Echo & The Bunnymen - Porcupine
Although they had a dedicated following, I never really found there music as appealing as many of my contemporaries did. Somehow it was not quite cutting enough in comparison with Joy Division, the Chameleons and the Cure. Sure, they had the crashing guitars, and the deep thumping of the drums. They definitely had a series of songs which conveyed a mood and a singer who, when he wasn't trying to demonstrate his voice could do things it obviously couldn't, was able to go from quiet calm to tortured soul in a few bars. But it never seemed to gel.
The Bunnymen reached their peak with this album in my view. The follow up, Ocean Rain, deviated from the simplicity and cutting edge which they had developed hitherto and went into a too easy listening sound. Somehow the Bunnymen just started taking themselves too seriously for their own good. From that point on it was all downhill.
Ian McCullough, never a man to lack confidence in his own abilities, added a variety of cameo-like influences to the various tracks, in particular, the Middle Eastern feel to the opening sequences of "The Cutter" is very apparent. Sadly, his failings as a lyricist do poke their way through a number of the tracks. For all his bravado, he never seemed to be able to tread the fine line between clever imagery and pretentiousness with any degree of aplomb and, as is so often the case, all too often he falls on the wrong side of that particular divide.
Indeed, "The Cutter" is probably the best-known (if not the best) track off the album. It was released as a single and demonstrated the band's pop credentials by becoming a hit - no mean feat in a chart dominated by Boy George and Duran Duran. However, for me, the title track is the outstanding one, though "My White Devil" drops in close behind and is another excellent track. Those three tracks make this album worth getting though it has to be said that the rest too often veer towards being labelled filler. In the days of the jump button on the CD player, this is an album I skip through whereas on vinyl I would have played the whole thing. Consequently, I listen to individual tracks more often now.
When the 25th anniversary edition came out I had to have it. My album collection would not have been complete without it. The alternate versions of some of the tracks are great, and demonstrate the capacity for innovation that the Bunnymen had. The expanded version certainly pushed up the rating over the original. Once again "Porcupine" provides the best of those alternate tracks. But even this fails to raise the album above a rating which many will, doubtless, find astonishingly low.
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