making, the damnation of a style from which they cannot break free. They can only struggle from side to side, wearing away what was once a perfectly fit abode for their sound.

Porcupine takes the Bunnymen as far as beyond the Doors-meet-Television happy death pop of ‘Crocodiles’ as is either conceivable or desirable. It makes ‘All That Jazz’ and ‘Villiers Terrace’ look like nursery rhymes. I wonder if they’ll ever again write such a formidable youth song as ‘Pride’: that marvellous probing of the rock quartet’s limits, that rich, vigorous economy, all that may have gone for good.

Did they perhaps always mistake their hell for a heaven, or is this album, originally titled “Higher Hell”, the conscious obverse of Heaven Up Here? Are their deaths too high or did they aim too low?

Porcupine groans behind bars, an animal trapped by its own defences. Where the Banshees, always in danger of the same stagnation, can still amaze with a ‘Cocoon’ or a ‘Slowdive’, Echo And The Bunnymen are stuck in their grooves, polarised between ‘Pornography’ and ‘Movement’. They must haul themselves out. Instead of panicking at the approach of doubt they must celebrate it. To Mac must I say, as was said to the Duchess herself, “End your groan and come away.”

JC adds…….

It’s fair enough to argue that Porcupine is a lesser album than Crocodiles or Heaven Up Here, but this is a ridiculous hatchet job from the then 23-year-old Barney Hoskyns whose career as a music writer was beginning to take off. Would you be surprised to hear that he entered the profession on the back of a first-class honours degree in English from Oxford University?   He certainly uses enough big words and the confidence in his views and opinions ooze from each barbed paragraph.

It’s another example of the music press turning on a former darling(s) for having the cheek to seek out mainstream success by penning hit singles and bringing in a new producer to add a bit of pop sprinkle to the sound.  The band did have the last laugh, with Porcupine hitting #2 in the charts (still their best success in that regard), and spawning two top 20 hit singles, as well as laying the foundations for the release of Never Stop, a non-album single which also went Top 20.  Oh, and the NME in its critics poll at the end of the year had it the album at #32….I’m assuming Mr Hoskyns had his dissent recorded in the minutes of the meeting.

My own reaction back in 1983 was that Porcupine was a bit of a strange beast.  The Cutter and The Back of Love remain two of the most definitive songs from the whole decade by any singer or band, but other than Heads Will Roll (and perhaps Clay to a lesser extent) none of the other eight tracks on the album are really anything like them.  That’s not to say that they felt truly disappointing or second-rate, but the difficulty is that the quality of the songs on the first two albums had been so high that, even with a two-year gap since Heaven Up Here, it was going to be very tough to keep such high standards.

I could go on, dissecting the review on a line-by-line basis, but I’ll leave it there, taking comfort in the knowledge that the ‘build ’em up, knock ’em down culture’ on show here has always been part of the cultural landscape in the UK and often is a knee-jerk reaction from snobs who hate commercial success.

I picked up a second-hand copy of Porcupine a few months ago – it was an album that a flatmate had bought on the day of its release and I never got round to buying my own copy, although it would become an early CD purchase in later years.  These are from the vinyl:-

mp3: Echo & The Bunnymen – Clay
mp3: Echo & The Bunnymen – Gods Will Be Gods
mp3: Echo & The Bunnymen – Heads Will Roll
mp3: Echo & The Bunnymen – In Bluer Skies

The thing is, having got the vinyl and given it a spin, I found myself actually enjoying the album much more than I did back in 1983…..but then again, that was a year when The Smiths, Aztec Camera, Orange Juice, Altered Images, Elvis Costello & The Attractions, The Style Council, The Go-Betweens, New Order, The Cure Billy Bragg, PiL, The The, Cocteau Twins, The Fall and Paul Haig, to name but a few, released immense singles and/or albums, so it was a crowded market with very few records on repeated play…especially in a shared flat!



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.





I’ve been inspired to write this as a belated (by one day) birthday gift to my friend JJ, and on account of her going absolutely bonkers on Facebook in the aftermath of Echo & the Bunnnymen playing in Glasgow in early August. She was full of lust and longing, advising anyone who tuned in that she would ‘happily be Ian McCulloch’s slave – sexual stuff, tea and biscuits, anything he fancies really’ while dragging her friend into the conversation by saying she could have ‘sloppy seconds’. Given that she is normally such a quiet and fairly reserved person, certainly any time I’m ever in her company, then I thought I must have missed the gig of the century. But talking to a couple of other folk who were also there, it seems it was a decent enough night but not close to the heights they hit back in the 80s (as recalled in this previous post).

The previous Bunnymen ICA was composed at 35,000 feet as I crossed the Atlantic en route to Canada. This is being written up as what seems like the entire Atlantic has fallen on Glasgow these past few weeks.

Just so that you know, none of the songs on Vol. 1 were allowed in this time, so there’s no space for Show of Strength, Never Stop, The Killing Moon, Zimbo, A Promise, Heads Will Roll, Over The Wall, All That Jazz, The Cutter or Ocean Rain. Nevertheless, there’s still loads of room for another ten songs of quality and distinction – all of which have been taken from the period when at least three of Ian, Les, Will and Pete were involved.

