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Sixteen Detailed Essays by a Biased, Non-Cool, Middle-Aged but Decidedly Pro-Bunny Victorianist

CROCODILES [Echo and the Bunnymen; 1980]
HEAVEN UP HERE [Echo and the Bunnymen; 1981]
PORCUPINE [Echo and the Bunnymen; 1983]
OCEAN RAIN [Echo and the Bunnymen; 1984]
SONGS TO LEARN AND SING [Echo and the Bunnymen; 1985]
ECHO & THE BUNNYMEN [Echo and the Bunnymen; 1987]
CANDLELAND [Ian McCulloch solo; 1989]
MYSTERIO [Ian McCulloch solo; 1992]
BURNED [Electrafixion; 1995]
EVERGREEN [Echo and the Bunnymen; 1997]
WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO WITH YOUR LIFE? [Echo and the Bunnymen; 1999]
FLOWERS [Echo and the Bunnymen; 2001]
CRYSTAL DAYS (4-cd box set) [Echo and the Bunnymen; 2001]
LIVE IN LIVERPOOL [Echo and the Bunnymen; 2002]
SLIDELING [Ian McCulloch solo; 2003]
SIBERIA [Echo and the Bunnymen; 2005]

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CRYSTAL DAYS (4-cd box set)
[Echo and the Bunnymen; 2001]

Disc: 1
1. Monkeys (original version)
2. The Pictures On My Wall (original single version)
3. Read It In Books (original single version)
4. Villiers Terrace (John Peel session)
5. Rescue
6. Simple Stuff
7. Stars Are Stars
8. All That Jazz
9. Crocodiles
10. The Puppet
11. Do It Clean
12. Show Of Strength
13. Over The Wall
14. A Promise
15. Heaven Up Here
16. All My Colours
17. Broke My Neck (long version)
18. No Hands (John Peel session)
19. Fuel
20. The Subject

Disc: 2
1. The Back Of Love
2. The Cutter
3. Way Out And Up We Go
4. Clay
5. Heads Will Roll
6. Gods Will Be Gods (alternate version)
7. Never Stop (Discotheque)
8. Watch Out Below (John Peel session)
9. The Killing Moon (All Night version)
10. Silver (Tidal Wave)
11. Angels And Devils
12. Crystal Days
13. Seven Seas
14. My Kingdom
15. Ocean Rain
16. All You Need Is Love

Disc: 3
1. Bring On The Dancing Horses
2. Over Your Shoulder
3. Lover I Love You
4. Satisfaction
5. New Direction (original version)
6. Ship Of Fools
7. All My Life
8. The Game
9. Bedbugs And Ballyhoo
10. Lips Like Sugar (single version)
11. People Are Strange
12. Rollercoaster
13. Don't Let It Get You Down
14. I Want To Be There (When You Come)
15. Nothing Lasts Forever
16. Hurricane
17. Rust
18. What Are You Going To Do With Your Life?

Disc: 4
1. In The Midnight Hour
2. Start Again (live, 1987)
3. The Original Cutter - A Drop In The Ocean
4. Heads Will Roll (Summer version)
5. Bedbugs And Ballyhoo (original single version)
6. Zimbo (live, 1982 with The Royal Burundi Drummers)
7. Angels And Devils (live, 1985)
8. She Cracked (live, 1985)
9. It's All Over Now, Baby Blue (live, 1985)
10. Soul Kitchen (live, 1985)
11. Action Woman (live, 1985)
12. Paint It Black (live, 1985)
13. Run, Run, Run (live, 1985)
14. Friction (live, 1985)
15. Crocodiles (live, 1985)
16. Heroin (live, 1983)
17. Do It Clean (live, 1983)
18. The Cutter (alternate version) (hidden track)

    This 'box' is treasure trove. And, like most treasure trove, it is a mixed bag: gold and silverwork worthy of a Cellini, brilliant cut gems, strangely-wrought brass and tin, some good clay pots, and even a few pottery shards.
    CRYSTAL DAYS sports enough well-known Bunnymen dazzlers to do Tiffany's proud. But some of the nicest pieces never made it to albums: alternate versions, b-sides and unreleased material. A stunning "All Night" version of The Killing Moon, the "Tidal Wave" Silver with its long orchestral introduction and a "discotheque" Never Stop shine among the crown jewels. Hurricane, clever in both music and lyric, crafts worlds within worlds. Propelled along by an insistent drum, bass and tambourine beat, Angels and Devils draws a wonderful dichotomy of images. (A gorgeous, lilting live version is also included.) Ship of Fools, a buoyantly romantic, soaringly melodic hymn of life and love, stands among the Bunnymen's best works. Rollercoaster's enthusiastically demented paranoia and the rollicking, rolling thunder of Satisfaction are plain good fun. Simple Stuff simply demonstrates the power of melodically directed noise. Broke My Neck, alas, quickly loses whatever charm a lot of instrumental jiggery-pockery crash-banging around a foghorn stuck in the 'on' position can hold.
    The original New Direction energetically delivers  cutting, cynical lyrics and off-the-wall imagery:

