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2023 Albums Thing #054 - Echo & The Bunnymen “Heaven Up Here”

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There was a time around the release of this album when there were 2 contenders for the “next big thing” crown (or so it seemed to me). It was either gonna be the Bunnymen or U2 and once again the great record buying public made the wrong choice and ultimately turned U2 into global superstars instead. Maybe the Bunnymen were just too British (opens whole can of “Scouse not British” worms) in the same way as the Small Faces, The Kinks or Slade never really cut it across the pond. But they had the songs, the pretty boy front man (who had obviously worshipped at the altar of Bowie) and a hint enough of The Doors for the US to take an interest.

The opening tracks of “Heaven Up Here” (“Show Of Strength” & “With A Hip”) find us in the same anxious, dark, twitchy place that “Crocodiles” left us. And then we hit that bit in track 3, “Over The Wall”, where Will Sergeant introduces us to THAT riff. Three notes is all it is but you somehow know the Bunnymen have graduated to some new level of coolness with those 3 notes. If 3 notes can be considered dramatic these 3 have drama in bucket loads. The song is another nervous, nailbiting thing but it’s somehow different. Pete de Freitas drums echo and roll like thunder in the background, Les Pattinson’s circular bass line (4 notes this one) is hypnotic, they quote Del Shannon’s “Runaway” lyrically and in a guitar motif, letting you know that although this music sounds ultra-new it’s coming from a classic education in rock and roll, they’re just using it differently. It’s a beast of a song.

“It Was A Pleasure” twitches and jerks like someone suffering St Vitus Dance in the middle of a dancefloor. “A Promise” made a great single, a bit more smoothed out, like “Rescue” before it, a simple chorus, 2 words, in Mac’s best imploring voice with the closing line of “There's Light on the water” foreshadowing the melody of “The Cutter”.

Side 2 has many highlights (“Groovy, groovy people…”), the one for me is “All My Colours”. First time I heard it was on the “Shine So Hard” EP where it is titled “Zimbo”. Carried from start to finish by de Freitas drumming with the rest of the band barely needed, it sits perfectly in the middle of Side 2.

As an album “Heaven Up Here” isn’t as urgent as “Crocodiles”, it’s much more “Happy death men” than the previous albums title track. Bill Drummond described it as "dull as ditchwater" in his book “45”, which says more about Bill Drummond than it does about “Heaven Up Here”. This is where me and the Bunnymen part ways which some of my friends who make the case that one of their subsequent  albums was their best will find strange but sometimes things just happen that way. They coulda been contenders but the record buying public wanted Bono instead…their loss…

Over The Wall - https://youtu.be/daUDqtWerUg

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