Side One

1. Rescue

Seriously, I didn’t squeeze this in last time round? Maybe it was early evidence of me losing my way, losing my touch or whatever. But I hope you sympathise…..

The band’s second single and it took them to the outer reaches of the pop charts in reaching #62 in May 1980. That’s coming up for 40 years ago. FFS……………………………….

2. Thorn of Crowns

Cucumbers, cabbages, cauliflowers, men on mars and April Showers. I’m still not sure how a long-forgotten Scottish duo from the 80s, who released just the one magnificent single before disintegrating, found their way into the lyrics from one of the highlights of Ocean Rain, released in 1984.

Oh and for what it’s worth, Bunnymac has had a laugh at everyone who tried at the time to throw some light on what the song was about. He was fed up with his lyrics being dissected and analysed constantly, so he decided to come up with something fairly nonsensical wrapped around a more typical lyric and sit back to see what was written about it. The critics couldn’t help themselves and had a go at him for dumbing things down…..

3. Paint It Black (live)

The first ICA featured a live track – Zimbo – which was taken from the b-side of the 12” of The Cutter and was the live rendition of the track All My Colours as played at the WOMAD Festival in 1982, accompanied by the The Royal Burundi Drummers.

This time round, it’s just the band, as captured a their absolute peak with a show in Gothenburg in April 1985 that was broadcast on Swedish national radio. The cover of the Rolling Stones track was a staple of the live shows at that time, and I recall being blown away when it was performed at the Glasgow Barrowlands. It took until 1987 before it was commercially available, and even then it was stuck away on the b-side of a limited edition 12” release of People Are Strange, the cover of The Doors song that had been recorded as part of the soundtrack to the film The Lost Boys. Thankfully, it was included within the 4xCD boxset Crystal Days, released by Rhino Records in 2001, which is why I can include it here.

4. Nothing Lasts Forever

The death of Pete de Freitas in 1989 was a game-changer although nobody really admitted it at the time. It does really beggar belief that Will Sargeant and Les Pattinson felt they could release an album in 1990, not only without their drummer but without their charismatic singer on board, and nobody really took the band seriously at the time. McCulloch disparagingly referred to them as Echo and The Bogusmen.

Seven years on and everyone had kissed and made up. And just before the Britpop bubble finally and inevitably burst, they pulled off a comeback that seemed impossible, thanks to a more than decent set of songs on the album Evergreen, all of which were preceded by the single that took them, deservedly, back into the Top 10 for the first time in more than thirteen years. Many young kids hadn’t ever heard of Echo & the Bunnymen, thinking they were just the latest in a long time of newly emerging British groups coming along in the wake of Blur, Oasis, Pulp etc. re-igniting a love for and interest in guitar-led pop songs. They were the very lucky ones who could then go and explore the back catalogue while the rest of looked in the mirror, despairing that we could no longer do much with our hair, that our raincoats no longer matched our chest sizes and our black jeans were stupidly tight around the waist (assuming you could get them over your thighs). Nothing lasts forever indeed……………

5. Crocodiles

Seriously, I didn’t squeeze this in last time round? Well, I’ve done it now, so I’m all smiles.

Side Two

1. Seven Seas

Many years ago, I had a conversation with a friend during which I moaned that Seven Seas was one of my least favourite Bunnymen 45s on the grounds that it was untypically fluffy and disposable. My friend then asked why it was that I had no such issues with The Lovecats, a track which is unarguably even more untypically fluffy and disposable than anything else released, at least to the point in time the discussion was taking place, by The Cure.

My response that the latter was great fun to listen to and so obviously had its tongue in its cheek was met with a look of disbelief accompanied by the one-word answer as a question – ‘And?’

I had painted myself into a corner, more or less admitting that the music snob in me had dismissed a great bit of pop on the grounds that one of my favourite bands shouldn’t lower themselves in such ways. All of which led to a fresh appraisal of Seven Seas and all these years later, coming to the conclusion that it would make a great opener for side 2 of ICA 2.

2. The Back of Love

The critical acclaim for Heaven Up Here (1981) was huge, with NME naming it album of the year, and this was in an era when such things were incredibly important. Funnily enough, it was the album which made manager Bill Drummond despair as he identified immediately that the band was heading in a direction he didn’t like, ready to make music that would be embraced by the masses.

Things were relatively quiet in 1982 other than the release of what felt like a stand-alone single, one that took the band into the higher end of the charts at #19 and very much increased their public profile. It’s a fabulous few minutes of music, and my only excuse in not including it the previous ICA was a lack of room.

3. With A Hip

I hadn’t realised, until doing a wee bit of research for today, that Heaven Up Here enabled the Bunnymen to enjoy a Top 10 album in the UK far earlier than either Simple Minds or U2, both of whom would hoover up huge audiences as the decade unfolded. As mentioned above, Bill Drummond was concerned about the potential direction that the music was taking and he soon bailed out. But here’s my theory was to why the Bunnymen never became arena/stadium gods.

Anthemic tunes need anthemic, sing-a-long lyrics, preferably around a catchy chorus. Nobody really wants to stand among 10,000 plus like-minded souls and sing about stealing bananas from the grocer’s shop.

If I ruled the world, I would make it compulsory for With A Hip to be aired at all indie-discos. It’s impossible not to want to dance to it in a way that you end up throwing your arms and legs into shapes and arrangements that will, for those of us in our advanced years, lead to a visit to the physio the next morning to get things put back in place.

