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2023 Albums Thing #053 - Echo & The Bunnymen “Crocodiles”

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Liverpool never really had a prominent Punk band but the kids who were awoken by Punk (and Glam before that, well the Bowie, Roxy, Bolan end of Glam for sure) had their say in the post-Punk years, The Teardrop Explodes, Wah!, The Lightning Seeds, Frankie Goes to Hollywood and, of course, the Bunnymen. Friends of mine to this day will disagree on which is their favourite Bunnymen album. The vote is pretty evenly split between “Heaven Up Here” and “Ocean Rain”. For me it will always be “Crocodiles”.

It sneaks up on you with beeps and bleeps and the band fading in before the two chords that are the main riff of “Going Up” crash out of your speakers. Everything about this record is anxious, tight and nervous…but at the same time sexy and dangerous. Ian McCulloch’s persona was part fearful kid and part rock god with a sometimes fear filled singing voice that broke out into this booming, confident rush on the choruses “Do it…do it, do it, do it”. He perfected the lippy Northern frontman schtick later taken on in totality by Liam Gallagher.

The spidery “Stars Are Stars”, “Pride” (“Do it…do it, do it, do it”) and “Monkeys” are followed up by the frantic “Crocodiles” which comes on all Post-Punk wrapped in classic rock cliches “I can see you've got the blues in your alligator shoes, Me, I'm all smiles I got my crocodiles”.

Side 2 opens with one of Mac’s favourites “Rescue” the first thing I heard by them, and just to knock you out of your comfort zone that is followed by the wonderful, piano driven “Villiers Terrace”. “Pictures On My Wall” brings the almost celebratory mood of “Villiers Terrace” back down a few notches. “All That Jazz” returns us to twitchy, nervous town interspersed with de Freitas tight, machine gun drum fills and a beast of a riff by Will Sergeant in place of a chorus. It all ends with “Happy Death Men” which while being doom laden also manages to be as groovy as hell.

The whole album is a wonderful example of brevity with a purpose. Side one is over and done in under 15 minutes, blink and its gone, in total the record doesn’t quite make 33 minutes. Will Sergeant’s, sometimes sparse at other times everything, guitar playing was every bit as important to us as John McGeoch’s or Tom Verlaine’s, a different breed of guitar hero. Les Pattinson and the mighty Pete de Freitas were a fearsome rhythm section who drove the Bunnymen along. We saw them live around this time, all moody lighting and Apocalypse Now styled stage setting, they were incredible.

All That Jazz - https://youtu.be/7qKBjgzyEPk

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