  "Death in a basket
  Wrapped up in glory
  Left in the casket
  To reflect on our story"

Watch Out Below, a dark and melodic little jewel which eventually became The Yo-Yo Man, stands well on its own. Lover I Love You possesses an animal vigor notably lacking in its final mutation into Blue, Blue Ocean. The single version of Pictures On My Wall courses with fierce energy. There is even a seriously daft version of Gods Will Be Gods which finds Ian McCulloch resonantly declaiming: "I am all Will Hay and you are all Bob Todd" [two British comedians, according to the track notes]. A John Peel session yields a slowed down, strangely hypnotic Villiers Terrace.
    But some early versions of songs merit cherishing mainly as historical artifacts, or as somewhat gawky mementos. A droning The Cutter, minus its exhilarating "Conquering myself until" chorus, has little to recommend it (but a scintillating "alternate version", tucked away at the end of Disc 4, certainly does.) Start Again, poignantly haunting in its CANDLELAND incarnation, here contains the words "skunk", "stink" and "tree trunk". And something identified as "one of the first songs we ever wrote" brings to mind nothing so much as a smudged, misshapen and indeterminate object made by a bright and willing child at summer camp.
    Live tracks include revved-up performances of Crocodiles and Do It Clean and the deservedly famous WOMAD festival Zimbo, performance with the Royal Burundi Drummers. Notable among the covers: a forceful rendition of Wilson Pickett's In the Midnight Hour, a rousing Paint It Black, and the Velvet Underground's Run, Run, Run. There is also McCulloch belting out Bob Dylan's It's All Over Now, Baby Blue, a wonderfully surreal concept.
    Dedicated fans will love this. Neophytes should probably go with individual albums -- perhaps some combination of CROCODILES, HEAVEN UP HERE, OCEAN RAIN, and FLOWERS. Bunnymen albums are not prone to junky 'filler' songs, so any 'best of' compilation is largely a matter of personal taste.

NOTE: NEW LIVE AND RARE (1988) contains seven tracks, all of which are included in the box set. It does have a Japanese lyric sheet.
    Reissued editions of the first five studio albums [November, 2003] do include previously unreleased material (as well as some songs which are on the box set). "Bonus tracks" are:
    CROCODILES --  Do It Clean; Read It In Books; Simple Stuff; Villiers Terrace (early version); Pride (early version); Simple Stuff (early version); Crocodiles (live); Zimbo (live); All That Jazz (live); Over the Wall (live) [the last four are from the SHINE SO HARD ep]
    HEAVEN UP HERE -- Broke My Neck (long version); Show of Strength (live); The Disease (live); All I Want (live); Zimbo (live)
    PORCUPINE --  Fuel; The Cutter (alternate version); My White Devil (alternate version); Porcupine (alternate version); Ripeness (alternate version); Gods Will Be Gods (alternate version); Never Stop (discotheque)
    OCEAN RAIN --  Angels and Devils; All You Need is Love; (Life At Brian's); The Killing Moon (Life At Brian's); Stars Are Stars (Life At Brian's); Villiers Terrace (Life At Brian's); Silver (Life At Brian's session); My Kingdom (live from "The Crystal Day"); Ocean Rain (live from "The Crystal Day")
    ECHO & THE BUNNYMEN - Jimmy Brown; Hole In the Holy; Soul Kitchen; The Game (acoustic demo); Bedbugs and Ballyhoo (original version); Over Your Shoulder; Bring On the Dancing Horses (extended mix)

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Kristin F. Smith
October 23rd, 2003

This page last updated: September 6th, 2005

An Annotated Discography: Works by Echo and the Bunnymen, Ian McCulloch, Will Sergeant, Electrafixion and Glide
The Bunnymen Concert Log: A comprehensive, annotated listing of concert dates, venues and set lists for Echo and the Bunnymen, Ian McCulloch and Electrafixion (off-site link)
The Songwriter as Poet: Ian McCulloch and the Pre-Raphaelite Tradition (off-site link) - The (Unofficial) News Source (off-site link, run by Charles Pham)

Aldems' Political Quotations: Apt and Otherwise

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