4. Evergreen

The 1997 comeback album sold really well, going Top 10 on the week of its release. The interesting thing, a few years later, is that I began to see a fair number of copies for sale in charity shops for nothing more than a few pennies. As I mentioned above, the comeback coincided with a time when Britpop was about to be no more, with the main cause of death being the failure of Oasis to meet expectations with the release of Be Here Now.

Five or so years later, and I reckon a lot of folk, having decided to dismiss the majority of music from the era as having no little artistic merit or monetary value just scooped up a lot of CDs and gave them away. Evergreen didn’t deserve such a fate – okay, there wasn’t anything else as outstanding as the comeback single, but there were more than a few very listenable numbers to be found on the album, including this, the title track.

5. Villiers Terrace

A location in which people roll around on carpets, bite wool, pull string and mix up medicine. Mac had been told all these things but when he got there are saw it with his own eyes, he couldn’t quite believe it. Mind you, it didn’t stop him drinking some of the mixed-up medicine and to his horror finding that, in addition to it being of dubious taste, it also left him in a daze for days.

Mac has also claimed that the song has nothing to do with any drugs den in Liverpool and that the lyric was inspired by Hitler going mad in his bunker at the end of WW2. And still there’s folk who still argue that ingesting acid does no harm……

One of the band’s oldest and most loved tunes. It also displays the influence of The Doors, albeit it’s a wonky almost out of tune piano that’s used to great effect rather than a vintage organ as deployed by Ray Manzarek. Any other band of the era would have killed to have written something as majestic as this and would have, without question, released it as a single. The Bunnymen were content to stick it away on the second side of the debut album while I’ll bags it as the closer this time round.




I never bought this single. I have no idea why not as I’ve just about every other 12″ release by the band from this era. I reckon it was down to a combination being a bit skint in January 1984 and the fact that it had been bought by one of my flatmates. It certainly was a big failing on my part as the lack of purchase eliminated it from eligibility for the 45 45s at 45 series.

The thing is, I never thought about picking up a second-hand version either as I had already picked up the extended version and the live b-side when I bought the Crystal Days boxset a few years back while the album version was of course available via Ocean Rain.

Except…….I was looking at a copy on Discogs and noticed (in a rather sad anoraky sort of way) that Do It Clean on the 12″ vinyl of The Killing Moon was marginally shorter in length than that on CD4 of Crystal Days. My interest was piqued and so I looked closer – the vinyl version was from the Royal Albert Hall in London on 18 July 1983 while the CD version was on 19 July 1983.  And having now listened to both of them, there are a small number of differences in the recordings.

All of which brings me to offering up, even though they have been on the blog before, all of the three tracks on a very special record that came inside, as you can see from above, a fabulous sleeve:-

mp3 : Echo & The Bunnymen – The Killing Moon (All Night Version)
mp3 : Echo & The Bunnymen – The Killing Moon
mp3 : Echo & The Bunnymen – Do It Clean (live, Royal Albert Hall, 18 July 1983)

The live version incorporates vocal elements of a few other songs as the band demonstrate just what a tour de force they were in the live setting at that point in time.




This piece was inspired by a recent lengthy article written by Bill Drummond, penned in the aftermath of the death of Pete Burns. I’ve never hidden my admiration for the author believing him to be a true genius whose contribution to arts, music and culture won’t really be appreciated until long after he’s no longer with us; this latest piece of writing (click here) is up there with his best.

It was the fact that he mentioned the one-off band in the photo accopanying the article were playing Paint It Black that jogged my memory and got me thinking back to a gig played by Echo & The Bunnymen at Glasgow Barrowlands in December 1985 for they ended what I’ve long considered to be as great a live performance as I’ve ever seen with a rendition of the Rolling Stones number.

More than 30 years on and I’ve often wondered what exactly it was that made that particular gig so special. I know that some of it would have been the fact that I was there on a date with a girl who I had long been besotted with and that she too was a big fan of the Bunnymen. We had a great time but we didn’t see each other again for a few weeks as the gig was just a couple of days before Xmas and we both had plans to spend time with our families in separate parts of Scotland and being an era well before the likes of mobile phones, the cost of longish distance phone calls was something we kept to a minimum. In the end, we went out just one more time in early 1986, both realising it would be better to stay friends than fuck things up completely.

So it’s not entirely the memory of a short-lived romance that makes this gig a highlight. I’ve always thought that it was down to the majestic nature of the set, combined with the fact the band were probably at their peak and that it was in the best music venue known to mankind anywhere on the planet. That and the fact that I was blown away by the fact they did such a storming final encore of Paint It Black before sending us all home.

There’s folk who now collate set lists from gigs of way back and put them on the internet. I’ve dug in and looked up that Barrowlands gig. It turns out to have been the final gig the band played that year and it was on Sunday 22 December and so they were obviously determined to go out in some style. The full set list is evidence:-

Going Up
With a Hip
Heads Will Roll
My Kingdom
Lips Like Sugar
Villiers Terrace
All That Jazz
The Back of Love
Ocean Rain
Seven Seas
The Killing Moon
Bedbugs and Ballyhoo
Angels and Devils
The Cutter
Never Stop
Thorn of Crowns
Do It Clean
Over the Wall
Paint It Black

It’s almost as if I’d been asked to come up with a set list of my own and the band played it there and then. I just know that it was a gig where I didn’t stop dancing from the first minute to the last, all the while trying to look cool and dignified for the goddess I was next to. And probably failing – after all, when Pete De Freitas was in the house, none of the rest of us stood a chance.

