Echo & the Bunnymen are an English post-punk group formed in Liverpool in 1978. The original line-up consisted of Ian McCulloch, Will Sergeant and Les Pattinson, supplemented by a drum machine assumed by many to be "Echo", though the band denies this. In the 1982 book Liverpool Explodes!, Will Sergeant explains in an interview: "We had this mate who kept suggesting all these names," says Will, "like The Daz Men or Glisserol and the Fan Extractors. Echo and the Bunnymen was one of them. I thought it was just as stupid as the rest."
Ian McCulloch was previously in a band known as The Crucial Three, also featuring Pete Wylie (later of Wah!) and Julian Cope (later of The Teardrop Explodes). McCulloch and Cope had also been in the short-lived A Shallow Madness.
Echo & the Bunnymen's debut single was "Pictures On My Wall", released on the Zoo label in 1979. The B-side was "Read It In Books", written by McCulloch and Cope during their time in the Crucial Three, and also recorded a couple of years later by The Teardrop Explodes as the B-side of their hit single "Reward". In the book Never Stop, as well as in Turquois Days, Ian denies that Cope had anything to do with writing the song. It was a bone of contention between the two singers.
By the time of their debut album, 1980's Crocodiles, the drum machine had been replaced by Pete de Freitas. A single, "Rescue", climbed to UK #62 and following critical acclaim, the album broke into the Top 20 at #17.
Their next album, Heaven Up Here (1981), was an even bigger critical and commercial success, reaching the UK Top Ten (#10). However, a single lifted from the album, "A Promise", could only reach UK #49.
In June 1982, The Bunnymen achieved their first significant UK hit single with "The Back Of Love" (#19). This was followed in early 1983 with their first Top 10, the more radio-friendly "The Cutter", which climbed to #8 and is probably the band's best known song. The parent album Porcupine, hit #2 in the album chart. Now firmly established as a chart act, further hits followed with a one-off single, "Never Stop" (#15), and "The Killing Moon" , a haunting preview from the new album featuring a dramatic McCulloch vocal, which became the band's second UK Top 10 single at #9.
Following PR which proclaimed it "the greatest album ever made", 1984's Ocean Rain reached #4, and today is widely regarded as the band's masterpiece. Single extracts "Silver" (UK #30) and "Seven Seas" (UK #16) consolidated the album's success. In the same year, McCulloch had a minor solo hit with his version of "September Song".
"Ocean Rain" proved an impossible album to follow up, and the band could only re-emerge in 1985 with a single, "Bring On The Dancing Horses" (UK #21) and a compilation album, "Songs To Learn And Sing", which duly made #6 in the UK.
However, all was not well in The Bunnymen camp and de Freitas left the band. The next (self-titled) studio album was recorded with ex-Haircut 100 drummer Mark Fox, but when de Freitas returned in 1986, it was largely re-recorded. Eventually released in mid-1987, it was a disappointment for many long-term fans but nevertheless sold well (UK #4), and was a small American hit, their only LP to have significant sales there.
During a tour of Scandinavia in April 1985, they performed cover versions of songs from Television, the Rolling Stones, Talking Heads, and the Doors.
McCulloch quit the band in 1988, and De Freitas was killed in a motorcycle accident one year later. Pattinson and Sergeant recruited vocalist Noel Burke and drummer Damon Reece. Keyboardist Jake Brockman (a touring member of the band for several years previously, and a contributor to the 1987 album) was promoted to full member, and the five-piece recorded Reverberation in 1990. This did not generate much excitement among fans or critics, and the group was abandoned shortly afterwards. McCulloch, meanwhile, had continued his solo career, with the albums Candleland in 1989 and Mysterio in 1992.
The group's current touring incarnation comprises McCulloch and Sergeant along with Simon Finley (drums), Stephen Brennan (bass), Gordy Goudie (guitar), and Paul Fleming (keyboards).
On September 11, 2006, Echo and the Bunnymen released an updated version of their 1985 Songs to Learn and Sing compilation. The new compilation, More Songs to Learn and Sing was issued in two versions, a 17 track single CD and a 20 track version with a DVD featuring 8 videos from their career.
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