Released today in 1985: Bring On The Dancing Horses

Korova KOW43

Korova KOW43

How Echo And The Bunnymen came to be formed in the late 70s is explored in our article on acts originating in Liverpool from earlier this year. Originally a trio comprising Will Sergeant (guitar), Ian McCulloch (vocals) and Les Pattinson (bass), ‘Echo’, according to legend, was their drum machine; McCulloch claimed a good a reliable drummer was hard to come by so they had decided to go without. However, they came to acquire one in the form of Pete De Freitas and his arrival, together with their joining of WEA-distributed label Korova, saw them seriously up their game. Bob Stanley also attributed a change in their direction to another influence: “They saw ‘Apocalypse Now’ and never recovered; their pretty tousled-haired singer Ian McCulloch now believed himself to be the next in line to Brando and Jim Morrison. This new psychedelia and intense self-belief led to one of 1981’s best albums Heaven Up Here, which hummed ominously throughout, like a distant overhead helicopter.”

Heaven Up Here, their second LP, was also the first of a string of Top 10 albums, which included 1984’s Ocean Rain (probably their masterpiece) and a couple of big hit singles. Pleased to be successful, they nevertheless denied they were trying to compete with commercial pop stars: “Pop’s not a dirty place to be if you’re good. You don’t have to sound like Wham! you know. It’s just that most group’s motives are really wrong,” McCulloch told Smash Hits in 1984. “For instance Culture Club are obnoxious – they’re just geared towards being #1 and that’s not great. Duran Duran I quite like. I can understand them. They just want to be the biggest teen band in the world. I just hate all those creepy types who pretend to be credible. They’re all good at creating hits, not magic.”

The Echo And The Bunnymen magic came to an end in the latter half of the 80s. Bring On The Dancing Horses (originally recorded for the ‘Pretty In Pink’ soundtrack), used to promote a compilation album of all their singles to date called Songs To Learn And Sing, was their last big hit in 1985. Their self-titled fifth album from 1987 was not received as warmly by critics as earlier efforts, and a 1988 cover of The Doors’ People Are Strange (featured in the soundtrack to the movie ‘The Lost Boys’) sat uncomfortably with their own material, although, given Bob Stanley’s observation above, it might not have been entirely out of character, especially for McCulloch as frontman. It was perhaps no surprise then that at this point he announced he was going solo. What was a surprise was that the rest Echo and The Bunnymen decided to continue without him, and hired a new singer. Sadly, before they could get a new album out, de Freitas was killed in a motorcycle accident in June 1989. McCulloch’s solo album was released a couple of months later.

NEW SINGLES on sale from Oct. 7
1983
HAIRCUT ONE HUNDRED So Tired (Polydor HC2)
1985
ANNABELLA Don’t Dance With Strangers (RCA PB40377)
ECHO AND THE BUNNYMEN (Ian McCulloch) Bring On The Dancing Horses (Korova KOW43)
KING (Paul King) The Taste Of Your Tears (CBS A6618)

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