Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Echo and the Bunnymen

  • Crocodiles [Sire, 1980] B
  • Heaven Up Here [Sire, 1981] C
  • Echo and the Bunnymen [Sire EP, 1983] B+
  • Songs to Learn and Sing [Sire, 1985] C+

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Crocodiles [Sire, 1980]
If anything might convince me that the term "psychedelic revival" means something it's "Villiers Terrace," a real good terror-of-drugs song. And the music flows tunefully, in a vacant, hard-rock sort of way. But oh, Jimbo, can this really be the end--to be stuck inside of Frisco with the Liverpool blues again? B

Heaven Up Here [Sire, 1981]
Word was these erstwhile-and-futurist popsters had transcended songform, so I gritted my teeth and tried to dig the texture, flow, etc. Took the enamel clean off. I hold no brief against tuneless caterwaul, but tuneless psychedelic caterwaul has always been another matter. Ditto for existential sophomores. And, need I add, Jim Morrison worship. C

Echo and the Bunnymen [Sire EP, 1983]
In a desperate attempt to market Ian McCulloch's crumpled shirts and skin problems (two of the most likable things about him, I'd say), Warners pulls two top cuts off Porcupine, counted by some a step in the right direction. Revealingly, they're the two worst things here, though where "The Cutter" is a pretentious dog (quills sticking out all over the little bugger), "Back of Love" is merely more histrionic than the competition. Suggested motto: "Do It Clean," which here builds to a casual vocal rave-up in a seven-minute concert version that could almost make you believe these spaced-out student existentialists were rock-and-rollers. B+

Songs to Learn and Sing [Sire, 1985]
Their best-of includes all five songs ("Do It Clean" in an inferior studio version) from their eponymous 1983 bread-upon-the-waters EP. Which provide its four best tracks. It also includes a lyric sheet. Which taught me nothing I wanted to know. C+

Further Notes:

Everything Rocks and Nothing Ever Dies [1990s]