Ocean Rain, the fourth studio album by Echo and The Bunnymen, was released in May 1984. It reached #4 in the UK charts, while three of its nine tracks were released and became hit singles (The Killing Moon – #9, Silver – #30, and Seven Seas – #16).
The band’s profile was as high as it had ever been, but instead of building on any momentum there was something of a fall-out, with lead singer Ian McCulloch announcing he had plans to embark on a solo career.
I have to admit that I was quite excited by the prospect, not because I was sick and tired of the Bunnymen (far from it in actual fact), but as I really wanted to see what sort of music Mac was intending to make.
If memory serves me correctly, the Channel 4 music programme The Tube trailed that he would be on the show one Friday night and that the video for his debut solo single would receive its world premiere. I sat down to watch, inserting the VHS tape to capture his interview and the promo.
As Half Man Half Biscuit would say many year later in respect of the seaside resort of Westward Ho!……what a letdown. The song was a dirge. It was a cover version of a tune I knew nothing of, although Mac in his interview was very much talking up how much he was a fan of Kurt Weill, whose compositions between the 1920s and his death in 1950 were all the rage.
Being a fan, I still went out and bought it:-
mp3: Ian McCulloch – September Song
It still didn’t make sense to me. I couldn’t make head nor tale of the tune or the lyrics. Maybe Mac thought every Bunnymen fan would rush out to help it race into the charts, but he was wrong, as it stalled outside the Top 50.
It just didn’t appeal one iota to the 21-year old me, and the thing is, almost forty years on, I still have no time for it, but I am wondering if anyone out there had a different take on things.
Oh, and the reason for the title of this posting is really down to the b-side. I saw what it was called and thought, before I gave it a spin, that Mac surely hadn’t turned his attention to a ditty based on an Irish folk song, much beloved among music hall aficionados.
But he was……
mp3: Ian McCulloch – Cockles and Mussels
The muted reaction to the single clearly irked Mac as it would be another five years before he released his next solo material, by which time he had made a very public announcement that his days with the Bunnymen had come to an end.