I know that on many an occasion over the past 31 years I have come away from a gig believing immediately afterwards that it is the best I’ve been to; but by the time the following morning comes around and I’ve replayed it in my head and compared it to that 1985 night in the Barrowlands it then just comes up marginally close but not quite good enough.

The one funny thing about the night is that over the years I’ve tended to be able to recall something about the support acts at the countless gigs I’ve been at but I’ve a total blank on that particular evening. It may well have been I didn’t get along in time but that’s unlikely as anyone who knows me will testify that I always insist on seeing the support act ‘just in case they are any good’. It is simply the fact that the Bunnymen that night blew everything else out of the water.

mp3 : Echo & The Bunnymen – Angels and Devils (live, 1985)
mp3 : Echo & The Bunnymen – Crocodiles (live, 1985)
mp3 : Echo & The Bunnymen – Paint It Black (live, 1985)

Sadly, not from the Glasgow gig, but lifted from the Crystal Days box set and a set played on 25 April in Gothenburg, Sweden where the band acted as their own support by playing a set of ten cover versions before coming back on and playing their own stuff.

Listen in particular to Crocodiles which comes in at a storming 6 mins plus which is more than twice the length of the studio version. It was, in those days, that way for Mac to ad-lib all sorts of lyrics and for the band to really go for it and get the crowd going crazy towards the end of sets.




Seven Seas was the third single to be lifted from the LP Ocean Rain. It came out in July 1984 and reached #16 in the UK singles chart, giving Echo and The Bunnymen their fifth Top 20 hit, but what would be their last until the 1997 comeback 45 Nothing Lasts Forever.

I was initially nonplussed by Seven Seas. I always thought it an OK song if a little bit lightweight, albeit it fitted in well with the rest of the album. I remember getting annoyed at the time by the promo video and Top of the Pops appearance as the band goofed around in costumes and seemed to be trying just a bit to hard to deal with press criticism that they were a bit po-faced and nothing but gloom merchants.

Some 25 years later I had the good fortune to hear Seven Seas played at an indie-night over a very expensive sound system and that’s when it really hit home just how majestic the production is. The lyrics might be nonsensical but the playing and the arrangement is well worth repeated listens. Oh and that night also brought a sharp reminder that it’s a cracking tune to dance to.

mp3 : Echo and The Bunnymen – Seven Seas

I bought the 12″ version back in the day as it had four live acoustic tracks as recorded at Liverpool Cathedral for a very unique Channel 4 programme called Play At Home.  The songs capture a shambling, drugged-out but utterly brilliant band in action:-

mp3 : Echo and The Bunnymen – All You Need Is Love (live)
mp3 : Echo and The Bunnymen – The Killing Moon (live)
mp3 : Echo and The Bunnymen – Stars Are Stars (live)
mp3 : Echo and The Bunnymen – Villiers Terrace (live)

Play At Home was a series in which bands of the day were invited to make their own 48 minute films capturing them at work.  The Bunnymen, no doubt advised by the nutty genius of Bill Drummond instead decided to focus on a cafe which was near Eric’s Club in Liverpool, owned and run by an ex-boxer and his family, with band performances thrown in.

And as much as I hate google for what they did to the old blog, you tube is a godsend at times.  Here’s that TV stuff from 1984, in three parts:-





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



This one was composed at a cruising altitude of 35,000 feet initially above the Atlantic Ocean and latterly over the north-east corner of Canada as the plane headed ever closer to the city of Toronto.  The headphones were plugged into the i-phone and as I went through the songs I typed the words into its ‘Notes’ function from which I later did a cut’n’paste and edit.

Echo and the Bunnymen are still going strong these days, thirty-seven years on from their original formation. Well half of them are at least…..

They’ve made a lot of great music in that time but they’ve also released a fair bit of stuff that hasn’t quite hit the mark which, to be fair, is a sentiment that can be applied to almost any act which has been going for that amount of time.  I don’t think it will come as too much of a surprise to find that what I consider to be the perfect compilation focuses entirely on the early 80s when they were at the peak of their powers and could do no wrong.


1. Show of Strength (from the LP Heaven Up Here, 1981)

Dark, brooding, intense yet ridiculously danceable….especially if you’re wearing your raincoat and the main shapes you’re throwing involving the shaking of shoulders. The opening track to what I consider their best album was always going to be the first song on this compilation.

2. Never Stop (Discotheque) (12″ single, 1982)

You’re on the dance floor and you’ve got those shoulders nice ‘n’ loose by now. Well let’s see those hips sway and while you’re at it get the arms swinging above your head. The band put the word Discotheque in brackets after this one. Years later Bono and his boys pinched both the title and the tune in an effort to prove they were a meaningful and relevant musical act.

3. The Killing Moon (single and track on the LP Ocean Rain, 1984)

The sound of three musicians and a vocalist at the very top of their game with a song that in 50 or 100 years time will still have the ability to make those hearing it for the first time stop in their tracks and go ‘wow’.

