Friday, August 01, 2008

FDF Volume 2 Issue 102: Ian McCulloch - Candleland

Album - Candleland
Artist - Iam McCulloch
Key Players - Ian McCulloch - vocals and guitar
Produced By - Ray Shulman

Release Date - September 17, 1989

What caused me to blow off the dust? - For some reason the last week or so I have been singing random songs from this record. When it came out I recall it getting hundreds of plays, usually a buddy of mine and I sat around at a party, and after most people left we'd put this on and just sort of chill out. Its been ages since this got the old back to back treatment so here goes.

Overview - Ian McCulloch fronted Echo & The Bunnymen and left the group to release this, his first solo album. The album would have moderate chart success overseas and just barely crack the Billboard Top 200. Ian would go on to release two additional solo records and, in the end, rejoin Echo and the Bunnymen.

FDF Comments (aka the songs)
- The album opens with "The Flickering Wall", a track that has both strings and keyboards. Neither is "new" to the listener since Echo and the Bunnymen would often use them. The bass is strong and melodic. The guitar has a real "ring" to it and the track infuses a lot of the keyboard and guitar elements to provide a great opening track. The little more "electronic" feeling "The White Hotel" begins. There is a little guitar feedback, but nothing crazy before falling into that comfortable guitar sound. Ian repeats "Tonight" over and over in a low baritone as the song begins to fade and is complimented with a guitar solo. The first single from the record "Proud to Fall" is next. It is easy to understand why this was released as a first single as Bunnymen fans get all the elements they are used to, and liked in the band. There is some echo/delay on Ian's voice at times and the drums are really tight. More keyboard is heard in "The Cape" during the intro. The guitar has more of a crunch as the song progresses and coming off the chorus. There is a flashier guitar solo on the outtro with a lot of fuzz and compression on the guitar. The pretty "Candleland" follows. There is a lot of xylophone mixed with the haunting female vocals that were done by Elizabeth Fraser who made a name for herself in the Cocteau Twins. The sort of silly "Horse's Head" comes up with piano and strings. There is more a machine drum beat after the intro and the lyrics are a little silly but it is still a very catchy track. Ian is a little "breathy" on the track and does some neat harmonies with himself via studio overdubs. Another single from the album "Faith and Healing" begins with a synth pop intro. The lyrics are given a little quicker than other songs as well. We slow it down again for "I Know You Well" with a heavy dose of strings once more. The bass has a certain rumble to it throughout. It is a pretty song about relationships and would have the potential to be a wedding song for example barring the cryptic first verse that mentions killing and spilling blood. The "clicky" intro to "In Bloom" fades up with tambourine and drums. The guitar is very heavily compressed on the track and there is a long intro. The vocals are heavily delayed and the track, with a dark feel overall, is sung in short vocal bursts. Still, its one of my favorite tracks. The album ends with "Start Again" a slow track with a strong acoustic guitar base.

Where are they now? - Ian had released three solo records. The most recent "Sidiling" came out in 2003. Echo and the Bunnymen tour and record at a more casual pace. The band wll play one of their albums "Ocean Rain" in its entirety at Radio City Music Hall on October 1, 2008.

FDF Personal Comments (aka the Live experience)
- I have never seen Ian perform solo, but I have been (at least in my mind) lucky enough to see Echo and the Bunnymen perform live. The earliest was August 18, 1987 on a triple bill that also featured New Order. This was at the (now) Comcast Center. That was the most "pure" version I saw. I saw the "re-formed" Bunnymen sans Ian at Axis in Boston June 30, 1992. In 1997 they were "reformed" when is saw them play Avalon on October 24th. There have been a few other chances here and there but I just haven't gotten my act together to see them once more.

**correction..i have seen Ian live solo. At the Living Room in Providence. I don't have a ticket stub..but it was for this tour. Ultra Vivid Scene opened the show for him.

FDF Overall Take - If you are/were a fan of Echo and the Bunnymen there is a good chance you probably liked Ian's voice to begin with. It has a certain warmth to it even if it is not very "accomplished". Fans of Echo probably own this while others may have had no idea who this was, but its a decent listen.

Links -

Ian on myspace
Echo and the Bunnymen official site.

Curious? Check out some MUSIC!

***mp3's have been removed***

All the tracks were taken from "Candleland" which you can buy here

Disclaimer - For the most part songs listed you can find on iTunes or your local cd shop. The idea is to give you a little taste of the music. Please support the artist buy purchasing some of their work. Songs are posted for about 1 week but can and will be removed at the request of the artist, band, band management etc. If you are one of those persons contact me via the email link in the profile and they will be removed as soon as we are made aware of the request.


At 11:10 PM, Blogger JamieSmitten said...

I have Mysterio on cassette(!), but don't remember ever hearing this album. Good pick!


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