One of the seminal bands of the Post-Punk/Indie movement of the early 80s, Echo & The Bunnymen are still with us (after a layoff of several years) and still making wonderful music, as is evidenced here during this session for Marc Riley and BBC 6 Music recorded a few days ago. Despite recovering from a bout with the flu, McCulloch and Company handle the rigors of the session with ease.
In case you forgot, or missed them during the early days – here’s a rundown via Wikipedia:
Echo & the Bunnymen formed in Liverpool in 1978. The original line-up consisted of vocalist Ian McCulloch, guitarist Will Sergeant and bassist Les Pattinson, supplemented by a drum machine. By 1980, Pete de Freitas joined as the band’s drummer.
Their 1980 debut album, Crocodiles, went into the top 20 of the UK Albums Chart. After releasing their second album, Heaven Up Here, in 1981, the band’s cult status was followed by mainstream success in 1983, when they scored a UK Top 10 hit with “The Cutter”, and the album which the song came from, Porcupine, hit number 2 in the UK. Ocean Rain (1984), continued the band’s UK chart success with its lead single “The Killing Moon” entering into the top ten..
After releasing a self-titled album in 1987, McCulloch left the band and was replaced by former St. Vitus Dance singer Noel Burke. In 1989, de Freitas was killed in a motorcycle accident. After working together as Electrafixion, McCulloch and Sergeant regrouped with Pattinson in 1997 and returned as Echo & the Bunnymen, before Pattinson’s departure in 1998. The band has been touring since, releasing several albums since the late 1990s, to varying degrees of success.
In 1994, McCulloch and Sergeant began working together again under the name Electrafixion; in 1997 Pattinson rejoined the duo, meaning the three surviving members of the original Bunnymen line-up were now working together again. Rather than continue as Electrafixion, the trio resurrected the Echo & the Bunnymen name and released the album Evergreen (1997), which reached the UK Top 10.
In 2002, the group received the Q Inspiration award. The award is for inspiring “new generations of musicians, songs and music lovers in general.” The band were said to be worthy winners as they have done much to promote the Mersey music scene. In a later interview for Magnet magazine, McCulloch said “It validates everything that we’ve tried to achieve—cool, great timeless music. It’s not like an inspiration award affecting the past, it’s affecting the current music.”
On 11 September 2006, Echo & the Bunnymen released an updated version of their 1985 Songs to Learn and Sing compilation. Now re-titled More Songs to Learn and Sing, this new compilation was issued in two versions, a 17-track single CD and a 20-track version with a DVD featuring 8 videos from their career.
In March 2007, the Bunnymen announced that they had re-signed to their original record label, Warner, and were also working on a new album. The band were also said to be planning a live DVD, entitled “Dancing Horses”, which also contained interviews with the band. This was released in May 2007, on Snapper/SPV. The live line up was Ian McCulloch, Will Sergeant, Simon Finley (Drums), Paul Fleming (Keyboards), Gordy Goudie (Guitar) and Steve Brannan (Bass).
On 11 January 2008, Ian McCulloch was interviewed on BBC Breakfast at the start of Liverpool 08. He was asked about new Bunnymen material and he revealed that a new album would coincide with their gig at the Royal Albert Hall in September. He went on to say that the album was, “The best one we’ve made, apart from Ocean Rain.”
In a 20 April 2008 interview with the Sunday Mail, Ian McCulloch announced The Fountain as the title of the new Echo & the Bunnymen album with producers John McLaughlin and Simon Perry, which was originally due to be released in 2008 but was finally released on 12 October 2009. The first single from the album, “Think I Need It Too”, was released on 28 September 2009.
On 1 September 2009, former keyboard player Jake Brockman died on the Isle of Man, when his motorbike collided with a converted ambulance. Brockman had played keyboards for the band during the 1980s.
In December 2010, Echo & the Bunnymen went on tour playing their first two albums Crocodiles and Heaven Up Here in their entirety.
Echo & the Bunnymen most recent album, entitled Meteorites, was released on 26 May 2014 in the UK, and on 3 June 2014 in the US via 429 Records. The album was also released on the pledgemusic.com website. The album was produced and mixed by Youth, who also co-wrote three of the tracks and played “additional bass” on it. It was the band’s first UK Top 40 album entry since 1999.
Okay – that should get you up to speed if you’ve just discovered them. Stalwarts can just skip the paragraphs above and head straight to the session.
And for that, you should crank it up and enjoy.