It’s little wonder that Mac the Mouth came out of the studio on the back of this and declared that Ocean Rain was the greatest album of all time. It isn’t….and indeed as I’ve already indicated it’s not even the greatest Bunnymen album but I think it’s fair to say that this is the greatest Bunnymen song. But how do you follow it????

4. Zimbo (b-side, 1983)

Released originally as All My Colours but re-named with the one-word chorus when this stunning live version was put on the b-side of the 12″ of The Cutter.  The recording is taken from was a show at one of the earliest WOMAD Festivals back in 1982 which explains why the Royal Drummers of Burundi happened to be in Bath at the same time. It’s an incredible arrangement for a one-off collaboration and is the perfect demonstration of the fantastic arranging and drumming talents of the late and great Pete de Freitas.

5. A Promise (single and track on the LP Heaven Up Here, 1981)

If Postcard could claim to be the Sound of Young Scotland then those who came to prominence through Zoo Records are entitled to claim the same crown for Young Liverpool. This particular single could easily have been written and recorded by Wylie, Cope or The Wild Swans and it would have been equally majestic. Will Sargeant teased a ridiculous amount of stunning sounds from his guitar over these damn near perfect four minutes.


1. Heads Will Roll (from the LP Porcupine, 1983)

Critics of the band feel they got a long way on the back of one tune and one groove. But the thing is, when the tune and the groove is this divine why quibble? Yes, you might initially think this is ridiculously close to bring just a speeded up version of the track which closed the other side of this imaginary album but wait till you hit the two minute mark and get blown away by the psychedelic instrumental break…it’s still incredible to think that much of this album was written and recorded at a time when the band weren’t really on speaking terms.  Much of the sound can of course be attributed to a guest musician mentioned a little later on…

2. Over The Wall (from the LP Heaven Up Here, 1981)

The fade in and slow build-up lulls you into a false sense of security that this is going to be a bit of a non-event. But then comes the catchiness of the simple chorus before Will’s attack on your aural senses and you realise that you’re listening to gothic atmospheric rock at its very finest.

3. All That Jazz (from the LP Crocodiles, 1980)

And now you’re listening to indie guitar pop at its very finest, all the while jumping back on that dance floor for a bop…..or two….

4. The Cutter (single and track on the LP Porcupine, 1983)

……for with this piece of glory blaring out over the speakers nobody will want to vacate their spot under the glitter ball.  In 1983 I was convinced the band really were going to conquer the world for the simple fact that they not only made great records but they delivered what were blisteringly hot live shows….literally when the majority of the audience refused to remove their overcoats.  The sweat pours out of you when you wear an overcoat to a gig.  It’s the contribution of the Indian musician Shankar that really sets this single apart as can be evidenced if you listen to the original version which was rejected by the record label as being too uncommercial.

5. Ocean Rain (LP track, 1984)

When this track first aired as part of a John Peel session in late 1983, it was a medium-paced but hugely enjoyable bit of indie-pop.  Somewhere over the ensuing months the band came to the conclusion that it would make for an epic ballad with which they should close their next LP.  It was a stroke of genius as it became the perfect ending to an album that had often taken you to very unexpected places with acoustic guitars, lush orchestrations and the frequent use of brushes on the drums, even on the fast and wonderfully explosive Thorn of Crowns, a track which just missed out on being part of today’s feature. And if Ocean Rain was the perfect end to that very album then I’d like to think it is equally the perfect end to the 40th Imaginary Compilation.

mp3 : Echo and The Bunnymen – Show of Strength
mp3 : Echo and The Bunnymen – Never Stop (Discotheque)
mp3 : Echo and The Bunnymen – The Killing Moon
mp3 : Echo and The Bunnymen – Zimbo
mp3 : Echo and The Bunnymen – A Promise
mp3 : Echo and The Bunnymen – Heads Will Roll
mp3 : Echo and The Bunnymen – Over The Wall
mp3 : Echo and The Bunnymen – All That Jazz
mp3 : Echo and The Bunnymen – The Cutter
mp3 : Echo and The Bunnymen – Ocean Rain

and just because I mentioned them earlier in passing:-

mp3 : Echo and The Bunnymen – The Original Cutter
mp3 : Echo and The Bunnymen – Ocean Rain (Peel Session)




This is some of what Bill Drummond wrote in August 1990 when The Zoo – Uncaged 1978-1982 was released finally bringing together all the various singles and most of the b-sides:-

We had one room up some dark, dirty stairs. We paid six pounds a week rent. We had one phone and an answer machine which we played all our cassettes on. We believed albums were the downfall of GREAT POP MUSIC. Although The Beatles were the greatest group ever, “Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” was a disastrous wrong turn that pop music is yet to recover from.

Big In Japan were a group that I and David (Balfe) had been in. It split in August 1978 and we put out the band’s demos as our first release. We were seem to be ripping off other ex-members. From that point in we were deemed unethical, underhand and undeserved of the ‘premier Liverpool independent label’ reputattion that grew around us.

Other than Expelaires, which was the only other Zoo record not to sell, we made the descision to get involved with a group based on their choice of name alone. We had no idea what sort of nusic Echo & The Bunnymen played before we went in to make their first records.

