10 Best Echo & the Bunnymen Songs
Taking elements of everything from the Doors and the Seeds to the Velvet Underground and Leonard Cohen, Echo & the Bunnymen helped bring a psychedelic glow to the post-punk world. Along with fellow adventurers like the Teardrop Explodes and the Soft Boys, the Bunnymen took from the past while keeping all eyes (third included) on the future. Even after more than three decades, their rich catalog shines hard and bright. What follows are the finest tunes from these second-generation lads from Liverpool -- the 10 Best Echo & the Bunnymen Songs.
With their 2001 album 'Flowers,' Echo & the Bunnymen reclaimed their identity and delivered one of the finest albums of their career. The lead-off track, 'King Of Kings,' is simply stellar, encompassing so much of what made the Bunnymen great. The subtle psychedelic touches glide atop the brooding groove while frontman Ian McCulloch croons. Guitarist Will Sergeant delivers his trademark tasty style, while the song itself ranks among their best.
One of many highlights from their 1980 debut album 'Crocodiles,' 'Villiers Terrace' takes the garage-band ethic and pushes it forward to the future, molding it into a more focused yet still hazy glaze. Some people are rolling around on the carpet and passing around the medicine, while others are biting wool and pulling strings. Classic Bunnymen!
Issued at the start of 1983, 'The Cutter' showed off a new Bunnymen to the world. Gone was the smokey, swirling haze of the first two albums, replaced by sharper and cleaner sound. 'The Cutter' is heavy on the bass, which pushes the song along. Throw in some powerful, well-placed strings and a dynamic lead vocal, and you have the makings of a classic. The song also turned out to be a hit, making the Top 10 in the U.K. and a college radio favorite in the states.
The 1984 album 'Ocean Rain' was to have been the band's crowning achievement. In the press at the time, singer Ian McCulloch often referred to it as "the greatest record ever made." While we won't go that far, it was indeed a solid album stuffed with many of the band's best loved songs. One of the album's buried treasures was 'My Kingdom,' which soars thanks to the triumphant guitar work of Will Sergeant. The ultra-catchy chorus begs to be the hit that never was.
'Do It Clean,' next on our list of the 10 Best Echo & the Bunnymen Songs, was always a concert favorite, and while the studio version is ace, this live rendition, from a self-titled 1984 EP, knocks it flat. The band rock up the song full tilt and really cut lose here. Will Sergeant whips out some very inspired guitar work while McCulloch manages to work in a variety of references ranging from the Beatles to James Brown to Frank Sinatra. This version also shows off the powerhouse rhythm section of drummer Pete de Freitas and bassist Les Pattinson, who really propelled the band.
With this single from 1985, the band presented an even more polished take on their signature sound. While that often signals the death bell for a band like the Bunnymen, this move not only worked, but it worked very well. The tremolo guitars mix with woodwinds,electronics and a stellar vocal from McCulloch. The only thing lacking here (blame the producer!) is a truly driving rhythm section track, which was, shall we say, sterilized in favor of the more electronic leanings. While not the chart topper the group was hoping it would be (it only made No. 21 U.K.), it was an artistic triumph and in some ways the last great moment of their first era.
One of the band's most haunting songs, 'The Killing Moon' is pure beauty. The song was not only a hit single (reaching the U.K. Top 10) but was also an integral part of the 'Ocean Rain' LP. Amid the strings, the guitars shimmer and swirl around each other, while the bass and drums push straight ahead. Ian McCulloch gives what may be the definitive performance of his career. For many fans, this was their greatest moment.
On their second album, 'Heaven up Here,' Echo & the Bunnymen took a slightly darker turn, and the mood set by the dramatic songs was irresistible. The guitars were more jagged than on their debut, and the rhythms were more insistent throughout, and the best example of this is 'Over the Wall.' The song was written shortly after the release of their first album and had been featured in Bunnymen live shows, even making the 'Shine So Hard' EP in early 1981. The tribal drums, roller coaster bass and razor guitars are an unbeatable combination here. Easily one of the band's most dramatic and exciting efforts.
'The Puppet' may be the great lost Echo & the Bunnymen record. It was released as a single not long after their debut album,' Crocodiles,' but failed to do anything. It didn't chart in the U.K. and was never even released in the U.S. until it appeared on the 1985 compilation 'Songs to Learn and Sing.' A shame too, as it still resounds like a perfect Bunnymen disc. All the trademarks of their early sound are in full bloom, and with a catchy guitar riff and chorus, it really should have been a hit. The song also appeared, in live form, on the soundtrack 'Urgh: A Music War' in 1981.
Sitting at number one on out list of the 10 Best Echo & the Bunnymen Songs is the band's second single, 'Rescue.' This record still possesses a certain magic that would help define the band for years to come. Combining elements of 60s psychedelia as well as the immediate influence of bands like Joy Division, Echo & the Bunnymen created their own concoction that would prove a hit with many fans in the early 1980s looking for something beyond the fringes of punk leftovers. 'Rescue' captured the band at the moment when they took full flight and remains one of their strongest statements over 30 years on.