New Order and The Cure wrote for the crowd of their time, and to tell the truth, the result was spendid for New Order. But with this song, The Bunnymen went farther, far farther. They just didn’t know they were recording for the 90’s and the 2000’s. In this song, there is Nirvana, there is Oasis, with a much, much better style. Maturity, I said.
Echo and the Bunnymen is certainly the less known, the poorly remembered, the significantly most forgotten band of the 1980’s. In fact, there was a kind of taboo for this band from Liverpool. Too much like this, not enough like that. Ian McCulloch, the lead signer, didn’t have the charisma nor the spectacular look of Robert Smith of The Cure. The lyrics didn’t have the tragic of Joy Division. They hadn’t got anything spectacular, in fact. The Bunnymen was just a band of the post-punk, new wave generation, playing rock music.
Their references were very edgy for that time. Ian McCulloch used to say he loved The Doors and The Velvet Underground, which was a kind of taboo. At the turn of the 80’s, all those 1960′ and 1970’s long hair heroin users bands were regarded as old. We didn’t want to end like those Mike Jagger, running after a never ending youth and trying to follow the trend…
Finally, in 1983, all new wave bands started to produce music for the masses, easy to listen and ready-for-the-dance-floor songs. New Order with Blue Monday. The Cure with Let’s go to bed. Depeche Mode was the new Beatles of the decade. The B52’s started to ignore their rock and roll origin and had their record produced by David Burn in a very “funky” way. SPK was ready to record one of the first techno hit, the Metal Dance, and Cabaret Voltaire was ready to end their ever lasting sound experiments to do the same. The Sisters of Mercy had a huge hit with their Temple of Love… The generation of 1977 wanted to make its place under the sun.
The Bunnymen tried. in the summer of 1983, when all aound Europe people were dancing on The Cure, New Order and Depeche Mode, they recorded Never Stop [discotheque]. Despite an effort to keep the quality (something The Cure decided to ignore with their hit to come, The Lovecats), the result is certainly one of the worst song ever. In France, we say “batard” (bastard), which translates exactly what people used to think about The Bunnymen : not enough like this, too much like that… A lemon.
In January 1984, another single, announcing the next album (Ocean rain).
The killing moon. A beautiful song, and a kind of a big hit, a beautiful ballade which jumped 9th to the chards in the UK. Nothing special for this band formed in 1977 and which had already 3 albums and plenty of concerts. But just regarded as a challenger for not being enough “into” the trend.
Karl Marx is famous for having said Men were making history but didn’t know what history they were making. This is true for music I guess.
I have just (re)listened to the [All night version] of The Killing Moon. This is the long version, nearly 9 minutes, of the song. And I confess, it has been a shock. I was into this music at that time, I remembered the song, I had the single, I had the album. I have just realized today that in 1984, like most of us, I was not ready for the [All night version], it was too early. To write it simply, this song was about 10 years too early on its time.
The song starts like a normal long version of the song I know so well, which I have always considered as a beautiful song. But as the song goes, something gradually happens which proves if it was needed that this band was one of the best band of this era. Honest, hard working, refusing any concession to trends and fashion. And even if no one nowadays recognize their value, this record proves that honesty and talent in art are always the origin of the best pieces, those you will never forget, those which possess their originality.
The band used to talk a lot about Lou Reed, about the Velvet, about The Doors. In this song, it exploses like an evidence. Never as a pastiche, nor as a copy, but more as a the long maturation of a post new wave band finally finding its path apart from the other. New Order and The Cure wrote for the crowd of their time, and to tell the truth, the result was spendid for New Order.
But with this song, The Bunnymen got farther, far farther. They just didn’t know they were recording for the 90’s and the 2000’s. In this song, there is Nirvana, there is Oasis, with a much, much better style. Maturity, I said. The Bunnymen, also, remembers me here how much I was bored with this post New Wave era. And for sure they were as bored as me, and so decided to show what could be a good use of those influences of the 60’s and the 70’s to create something new on the ground of the 80’s. This is the 1990’s and 2000’s mix, isn’t it…
So, listen to this song if you don’t know it. And as this is a long version, give it the time to flourish, you will be surprised. It is rare, the long version is THE real song. It has everything we could expect in 1984 when, like me, we were bored with many bands. We were just not ready to hear the message. A message of hope in the darkness of the times. Fade up againts your will…