We fought and quarrelled with the bands, memebers got sacked and others brought in. We drove around the country in David’s Dad’s car with boxes of records, sleeving them and selling them. There was no independent distribution network in 1979.

Due to a lack of finances we signed The Bunnymen and The Teardrops to major labels and took on the role of managers, something we had no idea about. Our plans for the future were to build giant pyramids out of ice, travel space and make movies. We believed The Teardrops and The Bunnymen were the new Beatles and Stones – We were wrong, nothing is ever the new anything.

We burnt out.

But the last single on the label was the greatest.

I thought it would be an idea to kick off 2015 with each of the nine singles in turn:-

Cage 001


mp3 : Big In Japan – Nothing Special
mp3 : Big In Japan – Cindy and The Barbi Dolls
mp3 : Big In Japan – Suicide A Go Go
mp3 : Big In Japan – Taxi

Cage 002


mp3 : Those Naughty Lumps – Iggy Pop’s Jacket
mp3 : Those Naughty Lumps – Pure and Innocent

Cage 003


mp3 : The Teardrop Explodes – Sleeping Gas
mp3 : The Teardrop Explodes – Camera Camera
mp3 : The Teardrop Explodes – Kirkby Workers Dream Fades

Cage 004


mp3 : Echo & The Bunnymen – The Pictures On My Wall
mp3 : Echo & The Bunnymen – Read It In Books

Cage 005


mp3 : The Teardrop Explodes – Bouncing Babies
mp3 : The Teardrop Explodes – All I Am Is Loving You

Cage 006


mp3 : Lori & The Chameleons – Touch
mp3 : Lori & The Chameleons – Love On The Ganges

Cage 007

R-195304-1163734071.jpegR-195304-1163734118.jpegR-195304-1163734173.jpeg R-195304-1163734225.jpeg

mp3 : Expelaires – To See You
mp3 : Expelaires – Frequency

Cage 008

R-495690-1125304292.jpg R-495690-1171212520.jpegR-495690-1171212541.jpegR-495690-1171212560.jpeg

mp3 : The Teardrop Explodes – Treason (It’s Just A Story)
mp3 : The Teardrop Explodes – Read It In Books

Cage 009


mp3 : The Wild Swans – Revolutionary Spirit
mp3 : The Wild Swans – God Forbid

The last of these singles was on 12″ vinyl while the rest were all 7″. And Bill D is of course spot-on in his assessment that Cage 009 was the greatest of the lot. (I know my dear friend Dirk from Sexy Loser thinks so…..)

Happy New Year Folks



I received a really nice e-mail the other day from Scott who asked if it would be possible to re-post something from the old blog.

It was a piece from 14 June 2009 and it’s title can be found in the first line……


I cannot believe it was all of 20 years ago…..but it is.

14th June 1989 when the life of Peter Louis Vincent de Freitas ended as the result of a motorcycle accident.

He was 27 years of age. And he was the first dead pop star I ever shed a tear for.

Born in 1961 in Trinidad, Pete de Freitas was a bit of a posh boy, educated at a famous Roman Catholic public school near Bath, England, and while he was far from dim, he was never keen on pursing an academic career. So by the age of 19, he was living in London, sharing digs with another lad from his old school, and both of them dreaming of forming a band.

Pete’s flatmate had a big brother who was involved in the music industry, part of an ever-growing new scene on Liverpool. That big brother and his close mate started staying overnight at Pete’s place whenever any of the bands they were involved with played in London. Pete would sometimes go along to the gigs, which is what he did one August night in 1979.

Pete’s flatmate’s brother was David Balfe, and his mate was Bill Drummond. The band they took Pete to see at the YMCA on Tottenham Court Road was Echo & The Bunnymen – a three-piece act backed by a drum machine. The drum machine was in fact ‘Echo’, the humans were ‘The Bunnymen’ – Ian McCulloch (vocals), Les Pattinson (bass) and Will Sargeant (guitar)

The band were getting a lot of attention, but it was widely felt that they would sound a lot better with a real drummer. Within 12 months of seeing them for the first time, Pete had that gig, just in time for the recording of the band’s second single, but their first for a major label.

From 1980 – 1986, Echo & The Bunnymen were one of the most entertaining bands on the entire planet. All four band members contributed to the songwriting, which showed in the magnificently tight unit that was the guitarist, bassist and drummer, while up front they had a hugely charismatic singer who was not slow in offering his opinions on any subject under the sun. They attracted a huge following, many of whom dressed in identical clothes and wore their hair in the same way as their idols. They enjoyed Top 30 success with seven of their singles, but it was their LPs which found them at their best, all four of them going Top 10.

Live, they were truly electrifying, with shows that stretched out for well over two hours featuring not just the hits, but great and unusual versions of album tracks as well as a handful of covers from many of their own influences.

Many people associated with the band, not least their larger than life manager and the frontman had predicted massive things for the 1984 LP Ocean Rain. And while it sold in impressive numbers, it didn’t conquer the world….

The band began to drift apart in some ways. First of all, McCulloch recorded a solo single. The others started producing and appearing on records by other bands. And in 1986, Pete de Freitas left the band.

Along with two members of the Bunnymen road crew, he took himself off to the USA to form The Sex Gods. The idea was to take the money he had made from his time as a Bunnyman, head off to places like New York, New Orleans and Jamaica, filming themselves as they went along living a truly hedonistic life. It was a bender to end all benders.

