ECHO & THE BUNNYMEN Ocean Rain (1972)

Although their reputation seems to have survived the decades rather better, at nearly 30 years remove to me Echo & The Bunnymen sound every bit as blustery and preposterous as the U2 and Simple Minds competition of the time, exemplified by this 1984 album that some would claim as their defining moment. “Ocean Rain” has a hard-edged jangle and indomitable belief in its own self-importance that makes it an unpalatable listen. Big single “The Killing Moon” and the lithe, chiming “Seven Seas” arguably represent the best the album has to offer, but even they sway and topple unsteadily under the weight of their own pretentiousness. “Thorn Of Crowns” might be its nadir, with Ian McCulloch yelping about cucumbers and cabbages, taking it all far more seriously than I can.

1972 seem to be affiliated with Warner Bros. in some vague, indefinite way, but on this sampling their products are vastly inferior to Warners’ own reissues, which, when handled by people who know what they’re doing, can be devastatingly good. They’ve produced a shrill, brittle-sounding record in “Ocean Rain”. In the absence of any information regarding the provenance of the source material, this could have been cut – and sloppily at that – from a CD, and nothing about the sonics refutes this supposition.