Echo & the Bunnymen is a Post-Punk/New Wave group from Liverpool, England which started in the late 1970s. Originally, Ian Mcculloch was in a band with Julian Cope which became The Teardrop Explodes. Eventually, he was fired he started Echo and the Bunnymen with Will Sergeant, Les Pattinson along with a drum machine.
The group’s first single was “The Pictures On My Wall,” and the flip side was “Read It In books,” a song co-written by Ian McCulloch and Julian Cope, which was also recorded by The Teardrop Explodes. This was followed up with their debut record, Crocodiles, which featured the single “Rescue.” By this time the drum machine had been replaced by, Pete de Freitas.
The final show on the Crocodiles tour was filmed and released as the film, Shine So Hard. A four-song EP (also titled Shine So Hard) was released in connection with the film.
In May of 1981, the band released their second album, Heaven Up Here. The album was even more successful than Crocodiles although the only single from the album, “A Promise,” was not as successful. In my opinion songs such as “Over The Wall,” and “A Show Of Strength” were superior songs that would have been better choices as singles.
As Echo & the Bunnymen headed into 1982, the band would release the single, “The Back Of Love.” Some band members also participated in several side projects including Will Sergeant who released the instrumental album, Themes From Grind. The band regrouped to record their next record, Porcupine, but the initial version was thought to be not commercial enough for the label so it was re-recorded.
Porcupine was released in 1983 and was led by the single, “The Cutter,” which has gone on to be one of their most successful songs. The album also included, “The Back Of Love.” The album was successful and brought even more attention to the band.
Next up was the single, “Never Stop,” which was then followed by “The Killing Moon,” which was to be included on their next album, Ocean Rain. “The Killing Moon” has gone on to be one of their most iconic songs.
In 1985, Echo & the Bunnymen released the compilation, Songs To Learn And Sing, which was my introduction to them. It featured the single, “Bring On The Dancing Horses.” My first time seeing them live was on this tour and, The Church was the opening act, so not a bad night of entertainment. Echo and the Bunnymen were a great live act and Ian McCulloch was an awesome frontman. The show also featured a cover of The Door’s “Soul Kitchen.“
Next up, the band continued work on a follow-up to Ocean Rain. Drummer de Freitas actually quit the band but returned during the recording of the self-titled album which came out in 1987 and featured the singles “Lips Like Sugar,” and “Bedbugs And Ballyhoo,” which had been the flip side to “Bring On The Dancing Horses,” but was re-recorded for this album. The album was not as popular with critics but was commercially successful.
At this point, things went a little awry. McCulloch left the band and released a solo album. They brought in singer Noel Burke but before they could start recording drummer de Freitas died in a motorcycle accident. Damon Reece became the new drummer and the album, Reverberation, was released. It did poorly and the band was dropped by their label, Sire Records. As a result of all of this, Echo & the Bunnymen broke up in 1993. In the meantime, Ian McCulloch had released two solo albums, Candleland, and Mysterio.
Eventually, in 1994 McCulloch and Sergeant formed Electrafixion and in time Les Pattinson rejoined as well. The group then decided to continue as Echo &the Bunnymen once again and released a string of albums: What Are You Going To Do With Your Life? (1999), Flowers (2001), Siberia (2005), The Fountain (2009), Meteorites (2014), and The Stars, The Oceans, And The Moon (2018). Pattinson again left the band in 1999 after the recording of What Are You Going To Do With Your Life?
I’ll be honest, after the self-titled album, I didn’t keep up with them as much but did hear some of the later records. I did see them on the self-titled album tour, and it was again a great show which featured more deep cuts such as “Thorn Of Crowns,” “Happy Death Men,” “My Kingdom,” and a cover of The Rolling Stones “Paint It Black.”
My interest in Echo & the Bunnymen has always continued even if sometimes it’s been in the background. Echo & the Bunnymen have been a major part of my musical history, and education and are very important in my life.
Please enjoy the video below showing my collection of vinyl from Echo & the Bunnymen.
Dig this article? Check out the full archives of Surface Noise, by John Siden, here: https://vinylwritermusic.com/surface-noise-archives/