Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Underrated albums #3: Echo and the Bunnymen " What are You Going To Do With Your Life?"

In 1997, Echo and the Bunnymen reformed, having split up almost ten years previously.

OK, maybe I should qualify that. Singer Ian McCulloch had left for a solo career in 1988, and drummer Pete de Freitas had died in a motorbike accident in 1989. The following year, an album credited to Echo and The Bunnymen (featuring vocalist Noel Burke, drummer Damon Reece and Jake Brockman on keys, as well as Les Pattinson and Will Sergeant) called Reverberation had been released. Both Colin at And before The First Kiss and Mike at Manic Pop Thrills have posted tracks from this oddity in the Bunnymen cannon in the last few months.

In 1994, Will Sergeant and Ian McCulloch reunited, as Electrafixion, before reuniing with Les to release Evergreen in 1997. Their first album in ten years as Echo and the Bunnymen, it was a huge success critically and commercially, and they were welcomed back with open arms.

Two years later, they released the follow up What Are You Going To Do With Your Life? This got some good reviews, a hit single (Rust reached no.23 in the UK), but somehow didn't connect with people the way that its predecessor had. It has not been written out of history, in the same way that Reverberation has, but seems to have slipped below the radar.

This is a shame, for it's a beautiful album, that as the iTunes review I checked a few minutes ago says, the sort of record post-punk bands should be making twenty years in. Not trading on past glories (you can imagine the record company wanting an album of 'The Cutter' and 'The Killing Moon' re-writes) nor trying to be trendy (an accusation that has been levelled at Evergreen, whihc I thinnk is a far inferior album). It is a reflective album, but no musical equivalent of an expanding waistlinie in middle-age here. It's a comparatively short album in the CD age (clocking in at 38 minutes) that reflects and accepts its' place.

It has been described as a McCulloch solo abum, somewhat unfairly. Pattinson plays on 'Fools Like Us' only (he was, perhaps understandably, more concerned with a legal battle for access to his kids). Perhaps the photos dwell on McCulloch a lot more than Segeant, but this is very much a Bunnymen record in sound. It also features the Fun Lovin' Criminals -hang on, come back- whose contributions actually add a deft touch to 'Get In The Car' and 'When It All Blows Over.'

Maybe this struck a chord, being released with just a few months to go til my first degree finished, and not entirely sure what was next. But this is an album I love. Sure it's not as good as Ocean Rain, but this deserves to be seen as more than just a footnote in the Bunnymen's nearly thirty year career.

Echo and the Bunnymen-'What are You Going To Do With Your Life?' mp3

Echo and the Bunnymen-'Rust.' mp3

I cannot see a listing for this on Amazon, but try your local record shop, and it is still available on iTunes.

Enjoy, these will be up for one week only.


for some reason, despite several attemots to relaod these, they are not coming up.

Will try and repost as soon as I can work out what the problem is.


Brent McD. said...

links not working?

Anonymous said...

very nice biographical description, but I can not listen to the music somehow...
however, I am going to my garage to listen to my old echo LPs!


Ed said...

At work at the moment, but will check the links when I get home.


Anonymous said...

This was an album I wouldn't say I wanted to dislike but I was certainly ready to dislike. Supposedly mature, restraiend, it didn't sound like my sort of Bunnymen record. Yet it works way way better than I expected. I think the brevity is the key - no song outstays its welcome and there are good songs. Still think though that the best song on it is the one with Les!


cronhauer said...

I acutally really enjoyed their latest SIBERIA. Reminded me of why I liked them in the first place. I kind of ignored this record after EVERGREEN left a bad taste in my mouth. But I will have to go check it out now on your recommendation.

Ed said...

Mike - you are right, the brevity os the key. all the more impressive for a record released in the CD age.

Cronhauer-Hope you like it. Saw them twice in Scotland around the time of the Siberia album and they were still amazing.


James Marshall Richardson said...

Echo and the Bunnymen are an awesome band, definitely one of the greatest English bands of the last 20 years. I agree with most of your accessment of the album. "What Are You Going To Do With Your Life?" has a timeless feel to it. It's the sort of album a band makes if they've grown gracefully, which the Bunnymen have. If you haven't seen them live you should. When the Bunnymen are on their live show is mind blowing.