There were drunken rows, drug busts, near fatal car crashes amidst the chaos. Later on Pete de Freitas would admit he was going insane. He was eventually brought back to the UK by Bill Drummond.

He was temporarily replaced as the drummer, but the rest of the band soon realised how much they needed him, and he was allowed to re-join.

Echo & The Bunnymen released an album in 1987 called The Game – this time with very little hyperbole, and although it went to #4 in the UK charts, critical reaction was lukewarm. This time it was singer Ian McCulloch who decided that enough was enough, and he quit in 1988, intent on the solo career.

The other three decided to keep going, on the basis that having failed to really crack America with Mac at the helm, they could maybe succeed with someone different, unlikely as it might seem. The new recruit was Noel Burke, ex-frontman of St Vitus Dance….and someone who sort of looked and sounded like Mac….

The new line up were in rehearsals in Liverpool in June 1989, and Pete de Freitas was on his way there when he crashed his motorcycle on a back road near Rugely in Staffordshire. As I mentioned earlier, he was just 27 years old.

Years later, Les Pattinson in an interview with a music magazine said that he still thought of Pete every day. At his funeral, the three remaining original Bunnymen cried their eyes out….albeit McCulloch could not bring himself to speak to Pattinson and Sergeant for what he considered a betrayal in replacing him as singer.

I remember reading about Pete’s death in a newspaper the next day. My eyes welled up and my throat tightened. The man who I thought was the coolest man on planet pop was no more.

Quite a few years earlier, not far from my school, I had seen a motorcycle accident when the unfortunate rider was hit by a bus whose driver couldn’t have seen him. It was an incident that I hadn’t thought about much since, but it was the vision that flashed before my eyes as I read the paper, and it was something that gave me some sleepless nights over the next few weeks. Even as I type this, I can see that accident from over 30 years ago….all triggered off by the premature and sad death of a pop star.

You’ll see from the photo above that Pete was a good-looking man. He was someone who just about everyone I ever went out with during my years at University would admit to fancying. When you heard about the way he lived his life, you just wanted to be him.

He was only two years older than me. And while I have had a great and memorable almost 46 years on this planet, there’s still a part of me that wishes that I had lived his life for just one day…as long as that day wasn’t June 14th 1989.

R.I.P. Pete de Freitas. I still think of you every time one of your songs comes on my i-pod….

mp3 : Echo & The Bunnymen – All My Colours
mp3 : Echo & The Bunnymen – Nocturnal Me
mp3 : The Wild Swans – Revolutionary Spirit
mp3 : The Colourfield – Take
mp3 : Echo & The Bunnymen – Do It Clean (live – 1983)


There were a lot of really nice comments left behind after the piece appeared, many of them thanking me for such a heartfelt tribute.

A few months later I received the most wonderful e-mail from Pete’s daughter. Lucie-Marie de Freitas was a very young girl when her father died, of an age before she could develop any memories of him.

Her e-mail explained that the treasure trove of songs, articles and videos have helped her learn so much about her father and the incredible impact he had in his short time on earth. She thought it was remarkable and moving that so many people still remembered him after all those years and she thanked me for the tribute I had made.

Talk about leaving me speechless.




One of the 45s featured in the regular Saturday series on great Scottish singles was this:-

mp3 : April Showers – Abandon Ship

Released to almost complete indifference in 1984, it really is one of the great lost singles of the era.  April Showers was a short-lived Glaswegian pop duo comprising Jonathan Bernstein and Beatrice Colin.

I’m a huge fan of this song. It was the only piece of music the band got round to releasing (other than the b-side!!) . Today is probably now the fifth time I’ve made it available as an mp3 over the past eight years. I was amazed that a few weeks ago the very same Jonathan Bernstein dropped me an e-mail, thanking me for the kind words and asking if I’d be interested in having a read of a book that he had co-authored and which was due for publication in the UK later in the year.

How could I say no?

The 300+ page book in question is called Mad World : An Oral History of New Wave Artists and Songs that defined the 1980s. And it’s very very good……

Jonathan moved to Los Angeles quite a few years ago and is nowadays more widely known thanks to his exploits as a movie screenwriter, author an occasional contributor to magazines and newspapers.  For this particular project he has  hooked up with Lori Majewski, herself a successful music and entertainment writer.

Th authors were inspired to write the book came about after they both read an interview with a well-known 80s musician from the UK in which he had discussed the inspiration, writing and recording of the song, as well as its reception and place in pop history.  If it could be done for this particular song then why not for others which had made such an impact on them as music fans?

Each of the 36 individual chapters begins with an introductory paragraph which puts the artist and song into a broader context – where and how they fit with the rest of the 80s and perhaps any enduring influence they have had on music all these years later. Each of the authors then offer very short pieces expressing their own views on the song or the artist before the pages are turned over to those who matter most – the musicians. This is where the excellent writing skills and styles of the authors shine through – all of the interviews were carried out face-to-face or by e-mail in the classic Q&A style, but they appear on paper as superbly written monologues.

This leads to a consistently entertaining read – no single musician comes across as a pretentious prat nor do the authors leave anyone hanging out to dry (although it should be pointed out that some of the tales highlight how different musicians in the same band see things from different perspectives and you have to draw your own conclusion as to which is the truth and which version is fabricated…..)

