Friday, September 01, 2006

FDF Volume 1 Issue 26: Echo & The Bunnymen - Heaven Up Here

Album - Heaven Up Here
Artist - Echo & The Bunnymen
Key Players - Will Sergeant - Lead Guitar, Ian McCulloch - Vocals/Rhythm guitar, Les Pattinson - bass, Peter de Freitas -drums, Leslie Penny - woodwinds
Produced by - Hugh Jones

Released - May 30, 1981

Overview - Echo & The Bunnymen were formed in Liverpool England in 1978. Ian McCulloch, Will Sergeant and Les Pattinson were part of the original line up of the band. Rumored to have put on "Echo" in their name as a name of their drummer at their formation the band denies to be true. By the time of their debut album Pete de Freitas was brought in as the drummer. The band would release a string of records but mainstream success in the USA never really materialized. The closest they would come is with the 1987 self titled release that had such songs as "Lips Like Sugar". McCulloch left the band in 1988 and the band vowed to continue, the results were just a single release with new singer Noel Burke. Sergeant and McCulloch would get back together for a bit as "Electrafixtion". Pattinson rejoined his fellow bandmates and Echo was reborn. The band would release 2 more albums before Pattinson left to take care of his ailing mother. McCulloch and Sergeant whom have both had solo albums released continue as Echo & The Bunnymen with their most recent album being 2005's Siberia.

Reviewed for this installment is the bands second major label release.

FDF Comments (aka the Songs)- Want to know where indie hipsters Interpol draws inspiration? Listen to the first 30-40 seconds of "Show of Strength" that leads off the album. Even the shiver in Ians voice is duplicated. "Over the Wall" is a dark and moody song that has the drums changing speaker channels during the verse. "It was a Pleasure" Ian sings the chorus with a stuttered voice to add tension to the song. The hauntingly beautiful, and watermark moment of the record "A Promise" follows. The music is really lead by the bass line on the song, swooping up and down as the groove is locked in. The call and response chorus as it fades out adds a nice touch. The chorus of "There is light on the water, we'll sail on forever is just repeated, looped one over the other. "Heaven up Here" as slightly more, and about as rocking, as Echo & the Bunnymen gets. "No Dark Things" appears a little later in the record and it too is an uptempo affair for the band. Will Sergeant has quick chopping guitar lines but knows when the right time is to let the melody flow. Virtually every song on the album "fades out" as well which on some levels is a good thing, but there are times when one would like to hear a song "end". The album closes with "All I Want". Pattinson uses a chorus effect pedal on various portions that add a nice chiming bass sound to the song. Also ending on an upswing it is a perfect album closer.

There is a remastered version of their catalog(s) that adds on some extra tracks.

Where are they now? - Pete de Freitas was killed in a motorcycle accident in 1989. Ian and Will continue to write, record and tour as Echo & The Bunnymen.
In researching I was unable to find any updated information on Les Pattinson.

FDF Personal Comments (aka the Live experience) - The times this reviewer saw the band they always sounded great but were never a whole lot to watch. The first time was August 18, 1987 on a tour with New Order and Gene Loves Jezebel. The second was June 30, 1992 but this was without Ian (who has a voice that can not be duplicated). The final time was October 24, 1997. This was a good return to form. There have been a few chances to see them once again, and the venues local to me seem to be getting smaller and smaller. If the chance comes I'd go partially for nostalgia but mostly for the music which was so very (and still is) important.

FDF Overall take - If someone were to come to me and ask "Which Echo to start with" an obvious and very safe choice would be their "best of" collection called "Songs to Learn and Sing". Its a very good introduction to the band. There will be a new version of this cd released in September of 2006 that will have more songs as well as a DVD that has 8 of the bands videos. Once you fall in love with the "best of" a purchase of "Heaven Up Here" should be added to your shopping list. Also, the album cover is wonderful.


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