Albums revisited: Echo and the Bunnymen’s Reverberations at 25-A tremor in the wires
By: Peter Marks
After scaling the dizzying heights of fame what’s a band to do?
In the case of Echo and the Bunnymen that answer was to split up. At least that’s what their frontman intended to have happen, everyone else had a different plan in mind. So while Mac readied his first solo album, Will, Les and Pete had made preparations to soldier on without him. This alone made the press viciously turn on them and led many “fans” around me to turn up their noses in disgust.
Making ‘Reverberation” would have been a difficult prospect even without the untimely and tragic death of Pete DeFreitas but true to form this band refused to lie down and die.
Will Sergeant and Les Pattinson recruited a new drummer Damon Reece, promoted long-standing live keyboardist Jake Brockman to a full member and handed vocal duties over to Mr. Noel Burke. In October of 1990 the first taste of this lineup emerged; “Enlighten Me” did away with the previous Bunnymen sound and released the psychedelic genie out of the bottle which had been seen throughout the course of their career in fits and starts.
Sitars, violins and tablas wound their way into the proceedings with a delicate, almost serpentine grace. No one around me gave it the time of day, many were the parties I got my single politely yet firmly handed back. No, this wasn’t “Bring on the Dancing Horses” or “Lips Like Sugar” and the distaste was palpable from most.
If they’d bothered to put aside their prejudices and listen they’d have been transported to a glorious Technicolor fantasy land a month later when the album came out. “Gone, Gone, Gone” is about as perfect an opener as you could have hoped for. There are no direct references to what went on before but given how much the papers enjoyed skewering this album you didn’t need anything underlined.
I have to confess that I hadn’t played this thing pretty much since it was released but I got tired of it patiently staring at me from across the room so on it went. The rest, as they say, is history. The musicianship is first-rate and Noël holds nothing back in either his words or with his singing. He was a soulful tonic for Will and Les. The guy carved out his own territory in the band and blended into these songs seamlessly.
As for Will, he contributed some truly inspired hooks and riffs. Probably ones he’d been hoarding for many years in the hope that one day he’d have a band to play them in.
Damn, do I ever miss Les on bass.
If they’d have only made another album with Noel people would have gotten on board. Everyone brought their a-game to ‘Reverberation’ and that a song like ‘King of Your Castle’ didn’t top the charts blows me away.
But as I said earlier, a lot of the fans weren’t listening and for that I cannot muster enough contempt. When Echo’s box set of b-sides and outtakes was released a few years back, the singles from this LP were pointedly omitted. That isn’t happening here.
They are some of the best you’ll hear out of this band and two of them were independently issued as their label dropped them due to the poor sales this cruelly ignored, marginalized masterpiece suffered. There, I said it. I consider what probably 90% of the fan base despise to be one of the many MANY high-water marks from them. Don’t try to find actual copies as they’re long since deleted, just go to youtube and look up the following:
“Lady Don’t Fall Backwards”, “Prove Me Wrong”, “Fine Thing”, “Reverberation”, “Inside Me, Inside You” and “Wigged-Out World”.
Echo toured their hearts out for ‘Reverberation’ and when they at last gave up in 1993 they’d been almost everywhere on planet Earth making their case. Just try finding live footage from this one, I dare you. They were snubbed by the media so hard for doing what they did and in spite of it all they kept going until enough was enough. If any of the people involved in the making of this are reading let me just say that you have every right to be proud of what you achieved here.
These five deserve the utmost respect because nearly everyone slagged them off, claiming that by doing this they’d ruined the reputation and legacy of the group even though they had a legend like Geoff Emerick produce. At twenty-five, this record sounds incredible; I can only cross my fingers that for their next Poltergeist release Sergeant and Pattinson ring up Noel again.