It is a book written initially for an American market and so the songs and bands featured will have had to enjoyed a bit of success over there for it to make commercial sense. As such, there’s a number of songs in the book that I am no fan of – and a couple that I’ve never even heard of – but at no time did I feel like ever skipping any of the chapters.

The title is also a wee bit misleading for the songs featured were released between 1978 and 1985, an era which the authors unashamedly say was the Last Golden Age Of Pop. So there’s a lot of great music from the decade missing from the book but those of you with a bent towards great indie or electronic pop will particularly enjoy the chapters on New Order, ABC, Echo & The Bunnymen, Dexy’s Midnight Runners, The Normal, Depeche Mode, Soft Cell, Joy Division, OMD and The Smiths among many others.

What I particularly enjoyed was the authors abilities to look at the 80s in a way which is warts and all and come to the conclusion that it was a time far preferable to nowadays when any semblance of individuality is ridiculed on TV ‘talent’ shows or is then removed by such bland, dull and ultra safe production values designed to appeal to the biggest common denominator.

“Were the artists ridiculous? Was the music overproduced? Was the influence of Bowie ubiquitous to the point of being suffocating? Guilty on all accounts. But it was also an era of imagination, vaulting ambition and incredibly memorable songs.

Mock and ridicule the excesses of the 80s if you want, but don’t try and deny that the stars of the era had personality. They may have been pretentious, pompous and absurd, but it was their own pretension, pomposity and absurdity. They didn’t have to bow their heads and nervously wait for the approval of a jaded record executive on a judging panel. Love or hate them they were their own glorious creations.”

The other great strength of the book is the diverse backgrounds of the two authors.

Majewski is an American who was a teenage music fan in the period concerned with an undiminished passion and love for the likes of Duran Duran and Adam Ant but a huge appreciation of what makes a great indie song – she’s the contributor who likes The Smiths and is not ashamed to admit that she knew nothing of Joy Division until she checked out the original version of the song covered by Paul Young; Bernstein is Scottish, older and, thanks to April Showers, a participant in the era. He claims he is too sour by nature, too uptight and suspicious of emotion to declare himself a fan of anybody, but this enables him to take a dispassionate approach to each singer or band and articulate just how he feels they are worthy of a place in the book – except in the chapter on The Smiths where he simply says ‘Not A Fan’.  But I’m willing to forgive this for all of his other contributions – in particular his words on Simple Minds – where he captures perfectly how all of us who had grown up with them in Glasgow were feeling as they took the USA by storm.

Together they have cooked-up a really good read. One which can be enjoyed in bite-size chunks or devoured ferociously in a single serving….either way it won’t come back on you and leave feeling queasy. Indeed, I suspect it will leave you longing for further servings.

Mad World has been well received by critics and fans alike since its publication in the States back in April. UK readers can pick pre-order copies on-line in advance of its release date next week on Monday 1 September from when It will hopefully be available in all good book stores.

Here’s one of the songs featured in the book in its full extended nine minute plus glory:-

mp3 : Echo and The Bunnymen – The Killing Moon (all night version)



Published by Abrams & Chronicle Books

320 pages : RRP : £12.99




Back in the early 80s,  I spent almost every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night within the student union at Strathclyde University,  I wasn’t a fashionista – I probably had about ten different shirts to choose from (five of which were black) and maybe three pair of jeans (two of which were black). But no matter what clothes were nearest to my skin I never went anywhere without my fabulous olive-coloured raincoat that I’d persuaded my dad to give me….

The raincoat was in homage to Ian McCulloch who I thought was one of the coolest men on the planet.  He, along with his bandmates, always seemed to be photographed wearing some sort of coat although thinking back that’s probably more to do with them insisting their photoshoots take place in the likes of Iceland.

Without fail the student union ‘disco’ would feature at least one Echo & The Bunnymen song during the course of the evening and without fail it was cue for me to get up on the dancefloor and do my thing.  Sad poseur that I was, I inevitably tried to dance while wearing my raincoat.  It might have been draped over a chair or wrapped under a nearby table, but the second a Bunnymen track began to blast out, I’d race to where the coat was and put it on.  I now accept that I must had looked like a dickhead…..

Then in 1983 I saw the video to the new Bunnymen single, and wouldn’t you know it Mac was on the stage of the Albert Hall doing his thing – but without a coat. From that moment on, the raincoat never again was seen on the dancefloor….

All of this came back to me the other day when the single from 1983 came on via shuffle as I sat on a train heading to the football.  I smiled at the memories.  It was also a sharp reminder that it’s a belter of a track:-

mp3 : Echo & The Bunnymen – Never Stop (Discotheque)

That’s the 12″ version which I bought on vinyl at the time and still have all these years later.  The b-sides were a ifferent version of a track that had featured on the 1982 LP Porcupine as well as what I assume is an early demo-type version of what would later become a hit single:-

mp3 : Echo & The Bunnymen – Heads Will Roll (Summer Version)

mp3 : Echo & The Bunnymen – The Original Cutter

I’m very fond of Heads Will Roll, so I thought I’d also add the LP version to this posting.

mp3 : Echo & The Bunnymen – Heads Will Roll

Admit it.  It does make you want to dance.